The United States on Monday will adopt an aggressive posture against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, threatening sanctions against its judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is to make the announcement in a midday speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington. It will be his first major address since joining the Trump White House.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say, according to a draft of his speech seen by Reuters.
Bolton will also say that the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington out of concern about Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” says Bolton’s draft text.
The Palestinians said they were undeterred from going to the ICC, and described the planned PLO mission closure as the latest pressure tactic by a Trump administration that has slashed funding to a U.N. agency for their refugees and to hospitals in East Jerusalem, which they want as capital of a future state.
“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying,” Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
“Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.”
There was no immediate response from Israel, where government offices were closed for the Jewish new year.
Bolton’s draft speech says the Trump administration “will fight back” if the International Criminal Court formally proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.
If such a probe proceeds, the Trump administration will consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, put sanctions on any funds they have in the U.S. financial system and prosecute them in the American court system.
“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” says Bolton’s draft text.
In addition, the United States may negotiate more binding, bilateral agreements to prohibit nations from surrendering Americans to the Hague court, says the text.
The court’s aim is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The United States did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court in 2002, with then-President George W. Bush opposed to the court. President Barack Obama took some steps to cooperate with it.
“We will consider taking steps in the U.N. Security Council to constrain the court’s sweeping powers, including to ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute,” says Bolton’s draft text.
Palestinians have reacted with dismay to the U.S. funding cuts, warning that they could lead to more poverty and anger – among factors stoking their decades of conflict with Israel.
Trump last week ordered that $25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem be directed elsewhere.
“This decision will create a serious cash-flow problem at the hospitals and will necessarily create delays in life-saving and urgent treatments,” Walid Nammour, head of the network of six hospitals affected, told reporters on Monday. “Overall, the decision puts the health of 5 million Palestinians at risk.”
Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Peter Graff
CNN conservative zaps every Trump supporters’ argument against impeachment
Republican-turned-Independent David Gergen served in four presidential administrations, two of which were impeached. When he heard one of President Donald Trump's shills on CNN Wednesday evening, he was quick to flatten the argument.
Scott Jennings argued that what Democrats were doing was unprecedented, but CNN commentator Kirsten Powers said that former President Bill Clinton was nearly thrown out of office for lying about an affair, something she argued was far less important than extorting a foreign power to sway a presidential election.
Seth Meyers flattens Trump’s latest impeachment defense tactic — ‘slurring like a lunatic’ during rallies
Late-night comedian Seth Meyers observed that most people who were inches from being fired from their job would try and prove that they should remain. President Donald Trump, however, has taken a different path, "slurring like a lunatic while throwing in some of his trademark sexism."
Meyers played a clip of Trump's rally where he went after everything from admitting he demanded the Ukraine president say what he asked and an allegation that there'd be windmills all over the country under Hillary Clinton. Trump previously alleged that wind energy is dangerous because the windmills cause ear cancer. After an attack on Beto O'Rourke, Trump turned to Elizabeth Warren, who he said, "opened her fresh mouth."
Rachel Maddow wonders if Putin told Trump Seoul was nowhere near North Korea to mess with him
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was flabbergasted by the recent revelation that Trump thought he could displace an entire South Korean city so that the 2,000 year-old capital would be safer. To make matters worse, President Donald Trump asked Russian President Vladimir Putin what he wanted the U.S. leader to do with North Korea.
The host compared the move to what it would be like to move the entirety of New York City, which has a smaller population than Seoul.