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Why murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is back in the news

(CNN)Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a leading anti-corruption journalist from Malta, killed in a car bombing near her home in 2017. Her family say she was “assassinated” because of her work uncovering alleged corruption in the Maltese government.Caruana Galizia first earned her reputation as an activist in 1982 when she landed in jail at the…

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Why murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is back in the news

(CNN)Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a leading anti-corruption journalist from Malta, killed in a car bombing near her home in 2017. Her family say she was “assassinated” because of her work uncovering alleged corruption in the Maltese government.Caruana Galizia first earned her reputation as an activist in 1982 when she landed in jail at the age of 18, for protesting against what she felt was a corrupt government. She spent her early career writing for Malta’s largest publications, including the Sunday Times of Malta and the Malta Independent, for whom she wrote regular columns until her untimely death.Even after her death, her personal blog Running Commentary still regularly attracts more views than the combined circulation of all of Malta’s newspapers, according to the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, established by Caruana Galizia’s sons and husband. In 2016, Caruana Galizia broke a story about a string of secret Panama-based companies tied to Maltese politicians on her blog, including allegations of corruption against Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife. The couple have denied the allegations. Her work laid the groundwork for the publication first of the Paradise Papers and later the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.Caruana Galizia’s work made her many powerful enemies while she was alive, and she was sued for libel on multiple occasions. The many threats she received have contributed to the difficulty in determining just who was responsible for her death.What happened to her?Caruana Galizia died on October 16, 2017, when her rented Peugeot 108 was detonated by a remote control device on a country lane near her home in Bidnija, Malta. Her son Matthew Caruana Galizia, told CNN that she was driving a rental car at the time, out of fear that someone might target her car in an attempt to kill her.What was left of Caruana Galizia’s body was found by her son Matthew, who was living at home at the time. When he heard the blast, he ran barefoot to the nearby field where what was left of her car was scattered. He described the grisly scene in a Facebook post after her death. “I looked down and there were my mother’s body parts all around me,” he wrote. He has vowed to continue his mother’s work.Caruana Galizia had faced numerous death threats, and had been under police protection for years. But in 2010, her police protection was cut in half, which she described on her blog as the government’s retaliation for her criticism. Her police protection was removed entirely in 2013 when the Labour party — a frequent target of her investigations — returned to power.Her family have petitioned the government of Prime Minister Muscat to open a public inquiry into whether the removal of police protection ultimately led to her death. Such an investigation has not yet been launched. The government attributed wider cuts in police protection to budget decreases, but it has not explained why it removed Caruana Galizia’s protection. CNN has contacted the government on whether it will open an inquiry into the circumstances.Has anyone faced justice for her murder?In December 2017, 10 people were arrested in connection with setting the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia. The detentions at the time were largely seen as an answer to growing pressure from the European Union on Muscat’s government to show good faith in investigating her murder. Seven of the detained people were eventually let go, but brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio along with Vincent Muscat, no relation to the Prime Minister, have been formally charged with her murder. All three suspects have pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set.On November 25, Malta President George Vella pardoned a taxi driver named Melvin Theuma, who had been accused of working as an intermediary between the three men charged with her murder and others who ordered the killing. The pardon was requested by Prime Minister Muscat in exchange for Theuma’s testimony. The pardon is essentially Malta’s version of immunity from prosecution, and means that Theuma cannot be tried for any alleged involvement in Caruana Galizia’s murder. CNN has been unable to reach Theuma’s lawyer for comment.Matthew Carbone, the Head of Government Communications in Malta, told CNN the country’s Attorney General and the Police Commissioner both recommended the pardon, which is subject to a number of conditions and can be reversed.Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech has also been arrested several times and questioned in the investigation. Fenech owned the company 17 Black, according to Reuters, which Caruana Galizia had accused of shady dealings on multiple occasions.Fenech was most recently arrested on his yacht, while heading for international waters, according to a spokesman for Maltese Armed Forces. He was then detained and held without charge for 48 hours, under Maltese law which requires suspects to be charged within that time frame or set free. He has since been released on police bail. Fenech’s lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran declined to comment on this story to CNN. Where does the blame lie? Many, including Caruana Galizia’s own family, have criticized the official investigation into her death, and claim that the investigation could lead directly to Prime Minister Muscat — if he were not also leading the investigation.Muscat was a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s investigations into corruption, especially due to his wife’s alleged involvement in the Panama companies. Caruana Galizia’s family have said that they believe the Prime Minister wanted her dead.Muscat has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.In a statement emailed to CNN, Carbone said the Prime Minister “has always taken the necessary decisions for the country to keep moving forward.””At the same time all resources were given to our independent institutions to leave no stone unturned and get to the truth behind the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” the statement said, adding that Muscat “will refrain from commenting on issues directly related to the investigation.”He has previously said that justice would be served in Caruana Galizia’s murder investigation. Earlier