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July 2017

Obama DOJ Allowed Russian Lawyer to Enter U.S. Without Visa Before Trump Team Meeting By Debra Heine

The Obama Justice Department cleared Moscow attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya last year under “extraordinary circumstances,” allowing her to enter the United States without a visa before she penetrated then-candidate Donald Trump’s inner circle, The Hill reported Wednesday evening.

Veselnitskaya spent June of 2016 lobbying government officials and lawmakers to reverse the Magnitsky Act and restore the ability of Americans to adopt Russian orphans. She managed to finagle a meeting with the Trump team by promising that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president.

That work was a far cry from the narrow reason the U.S. government initially gave for allowing Veselnitskaya into the U.S. in late 2015, according to federal court records.

The Moscow lawyer had been turned down for a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully but then was granted special immigration parole by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the limited purpose of helping a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, her client, defend itself against a Justice Department asset forfeiture case in federal court in New York City.

During a court hearing in early January 2016 as Veselnitskaya’s permission to stay in the country was about to expire, federal prosecutors described how rare the grant of parole immigration was as Veselnitskaya pleaded for more time to remain in the United States.

“In October the government bypassed the normal visa process and gave a type of extraordinary permission to enter the country called immigration parole,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni explained to the judge during a hearing Jan. 6, 2016.

“That’s a discretionary act that the statute allows the Attorney General to do in extraordinary circumstances. In this case, we did that so that Mr. Katsyv could testify. And we made the 
further accommodation of allowing his Russian lawyer into the country to assist,” he added.

The prosecutor said Justice was willing to allow the Russian lawyer to enter the United States again as the trial in the case approached so she could help prepare and attend the proceedings.

The court record indicates the presiding judge asked the Justice Department to extend Veselnitskaya’s immigration parole another week until he decided motions in the case. There are no other records in the court file indicating what happened with that request or how Veselnitskaya appeared in the country later that spring.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in New York confirmed Wednesday to The Hill that it let Veselnitskaya into the country on a grant of immigration parole from October 2015 to early January 2016.

Justice Department and State Department officials could not immediately explain how the Russian lawyer was still in the country in June for the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the events in Washington D.C.

The lobbying effort to repeal the Magnitsky Act fizzled out fairly quickly in the summer of 2016, sources told The Hill.

They described Veselnitskaya, who does not speak English, as a mysterious and shadowy figure. They said they were confused as to whether she had an official role in the lobbying campaign, although she was present for several meetings.

The sources also described their interactions with Veselnitskaya in the same way that Trump Jr. did. They claimed not to know who she worked for or what her motives were.

“Natalia didn’t speak a word of English,” said one source. “Don’t let anyone tell you this was a sophisticated lobbying effort. It was the least professional campaign I’ve ever seen. If she’s the cream of the Moscow intelligence community then we have nothing to worry about.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting all records on how Veselnitskaya was able to enter and remain in the U.S.

Harvard Considers Eradicating Social Clubs to Fight Sex Discrimination By Tyler O’Neil

On Wednesday, a faculty committee at Harvard University has suggested “phasing out” fraternities, sororities, and other social groups on campus, with the goal of “ending the gender segregation and discrimination” of such historic college organizations.

“Harvard students may neither join nor participate in final clubs, fraternities or sororities, or other similar private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students, whether they have any local or national affiliation, during their time in the College,” the proposed rule stated.

The rule also emphasized punishments for students in such organizations. “The College will take disciplinary action against students who are found to be participating in such organizations. Violations will be adjudicated by the Administrative Board.”

While the rule was vague about the type of organizations which would be specifically forbidden for students to join, Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane insisted that “appendix 2 in the report (page 17) clearly outlines which organizations they are suggesting.”

That appendix listed: social clubs with gender-neutral policies such as the Spee Club, the Oak Club, and the Seneca; female final clubs like the La Vie Club, the Bee Club, and the Pleiades Society; male final clubs like the Delphic Club, the Fox Club, and the Phoenix S.K. Club; fraternities like Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and Sigma Chi; and sororities like Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Dane argued that that list was the entirety of the groups considered in the proposed ban, but the language of the rule — “private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students” — suggested a wide berth of organizations, which could broadly be construed to include religious groups, activist groups, and social welfare groups.

