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US announces new sanctions against Russia over Skripal affair: State dept

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A new round of sanctions were imposed on Moscow Saturday by the United States over the 2018 poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

Russian spies have been blamed for the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March last year using the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok.

The two survived the attack but a British woman later died after her partner picked up a discarded perfume bottle investigators believe was used to carry the Novichok.

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Washington said Saturday it will oppose “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to Russia” by international financial institutions and put limits on US banks from purchasing Russian sovereign debt, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

The US will also limit the export of goods and technology to Russia that could be used in the country’s chemical and biological arms programs, Ortagus said.

She added that the measures could prevent Russia from accessing “billions of dollars of bilateral commercial activity with the United States”.

The sanctions will come into effect following a 15 day congressional notification period — around August 19 — and will remain in place for a minimum 12 months, according to the US State Department.

The Salisbury attack, the first offensive use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II, caused an international outcry and prompted a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats by Western nations including the US.

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London says the attempted assassination was “almost certainly” approved by Moscow and that Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun were behind the killing.

However the pair have never been tried and Lugovoi has since become a lawmaker in Russia.

Moscow denies involvement in the poisoning and has offered numerous and varied alternative explanations and counter-accusations.

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In January the European Union imposed chemical weapons sanctions on nine Russian and Syrian officials, including the chief of the powerful GRU military intelligence agency.

Skripal, a former officer with the GRU, was found guilty in 2006 of “high treason” before being traded in a spy exchange between Moscow, London and Washington.

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Former Obama officials torch Trump’s press secretary for ‘bald-faced lie’ about leaving mean notes

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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday told a tall tale about Obama officials -- and now many of them are calling her out for it.

While talking to reporters, Grisham alleged that Obama staffers in January 2017 left notes that read, "You will fail" for Trump officials.

The story immediately raised suspicions among reporters who were skeptical that such notes would have remained a secret for nearly three years, especially given how leak-prone the Trump White House has been.

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Vindman debunks Trump’s CrowdStrike conspiracy theory — and agrees it was promoted by Putin

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At the public impeachment hearing on Tuesday, Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about President Donald Trump's anti-Ukraine conspiracy theories discussed on the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman stated flatly that he had seen no evidence to support any of them and noted that they were being promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"President Trump asks President Zelensky for a favor, and then raises this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election," said Goldman. "He says in the highlighted portion, 'I would like you to do us a favor though. Because our country has been through a lot. And Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it.' Now, Col. Vindman, was this statement based on the official talking points that you had prepared?"

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‘Losing his grip on reality’: Trump mocked for attacking Pelosi over a quote that actually came from Fox News

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Early Tuesday morning, President Trump took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), misattributing a quote to her that actually came from a Fox News reporter.

Nancy Pelosi just stated that 'it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.' @FoxNews," Trump tweeted. "In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on letting the voters decide. Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system. Wow, she’s CRAZY!"

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1196658170984357888

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