Washington’s most senior military officer this week sought Israeli assurances that the Middle Eastern nation is not planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that the United States and its allies fear could be stepping stones to atomic arms, according to a public radio report cited by Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on Wednesday with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Israeli General Staff head Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz sat in on the latter discussion.
Dempsey was visiting Israel to ensure Yaalon “is not flip-flopping on the Americans and changing his mind about an independent Israeli strike on Iran,” a senior Israeli defense insider told al-Monitor last week.
After meeting with Dempsey, Netanyahu said the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran eclipses all other dangers from Israel’s neighbors, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“We will work together so that doesn’t happen,” Netanyahu said.
President Obama has sought to curb Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear-weapon capability through economic pressure and diplomatic engagement, but also has refused to rule out employing direct force against Tehran’s activities. Netanyahu has more heavily emphasized the possibility of an armed offensive against Tehran, which insists its atomic ambitions are purely peaceful.
In a news report published last week, Israel’s finance minister said Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities could potentially be leveled with “a few hours of airstrikes.”
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.