The emphasis on preventing discrimination pervaded the document. “As long ago as 1988, a faculty member observed that ‘the final clubs are where Harvard students learn to discriminate.’ Such an attitude hardly prepares students for the pluralistic world into which they will graduate,” the committee wrote.

The Harvard faculty committee’s proposal outlined the “explicit goal of ending the gender segregation and discrimination of these organizations in a manner that is consistent with our educational mission, non-discrimination principles, and applicable law.” The proposal also noted that the committee “turned for inspiration to the practices of peer institutions that have taken steps to diminish the role of fraternities and sororities and/or equivalent exclusive-membership private social clubs on their campuses.”

The vague language employed in the second quote might be a hedge, in order to prevent students from forming organizations like fraternities and sororities while using other names to refer to them.

Even so, such a drastic action as forbidding all fraternities and sororities would open the door for the college to prevent other expressions of students’ freedom of association. If avoiding discrimination is the goal, why stop at gender discrimination? Religious and viewpoint discrimination may be fundamental to Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or political advocacy groups on campus. CONTINUE AT SITE

CIA Defends the Muslim Brotherhood as Western Intel Agencies Warn of Dangers, Links to Terror By Patrick Poole


As the CIA continues to defend their investment in the Muslim Brotherhood to bring “moderate Islamist democracy” to the Middle East, much of the Middle East and our European allies are moving against the group.

I noted here at PIn fact, the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the central issues in the current Qatar crisis, where these Arab nations are taking active measures against Qatar for its support of the the Brotherhood:J Media last month that many of America’s Arab allies (Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), as well as Israel, had moved well ahead of the U.S. in addressing the group’s toxic influence:Just last week the foreign minister of Bahrain, whose legislature includes representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the group is a terrorist organizations and its sympathizers must be prosecuted:

Back in February, I reported that the CIA and the National Intelligence Council (NIC) provided the funds to support Nixon Center researchers Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke to create the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative during the Bush administration. That became the basis for their Foreign Affairs article of that same title:And the CIA still supports and defends the Muslim Brotherhood today:

Yet across Europe, intelligence agencies are warning about the group’s operations in their respective countries — and some are taking action.

Here’s a rundown of the actions being taken by our European allies and our Arab allies against the Muslim Brotherhood.



Since the terror attack in Nice nearly a year ago, France has taken active measures against the Muslim Brotherhood that include shutting down the group’s mosques and charities as well as banning leading members.

The Nice attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was the son of a well-known Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood figure. And earlier this year an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood fanboy, Abdallah El-Hamahmy, attacked police in front of the Louvre with a machete.

One of the concerns has been that the Muslim Brotherhood had been using France as a safe haven to engage in activity against their own foreign policy:

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood exploited their opposition to the Egyptian and other Arab regimes as a means to request political asylum in some European countries on the grounds that they were persecuted in their own countries. However, they violated the internationally recognised rules of asylum by continuing their political activities in the host countries. Western nations turned a blind eye to these illegal activities until the forces of terrorism started to bite the hand that fed them. That was when some of those countries (not all) grew alert to the beast that they were sheltering within their borders.

The secret meeting that Muslim Brotherhood leaders held in France 17 December was a glaring example of the Brotherhood’s persistence in violating the principles of political asylum. The meeting took the guise of an intellectual seminar but, in fact, its purpose was to design a plan of action for the coming phase. It was held at the Centre for Arab and Developmental Studies, on Rue de Ste Helene in the 13th Arrondissement, ostensibly to mark the sixth anniversary of Tunisia’s “Jasmine” Revolution. As many journalists in France will tell you, the centre itself was built by a member of the Tunisian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Hanid, with Qatari money.

Participants in that meeting called for, among other things, a revolution in Algeria similar to the Tunisian one, support for the terrorist Islamist groups fighting in Syria and a coup against Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. I learned from some French journalists who have been following the activities of Islamist groups in France that the original plan had been for a mass rally in which Muslim Brotherhood leaders, bent on escalating their confrontation against Arab states, would urge Arab masses in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Syria to rise up against their governments.

ISIS to Jihadists: ‘Kidnap the Children’ of Western Non-Muslims By Bridget Johnson

The Islamic State told followers to kidnap children of non-believers in a lengthy instructional article on seizing Westerners’ wealth and possessions, illustrating the kidnapping directive with a picture of church choir boys.

