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Iran rejects American’s guilty plea in Saudi assasination plot

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Iran’s foreign ministry on Saturday rejected a guilty plea by an Iranian-American man that he conspired with Iranian officials to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty on Wednesday at the New York federal court to attempting to hire a Mexican drug gang for $1.5 million to blow up the Saudi envoy in a restaurant he frequented in Washington.

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But Iran’s foreign ministry questioned the plea and rejected the notion that “any Iranian organisation” had any role in the plot.

“Pleading guilty after initial denial and a year (in custody) is a sign of psychological pressure and the abnormal situation of US jails and solitary confinement there,” its spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement reported by the state broadcaster’s website.

“This ridiculous scenario was designed by American officials a year ago while the man arrested denied all charges. Some (non-American) officials and political pundits have said it is unreal and likened it to a Hollywood scenario,” he said.

Mehmanparast also condemned what he called “the misuse of the judicial system and designing absurd and baseless plots in the current political state in the US,” without elaborating.

The claim that Iranian officials were involved in the plot was made in October last year, and the United States said it traced the supposed plan to the Quds Force, a special operations unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

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Arbabsiar, a former car salesman, was arrested in September last year at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and was charged along with co-defendant Gholam Shakuri, a senior Quds Force member who remains at large.

Iran repeatedly denied any involvement in the plot, which strained already frayed relations with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

In a largely symbolic vote last November, the UN General Assembly demanded that Iran cooperate with the US investigation into the plot.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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No one can figure out why John Kennedy compared government documents to ‘dropping acid’

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Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) compared reading government documents to "dropping acid" while in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday and the internet can't figure out how he would know.

"I haven't read the entire report," Kennedy said of the inspector general report on the start of the Russia investigation. "I'm about 70 percent through but I'm going to get through. It's tedious and I don't mean that in a pejorative way, it's supposed to be tedious. About 15 percent of the way through it made me want to heave. After about 25 percent of the way through, I thought I'd dropped acid. It's so real."

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Ukrainians may flip on Trump and stop repeating his talking points: report

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Officials in Ukraine are growing increasingly frustrated with President Donald Trump continuing to prioritize Russia over the American ally, The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

"People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks," The Beast explained. "But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute."

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Kamala Harris uses IG hearing to connect the dots between Bill Barr and Giuliani’s corrupt schemes

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Sen. Kamala Harris connected the dots between Rudy Giuliani and attempts to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting a Ukrainian billionaire.

Harris, who was San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General prior to joining the U.S. Senate, put her experience as a career prosecutor to use while questioning DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"So it was recently reported that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, asked Ukrainians to help search for dirt [on] the political rivals of the president. In exchange for the help, Giuliani offered to help fix criminal cases against them at DOJ," Harris noted.

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