October 04, 2019

How Rudy Giuliani’s Bid to Discredit Mueller Played Into Impeachment Probe
Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/GettyMore than a year ago, Donald Trump’s personal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow began working, with the president’s sign-off, on a “counter-report” to push back against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The report, which stretched more than 100 pages, scrutinized the initiation of the Mueller probe. Despite the resources devoted to it and the hype by Giuliani and Trump allies, the document was never released. But it’s still proven explosive, as one of its authors says some of its contents formed the genesis of the single biggest political crisis of Trump’s turbulent presidency. “That outline that I gave to the State Department was originally prepared to be included in the counter-report,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast late Thursday night. “It was prepared to provide a guide for text that could be included in the [final] counter-report.”He added, “I undertook the [Ukraine] investigation” as part of a broader effort that began last year “to find out how much evidence existed that could exonerate [President Trump].”That Ukraine-related investigation started as an attempt to delegitimize the Mueller probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But, according to Giuliani, it tipped him off to the idea of getting the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, despite apparent warnings from one of the top U.S. diplomats in Ukraine that the information he was getting from Ukrainian political figures on Biden was not to be trusted. (Sekulow told The Daily Beast he did not do any investigative work involving Ukraine for Trump). The president now faces an impeachment probe sparked by a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens and appeared to make security aid contingent on it. Immediately after Zelensky told Trump he was interested in buying more anti-tank missiles from the U.S., Trump asked for a “favor,” according to the transcript of that call. That favor was an investigation – and not just of the Bidens. “As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance,” Trump told Zelensky, “but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s important that you do it if that’s possible.” The next month, according to texts from U.S. diplomats outlining efforts to push Ukraine to undermine Biden and thus boost Trump’s political prospects, Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland – who had connected Giuliani with a Zelensky adviser – scrambled to get the Ukrainians to publicly commit to investigating what Sondland called “2016 and Burisma,” references to the origins of the Mueller investigation and to the Ukrainian natural gas firm where Trump and Giuliani, without evidence, have claimed Biden engaged in a cover-up. Volker told Congress that Giuliani insisted “the statement should include specific reference to ‘Burisma’ and ‘2016.’” It alarmed the Ukrainians; the texts indicate they feared being roped into domestic U.S. politics, and the statement never came.Late Thursday evening, shortly after House Democrats released those explosive text messages—which appeared to further implicate the State Department in the Trump-Giuliani pressure campaign on Ukraine—Giuliani said in a phone interview that months earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to aid the Trump attorney’s quixotic Ukrainian expedition.  In March, according to Giuliani, the former New York mayor brought to Pompeo’s attention a packet of information outlining some of the materials that would have been included in the counter-report that was never released by Trump’s legal team. It would prove to be another fateful decision. “Pompeo called me up afterwards and asked, ‘Do you have any other written material,’ and…I said I did,” Giuliani said. “He later said, ‘Just send me over the statements from the most important witnesses.’” Later, Giuliani – who has given versions of this account to CNN, the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal – said Pompeo “then called me back and said he referred it, and said, ‘We’ll do an internal investigation.’”Two sources close to Pompeo took issue with Giuliani’s characterization of their communication. “Secretary Pompeo never promised Rudy Giuliani that he would investigate the contents of the envelope or anything related to Ukraine,” one of the sources said. “The only Ukrainian project that Secretary Pompeo oversaw was Ambassador Volker’s work to reduce corruption and fight Russian aggression.” The second person close to the secretary of state backed that account. This source said Pompeo was skeptical of Giuliani’s material and only asked for more detail about the allegations because they seemed thin.According to both people, Pompeo gave Giuliani’s materials to his close aide T. Ulrich Brechbuhl shortly after he received them. Brechbuhl provided them on May 3 to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Linick, months later, convened a briefing for legislators alerting them to the material. Despite the time lag, the briefing was described as “urgent.”One Democrat attending Linick’s Wednesday briefing, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, emerged to call the dossier “propaganda and disinformation.” Among other things, it included a dubious story by right-wing Hill journalist John Solomon that Solomon sent pre-publication to Giuliani allies Lev Parnas, Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing claiming the U.S. government squelched a Ukrainian inquiry into a group tied to George Soros and Barack Obama’s administration.Democratic lawmakers walked away from the briefing questioning the involvement in the Ukraine scandal of the highest levels of the Trump administration: the president, his secretary of state, and–according to a Friday congressional request for documents–Vice President Mike Pence. And on Friday night, they pushed their probe even further: subpoenaing the White House.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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