WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled hisallegation on Twitter. Mr. Comey has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down Mr. Trump’s claim because there is no evidence to support it and it insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
Russia‘s ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin has died suddenly in New York.
The 64-year-old had held the post since 2006.
“A prominent Russian diplomat has passed away while at work. We’d like to express our sincere condolences to Vitaly Churkin’s family,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its official website.
The New York Post reported that Mr Churkin became ill outside the Russian Embassy on East 67th Street at around 9.30am after suffering heart problems.
He was reportedly rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died.
The announcement his death was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
“He was a dear colleague of all os us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known,” a UN official said.
The Fed expects to raise rates three times this year.
A rise in US interest rates could be “appropriate” as soon as this month, according to the chair of the US Federal Reserve.
Janet Yellen said rate setters will evaluate whether employment and inflation remain in line with expectations when they meet in March.
Ms Yellen also suggested the central bank was likely to raise rates more quickly than over the past two years.
Rates went up by 0.25% in December, only the second increase in a decade.
The benchmark interest rate, the Federal Funds rate, now stands at 0.5%-0.75%.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets rates, has to ensure that the Federal Reserve achieves its goal of maximum employment and price stability.
Speaking to The Executives’ Club of Chicago, Ms Yellen said the US economy had exhibited “remarkable resilience” in the face of adverse shocks in recent years” with the jobs market strengthening and inflation rising towards target.
She added: “We currently judge that it will be appropriate to gradually increase the Federal Funds rate if the economic data continue to come in about as we expect.
THERE’S A LITTLE-KNOWN federal agency whose job is to ensure U.S. spy agencies protect privacy and other civil liberties even as they work to defeat terrorists and criminals, and to blow the whistle when that doesn’t happen. But the agency, known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, is down to just a single voting member — which means it has been stripped of nearly all its powers, according to emails obtained by The Intercept.
The board was created by Congress in 2004, at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, to help the executive branch balance national security priorities with individual rights. After Bush administration officials heavilyedited PCLOB’s first report, one member resigned, and Congress in 2007 turned it into an independent agency and expanded its writ to include oversight of congressional action. Still, the board remained obscure; some members of Congress seemed unaware of its existence even as documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden produced more privacy scandals.
PCLOB is supposed to have five members, no more than three of whom come from the same political party; to employ a full-time chairperson; to have regular access to the 17 intelligence agencies; and to publish unclassified versions of its evaluations of U.S. espionage powers.
But with just one part-time board member left, after another member’s term ended last week, the agency has very few formal powers to police the so-called “deep state” until President Trump nominates a new board, the emails reveal. Without the statutory quorum of three members, PCLOB “may not initiate new advice or oversight projects” or offer advice to the intelligence community, according to a list drawn up by Jen Burita, PCLOB’s public affairs and legislative officer, and shared by email with several congressional staffers who had raised questions about the impact of the attrition among board members.