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U.S. to impose visa bans on International Criminal Court personnel: Pompeo

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U.S. to impose visa bans on International Criminal Court personnel: Pompeo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will impose visa restrictions on people responsible for any International Criminal Court probe, a move aimed at preventing the court from pursuing the United States and its allies on Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at his news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Trump administration in September said that if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan, it would consider banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, sanctioning funds they have there and prosecuting them in U.S. courts.

Washington took the first step on Friday with Pompeo’s announcement.

“I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel,” Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent.”

Pompeo said the policy was already being implemented but would not elaborate, citing visa privacy laws.

“These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts,” he said. “We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course.”

A director at Human Rights Watch, Andrea Prasow, described the announcement as a “thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the court.

“Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked,” she said, and called on U.S. lawmakers to rescind the move and express support for the court.

In November 2017, the ICC prosecutor requested authorization from judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, including in states where the CIA held prisoners.

Judges are reviewing all material submitted by the prosecutor, and must decide whether or not to authorize an investigation.

With 123 member states, including the entire European Union, the ICC is a court of last resort. It was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity when a country is unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators itself. Major powers, including the United States, China and Russia, are not members.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Anthony Deutsch; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Jonathan Oatis

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Let it come out, let people see it, that’s up to the attorney general … and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’ll see if it’s fair,” he added.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week on a non-binding resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released both to Congress and to the public, but it is not clear how the measure will fare in the Senate.

Asked if the public should be allowed to see the report, Trump said: “I don’t mind.” He said he had no idea when it would be released.

As he has before, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

“I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country, tremendous success, tens of millions of voters and now somebody’s going to write a report who never got a vote,” he said.

Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the effort. Mueller has previously held several senior positions in the Justice Department, including FBI Director.

Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander and Andy Sullivan; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas surprised court watchers on Wednesday when he made a rare intervention in court arguments — asking a question in a case where a death row inmate is challenging his conviction and sentence.

Thomas, who is the only African-American and the only Southerner on the court, asked his rare question toward the end of arguments in a case involving a black Mississippi death row inmate, Curtis Flowers, who was tried six different times for the 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store.

CLARENCE THOMAS BACKS TRUMP’S CALL FOR CHANGING DEFAMATION LAW TO EASE SUITS AGAINST MEDIA

Flowers’ lawyers claims a white prosecutor had a history of impermissibly using jury strikes to exclude African-Americans from the jury.

The Associated Press reported that a clear majority of the court appeared “troubled” by the actions of the prosecutor — District Attorney Doug Evans — in the prosecution of Flowers.

Thomas asked if Flowers’ lawyers in the case had made similar decisions, and the race of any struck jurors. Lawyer Sheri Lynn Johnson said three white jurors were excused by Flowers’ lawyer.

According to The Washington Post, two of Flowers’ trials were hung, and convictions in three others were overturned because of misconduct by Evans.

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But the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his 2010 conviction, despite Evans striking five of six black jurors, arguing that Evans had race-neutral reasons for the strikes.

Thomas’ last questions in a case  were in 2016, and that was his first intervention in a decade. He has said previously that he relies on the written briefs and believes his colleagues interrupt too much.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump says he doesn’t mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he doesn't mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller is expected to send his report to Attorney General William Barr soon.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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