KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As a boy in Afghanistan, Rezwan Kohistani dreamed of being a respected doctor and helping people. When he and his family escaped war-torn Kabul last August, his parents hoped resettling to the United States would bring their oldest son closer to that dream and give his five siblings a chance at a quality education in a safe place. Maybe they’d end up in Dallas, where extended family already lived. Or Los Angeles. Either city would give them the emotional support and community they needed. But they landed in Webb City, a southwest Missouri town of about 12,000 people that is ...
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‘The usual scams just aren’t working’: Trump’s defense against Hutchinson testimony is ‘preposterously weak’
Donald Trump's allies have kicked into gear after devastating testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, but they're having trouble gaining traction.
The aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the House select committee that Trump knew his supporters were armed on Jan. 6, 2021, and still directed them toward the U.S. Capitol, but the former president's allies have seized on a second-hand account about his behavior in the presidential limo to discredit her, reported the Washington Post.
"They are claiming Hutchinson’s appearance was a flop, based on the fact that a single anecdote about Trump — one barely related to the central allegations against him — is now being questioned by a handful of bit players in this saga who aren’t even offering this pushback publicly, let alone under oath," wrote Post columnist Greg Sargent. "In addition to providing an object lesson in how pro-Trump propaganda functions, this buffoonery reveals just how weak Trump’s defenses have become. The pushback is shriveling into meaningless trivialities even as the enormity of this scandal grows overwhelming."
The Secret Service says it will respond to claims made in Hutchinson's testimony, and anonymous sources claim agent Robert Engel and White House staffer Tony Ornato will testify that Trump did not lunge for the wheel in his presidential SUV, and apologists such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) insist others inside the vehicle should testify publicly.
"By all means, let’s do that," Sargent wrote. "Ornato, Engel and the driver absolutely should testify under oath on live television."
"Here’s why this pushback is so preposterously weak," he added. "First, Hutchinson was not relating her firsthand experience of that episode. As Hutchinson recounted, she, Ornato and Engel were outside Meadows’s office after this episode, and Ornato described it to her. Asked whether Engel disputed this account at the time Ornato delivered it, Hutchinson said Engel did not."
Ornato and Engel have already testified to the House select committee behind closed doors, but they haven't come forward publicly to dispute Hutchinson's claims -- and Sargent said that gives away the game Trump allies are playing.
"When Greene insists she wants them to testify on live TV, the aim is not to make that actually happen," he wrote. "The real game is to project manufactured confidence that if it did, somehow truths being suppressed by Trump’s enemies would suddenly come to light, to inject a fog of uncertainty into mainstream media coverage."
"But the revelations have been so overwhelming that the usual scams just aren’t working," Sargent added.
A US citizen held for nearly seven years in Iran made an appeal from prison Wednesday to President Joe Biden, urging a deal to free Americans regardless of the outcome of nuclear diplomacy.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, 50-year-old Iranian-American Siamak Namazi said he was concerned about repercussions he might suffer for speaking out while confined to Tehran's infamous Evin prison.
"But I am compelled to break that silence now because I believe that the Biden administration's approach to rescuing Americans in distress in Iran has failed spectacularly so far and unless the president intervenes immediately, we are likely to languish in this abyss for the foreseeable future," he wrote.
"Mr. Biden, I implore you to put the lives of innocent American detainees above Washington politics and make the tough decisions necessary to free all of us immediately."
Namazi said he had been hopeful last year as the new Biden administration opened talks with Iran on returning to a 2015 nuclear deal, with US officials indicating an agreement was impossible without freeing four Americans.
"That was the right approach. But forgoing an opportunity to free us because the nuclear talks have stalled is not," he wrote.
Namazi, a businessman, was arrested in October 2015 and handed a 10-year sentence on charges of seeking to overthrow the clerical state, with evidence cited including his fellowships at Washington think tanks.
His father, former UNICEF official Baquer Namazi, was taken into custody in February 2016 as he tried to see him.
The now 85-year-old was ordered released in 2020 but his supporters say he has been denied a passport to travel, despite mounting health concerns, as Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
Iranian media have earlier indicated that a deal was in the works to free Iranian-Americans in return for South Korea releasing some $7 billion frozen on US requests.
Iran released five prisoners in 2016 to coincide with the nuclear deal, which promised sanctions relief in return for Tehran drastically scaling back its sensitive atomic work.
Former US president Donald Trump renounced the accord and the Biden administration has been increasingly pessimistic about returning to the accord, although it is holding a new round of indirect talks this week in Qatar.
Two other US citizens are known to be jailed in Iran -- conservationist Morad Tahbaz, who additionally holds British citizenship, and businessman Emad Shargi.
© 2022 AFP
Former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for campaign finance crimes the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The Federal Elections Commission said that they couldn't find evidence to discern whether he was guilty, even after he plead guilty.
"At least seven victims invested a total of more than $2 million in Fraud Guarantee because Parnas and Correia misled them about the financial arrangements," wrote ABC 7 New York in March. "The majority of investor funds were withdrawn as cash and were spent on personal expenditures such as Parnas' rent, prosecutors said."
According to the court, Parnas personally earned $2 million from the fraud scam. At the time of the investor effort, Parnas was working with Giuliani for former President Donald Trump in an effort to find incriminating information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine before the 2020 election.
In a 2021 case, Parnas was found guilty on all six criminal counts leveled against him. The most serious charge among them was a conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns.
It was just a few months ago that Parnas claimed that Joe Biden's son was "set up" when appointed to a seat on the Burisma board.