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Brussels Playbook Plus: EU fights fake news machine

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EU FIGHTS FAKE NEWS MACHINE FROM SHADOWS: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Playbook he doesn’t confidence “fighting propaganda with propaganda.” The EU also stays away from the propaganda game (mostly) but has produced a team called “East StratCom” inside External Action Intend to catalogue and expose disinformation it says arises from the Russian state. To this point it claims to are finding nearly 2,500 degrees of Russian disinformation.

You can imagine Playbook’s surprise when journalists were invited to some briefing Monday on said disinformation, and then be known they couldn’t quote the
diplomats giving the briefing. Reporters were, put simply, inspired to expose disinformation from shadowy sources via non-quotes from another faceless source.

To be fair, they carries a slick “EU vs Disinformation” Facebook page and a Twitter account (@EUvsDisinfo), therefore it is not completely in the shadows. But Playbook will not help wondering if Brussels should assemble the “face” back into Facebook.

Here’s some context you can ensure that you get: The “EU source” belongs to an organization of around 12 people, without any discretionary budget. They have got uncovered false stories for instance one concerning the Ukrainian army crucifying a three-year-old boy inside of a former rebel stronghold. Angela Merkel may be a new target of Russian disinformation, says the “EU source,” which is regularly implicated like a cause of terrorist attacks.

CULTURE WARS In the COLLEGE OF EUROPE: The Bruges home of future Eurocrats, a beacon in the European peace project, is definitely the site of your brewing culture war. None other than Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered the opening speech of the present academic year on the College of Europe, telling students “Now is not the here we are at division.” This reveals some of them forgot to have notes as things started to get nasty when multiple students from different The european countries took turns to make national displays during the college canteen.

The Benelux delegation is said to experience promised “Belgian chocolate, Dutch drinking games, Luxembourgish potatoes and also a speech from Paul Magnette,” depending on Beata Thor, a Swedish student. However, their display included King Leopold II, the “Butcher of Congo,” without explanation. The college’s?student newspaper called them out on this, bringing about an?apology of sorts.

“Millions of an individual were killed, injured or saw their living conditions severely worsened. The real reason for pretty much everything human misery was a never-ending imperialistic quest for power and cash,” admitted the Benelux contingent. Still, Leopold is usually a significant historical figure, hence they included him anyway. Bulimia: nasty messages over the college’s Facebook group. Stayed tuned to get more detailed.

OVER The most notable: Playbook was alarmed to see a trade union report today suggesting Europe it not just burning, but burning even though the Committee with the Regions fiddles. The CoR has never
before been accorded such importance, and now we thought we would investigate.

According to Unite Syndicale we’re also “in turmoil” (a really Trumpian phrase) as “southern Europe borders on war zones” as well as the European idea is challenged like never before (excluding the earth Wars, presumably). And thru it all “the Committee in the Regions fiddles around with jobs for your boys!”

“As Europe struggles to outlive, the CoR struggles to rush by way of a bogus internal ‘competition’ exclusively restricted to its Mexican army of political appointees,” the union raged. No, that is not another Trump insult, but a French expression to go into detail a group through an abundance of administrators. Around the wider point, Playbook agrees that job vacancies must be advertised. But surely the wider question is: How does the EU spend tens of millions on the Committee in the Regions, without really hearing it?

SEPARATED AT BIRTH:?Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva, and pop superstar Britney Spears.

BY THE NUMBERS:

357,000,000,000: Niche European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi says he’ll present Italy whether it leaves the euro.

25: The amount of MEPs who agreed within the International Trade Committee to approve the EU-Canada trade deal.

15: The number of trade committee MEPs with the Canada deal.

46:?Days before the Dutch general election.

WHO’S UP:

Martin Schulz: He is predicted being announced when the Socialist challenger to Angela Merkel in Germany’s national election in September.

Benoit Hamon: The French Socialist won the very first round of the center-left presidential primary and is also planning to clinch the nomination this Sunday.

WHO’S DOWN:

Francois Fillon: What is this great that his wife Penelope was about the payroll of his office between 1992 and 2002 might not help his poll numbers to the French presidential bid.

Sean Spicer: Managed to anger and confuse nearly everyone in reference to his first briefing as being the U.S. presidential spokesperson.

BREXITOMETER:?Now that Britain’s PM Theresa May has indicated her desire to leave the market, there’s no looking back. But we have seen bumps in the route to a challenging Brexit, as May’s government lost the content 50 lawsuit and then she bowed to demands from MPs to create out her Brexit strategy in the white paper.

QUOTE Every week: “He was using alternative facts.” – President Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway explaining how presidential spokesman Sean Spicer found think crowds for Trump’s inauguration were the greatest ever.

GAFFES AND LAUGHS

No gender equality for bees: The Parliament’s women’s rights committee soon voted on the resolution with EU funds to generally be spent promoting gender equality, which triggered a backlash from those that think EU funds may be better spent elsewhere. Beatrix von Storch, a senior an affiliate the far-right Alternative for Germany, who, on being appointed on the committee in 2014, swiftly considered necessary it is scrapped, proposed an amendment that didn’t produce the final cut: “Not all EU policy areas could be gender mainstreamed, as, by way of example, the EU policy on honey bees, as there is just one single female bee queen per colony and never two.”

