Three Democratic US Senators Sue to Challenge Whitaker Appointment

Three Democratic senators launched a new legal challenge on Monday to President Donald Trump’s naming of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, accusing Trump of depriving the U.S. Senate of its constitutional power to act on such appointments.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Mazie Hirono, all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that customarily reviews attorney general nominations.

Congressional Democrats have expressed concern that Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, could undermine or even fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency.

“Americans prize a system of checks and balances, which President Trump’s dictatorial appointment betrays,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

The lawsuit also accused Trump of violating a federal law that establishes the line of succession if the attorney general post becomes vacant — giving full authority to the deputy attorney general — and rejected the Justice Department’s legal reasoning in its support of the Republican president’s action.

Whitaker took over supervision of Mueller’s investigation when Trump appointed him on November 7 as the chief U.S. law enforcement official to replace Jeff Sessions, who the president ousted. Whitaker in the past criticized the scope of Mueller’s probe and brought up the possibility of undermining it by slashing the special counsel’s funding.

Whitaker has not recused himself from overseeing the probe despite calls by Democrats for him to do so. Trump said in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” program he would not intervene if Whitaker moved to curtail Mueller’s investigation and that his appointee is “going to do what’s right.” Trump has called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”

The attorney general of Maryland last week brought a similar legal challenge, saying Trump violated the so-called Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the job of attorney general is a “principal officer” who must be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. A hearing on Maryland’s legal challenge is slated for December 19.

A challenge to Whitaker’s appointment was also made last week as part of a Supreme Court case on gun rights.

The Justice Department last week issued a 20-page legal opinion declaring that Trump’s appointment of Whitaker was lawful under a 1998 law called the Federal Vacancies Reform Act even though he was not a Senate-confirmed official. Many legal experts have disagreed with the department’s view.

The Justice Department was able to cite only one instance in U.S. history — in 1866 – in which a non-Senate confirmed person was named acting attorney general.

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, issued a statement on Monday defending Trump’s designation of Whitaker.

The appointment “is lawful and comports with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court precedent, past Department of Justice opinions, and actions of U.S. Presidents, both Republican and Democrat,” Kupec said.

“There are over 160 instances in American history in which non-Senate confirmed persons performed, on a temporary basis, the duties of a Senate-confirmed position. To suggest otherwise is to ignore centuries of practice and precedent,” she added.

Democrats are preparing to take over control of U.S. House of Representatives in January following gains in the midterm elections, though Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

Top U.S. House lawmakers have said they plan to scrutinize Whitaker, including whether he should recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation.

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Three Democratic US Senators Sue to Challenge Whitaker Appointment

Three Democratic senators launched a new legal challenge on Monday to President Donald Trump’s naming of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, accusing Trump of depriving the U.S. Senate of its constitutional power to act on such appointments.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Mazie Hirono, all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that customarily reviews attorney general nominations.

Congressional Democrats have expressed concern that Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, could undermine or even fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency.

“Americans prize a system of checks and balances, which President Trump’s dictatorial appointment betrays,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

The lawsuit also accused Trump of violating a federal law that establishes the line of succession if the attorney general post becomes vacant — giving full authority to the deputy attorney general — and rejected the Justice Department’s legal reasoning in its support of the Republican president’s action.

Whitaker took over supervision of Mueller’s investigation when Trump appointed him on November 7 as the chief U.S. law enforcement official to replace Jeff Sessions, who the president ousted. Whitaker in the past criticized the scope of Mueller’s probe and brought up the possibility of undermining it by slashing the special counsel’s funding.

Whitaker has not recused himself from overseeing the probe despite calls by Democrats for him to do so. Trump said in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” program he would not intervene if Whitaker moved to curtail Mueller’s investigation and that his appointee is “going to do what’s right.” Trump has called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”

The attorney general of Maryland last week brought a similar legal challenge, saying Trump violated the so-called Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the job of attorney general is a “principal officer” who must be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. A hearing on Maryland’s legal challenge is slated for December 19.

A challenge to Whitaker’s appointment was also made last week as part of a Supreme Court case on gun rights.

The Justice Department last week issued a 20-page legal opinion declaring that Trump’s appointment of Whitaker was lawful under a 1998 law called the Federal Vacancies Reform Act even though he was not a Senate-confirmed official. Many legal experts have disagreed with the department’s view.

The Justice Department was able to cite only one instance in U.S. history — in 1866 – in which a non-Senate confirmed person was named acting attorney general.

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, issued a statement on Monday defending Trump’s designation of Whitaker.

The appointment “is lawful and comports with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court precedent, past Department of Justice opinions, and actions of U.S. Presidents, both Republican and Democrat,” Kupec said.

