Sep 30, 2019

Pompeo: New Russia sanctions show U.S. won't tolerate election meddling

Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the U.S. would impose more sanctions targeting Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian businessman known as "Putin's chef," for election interference activities carried out by his troll farm.

The big picture: Prigozhin and his social media manipulation operation, the Internet Research Agency, were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February 2018 for election meddling. The additional sanctions come in the wake of a whistleblower's allegations that President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit 2020 election interference from Ukraine, which are now at the heart of a formal impeachment inquiry.

The backdrop:

  • Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that Trump told the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was "unconcerned about Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries."
  • However, Pompeo said in announcing the sanctions: "We have been clear: We will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections." He added: "We will not hesitate to impose further costs on Russia for its destabilizing and unacceptable activities."

Go deeper: FEC chair claims GOP commissioner blocked memo about foreign election interference

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Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.