Maltese bird hunting isn’t any laughing matter: Here is what Vicky Ford MEP said when Malta’s Economy Minister Christian Cardona started sniggering when she flagged the plight of the birds that Maltese hunters shoot: “Minister, please stop shooting the birds in the year … Don’t laugh. Stop it. Stop it. Do not do it. Do not do it if you are holding the presidency of your European Council. Please. Thank you so much.”

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Cummings hospitalized as wife suspends campaign for governor

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is currently hospitalized after a task to drain an infection, three sources told POLITICO, the most up-to-date setback inside of a string of medical issues which have plagued the longtime lawmaker since a year ago.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a Democratic policy consultant, suspended her gubernatorial bid in Maryland on Friday, shortly before news surfaced that her husband is at the hospital.

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Soon after POLITICO first reported his hospitalization, Cummings\’ office released an argument saying his health problems were associated with a bacterial infection in the knee.

"Doctors drained the infection in the minor procedure today. He\’s resting comfortably and expects the full recovery," his office said Friday.

Cummings was hospitalized and sidelined for a lot of months not too long ago due to heart issues.

In a press release announcing wants to suspend her campaign, Rockeymoore Cummings cited personal issues but wouldn\’t elaborate.

\”Making an attractive and direct contribution towards state of Maryland also to our nation was my greatest motivating factor for getting into the public arena. Unfortunately, caused by personal considerations, We\’re suspending my bid for governor of Maryland,\” she said within an email to supporters.

Multiple sources said Rockeymoore Cummings\’ decision to leave out the race was linked to her husband\’s health concerns. Democratic aides said Cummings was moving slowly ahead of the Christmas break.

Cummings, 66, was hospitalized last May after what his office described back then as a \”minimally invasive\” heart valve replacement. He was scheduled to revisit work after that but ended up missing many months a result of a post-op infection that kept him clear of Capitol Hill until September.

Upon his return, Cummings was noticeably slimmer and said he\’d have got to sustain a stricter diet and acquire more sleep. But he brushed aside any notion that he or she wasn\’t competent to fully perform his job.

Cummings has represented his hometown Baltimore inside your home since 1996. He or she is well-liked and revered among all parties, even while he\’s sparred with Republicans over contentious issues for the reason that top Democrat over the House Oversight Committee.

Rockeymoore Cummings was one among nine Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. She was endorsed by EMILY\’s List after she jumped within the race in October. But Rep. Cummings was the gubernatorial candidate\’s biggest single surrogate both publicly plus regards to fundraising. The congressman was listed as being a headliner a great upcoming fundraiser for Rockeymoore Cummings on Sunday.

Despite the support with the prominent Democratic congressman, Rockeymoore Cummings wasn\’t the irrefutable front-runner however. At the beginning of polling of your Democratic primary, she trailed candidates including former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Prince George\’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

Despite a considerable primary as well as general Democratic lean of Maryland, Democrats aren\’t as optimistic about unseating Hogan as they are about beating incumbent Republicans in states like Illinois, Boise state broncos, or Maine. That\’s largely because Hogan is popular: An October poll by Morning Consult listed him for the reason that governor while using the second-highest approval near your vicinity, behind only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

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GOP senators recommend FBI probe of Trump 'dossier' author Steele

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Two Republican senators have recommended which the FBI pursue a criminal investigation against Christopher Steele – this writer of the disputed Trump-Russia dossier – for the purpose they described as evidence that they made false statements to federal investigators.

"I cannot take lightly generating a referral for criminal investigation. But, because would with any credible proof a criminal offense unearthed while in our investigations, I\’m obliged to secure that information along on the Justice Department for appropriate review,\” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said in the joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

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The senators did not provide public evidence to substantiate their request, nevertheless they noted they sent a "classified memorandum" to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray containing the foundation within their request.

The request isn\’t going to measure the validity of your Steele dossier, nor can it constitute a criminal allegation. "The referral is made for further investigation only," according to the statement.

Even so, Democrats quickly responded in anger.

"I wasn\’t consulted concerning this referral nor were all of my Democratic colleagues," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the highest Democrat on Grassley\’s committee. "I do believe this referral is unfortunate since it\’s clearly another effort to deflect attention from what medicine committee\’s main concern: determining whether there is collusion regarding the Trump campaign and Russia to steer the election and whether there were subsequent obstruction of justice."

One congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the choice by Grassley and Graham to mention Steele towards Justice Department raises an obvious anomaly.

"These are speaking about DOJ a justice based upon documents DOJ gave them and according to witness testimony into the DOJ," the aide said.

Steele, an old British intelligence officer, was commissioned in 2016 by research firm Fusion GPS to research President Donald Trump\’s ties to Russia. The dossier he produced, which Trump has derided as fiction, describes a lot of illicit connections between Trump, his business and also the Kremlin.