“There are over 160 instances in American history in which non-Senate confirmed persons performed, on a temporary basis, the duties of a Senate-confirmed position. To suggest otherwise is to ignore centuries of practice and precedent,” she added.

Democrats are preparing to take over control of U.S. House of Representatives in January following gains in the midterm elections, though Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

Top U.S. House lawmakers have said they plan to scrutinize Whitaker, including whether he should recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation.

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French Universities to Offer More Courses in English to Attract Foreign Students

France wants to boost the number of foreign students at its universities by more than half over the next decade and will offer more courses taught in English to attract them.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, announcing the plan on Monday, said increasing the number of foreigners studying in the country would help build French influence overseas.

Home to centuries-old universities such as the Sorbonne in Paris and some leading business schools, France is the world’s top non-English speaking student destination, but it ranks behind the United States, Britain and Australia.

The number of foreign students at French universities fell by 8.5 percent between 2011 and 2016 and the country has seen increased competition from Germany, Russia, Canada and China, the prime minister’s office said.

“Many countries are already building global attractivity strategies, linking studies, the job market, tourism, which explains the influence of Asia or monarchies in the Gulf,” Philippe said in a speech unveiling the strategy. “In this field just as in other economic ones, the world’s balance of power is shifting. That’s why we need to welcome more foreign students.”

Under the plan, France will simplify student visa regulations but will also increase tuition fees for students outside the European Economic Area in order to be able to provide better facilities. However, fees will still be much lower than in Britain and other neighboring countries.

From March 2019, foreign graduates with a French master’s degree will be able to get a residence visa to look for work or set up a business in France.

“We are constantly compared, audited, judged among 10 other possible destinations. In an age of social media, no one can rest on its reputation only,” Philippe said.

French officials said current fees of around 170 euros ($195) a year for a bachelor’s degree in France or 243 euros for a masters’ — the same as those paid by French students — was interpreted by students in countries like China as a sign of low quality.

From September 2019, non-European students will be charged 2,770 euros annually to study for a bachelor’s degree and 3,770 euros a year for masters and PhDs.

“That means France will still subsidize two thirds of the cost of their studies,” Philippe said. “And the fees will remain well below the 8,000 euros to 13,000 euros charged by the Dutch or the tens of thousands of pounds paid in Britain,” he said.

Some of the extra revenue will be used to boost the number of scholarships offered by the foreign ministry.

The number of courses taught in English, which have already been increased fivefold since 2004 to 1,328, will be boosted further, Philippe said.

More French classes will also be on offer for foreign students and student visa applications will be made available online.

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French Universities to Offer More Courses in English to Attract Foreign Students

France wants to boost the number of foreign students at its universities by more than half over the next decade and will offer more courses taught in English to attract them.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, announcing the plan on Monday, said increasing the number of foreigners studying in the country would help build French influence overseas.

Home to centuries-old universities such as the Sorbonne in Paris and some leading business schools, France is the world’s top non-English speaking student destination, but it ranks behind the United States, Britain and Australia.

The number of foreign students at French universities fell by 8.5 percent between 2011 and 2016 and the country has seen increased competition from Germany, Russia, Canada and China, the prime minister’s office said.

“Many countries are already building global attractivity strategies, linking studies, the job market, tourism, which explains the influence of Asia or monarchies in the Gulf,” Philippe said in a speech unveiling the strategy. “In this field just as in other economic ones, the world’s balance of power is shifting. That’s why we need to welcome more foreign students.”

Under the plan, France will simplify student visa regulations but will also increase tuition fees for students outside the European Economic Area in order to be able to provide better facilities. However, fees will still be much lower than in Britain and other neighboring countries.

From March 2019, foreign graduates with a French master’s degree will be able to get a residence visa to look for work or set up a business in France.

“We are constantly compared, audited, judged among 10 other possible destinations. In an age of social media, no one can rest on its reputation only,” Philippe said.

French officials said current fees of around 170 euros ($195) a year for a bachelor’s degree in France or 243 euros for a masters’ — the same as those paid by French students — was interpreted by students in countries like China as a sign of low quality.

From September 2019, non-European students will be charged 2,770 euros annually to study for a bachelor’s degree and 3,770 euros a year for masters and PhDs.

“That means France will still subsidize two thirds of the cost of their studies,” Philippe said. “And the fees will remain well below the 8,000 euros to 13,000 euros charged by the Dutch or the tens of thousands of pounds paid in Britain,” he said.

Some of the extra revenue will be used to boost the number of scholarships offered by the foreign ministry.

The number of courses taught in English, which have already been increased fivefold since 2004 to 1,328, will be boosted further, Philippe said.