this week, he told reporters in Malta that he thanks his cabinet members for their service but could not comment on the ongoing investigation.Maltese opposition leader Adrian Delia told CNN that the murder had shaken the country’s politics, and placed the blame squarely on the prime minister and his inner circle. “The Prime Minister and ministers were at the very least fully aware of what was going…. They are at the very least guilty of allowing a situation to precipitate to a stage where a journalist was assassinated to shut her up for good.””One has to put this investigation within a context, that context being a series of corruption scandals that were outed by Daphne Caruana Galizia, the press and the opposition,” Delia told CNN.He claims that the prime minister initially sought to shield members of his inner circle whom she investigated, and that his government’s failure to provide sufficient protection to Caruana Galizia ultimately led to her death. “The Prime Minister, despite the clear evidence in hand, kept defending his inner circle of people. These criminals developed a sense of impunity, and it is this sense of impunity that led to her murder just over two years ago,” he said.The European Union’s special rapporteur to Malta Pieter Omtzigt, told CNN that he believes Muscat faces a conflict of interest in leading the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death. “Checks and balances on the Prime Minister are totally insufficient to solve this situation,” he told CNN. “The PM appoints the police commissioner, the judges, the magistrates, all the supervisors, the ministers, the attorney general.””[Muscat] can also recommend a presidential pardon. He has a huge conflict of interest,” he added.Maltese police would not confirm to CNN who else is under investigation. A spokeswoman said that “there are a few people we are investigating. We won’t give any information on their identity.”Why is the story back in the news?After Theuma received a presidential pardon, two prominent members of Muscat’s Cabinet resigned this week. A third announced he was “suspending himself.”Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, and Konrad Mizzi, Malta’s tourism minister both left their posts, Muscat has announced. Both had been named in the aftermath of the Panama Papers investigations brought on by Caruana Galizia, according to an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists who have continued to follow the many leads she began.Omtzigt told CNN Tuesday that Schembri had been arrested. “Keith Schembri, who until yesterday was the chief of staff of the Prime Minister has been arrested and his house searched.” Schembri was released without charge on Thursday, according to local media. CNN has been unable to reach Schembri’s lawyer for comment.According to a statement on the Tourism Ministry’s website, Mizzi resigned “in the light of the political situation in the country.” His spokesperson told CNN: “Dr Mizzi is not in any way connected to the investigation you mention (about Caruana Galizia’s murder) and has no information related thereto. The political situation is such that the country will at this moment in time benefit from avoiding unnecessary distractions fueled by politically motivated speculation.”And Chris Cardona, Malta’s Economy minister, suspended himself this week, “pending the investigations and proceedings going on right now” according to a ministry statement. Cardona released a statement on Twitter saying in part, he is “cooperating fully with the police and remains ready to cooperate further so as to clarify any issues or questions that might crop up as part of the ongoing investigation.”When asked about the resignations and suspension of the three Labour members, Malta’s Labour Party told CNN in a statement that “investigations are ongoing and the information that we have at this stage is from news reports which still need to be corroborated when persons are arraigned in court.”The party said it “categorically condemns the brutal murder of Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia and is satisfied that the government provided all the necessary resources to the country’s institutions and authorities to seek justice in this case.” What has the international reaction been?International condemnation of the lack of accountability in Caruana Galizia’s murder has been widespread, from Pope Francis — who took the unusual move to send condolences for the death of a private citizen — to rights groups that have kept her investigative work alive. She has received over a dozen posthumous awards for excellence of journalism. Grants in her name have been established at a number of journalism schools.After her death, a group of 45 journalists representing 18 news organizations from 15 countries launched “The Daphne Project” to continue her investigative work, including unraveling alleged connections between the Pilatus Bank in Malta, Azerbaijani politicians, and top Maltese politicians to a wide range of corrupt entities including Italian organized crime and oil smugglers from Libya. The bank was officially shut down in 2018 over corruption charges. The EU has demanded answers from Malta since the murder, with little success. Europe’s justice commission wrote soon after the murder that it “expects an independent and thorough investigation to uncover who is really responsible for Daphne’s murder, we want the full truth. There is no place in the EU for the murder of journalists.”In 2018, VÄ›ra Jourová, the EU’s commissioner for justice, traveled to Malta to meet with top officials on the investigation. In a previous visit, MEPs Ana Gomes, Sven Giegold and David Casa said: “The investigation on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia is stalling. People we spoke to suspect that the plan may be to ensure the blame rests with the three suspected bombers and to eventually let them go free, after 20 months of detention.”The same statement said recent shifts in Maltese personnel involved with the case could be interpreted “as a way to delay and stall in the investigation.”On Thursday, the EU confirmed that it would send a mission to Malta to investigate the state of the rule of law in the country, referencing Caruana Galizia’s case.Of particular note to many foreign news organizations is the fact that flowers and candles and other tributes are regularly removed from the makeshift site dedicated to Caruana Galizia in the capital of Valletta on the Great Siege Square, even as Malta’s political landscape is roiled by the investigation’s fallout.As Matthew Caruana Galizia tweeted Wednesday, “Even after his chief of staff was arrested on suspicion of murder, Muscat still ordering the memorial to my mum to be cleared.” Muscat has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder, its cover-up or any seeming lack of thorough investigation.
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Trump’s debate callout bolsters far-right Proud Boys

