The U.S. has no ambassador in Turkey or Saudi Arabia as it enters the diplomatic knife fight over journalist Jamal Khashoggi
President Trump is under increasing pressure to find out if Saudi Arabia really murdered or abducted dissident Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an Oct. 2 visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as Turkey says. A bipartisan group of 22 senators sent Trump a letter on Wednesday triggering a law that forces the administration to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance, leading to sanctions if Saudi Arabia is found responsible.
The White House insists Trump is taking the situation seriously. The Trump administration is "very engaged on this issue," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Wednesday. "Senior officials, diplomats are speaking to both the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the government of Turkey, and we're using diplomatic channels." At the same time, Palladino tiptoed around the fact that the U.S. has no ambassador to either country, as Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pointed out:
Q: Who again — what's the name of the ambassador in Turkey right now?
PALLADINO: I don't have that in front of me right now and I – Matt —
Q: What's the name of the ambassador in Saudi Arabia right now?
PALLADINO: I see what you're getting at. Okay. We are confident in our diplomatic —
Q: The answer is that you don't have an ambassador in either place, right?
PALLADINO: We —
Q: And in fact, the charge in Riyadh has now been nominated to be the ambassador to Yemen. So just is it correct that you do not have ambassadors in place in either Ankara or Riyadh?
PALLADINO: But we have diplomatic staff, senior diplomatic officials —
Q: I'm sure you do. [State Department transcript]
Palladino went on to "reiterate our request for our colleagues in the Senate" to help the State Department "get its full team on the field," and Lee asked who Trump wanted the Senate to confirm to the vacant Saudi and Turkey ambassadorships. Palladino said he didn't "have that in front of me right now." "You're sure someone's been nominated for both positions?" Lee asked. Palladino said he'd have to check. According to the American Foreign Service Association, Trump has nominated nobody for either ambassadorship. Peter Weber
The police cannot simply kill your dog because you have failed to license it with the city, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, reversing a lower court decision.
The case in question involved a police raid on the Detroit home of Nikita Smith in response to a report that marijuana was sold there. While executing the search warrant, officers fatally shot Smith's three dogs, one of which was pregnant. An officer allegedly commented after shooting a dog, "Did you see that? I got that one good." The raid turned up 25.8 grams of marijuana, and Smith was given a misdemeanor charge that was later dismissed.
She sued over the death of her dogs, and a district court ruled the suit could not go forward because Smith did not have "legitimate possessory interest" in the dogs "because they were unlicensed." The appeals court disagreed, holding that just "as the police cannot destroy every unlicensed car or gun on the spot, they cannot kill every unlicensed dog on the spot." Smith's suit can now proceed.
"The opinion establishes that pet owners' Fourth Amendment rights do not depend on a license," said Smith's lawyer, Chris Olson. "More importantly, the opinion foreclosed a post hoc 'get out of jail free card' for police officers that unreasonably shoot dogs every day in this country." Bonnie Kristian
China's detention of religious and ethic minorities, notably Uighur Muslims, is "largest internment of civilians in the world today," outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday night. "It may be the largest since World War II," she added, labeling the arrangement "straight out of George Orwell."
"At least a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in so-called 're-education camps' in western China," Haley reported, accusing Beijing of using torture to force them "to renounce their religion and to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party."
China on Tuesday responded with its most significant defense of the camps to date, tacitly admitting detainees are held at length against their will. Shohrat Zakir, chair of the government in the Xinjiang autonomous region where many Uighurs live, told state-run media the facilities are "humane" vocational training centers with amenities including air conditioning, sports, and movie screenings. He described them as a useful tool for opposing "terrorism and extremism."
"Today's Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and stable," he said. "No matter where they are or at what time of the day, people are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling." Zakir is himself an ethnic Uighur. Bonnie Kristian
A rising star in the Republican Party is dangerously close to losing her seat in the House.
A University of Utah poll released Monday shows that Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) and her Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, are now tied. Each candidate has 46 percent support, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Another 8 percent of those polled remain undecided.
This is the first major poll released in the Utah congressional race that shows Love without any advantage over McAdams, reports Real Clear Politics; she previously held a lead of at least three points. In fact, the same poll in June found that Love held a six-point advantage over McAdams. Love hasn't lost her Republican support, notes the Tribune, rather, McAdams has been more successful at picking up undecided voters. Love told reporters on Monday that she didn't believe the poll and that she normally "runs five points ahead of what the Tribune" finds.