More French classes will also be on offer for foreign students and student visa applications will be made available online.

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US, UK Clash With Russia at OPCW Over New Investigative Team

The U.S. and Western powers on Monday clashed with Russia and others over whether the global chemical weapons watchdog could start apportioning blame for poison gas and nerve agent attacks.

At a heated session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ annual conference, both sides bitterly fought over a June decision for the group to set up a new investigative team which could name the perpetrators of chemical attacks — a major change in the group’s rules.

Russia and China said the widely-backed June decision to allow the organization to identify those responsible should be reviewed to ensure it didn’t go beyond the OPCW mandate.

The U.S. ambassador to the watchdog, Kenneth Ward, complained that “a tsunami of chemical weapons” had been used this year, especially in Syria, an ally of Russia, and called Moscow’s attempts to undo the decision “pungent hypocrisy.”

Britain and its allies also have accused Moscow of using a Soviet-era nerve agent in an attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year. Russia denies the allegation.

Britain’s ambassador, Peter Wilson, said a Russia-Chinese proposal to review the decision “is clearly designed to obstruct and delay implementation” of the decision.

Russian envoy Alexander Shulgin said the new team would wield unlawful powers within the OPCW and on Monday called for an expert group to assess the viability of the decision, something the U.S. insisted would hamstring the development of the team. Wilson said that the Russian move would “undermine” plans to set up the team.

Last June, an 82-24 vote among OPCW members provided more than the necessary two-thirds majority to give the group the mandate to name the parties it found responsible for chemical attacks.

With Russia’s opposition on Monday, Ward said Russia and China made “an attempt to re-litigate what happened in June.” He said that both nations “are trying to turn back the clock of history.”

One allegation still being investigated by weapons inspectors is the suspected chemical attack in April in the Syrian town of Douma. An interim report said that weapons inspectors found “various chlorinated organic chemicals” at the site of the alleged Douma attack.

The OPCW made headlines last month when Dutch authorities revealed that they had foiled an alleged plot by Russian spies to hack into the organization’s Wi-Fi network using equipment stashed in the trunk of a rental car parked at a hotel next to the OPCW headquarters. Russia denied any wrongdoing.

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US, UK Clash With Russia at OPCW Over New Investigative Team

The U.S. and Western powers on Monday clashed with Russia and others over whether the global chemical weapons watchdog could start apportioning blame for poison gas and nerve agent attacks.

At a heated session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ annual conference, both sides bitterly fought over a June decision for the group to set up a new investigative team which could name the perpetrators of chemical attacks — a major change in the group’s rules.

Russia and China said the widely-backed June decision to allow the organization to identify those responsible should be reviewed to ensure it didn’t go beyond the OPCW mandate.

The U.S. ambassador to the watchdog, Kenneth Ward, complained that “a tsunami of chemical weapons” had been used this year, especially in Syria, an ally of Russia, and called Moscow’s attempts to undo the decision “pungent hypocrisy.”

Britain and its allies also have accused Moscow of using a Soviet-era nerve agent in an attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year. Russia denies the allegation.

Britain’s ambassador, Peter Wilson, said a Russia-Chinese proposal to review the decision “is clearly designed to obstruct and delay implementation” of the decision.

Russian envoy Alexander Shulgin said the new team would wield unlawful powers within the OPCW and on Monday called for an expert group to assess the viability of the decision, something the U.S. insisted would hamstring the development of the team. Wilson said that the Russian move would “undermine” plans to set up the team.

Last June, an 82-24 vote among OPCW members provided more than the necessary two-thirds majority to give the group the mandate to name the parties it found responsible for chemical attacks.

With Russia’s opposition on Monday, Ward said Russia and China made “an attempt to re-litigate what happened in June.” He said that both nations “are trying to turn back the clock of history.”

One allegation still being investigated by weapons inspectors is the suspected chemical attack in April in the Syrian town of Douma. An interim report said that weapons inspectors found “various chlorinated organic chemicals” at the site of the alleged Douma attack.

The OPCW made headlines last month when Dutch authorities revealed that they had foiled an alleged plot by Russian spies to hack into the organization’s Wi-Fi network using equipment stashed in the trunk of a rental car parked at a hotel next to the OPCW headquarters. Russia denied any wrongdoing.

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Пожежі в Каліфорнії: 77 людей загинули, близько тисячі – зникли

В американському штаті Каліфорнія кількість загиблих внаслідок масштабних пожеж зросла до 77, ще близько тисячі людей вважають зниклими безвісти.

Вогонь знищив близько 10 тисяч будинків, понад 50 тисяч жителів евакуювалися в найближчі міста. Пожежа охопила понад 600 квадратних кілометрів місцевості.