(CNN)Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys are celebrating comments made by President Donald Trump after he was asked ​to condemn White supremacists, and refused to do so, during Tuesday’s presidential debate.The President instead used ​his allotted time to blame ​what he called “antifa and the left​” for violence and to tell the Proud…

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Trump’s debate callout bolsters far-right Proud Boys

(CNN)Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys are celebrating comments made by President Donald Trump after he was asked ​to condemn White supremacists, and refused to do so, during Tuesday’s presidential debate.The President instead used ​his allotted time to blame ​what he called “antifa and the left​” for violence and to tell the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” ​​Shortly after Trump’s answer, his words were embraced in memes and other social media posts by accounts that purported to be from Proud Boys members. Some emblazoned the ​phrase “stand back and stand by” onto the group’s logos. Others treated the President​’s choice of the words “stand by” as a sort of rallying cry — and have since been promoting it. Now, they’re turning it into profit by selling merchandise with the comment on it. ​CNN’s Elle Reeve spoke with Enrique Tarrio, the group’s leader, who said while he was happy about the President’s comments, he doesn’t see it as an endorsement.Tarrio said he interpreted “stand back and stand by” as meaning they should just keep doing what they’re doing.Although it claims a diverse membership — Tarrio says he is Cuban American — the Proud Boys group ​lists among its central tenets a belief in “closed borders” and the aim of “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism.”​In online statements, Proud Boys have claimed they have only used violence in self-defense. But members are often seen carrying firearms, bats and donning protective gear​, and some have been convicted of crimes against anti-fascist protesters. ​The group’s ideology has been labeled “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration” by the Anti-Defamation League.Their supporters have been seen at recent protests across the US, including in Portland.Tuesday’s debate also provided another example of Trump dodging and deflecting an opportunity to condemn White supremacist groups within the United States.The day after the debate, Trump claimed he had no idea who the Proud Boys were. He also, again, refused to explicitly condemn White supremacists before repeating his call for his Democratic rival Joe Biden to denounce Antifa.It also provided further fuel for Biden’s claims that the President has emboldened right-wing extremist groups since the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia​, in which a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman. Biden has frequently cited Trump’s response to that as ​motivating him to run for the presidency.In response to the violence, the President said at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the protests, which included White supremacists.Who are the Proud Boys?The group was created by Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Vice, in 2016, according to a Proud Boys website.Before he quit the group in late 2018, McInnes said in a speech that the Proud Boys weren’t going to pick fights, “but if they pick fights with us, we’re going to finish them.””Violence doesn’t feel good,” he said in the same speech. “Justified violence feels great and fighting solves everything.”The Anti-Defamation League, citing videos posted to social media from McInnes’ radio show, says he has previously posted videos of him​self giving the Nazi salute, saying, “Heil Hitler,” defending Holocaust deniers and repeatedly using racial and anti-Semitic slurs. They say despite the videos, McInnes has refuted claims that he is anti-Semitic and racist.CNN has reached out to McInnes’ lawyer about the videos but has not yet received a response. “We’re a drinking club with a patriot problem,” Tarrio, the group’s current leader, told CNN. “As Proud Boys, I think our main objective is to defend the West​,” ​he said.”If our mere presence causes people to want to commit acts of violence, we’re not afraid to defend ourselves,” Tarrio said.On one of its websites, the group calls ​itself “men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”In 2019, two members of the Proud Boys were convicted on assault charges, including attempted gang assault, for ​attacking ​anti-fascist protesters. ​​Some members of the group appear to have connections to the President’s longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone​, according to Stone’s testimony for his 2019 criminal case related to the Russia investigation. During that trial, Stone testified that some Proud Boys members helped run his social media accounts. ​On July 8, Facebook removed Stone’s ​Instagram and a network of pages linked to him on its platforms because they were linked to the Proud Boys, which have been banned from the social media platform under its hate policies.Members of the group also attended Stone’s court hearings.What the President said during debateThe President had been asked by the moderator Chris Wallace if he would condemn White ​supremacists and militia groups.”I’m willing to do that,” the President said, without condemning anyone. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”After the initial question, Wallace and Biden both prodded him to condemn White supremacy and Trump appeared to deflect and dodge that, saying ​”almost everything” of the violence ​he’s seen has been from ​”Antifa and the left.””What do you want to call them,” the President said. “Give me a name. Give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn?”Biden then mentioned the Proud Boys, which Trump seized on.”Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” he said. “Somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing.”In recent Senate testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the FBI views Antifa as “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization.” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, testified that White supremacists pose the most lethal terror threat to the nation.CNN’s Elle Reeve, Sara Sidner, Marshall Cohen, Julia Vargas Jones and Samantha Guff contributed to this report.
