Dec 20, 2017

Treasury designates five individuals under Magnitsky Act

The grave of Sergei Magnitsky. Photo: Misha Japaridze / AP

The Treasury Department has designated five individuals under the Magnitsky Act, including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. With these first designations under the Trump administration, that brings the total number of people targeted under the act to 49.

What it does: The Magnitsky Act targets those who abetted or benefitted from the detention and death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and those who commit human rights offenses against other would-be Russian whistleblowers, preventing them from doing business with any American financial institution and prohibiting them from traveling to the United States.

Background: The law is vehemently opposed by the Russian government — and it gained renewed prominence earlier this year after Donald Trump Jr. reportedly suggested to a Russian lawyer that his father might review it as president during the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

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Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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Judge sets "scheduling" conference call ahead of Roger Stone sentencing

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has requested a Feb. 18 "scheduling" conference call in the Roger Stone case, two days before the former Trump associate is set to be sentenced.

Why it matters: Stone's defense team on Friday filed a sealed motion for a new trial — the second time they've done so — amid allegations of juror bias and a growing controversy over Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the case.

Biden says Bloomberg's money can't "erase" his record

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Michael Bloomberg's vast fortune cannot "erase" his record, and that scrutiny of Bloomberg's positions on things like race and policing will ramp up now that he's in the national spotlight.

Why it matters: Biden's polling free fall in the wake of poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire has coincided with a surge for Bloomberg, who appeals to a similar moderate bloc of the Democratic Party. The billionaire's limitless spending capacity poses an especially stark threat to Biden, who has struggled with fundraising.