Members of minority faith and belief communities had mixed reactions after the recent Supreme Court ruling that said the Constitution protected a high school football coach in Washington who prayed on the field after games. Some worried the high court’s ruling isn’t necessarily inclusive of all backgrounds and others said it could lead to more inclusivity in the future. “The law doesn’t have to be our only guide,” said Elana Stein Hain, director of faculty and senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. “I think a broad sense of responsibility has to guide the way that people are going to a...
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Iran dismissed as "fiction" Thursday US allegations it had plotted to kill former White House national security adviser John Bolton in retaliation for the assassination of one of its top commanders.
The US claim comes at a crunch moment in talks on reviving a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers that Washington had abandoned in 2018 but has said it wants to rejoin. Iran is now considering what European Union mediators have called a "final" text.
"The US Justice Department has made allegations without providing valid evidence, creating a new work of fiction," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.
"This time they have come up with a plot involving individuals like Bolton whose political career has failed," Kanani scoffed.
"The Islamic Republic warns against any action that targets Iranian citizens by resorting to ridiculous accusations."
On Wednesday the US Justice Department announced it had stifled a plot by a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to kill Bolton, offering an unidentified person inside the United States $300,000 to carry out the job.
The alleged plan was likely set in retaliation for the US killing of top Guards commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq in January 2020, the department said.
The plot, which stretched from October 2021 until April this year, never made headway because the ostensible assassin was an informant of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But court documents show the FBI let the plotting continue to collect information on mastermind Shahram Poursafi, a member of the IRGC's elite Quds force, and on Iran's broader plans, including another plot to kill an even more prominent former US official, reported to be former secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
Poursafi, who is believed to still be in Iran, was charged by the Justice department with two counts relating to plotting a murder.
Nuclear talks at stake
In an interview Thursday with CNN, Bolton said the alleged plot reveals Iran's approach to foreign policy.
"What's important to understand is just how detailed the work was to send me off to the great beyond, and really the extent to which the government of Iran had thought this through, was engaged in planning," he said.
"I think it's very clear that it's not just former government officials that Iran is after," he said.
There was no indication of whether the US allegations would impact efforts to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement between Iran and major powers to limit its nuclear program so that Tehran does not develop atomic weapons.
In a move that had been advocated by Bolton and Pompeo, former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the pact in 2018, opening the way for Tehran to step up its nuclear program.
President Joe Biden has sought to return the United States to the deal, offering an easing of sanctions in exchange for Iran returning to full compliance.
But a final agreement has been held up since early this year, according to officials, in part by Tehran's demand that Washington remove its formal designation of the IRGC as sponsors of terrorist activity.
Brokering the Vienna negotiations, the European Union recently submitted a "final" draft agreement to both the United States and Iran for review.
"There is no more space for negotiations," a spokesman for the bloc, Peter Stano, said Tuesday.
"We have a final text. So it's the moment for a decision: yes or no."
Bolton though said the assassination plot was reason to avoid any agreement with Tehran.
"I think we ought to put the kibosh on these negotiations and deal with the growing threat that Iran poses and not try to appease them," he told CNN.
'The choice is theirs'
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said late Thursday that Washington was waiting for Tehran's response on the draft nuclear agreement.
"We and the Europeans have made quite clear that we are prepared to immediately conclude and implement the deal we negotiated in Vienna for a mutual return to the full implementation of the JCPOA," he told reporters.
"For that to happen, Iran needs to decide to drop their additional demands that go beyond the JCPOA. Ultimately, the choice is theirs," he said.
The FBI Agents Association said Thursday that the surge of threats against them after the raid on the home of former president Donald Trump encouraged violence against law enforcement and was "unacceptable."
Conservative politicians and Trump himself bashed the Federal Bureau of Investigation as "corrupt" and "politicized" following the raid Monday, in which agents sought classified documents that Trump had retained in violation of rules on official records.
That was followed by a surge of violent threats against the FBI and Justice Department on social media and in conservative chat rooms.
"Special Agents and their families should never be threatened with violence, including for doing their jobs," the association said in a statement.
"The threats made recently contribute to an atmosphere where some have, or will, accept violence against law enforcement as appropriate. It is not," it said.
The statement was released shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland said he himself had approved the unprecedented raid on a former president's home.
Garland called the attacks on the FBI "unfounded."
"I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," he said.
After the raid Monday, Trump issued a statement saying his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida was "under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents."
"Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third World Countries," Trump said.
Hour Republican leader Kevin McCarthy accused the FBI and the Justice Department of "weaponized politicization.”
Republican Senator Ted Cruz said the FBI had become "an attack dog to help the Democrats" and Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted that "we must destroy the FBI."
Another fervent Trump supporter, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, attacked the agency and spoke of "civil war."
"The FBI has gone rogue and is doing the dirty work of a communist regime," she said on Twitter.
"This is not a partisan or political issue," the agents' association said in their statement.
"Calls for violence against law enforcement are unacceptable, and should be condemned by all leaders."
The statement also came after an armed man's attack on the FBI's office in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday which turned into a pursuit of the suspect into the countryside, in which the man exchanged gunfire with law enforcement.
Officials later said the situation was later contained, without providing details. The reason for the attack remained unclear.
'Sweet Jesus': Morning Joe reacts to bombshell revelations that Trump stashed nuclear secrets at Mar-A-Lago
Attorney general Merrick Garland confirmed Thursday that he personally authorized the decision to seek a search warrant for Mar-A-Lago, and sources later said documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the classified documents they were looking for -- and the "Morning Joe" host was astonished that Trump's attorney said on Fox News that she hadn't spoken yet with her client.
"Sweet Jesus," he said. "I haven't talked to my client about whether he'd illegally removed nuclear secrets from the White House and taken them down to his country club illegally in Florida. You didn't ask the president that question? I mean, listen, this is a guy who has had contempt for classified information. Of course, he attacked Hillary Clinton for her emails, but as we saw time and again, showed that he had contempt for classified information."
Garland did much more than call Trump's bluff, Scarborough said.
"He called out, with his just-the-facts-ma'am approach, he called out Donald Trump's bluster," he said. "He called out Donald Trump's bluster and his lies, his B.S. You just get the sense that, from the start of this, Trump has known that he is a corrupt politician who has been cornered. So what has he done? He's refused to release the documents. He could have released the documents at any time. Instead, he's been whipping up a frenzy against the FBI and against law enforcement officers. We saw the consequences of that yesterday, most likely, if the reporting is correct."
"Sure enough, just as I've been warning on this show every day," Scarborough added, "the irresponsible voices on the Trump right are ginning up hatred against our FBI, against law enforcement agents, against the very people that they once claimed to support, and while they're whipping them into this frenzy, they're putting the lives -- they're putting targets on the back of FBI agents. They know who they are, and they were still doing it last night on TV, even after somebody tried to break into the FBI bureau in Ohio and cause harm to agents. Yeah, the person is deceased now because he was whipped into a frenzy by these conspiracy theories, just like Jan. 6."
"You look at the possibility that nuclear secrets may be involved here," Scarborough concluded, "and the fact that Trump's own lawyer says, 'Oh, I don't know, maybe nuclear secrets were stolen from the White House and taken down to Mar-A-Lago illegally,' but whatever it is, we understand from the DOJ that it was obviously so critical, that they felt like they had to move immediately."
Watch the video below or at this link.
08 12 2022 06 00 37 youtu.be