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Opinion: Trump’s debate performance was a national security disaster

Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst. She is a senior adviser at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, which is not affiliated with the Biden campaign. Vinograd served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council from 2009 to 2013 and at the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The…

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Opinion: Trump’s debate performance was a national security disaster

Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst. She is a senior adviser at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, which is not affiliated with the Biden campaign. Vinograd served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council from 2009 to 2013 and at the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion articles on CNN. (CNN)The first presidential debate on Tuesday night was a national security catastrophe. And it wasn’t only the countless Americans who watched in dismay as President Donald Trump acted more like a child than a competent commander in chief — the world was watching. Trump’s debate disaster not only embarrassed our country, it made each and every one of us less safe.At a basic level, Trump’s debate performance was a metaphor for his presidency — erratic, unhinged and untruthful. In fact, the only thing that Trump did well during the debate was lie.Our allies and our enemies saw the President mocking not only the debate rules but also our democracy, as he dug his heels in on his refusal to say he will accept the outcome of the 2020 election.While allies likely watched in dismay and probably continue to worry about how to fill the void left by a lack of competent US leadership, our enemies have cause to rejoice. Trump’s behavior has been a critical contribution to Russia’s mission to undermine the US-led world order and what Trump’s own White House has described as the Chinese Communist Party’s goals of discrediting democracy. The Chinese just have to re-air Trump’s debate debacle, and US democracy is discredited.The President’s interruptions, lies and disjointed thoughts don’t paint a picture of a sane global leader; they paint a picture of a maniac man who has access to the nuclear codes. After watching that debate, not to mention witnessing the past almost four years of his presidency, the idea that Trump is the man whom Americans elected to lead the nation is a major self-inflicted blow to any fantasy of the United States as a global leader. Rival powers like Russia and China probably cheered throughout those painful 90-plus minutes because Trump is a poster child for their propaganda about democratic decay. But it wasn’t just Trump’s attitude Tuesday night that was dangerous — it was also his rhetoric. As an American, a security analyst and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Trump’s rhetoric on White supremacy was one of the most sickening things I have listened to. Not only did he fail to forcefully condemn White supremacy when explicitly pressed by the moderator, but he essentially issued a call to action by telling the Proud Boys, a far-right group that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration, to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys took note and reportedly celebrated his words. (After the debate, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his campaign aide Jason Miller said that Trump had misspoken.)This isn’t the first time that Trump has failed to condemn White supremacists. Nor is it the first time that he has fanned the flames when it comes to dangerous domestic threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified that within the category of domestic terrorism, racially motivated violent extremism — especially White supremacist threats — is the “biggest bucket” that the FBI works on. Yet, with a perceived endorsement from the President, the Proud Boys could very well accelerate their disgusting, violent activities. To put it plainly, Trump undercut law and order — and law enforcement — by potentially raising a domestic terrorism threat with his rhetoric during the presidential debate.But the Proud Boys likely weren’t the only ones proud of POTUS last night — Russia’s Vladimir Putin probably was, too. Trump’s inaccurate comments on election integrity sounded like a public service announcement scripted by the Kremlin.When pressed on the facts about mail-in voting, Trump lied and spread conspiracy theories, despite the warning from the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency that foreign actors and cyber criminals are doubling down on spreading disinformation about the elections. Wray even specifically said that he worries misinformation could contribute to Americans losing confidence in our elections.Trump was more than a megaphone for such misinformation last night. With all the access he has to US intelligence, not to mention the fact that Russian disinformation efforts are public information, Trump should know that he’s helping Putin attack the United States — but he seems not to care.While debates have historically been a key opportunity for Americans to hear from candidates, we can’t call this first engagement a debate. It was, flat out, a national security disaster.
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Donald Trump made a BIG mistake on his taxes answer in the 1st debate