Jihadists residing in non-Muslim lands, according to the article, should “not hesitate to take the wealth of the harbi kuffar [non-Muslim disbelievers], either by force or through theft and fraud, and ponder the statement of [medieval Sunni theologian] Imam Ibn Taymiyyah concerning the Muslims who enters dar al-harb [land of disbelievers]: ‘Likewise, if he kidnaps them or their children, or subdues them in any way, then the lives and wealth of the harbi kuffar are permissible for the Muslims. So if they seize them in a shar’i manner they own them.’”

“Do not forget that their war on the Islamic State is dependant [sic] on wealth, so purify your intentions, place your trust in Allah, and do not seek anyone’s advice with regards to taking their wealth,” continues the directive in the latest issue of ISIS’ Rumiyah magazine. “Proceed forward with Allah’s blessing, for indeed stealing the kuffar’s wealth weakens them, threatens the security of their economies, strengthens and emboldens the believers, and prepares them for something greater than theft, and this is among the aspects of jihad that have been abandoned in this era except by a group of those who are truthful, and how few they are.”

Accompanying the article is an image of a few singers from the King’s College Choir in Cambridge, UK, which consists of 16 boys between the ages of 9 and 13 and 14 college undergraduates, with the all-caps caption: “IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO KIDNAP THE CHILDREN OF THE HARBI KUFFAR.”

ISIS has used the magazine before to call on jihadists to plunder the wealth of disbelievers and take slaves. An April article in Rumiyah said 20 percent of stolen wealth “should be set aside and given to the Khalifah or to an official representative of the Khalifah for those who are able.”

But “whoever kills a kafir – for which he has proof of his killing him” gets to keep all the loot. Or, specifically, “whatever the kafir possesses at the time and place he is killed.”

“This includes his clothing, jewelry, all kinds of weapons, gold, silver, currencies, as well as the vehicle he was using, and so forth,” ISIS added.

ISIS defined “property” that can be included in these booty-collecting operations to include people: “May Allah, the Most Generous, make the kuffar’s wealth, weapons, women, and children ghanimah [booty] for those who strive for His cause.”

This month’s 60-page Rumiyah, issued online in various languages including English and French, was published about a week late amid ISIS losing the nine-month battle to hold on to their Iraqi stronghold, Mosul.

Those who are legitimate targets for theft of property or persons, ISIS says in the new issue, are “not only those kuffar who are at war with the Muslims.”

“Rather, the harbi kuffar include all those to whom the Muslims have not granted security, either with a dhimmah contract, a covenant of security, or a ceasefire treaty, regardless of whether they are soldiers enlisted in the military, or non-combatants and others from among the common masses of the kuffar,” the article states.

In a directive long on quoting of the Quran and Islamic scholars to back up their booty-plunder quests, ISIS reiterates that the jihadist gets to keep 80 percent.

“And it is permissible for the Muslims to commit deception when stealing wealth from harbi kuffar wherever they are and however they are found, and it has not been established through any shar’i evidence nor through any cultural norms that entry visas are contracts or that they entail the granting of security,” ISIS continues. “Rather, an entry visa is permission to enter the land, and permission to enter does not entail the granting of security. And a man does not have security in his land while some people of those lands don’t have security from one another, and one party granting security does not entail the other party also granting security.”

“…And whoever enters dar al-harb using documents that are forged, or those that are authentic and which establish his religion and personal information, it is permissible for him to kill them and take their wealth if that is easy for him, because this does not represent the granting of security.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Liu Xiaobo, Leader of China, R.I.P. By The Editors

Liu Xiaobo was, in a sense, the leader of China. He was the country’s foremost proponent of freedom, democracy, and human rights. He thought that Communism was a gross imposition on China and that it could not last indefinitely, if enough Chinese stood up against it.

Liu has now died at 61. Apparently, the cause was liver cancer, plus years of torture and abuse in prison. He died surrounded by state agents, as he had lived much of his life.

He was born in 1955. An intellectual, he became a scholar of literature. In 2008, he was a founder of Charter 08, the democracy movement patterned after Charter 77. Charter 77 was the movement in Czechoslovakia, founded in 1977. It was led by Václav Havel — who would become a major supporter of Liu’s.

Like so many other Chinese democracy leaders, Liu was at Tiananmen Square in 1989. He was then imprisoned for a year and a half. Persisting, he was again imprisoned in 1995. From 1996 to 1999, he was in a “reeducation through labor” camp. Charter 08 was the last straw, and Liu was imprisoned in December of that year.

