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Parnas tied Giuliani and Trump to a criminal conspiracy ‘more directly than anyone else has’: op-ed

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In his column for the Washington Post this Thursday, Greg Sargent writes that out of the many bombshells that emerged from Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas this Wednesday night, the biggest one was where Parnas accuses Rudy Giuliani and his “client” of being part of a “criminal conspiracy.”

“That ‘client,’ of course, is President Trump,” Sargent writes.

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“The exchange in question concerns Trump’s freezing of military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to carry out Trump’s dirty political deeds,” Sargent continues. “Parnas ties Giuliani more directly to this act than anyone else has, and shares what appears to be new information about it, though this still needs to be confirmed.”

Sargent then cites an exchange in the interview where Maddow asks Parnas if he met with Sergey Shaffer, a senior aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. According to Parnas, “Giuliani directly told him to convey the message to Ukraine that the military aid was contingent on announcing the investigations Trump wanted — after talking to Trump about it.”

Sargent makes sure to point out that Parnas is a “slippery character” who could be lying — an accusation Giuliani has already made without offering a specific rebuttal.

“But here’s the thing,” Sargent adds. “We already know for a fact that this message — that Trump made the military aid conditional on announcing investigations that would smear Biden and absolve Russia of 2016 electoral sabotage — actually was delivered to Ukraine, by one of Trump’s top henchmen.”

Read Sargent’s full piece over at The Washington Post.

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White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney caught on tape saying US is ‘desperate’

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White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was caught on tape admitting that, despite President Donald Trump's policy preferences, the United States is "desperate" for more immigrants, according to a recording obtained by the Washington Post.

He further undermined the administration's claims of its economic prowess, admitting that immigration is necessary for sustained economic growth.

"We are desperate — desperate — for more people," Mulvaney said, according to the post, stressing that it should be legal. "We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we've had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants."

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Hawaii holds woman over missing children amid suspicious deaths and ‘doomsday cult’ links

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A 46-year-old American woman with reported links to a doomsday cult and to at least three people whose deaths are being investigated has been arrested in Hawaii over the disappearance of her two children.

Lori Vallow was arrested Thursday on the island of Kauai and charged with felony desertion of the children, 7-year-old Joshua Vallow, who is autistic, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, police said in a statement.

According to US media reports, the children, who have different fathers, were last seen on September 23, 2019.

Their disappearance was reported in November by the boy's grandparents, who live in Louisiana and had heard nothing from the children for an extended period.

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Pressured by US sanctions, Cuba struggles to pay its debts

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Foreign companies going unpaid, creditor countries told to be patient: as Cuba struggles under the weight of US sanctions it has also been struggling to pay its debts, raising serious concern among its partners.

Having negotiated a restructuring of its debt with 14 countries through the Paris Club of creditors in 2015, Cuba last year failed to make timely payments to six of them - Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Japan and Spain.

The Caribbean nation was supposed to pay those countries "$32 to $33 million" of the total $82 million due in 2019, one diplomatic source said. Its failure to do so leaves it facing stiff interest payments of 9 percent.

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