That changed on Tuesday night, when under pressure from moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said something that may come to regret. Here’s the exchange:Wallace: … I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?Trump: Millions of dollars.Trump: Millions of dollars, yes.Wallace: So not $750?Trump:…

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Donald Trump made a BIG mistake on his taxes answer in the 1st debate

That changed on Tuesday night, when under pressure from moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said something that may come to regret. Here’s the exchange:

Wallace: … I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?

Trump: Millions of dollars.

Trump: Millions of dollars, yes.

Wallace: So not $750?

Trump: Millions of dollars and you’ll get to see it — and you’ll get to see it.

What Trump did there is directly deny (on tape!) the reporting from The New York Times that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. And he actually did more than that. He insisted he paid “millions of dollars” in federal income taxes.

That’s very different than what Trump has said in the past — and in the last few days following the Times report — about his taxes.

He’s repeatedly insisted that he pays lot of taxes. But that sort of vague language allows him to include state income tax as well as assorted other taxes — Social Security, Medicare, investment income, etc. — that, for someone with Trump’s wealth, could actually total millions of dollars. And that fuzzy language also allows Trump to dispute the Times story as fake without engaging with its central premise: That he paid little (or no) federal income tax for the vast majority of the last two decades.

But by saying unequivocally, that he has paid “millions of dollars” in federal income taxes, Trump is directly disputing the Times report. But here’s the thing: The Times has the receipts. Literally.

“The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office,” wrote the story’s authors in their first piece about Trump’s taxes.

Now, it’s not at all clear whether (or if) the Times would release any of the data they have on Trump’s returns. As they note in their initial story:

“All of the information The Times obtained was provided by sources with legal access to it. While most of the tax data has not previously been made public, The Times was able to verify portions of it by comparing it with publicly available information and confidential records previously obtained by The Times.”

And we know that Trump won’t release his own returns despite his insistence on Tuesday night (and throughout his presidency) that “you’ll get to see it.” Trump also continues to hide behind the claim that he can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit. That is false. We also know that Trump will fight tooth-and-nail any attempt by the Times (or anyone else) to release them.

Regardless, Trump has now boxed himself into a very small corner. Either he paid “millions” in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 (as he claimed on Tuesday night) or he has paid $750 in each of those years (as the Times has reported.) Both statements can’t be true.

Know how Trump could straighten all of this out? By releasing his 2016 and 2017 tax returns. That he not only refuses to do but has unleashed a massive legal assault on any attempts to get those records should tell you everything you need to know about which side is likely telling the truth here.

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