Never before had the Nobel peace committee given its prize to a Chinese person. In 2010, they did: to Liu Xiaobo. He could not attend the ceremony, of course, being a political prisoner. In 1936, the committee gave the prize to a prisoner of the Nazis, Carl von Ossietzky. Before his death, the Nazis transferred him to a hospital, where he died surrounded by guards (in 1938).

Just the same would happen to Liu Xiaobo, almost 80 years later.

During his years of imprisonment, his wife, Liu Xia, was kept under house arrest — of a particularly brutal kind. She has been denied access to the outside world. (This includes television and the Internet.) Guards have kept her locked in, day and night, as her health has unraveled.

In the United States, there was a peep or two for Liu Xiaobo, but not many. The 2009 Nobel peace laureate, President Obama, did not bestir himself for the 2010 peace laureate. In the Senate, however, Ted Cruz proposed that the area outside the Chinese embassy in Washington be renamed “Liu Xiaobo Plaza.” In this, he took a page from the Reagan Republicans of the mid 1980s, who renamed the area outside the Soviet embassy “Andrei Sakharov Plaza,” after the leading dissident in the USSR.

Incidentally, Sakharov, too, was a Nobel peace laureate, and denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony.

The “Liu Xiaobo Plaza” bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent. It was then killed in the House by the GOP leadership. No explanation was given.

Accusations and Rancor as Elite School’s Leader Departs By Kate Taylor

The end of the school year at Fieldston Lower, one of two elementary divisions at the elite Ethical Culture Fieldston School, is usually a time of celebration: class picnics on the school’s bucolic 18-acre campus in the Bronx, the fifth-grade graduation in the gym.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/12/nyregion/ethical-culture-fieldston-school-principal.html

But this year, these events were overshadowed when, on June 1, two weeks before classes ended, the head of the school, Jessica L. Bagby, issued a terse announcement that George Burns, the longtime principal of Fieldston Lower, was retiring.

The news shook many parents and staff members. Mr. Burns had worked there for 18 years and had given no indication that he planned to retire. Almost no one believed that his departure was entirely voluntary.

Some angry parents wrote to Ms. Bagby, demanding an explanation. In a heated meeting, staff members at Fieldston Lower told her and Caryn Seidman-Becker, the chairwoman of Fieldston’s board, that their trust in

Ms. Seidman-Becker and Ms. Bagby, who assumed her position a year ago, declined to discuss with staff members or parents why Mr. Burns had left. And so, in the absence of information, some supplied their own theory — that Ms. Seidman-Becker and some board members want to change the direction of Fieldston, which was founded in the late 19th century by Felix Adler as a free school serving poor children and is now one of New York City’s top private schools.

Ms. Seidman-Becker and Ms. Bagby, who assumed her position a year ago, declined to discuss with staff members or parents why Mr. Burns had left. And so, in the absence of information, some supplied their own theory — that Ms. Seidman-Becker and some board members want to change the direction of Fieldston, which was founded in the late 19th century by Felix Adler as a free school serving poor children and is now one of New York City’s top private schools.

In that largely white and wealthy world, Ethical Culture Fieldston is the most politically liberal of the schools, with an explicit mission to mold students into “ethical individuals who aim to make the world more humane and just.” Its Conversations About Race program, which is mandatory for all fourth and fifth graders, is among the most aggressive attempts by an independent school in New York to confront racial issues.

Mr. Burns, in particular, had made it his goal for Fieldston Lower to reflect the city’s diversity. He had championed Conversations About Race, which has gained national acclaim but has proved controversial among some parents. As part of the program, children are divided into groups by race to discuss their experiences.

In an interview, Ms. Bagby said the school was not backing away from its commitment to diversity and to tackling racial issues. While neither she nor Sarah Danzig Simon, the assistant head of school for institutional advancement, would directly address why Mr. Burns had left, it is clear, based on documents and interviews, that he and Ms. Bagby had a falling out shortly after the beginning of last school year. The dispute comes down to a meeting between them on Oct. 20, of which they have given radically different accounts, and which was later investigated by a member of the school’s board.

Mr. Burns’s version is encapsulated in a bias report he filed in December with the school’s human resources director. At the time, Mr. Burns shared the report with his former assistant, Rama Ndiaye, and she provided it to The New York Times.