Love was elected in 2014 as Congress' first black Republican woman, and she easily won her re-election in 2016. Real Clear Politics lists Utah's 4th Congressional District as one of 30 toss-ups in the midterms. Democrats are vying to win 23 seats in order to take control of the House.
The University of Utah's poll was conducted by speaking to 403 registered voters from Oct. 3 to Oct. 11. The margin of error is 4.3 percentage points. Brendan Morrow
WWE is not altering its plans to hold an event in Saudi Arabia amid mounting criticism from fans and reportedly even its own employees.
Some wrestlers on WWE's roster are uncomfortable performing at Crown Jewel, a wrestling pay-per-view event scheduled for next month in Saudi Arabia, reports Sports Illustrated. This follows the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after arriving at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. The Saudi government is reportedly preparing to report he was killed during a botched interrogation after weeks of claiming no knowledge. Turkey says it has evidence Khashoggi's body was dismembered.
Khashoggi's disappearance has prompted various forms of corporate protest — JPMorgan Chase pulled out of an upcoming business conference in Saudi Arabia, and a Hollywood talent firm has threatened to return a $400 million Saudi investment. WWE fans are watching closely, but the wrestling company simply said in a vague statement to the New York Post that it continues to "maintain an open line of communication" with its wrestlers and will "monitor the situation."
WWE first held an event in Saudi Arabia earlier this
Secretary of Defense James Mattis isn't going anywhere just yet.
Mattis told reporters on Monday that Trump has assured him he is "100 percent" behind him, per CBS News. This came after Trump told 60 Minutes on Sunday that it "could be" that his secretary of defense will leave the administration because "I think he's sort of a Democrat."
In response, the retired four-star Marine Corps general told reporters that he has actually never registered for a political party, and his "portfolio is bipartisan." He also said he and the president have "never talked" about the possibility of him leaving the administration.
60 Minutes' question for Trump came following reports that Trump and Mattis' relationship had grown strained; The New York Times reported in September that the president has "soured on his defense secretary" and is "increasingly concerned that he is a Democrat at heart." With such a high turnover rate in the Trump administration, this has naturally raised the question of whether Mattis is on his way out, but for now, he says he's "on [Trump's] team." Brendan Morrow
If President Trump ever gets tired of referring to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, Tucker Carlson just offered him a bunch of offensive new nicknames.
The Fox News host during a segment on Monday night referred to Warren using a whole slate of Native American-themed insults, including "Lie-
Carlson wasn't impressed with Warren's DNA test, though, saying the results only show that she might be "about roughly as American Indian as every white person you've ever met, which is to say not American Indian at all." The Fox News host then said that Warren had appointed herself the "head of the #MeSioux movement" with these claims, having "leveraged" Native Americans' suffering to "climb the greasy pole of our fake meritocracy."
Later in the show, Carlson also floated the idea that Warren may have paid The Boston Globe, which found "ethnicity was not a factor in her rise in law," for their coverage of her DNA test. He asked, "Are they taking payment directly from her or is it just a kind of moral payment?” Brendan Morrow
The high-profile Senate race in Texas is gathering steam with a Tuesday night debate in San Antonio between Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and President Trump set the date Monday for his promised rally with Cruz in Houston — Oct. 22 in the 10,000-seat NRG Arena. And also Monday, the independent Fire Ted Cruz PAC released a new ad from Austin director Richard Linklater, once more featuring actor Sonny Carl Davis. Only this time, he was talking about hamburgers.
Davis started with the Cruz campaign's odd attack on O'Rourke as a "Triple Meat Whataburger liberal." "What does that even mean, Ted?" he asked. "I mean, everybody I know in Texas likes Whataburger." But that was nothing compared with Davis looking pained at Canadian-born Ted Cruz professing his love for White Castle burgers: "There's not a White Castle within 900 miles of Texas, Ted. Maybe up in Canada, huh? But not in Texas."
Fire Ted Cruz is not affiliated with the O'Rourke campaign. This ad, like Linklater's last Sonny Carl Davis spot, is not exactly what you'd call issues-oriented, but it's arguably slightly less ridiculous than some of the attacks on O'Rourke from Cruz and his campaign. Early voting in Texas starts Monday. Peter Weber