Місцева влада залучила до гасіння вогню близько п’яти тисяч пожежників. У штабі з боротьби з наслідками пожеж відзначили, що в деяких районах вогонь поширювався зі швидкістю 130 кілометрів на годину.

За прогнозом погоди, найближчими днями в регіоні очікують дощів, які можуть сприяти гасінню пожежі. З іншого боку, влада побоюється, що дощ може завадити пошуку останків.

Президент США Дональд Трамп на вихідних після відвідин майже повністю знищеного вогнем каліфорнійського міста Парадайз, заявив, що «ніколи не бачив нічого подібного». Він запевнив, що федеральна влада виділить всі необхідні засоби владі Каліфорнії для ліквідації наслідків стихійного лиха. При цьому Трамп укотре розкритикував місцеву владу, назвавши головною причиною пожеж «погане управління лісами» і їх «грубе і нераціональне використання».

Зі свого боку, губернатор Каліфорнії Джеррі Браун вважає причиною пожеж «зміну клімату». Він також попередив, що подібні катастрофи посилюватимуться протягом найближчих десятиліть, якщо федеральна влада не займеться серйозно проблемою глобального потепління, до якої Трамп ставиться скептично. 

 

Нинішні пожежі, які тривають із 8 листопада, призвели до найбільшої кількості жертв за всю історію Каліфорнії.

Влада штату повідомляє, що десятки тисяч жителів були змушені залишити свої будинки в умовах сильного вітру і посухи, які сприяли поширенню вогню, що випалив понад тисячу квадратних кілометрів лісів і житлових районів.

Минулого тижня місцева влада припустила, що на гасіння вогню може знадобитися три тижні. 12 листопада президент США Дональд Трамп оголосив Каліфорнію зоною стихійного лиха.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!

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Пожежі в Каліфорнії: 77 людей загинули, близько тисячі – зникли

В американському штаті Каліфорнія кількість загиблих внаслідок масштабних пожеж зросла до 77, ще близько тисячі людей вважають зниклими безвісти.

Вогонь знищив близько 10 тисяч будинків, понад 50 тисяч жителів евакуювалися в найближчі міста. Пожежа охопила понад 600 квадратних кілометрів місцевості.

Місцева влада залучила до гасіння вогню близько п’яти тисяч пожежників. У штабі з боротьби з наслідками пожеж відзначили, що в деяких районах вогонь поширювався зі швидкістю 130 кілометрів на годину.

За прогнозом погоди, найближчими днями в регіоні очікують дощів, які можуть сприяти гасінню пожежі. З іншого боку, влада побоюється, що дощ може завадити пошуку останків.

Президент США Дональд Трамп на вихідних після відвідин майже повністю знищеного вогнем каліфорнійського міста Парадайз, заявив, що «ніколи не бачив нічого подібного». Він запевнив, що федеральна влада виділить всі необхідні засоби владі Каліфорнії для ліквідації наслідків стихійного лиха. При цьому Трамп укотре розкритикував місцеву владу, назвавши головною причиною пожеж «погане управління лісами» і їх «грубе і нераціональне використання».

Зі свого боку, губернатор Каліфорнії Джеррі Браун вважає причиною пожеж «зміну клімату». Він також попередив, що подібні катастрофи посилюватимуться протягом найближчих десятиліть, якщо федеральна влада не займеться серйозно проблемою глобального потепління, до якої Трамп ставиться скептично. 

 

Нинішні пожежі, які тривають із 8 листопада, призвели до найбільшої кількості жертв за всю історію Каліфорнії.

Влада штату повідомляє, що десятки тисяч жителів були змушені залишити свої будинки в умовах сильного вітру і посухи, які сприяли поширенню вогню, що випалив понад тисячу квадратних кілометрів лісів і житлових районів.

Минулого тижня місцева влада припустила, що на гасіння вогню може знадобитися три тижні. 12 листопада президент США Дональд Трамп оголосив Каліфорнію зоною стихійного лиха.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!

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Who Ordered Khashoggi Killed?

Confusion continues in Washington over what the Trump administration has concluded regarding the death of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi – and the implications for U.S.-Saudi relations. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, President Donald Trump has repeatedly deflected questions about the kingdom’s crown prince amid news reports the CIA believes Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, last month in Turkey.

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Who Ordered Khashoggi Killed?

Confusion continues in Washington over what the Trump administration has concluded regarding the death of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi – and the implications for U.S.-Saudi relations. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, President Donald Trump has repeatedly deflected questions about the kingdom’s crown prince amid news reports the CIA believes Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, last month in Turkey.

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