According to that account, during the meeting Ms. Bagby mentioned that two parents had contacted her with concerns about the Conversations About Race program. She then asked Mr. Burns, “You know what the problem here is?” When he asked what it was, he wrote, she said something that sounded to him like “the scientists.” He was confused and asked her to repeat herself. At that point she said, apparently referring to the parents who had complained, “It’s the Zionists — the Jews.”

Mr. Burns wrote that he was stunned and told her that there were plenty of Jewish families who supported the program and families of different backgrounds who opposed it. Mr. Burns said she then made an additional comment about “this group of Jewish parents” who were complaining about the program.

In Mr. Burns’s telling, he emailed Ms. Bagby the next morning saying he was disturbed by her comment and wanted to discuss it further. They did not talk until their regularly scheduled meeting the next week, at which he told her that he found the remark as offensive as if she had said, “The problem in the school is the colored people.” He wrote that she ultimately offered a kind of apology — saying, “Well, I’m sorry if that’s what it sounded like to you, but I didn’t mean it that way” — but that he found it belated and unsatisfying.

Putin’s Dangerous New Ukraine Doctrine Russia tries to absorb breakaway regions while stepping up terror in Kiev and elsewhere. By Adrian Karatnycky

‘Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin, ” Donald Trump tweeted Sunday. “Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!” Hours before the two presidents met, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson underlined this tough line on sanctions by appointing Russia hawk Kurt Volker as chief U.S. envoy on Ukraine.

Messrs. Trump and Putin made limited progress on Syria, but Moscow has been intensifying its efforts to destabilize Ukraine. Mr. Putin has been reluctant to deploy large military forces, but fighting in Eastern Ukraine claims five or six lives a week. Of late the Kremlin has escalated its aggression with military attacks on civilian targets, assassinations, cyberattacks to cripple the state and economy, and the economic and partial political integration of the occupied region into Russia.

Mr. Putin’s war against Ukraine has boomeranged. His aggression has consolidated popular opinion, with one recent poll showing that 92% of those on territory controlled by Kiev now see themselves as Ukrainians. A decade ago that number stood at 75%. While a portion of this shift is attributable to the absence of data from occupied portions of Ukraine, most of it comes from shifting public attitudes. Mr. Putin is further stymied by Ukraine’s growing military capability and frustrated by signs of its economic recovery, both results of President Petro Poroshenko’s reforms.

For Mr. Putin, this is unacceptable. Russia is paying a large economic price because of Western sanctions. It also faces a growing threat of social discontent in the impoverished parts of Ukraine it controls. With 1.8 million residents internally displaced on Ukraine-controlled soil and 600,000 resettled in Russia, the self-styled Donetsk and Luhansk “peoples republics,” known by the acronyms DNR and LNR, have a combined population of more than 3.5 million. Many are retirees dependent on Ukrainian state pension payments. Others are miners and industrial workers whose plants were deeply integrated into the Ukrainian economy.

Mr. Putin’s response has been to step up the aggression. The first five months of 2017 saw a steep increase in attacks on hospitals, schools, factories and other civilian targets, resulting in 44 fatalities. Terrorist bombings and assassinations in Kiev and elsewhere have become commonplace. On June 27 and 28 car bombs killed two colonels from Ukraine’s security service. On June 1 a Russian citizen posing as a correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde shot but failed to kill a Chechen volunteer in the Ukrainian militia. In late March an assassin from Russian-annexed Crimea killed a former Russian parliamentarian and Putin critic who had received asylum in Ukraine.

Russia is also accelerating the integration of occupied Donbas into Russia. On Feb. 18, Mr. Putin issued a decree enabling Russian state and private institutions to accept passports and other identity documents issued by the self-styled DNR and LNR. The Russian press widely promoted the view of Luhansk separatist leader Igor Plotnitsky that the decree is a “step along the path of international recognition of our sovereignty.”

The DNR and LNR economies have begun rapidly converting to the Russian ruble. A further step came March 5, with the confiscation by the “republics” of some 40 major privately held Ukrainian companies. These enterprises had provided employment for locals while paying taxes to Kiev and scrupulously withholding them from the renegade authorities.

