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US blacklists Russians over Jehovah’s Witness crackdown

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The United States on Tuesday banned the entry of two Russian officials for allegedly torturing Jehovah’s Witnesses in custody as Moscow wages a crackdown against the religious group.

The State Department said that the officials in the western Siberian city of Surgut supervised interrogations on February 15 in which at least seven Jehovah’s Witnesses were subjected to suffocation, electric shocks and severe beatings.

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The State Department said that the two officials, Vladimir Petrovich Yermolayev and Stepan Vladimirovich Tkach, and their immediate families would be barred from entering the United States.

“Russia should end its unjust campaign against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and immediately release the over 200 individuals it currently has imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Russia outlawed the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017, calling them an extremist organization.

Founded in the United States in the late 19th century, the non-violent movement has often faced problems for members’ proselytization and refusal to salute state symbols such as flags.

A Russian court in May upheld a six-year jail sentence for a Danish Jehovah’s Witness, in the first conviction since the 2017 ban.

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Trump blasted by former White House ethics chief for attacking his own FBI director

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump lashed out at FBI director Christopher Wray on Twitter for endorsing DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report debunking the Republican claim that the FBI "spied" on Trump's 2016 campaign. "The current director," tweeted Trump, will "never be able to fix" the "badly broken" FBI.

Trump's remark, and possible threat to Wray's job, drew outrage from former White House ethics official Walter Shaub:

The history books will note that he fired not only an FBI Director but also an Attorney General for allowing an investigation of his campaign. Now he's attacking another FBI Director for not being supporting of conspiracy theories about that investigation. https://t.co/6pqjShuP8k

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Fox News hosts blasted for ‘cherry-picking’ IG report to spin it as a win for Trump: ‘They owe us an apology’

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On Tuesday morning, CNN host Alisyn Camerota dropped the hammer on Fox News for spinning the Justice Department inspector general report that absolved the department of any conspiracy against Donald Trump, instead saying that it was an indictment of the department.

Joined by CNN contributor, ex-Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and CNN host Brian Stelter, Camerota shared Fox clips from Monday night featuring hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and marveled at the obvious lies.

"Let's go back to reality-world instead of upside-down world right now," host Camerota smirked after rolling the clips, "which is what we just played a montage of. Charlie, when you hear, you know, the talking points from obviously the Trump cheerleaders as well as some of your former Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, do they -- when Hannity says everything we've been reporting for years has been dead on accurate, we were right every step of the way, and the report completely negates that, do they believe that? Why are they saying that?"

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Did Trump just signal he may fire ‘current’ FBI director hours before meeting Russian foreign minister?

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President Donald Trump attacked his FBI director hours ahead of his White House meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and other social media users noticed a big coincidence.

The president turned on Christopher Wray in an early morning Twitter rant after the FBI director broke with Attorney General William Barr and agreed the Justice Department's inspector general had found no evidence of wrongdoing at the start of the Russia probe.

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