FBI raids Giuliani’s home, office in Ukraine probe – National & International News – THU 29Apr2021

FBI raids Rudy Giuliani's home and office in an investigation of his lobbying for the Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani was former President Trump's personal lawyer.

FBI raids Giuliani’s home, office. Uber recruiting drive highlights shoddy labor stance. Israeli: Netanyahu tries to bend rules to stay in power.

NATIONAL NEWS

FBI raids Rudy Giuliani’s home, office

The FBI served a search and seizure warrant on the Manhattan home and office of Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and personal lawyer for Donald Trump. The raid was conducted in connection with a month’s-long investigation into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine during Trump’s presidential term. The agency says it is investigating Giuliani lobbying of former President Trump on behalf of certain figures in the Ukraine who were helping Giuliani and Trump to dig up dirt on then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, says the FBI is investigating an allegation that Giuliani failed to register in the US as a foreign agent.

Agents seized several electronic devices from Giuliani’s home to find evidence of his correspondence with figures connected with Ukraine. One name mentioned in the search documents, according to Costello, is John Solomon, a political commentator. Costello says the FBI, “sought communications between Mr. Giuliani and individuals including John Solomon, a columnist who was corresponding with Mr. Giuliani about his effort to push for investigations of Joe Biden in Ukraine”.

The agents also searched the home of Victoria Toensing, a Washington lawyer and close ally of Giuliani and Trump. Toensing previously represented Dimitry Fitash, a Ukrainian energy mogul with alleged mob ties who is under indictment in the US for bribery. According to Toensing’s law firm, Toensing herself is not a target of the FBI’s investigation.

Criminal probe or political payback?

Costello has criticized the FBI and his raid on his client’s office and home, alleging a political vendetta by the agency itself and the Biden administration in general. According to reports, the FBI had been seeking to open an investigation on Giuliani for months, well before Trump even left office. Trump’s Department of Justice continually blocked any investigation. Once Merrick Garland was confirmed as Attorney General under Biden, the department withdrew its objection to the investigation.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says that the Justice Department, “is independent now. They’re gonna make their own decisions, take their own actions. That’s how the president wants it”.

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Uber’s recruiting push in US, UK highlights labor issue

With people in the US now moving about more freely, Uber is experiencing a shortage of drivers in many parts of the country. The ride-sharing company is attempting to recruit new drivers using sign-up bonuses and other incentives.

Why is this news?

Last year, Uber and Lyft, another ride-sharing company, aggressively campaigned for an exemption from a California law that would have required them to treat their drivers as employees. That would have meant offering their drivers health and retirement benefits, paid leave and all the other protections afforded a typical employee at a large company. During that campaign, both Uber and Lyft threatened to end their services in California if they were forced to offer drivers employment protections. Both companies claimed their business models depended on not granting drivers full employment status. In the end, they won the exemption through a ballot measure, after a multi-million dollar ad campaign.

However, Uber’s insistence that they can only stay afloat by denying their drivers employment status is contradicted by recent events in the UK. The British Supreme Court recently ruled that Uber and other ride-sharing companies had to treat their drivers as employees. That means Uber drivers in the UK now get full pension benefits, paid time off and other employee benefits. Far from closing up shop in the UK following the ruling, Uber is now recruiting an additional 20,000 drivers in Britain. 

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Israeli’s Netanyahu tries to bend rules to stay in power

Following Israeli’s recent undecisive parliamentary election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a mandate to attempt to form a government. But, the make-up of the Israeli Knesset post-election does not offer promising prospects of a ruling coalition, either for Netanyahu or his chief rival, centrist Yair Lapid. At the same time, Netanyahu is in court facing numerous bribery and corruption charges. 

With his mandate set to slip away on May 4, Netanyahu tried to change the country’s election rules in his favor. His first gambit last week was to float a bill calling a snap election in 30 days, in which only the position of Prime Minister would be contested. This proposal is in direct contradiction to Israeli’s parliamentary system, in which the leader of the party with the most seats in the Knesset is empowered to form a government, either independently or with coalition partners. Even if Netanyahu’s bill won approval from the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court would have likely rejected it on constitutional and procedural grounds.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Now, Netanyahu is attempting to appoint a justice minister from his own party. This would violate the standing coalition agreement between Likud and the right-wing Blue and White party. Netanyahu ignored a legal advisor from the attorney general and held a vote on the appointment anyway. The Israeli Supreme Court overruled that vote hours later.

One of Netanyahu’s right-wing rivals, Gideon Sa’ar, says the “delusional saga” shows the need for a change in government. Other critics charge that Netanyahu is attempting to subvert Israel’s democracy to maintain his ever more tenuous grip on the prime minister’s seat.

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