Although these “nationalizations”—a war crime under the Geneva Conventions—had been accelerated by an unofficial embargo of trade with the region started by Ukrainian civic activists in January, the swiftness of the confiscations suggested they had long been planned. On the day of the takeovers, senior Russian managers appeared at the “nationalized” workplaces to announce they were taking charge.

In mid-March, Kremlin-controlled media publicized the launch of a “Committee for the Integration of the Donbas and Russia” in Russian-annexed Yalta, Crimea. The Russian media trumpeted a call there by Mr. Plotnitsky for a referendum on the accession of the LNR to Russia. CONTINUE AT SITE

Ethics for the D.C. Ethicists Walter Shaub’s exit is the grandstanding of a pious political operator: Kimberley Strassel

We interrupt this week’s Don Jr. loop to tell a tale of a real ethics scandal. It’s one perpetrated not by the Trump administration, but by the man atop Washington’s ethics-industrial complex: Walter Shaub.

If you’ve never heard of Mr. Shaub, you soon will. He is resigning as director of the Office of Government Ethics—effective next week—so that he can continue more publicly the war he’s been waging against the administration internally since last fall. Unquestioning media outlets are providing him a big podium for his accusations, so it’s worth noting some facts.

Mr. Shaub was already playing the indignant watchdog on Sunday, as he explained his resignation on ABC’s “This Week.” He complained that the White House was consistently “challenging OGE’s authority to carry out its routine and most basic functions.” Understanding those “functions” is critical to realizing the Shaub drama is so much grandstanding.

The OGE isn’t a watchdog or an inspector general’s office. As its own website makes clear, it doesn’t adjudicate complaints, investigate ethics violations, or prosecute misconduct. Rather, it was set up in 1978 to help the White House. Its job is to “advise” and to “assist” the executive branch in navigating complex ethical questions, a job undoubtedly more frustrating and messy under President Trump. Nonetheless, Mr. Shaub’s attempt to act as ethics czar, to ride herd on the Trump operation, is outside his office’s mission. It’s the act of a pious political operator who doesn’t like this president.

Only weeks after the election, as speculation swirled about how Mr. Trump would handle the ethical complexity of his business dealings while president, Mr. Shaub was already trolling, posting a series of sarcastic tweets about divestiture to the Office of Government Ethics’ official account. When Mr. Trump released his plan for his assets, Mr. Shaub blasted it at a public event with press in attendance. So much for the “help” part.

The best insight into Mr. Shaub’s methods can be seen in the long fallout from Kellyanne Conway’s bone-headed February attempt to defend Ivanka Trump by calling on Americans to buy her clothing line. Deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, who leads the internal ethics team, reached out within minutes to reassure Mr. Shaub the situation would be reviewed. Mr. Shaub nonetheless waited only four days before dropping a public letter essentially demanding action against Ms. Conway.

In a Feb. 28 response to Mr. Shaub, Mr. Passantino noted that some of the OGE’s ethics regulations do not apply to White House staff. He nonetheless immediately reassured Mr. Shaub that a separate regulation did hold them to some of the same standards and that he had reschooled Ms. Conway in them. CONTINUE AT SITE

China’s Empty Nobel Chair Liu Xiaobo dies in Beijing’s custody, an example to the world.

Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel laureate, died on Thursday, only weeks after he was moved to hospital from a prison cell. The Chinese government bears responsibility for failing to competently diagnose and treat his liver cancer. To Beijing’s shame, the only other Peace Prize winner to die in custody was Carl von Ossietzky, a prisoner of Nazi Germany who won in 1935 and died in 1938.

Liu played a pivotal role in the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square, helping to negotiate the peaceful departure of the last students to occupy the square. He kept the spirit of that movement alive in 2008 when he helped to write Charter 08, a democracy manifesto. Shortly thereafter he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “subversion.”

Main Street Columnist Bill McGurn on the life and death of the Nobel Laureate, and what it portends for China’s future. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

China’s rulers have worked hard to make sure their citizens learned little about Liu’s ideas. That fear of one man’s courage testifies to the illegitimacy of their power. Liu could have played an important role in China’s transition to democracy, but his example will serve as an inspiration to future generations.

Beijing has used the fruits of economic reforms started by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 to prolong authoritarian rule far longer than most thought possible. But its obsession with social control is hampering further moves toward a free-market economy. The resulting tensions are building and increase the risk of instability.