Republicans have persistently questioned how the FBI handled the dossier after receiving it in the 2016 campaign, including whether or not it formed the foundation of your surveillance warrant against a Trump campaign associate and whether the FBI independently verified any kind of Steele\’s information.

Republicans in addition sounded the alarm over reports that Fusion was paid by the Clinton campaign for Steele\’s research, suggesting that Steele\’s work was the merchandise of your partisan smear effort.

The two senators claim in their letter to obtain seen proof "potential violations" by Steele on the law prohibiting false statements to government officials. These potential violations, they assert, occurred "regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier."

Their letter was copied to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the highest Democrat to the Judiciary Committee, and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the most notable lawmakers for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top part lawmakers on the House Intelligence ommittee.

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DOJ clash with Trump allies hits Ryan's doorstep

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The two sources told POLITICO there was an endeavor by Ryan and DOJ leaders to reduce the temperature newest hostilities between the Justice Department and Trump allies in Congress. That group of House Republicans has railed against the department\’s leadership amid partisan questions its handling with the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia. Nunes had even threatened contempt citations against DOJ and FBI leaders should they failed to comply with his request.

Still, this probably is not the end of it for Ryan. There are signs that Wednesday\’s agreement won\’t placate the GOP lawmakers most hostile toward the Justice Department. And therefore the speaker will probably be in the heart of ongoing run-ins between some of his hard-line members as well as DOJ as they quite simply fight over the definition of typically closely guarded documents – from surveillance warrants to evidence connected with ongoing investigations.

Indeed, Ryan\’s attempt to help broker a truce suggests he\’ll be a central figure in resolving disputes that Democrats and several Republicans fear could erode public confidence inside justice system.

On Thursday morning, just hours after the tentative détente, Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) requested Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be replaced unless he exerts with additional control in the FBI and produces documents Congress have been requesting.

"It\’s time for Sessions to get started managing from a spirit of transparency to give doing this improper behavior to light and stop further violations," they wrote within a op-ed within the Washington Examiner.

Though Ryan hasn\’t waded publicly into these fights, multiple GOP lawmakers repeat the speaker\’s attitude may be consistent: He firmly believes during the House\’s authority to conduct oversight with the Department of Justice and FBI.

"Is know for Representatives carries a constitutional duty to workout oversight from the executive branch," said the spokeswoman, AshLee Strong. "The speaker always expects the administration to observe the House\’s oversight requests, and then he will support his chairmen when they get them to be."

Rosenstein and Wray "wasted a visit to the Capitol," said one Republican lawmaker near the speaker. "Once Paul assures himself that this request is legitimate and there\’s grounds for it, he always backs the chairperson who requires it."

Democrats have declared that the GOP attacks to the Justice Department – and Special Counsel Robert Mueller for example – really are a cynical try to protect Trump as investigations of his campaign\’s ties to Russia encroached upon his group of friends. The document requests and claims of bias, they\’ve argued, are aimed towards delegitimizing your research.

Republican lawmakers themselves are divided about precisely how harsh an approach to take toward the FBI and Justice Department. But in interviews, some House lawmakers say Ryan has come across a unifying theme throughout the conference: transparency.

"Paul Ryan can be an institutionalist," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who\’s been being among the most aggressive critics of Justice Department leaders\’ handling of the Trump-Russia probe. "I really believe he shares our frustration using the loss of responsiveness."

"Perhaps we have seen several different camps regarding how aggressive people must be … but those camps are typical coming together with one singular focus, which will come down on the medial side of needing more documents, more transparency," added another GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity to characterize conversations with colleagues.

"I do believe there was clearly lots of division earlier, even so the more the GOP members uncover … greater careers aligning of investigative strategies and tactics," the lawmaker said.

Ryan states little publicly over the matter since October, as he chided DOJ due to its refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators demanding more info about how exactly the FBI handled its Trump-Russia investigation.

"As soon as the executive branch, in this situation, the FBI as well as DOJ are stonewalling or foot-dragging, making it harder for us to accomplish our obligation of conducting oversight about the executive branch," he vented within an interview with Reuters back then.

Since then, some Trump loyalists inside the house have ratcheted up their complaints. First, they took concentrate on Mueller, who was simply tapped by Rosenstein in May to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. Mueller\’s team, they complained, included officials who had donated to Democrats, they can said raised the specter of bias.

That group of Republicans close with Trump – including Gaetz, Jordan, Meadows and Ron DeSantis – also pounced on reports that Mueller had removed a highly regarded agent from his team in July after learning of a few texting criticizing Trump that he had provided for a colleague.

At once, even more traditional Republicans over the intelligence, judiciary and oversight panels also began more quietly question the FBI\’s tactics inside the Russia probe, though failed to allege bias or corruption necessarily. Recently, POLITICO also reported that Nunes and various Republicans about the House intelligence committee ended up perfecting a probe they assert could spotlight wrongdoing by top officials inside FBI.

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