The Cable

Conspiracy and Corruption: The Weekend Behind, the Week Ahead

Catch up on top stories from around the world this weekend.


The fallout from a series of tweets U.S. President Donald Trump sent out Saturday morning continues. It began here:

Trump’s predecessor, U.S. President Barack Obama, said through a spokesperson his administration had not “ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.” Trump was likely referring to a story, circulating for month, that the FBI tried to obtain an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor transactions between Russian banks and individuals connected with the Trump campaign.

On Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Trump Tower was not wiretapped before the election, and FBI Director James Comey reportedly asked the Department of Justice to refute Trump’s claims. Also on Sunday, U.S. press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that the president is requesting that congressional intelligence committees “determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.” Americans now have that investigation, in addition to those on Trump’s potential ties to Russia, to look forward to.

The president did not tweet about a Sikh man who was shot in his own driveway and told to “go back to your own country” in a Seattle suburb, an incident the FBI announced on Sunday it would investigate, but he did tweet about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s departure from The Apprentice, the reality television program he once hosted.

Politicians made equally powerful statements elsewhere in the world. François Fillon, the center-right French presidential candidate mired in scandal over allegedly paying parliamentary funds to his family, announced Sunday he would not drop out of the race. “No one today can stop me being a candidate,” he said. Alain Juppé, who many suspected would take Fillon’s place if he resigned, said Monday he would not run.

Corruption was also the cause of the hour in Ukraine, where the tax chief stands accused of embezzling around $75 million. Roman Nasirov was arrested on March 2, and then claimed to have suffered a heart attack (a claim that could not be independently verified). A judge delayed a hearing as to whether his arrest should be extended for a second time on Sunday. Nasirov, however, stayed inside the courthouse Sunday night, which was surrounded by an anti-corruption crowd. As Atlantic Council research fellow and media platform Hromadske Int. co-founder Maxim Eristavi tweeted from the front lines, “At Nasirov blockade: Leftists & far-rights, gay & homophobes. Feuds are on pause for the common goal of better Ukraine. Maidan déjà vu,” referencing the 2013 protests that eventually saw then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ousted. What this round of anti-corruption protests will bring is still to be seen in the week ahead.

And if the weekend wasn’t eventful enough already, North Korea decided to launch four ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan Monday morning. The United States strongly condemned the missiles launches, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “a new stage of threat.” Even China, historically the closest thing North Korea has to an ally, rebuked the launch, showcasing its growing impatience with the hermit state.

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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