At the Nobel prize ceremony in 2010, Liu was represented by an empty chair. His death is a reminder of the world’s obligation to keep attention on China’s rights abuses. Without political reform, China will continue to use its growing economic and military clout to spread its authoritarian model. Pressuring Beijing to free the imprisoned human-rights lawyers who have taken up Liu’s freedom fight would serve the interest of China’s people, as well as the rules-based international order that its undemocratic government seeks to subvert.

Introducing MAGAnomics The Trump agenda for achieving 3% economic growth.By Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

If the Trump administration has one overarching goal, it’s to Make America Great Again. But what does this mean? It means we are promoting MAGAnomics—and that means sustained 3% economic growth.

For most of our nation’s modern history, a healthy American economy meant one that grew at roughly 3.5%. That was the average growth rate between the late 1940s and 2007. Since then, it has hardly topped 2%.

The difference between those two growth rates is staggering. If the American economy had grown at only 2% between the end of World War II and 2000, average household income would have been roughly $26,000 instead of $50,000.
Over the next 10 years, 3% growth instead of 2% will yield a nominal gross domestic product that is $16 trillion larger, federal government revenues $2.9 trillion greater, and wages and salaries of American workers $7 trillion higher.

For merely suggesting that we can get back to that level, the administration has been criticized as unrealistic. That’s fine with us. We heard the same pessimism 40 years ago, when the country was mired in “stagflation” and “malaise.” But Ronald Reagan dared to challenge that thinking and steered us to a boom that many people thought unachievable. In the 7½ years following the end of the recession in 1982, real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.4%. That is what a recovery looks like, and what the American economy is still capable of achieving.

The focus of MAGAnomics is simple: Grow the economy and with it the wealth of, and opportunity for, all Americans. It does that by focusing on fundamental principles that made the U.S. economy the greatest engine of prosperity in the history of the planet:

• Tax reform. We need to boost productivity. Fundamental to that is encouraging capital investment. We’ve seen for decades that growth in private-sector jobs correlates to growth in private business investment. When businesses invest in new plants and equipment, they tend to hire more people, who produce more. Lower tax rates and faster cost recovery are two levers that will reduce the cost of capital and thereby help ignite economic growth. And since 70% of business income goes to wages, the benefits flow to workers as well.

• Curbing unnecessary regulation. Much like commonsense tax reform, rolling back unnecessarily burdensome regulations will reduce the cost of doing business. When regulations increase costs, they decrease returns, leaving less capital to invest. If they are too burdensome, they discourage any investment at all, as businesses choose to forgo opportunities. This is important to all business, but especially to capital-intensive sectors like manufacturing. Overly zealous environmental regulations have played a role in pushing many U.S. businesses overseas. Requiring realistic and fact-based cost-benefit analyses of regulations will help protect both the environment and American jobs.

• Welfare reform. Growth also depends on the size of the workforce. Although the labor pool is aging, we are also seeing people who could be working but are staying home. We badly need them to go back to work. We believe that most want to do this but simply lack the opportunity. Our welfare system often creates disincentives for people to seek work. We intend to change that. We need to reform welfare to ensure it helps those truly in need of it, but does not encourage people to stay home.

• Smart energy strategy. The president’s “all of the above” energy strategy expands the economy’s growth potential. Yes, it puts coal miners back to work. But cheaper, cleaner, more abundant energy will also increase investment and employment across dozens of industries, from chemicals to automobiles. By ensuring reliable supplies and stable prices, the president’s energy plan will reduce uncertainty, especially in the manufacturing sector, thereby reducing the risks associated with building new plants and hiring more American workers.

• Rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The president’s plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure will create immediate job opportunities. More important, it will boost the long-term productivity of American industry. Rebuilding roads, bridges, airports and ports will pay dividends both now and in the future.

• Fair trade for America. The president is right in that the U.S. is frequently abused when it comes to international trade. Ensuring that other nations do not undermine our economy by unduly taxing our products, by dumping products here, or by stealing our intellectual property is essential to our economic future.

• Government spending restraint. When government spends a lot, it takes money away from private investment. And private investment is always a more efficient allocator of capital than government. We will continue to fund critical government functions, including a social safety net that gives people the comfort of knowing they will not be overlooked while encouraging them to be more willing to take chances. But we will watch every dollar to minimize waste. We will, in short, seek to take from you only what government actually needs to function.