Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
QUESTION: For more on where things stand, I’m pleased to be joined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. Do you have reason to believe that before this night is over, Russian forces will be engaged in something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I do. Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine’s borders – to the north, to the east, to the south. Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine.
QUESTION: To be clear, you think tonight that could happen or will happen?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Look, I can’t put a date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward.
QUESTION: The first round of sanctions has apparently not deterred President Putin, and given the attack posture you just described, that the Pentagon describes, it sounds like follow-on sanctions won’t be – deter him either. Is the administration out of options here? Is Russian control of Ukraine a fait accompli?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: No, it’s not. And there, I think, is still an opportunity to avert a major aggression, although, again, they’re in their final stages of being able to engage in one. Yesterday when they when they began this invasion of Ukraine, we hit them hard – not just us, but in unison with Europe, in unison with other allies and partners – going against major financial institutions, taking out a major project, the so-called Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Germany took off the table, a major cash cow for Russia going forward, an $11 billion project that’s not going forward.
But at the same time, we’ve said very clearly that if Russia continues to escalate, so will we. And so they have to factor that into what they’re thinking. At the end of the day, if that doesn’t stop President Putin, we’ve made very clear along with all of our allies and partners that there will be massive consequences going forward, a price that Russia will have to pay for a long, long time.
QUESTION: Russia will have to pay, but in the meantime, Ukraine would be in Russian hands. What does Europe look like with Ukraine in Russian hands?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, two things, Lester. First, we’ve also made clear – and we’ve already begun to do this – that we will reinforce NATO, we will reassure all of our allies and partners, by positioning forces to the east among our partners and allies to make sure that they’re protected. At the same time, we’re doubling down on our assistance to Ukraine itself, making sure, as we’ve already done, that we’re providing additional security assistance, diplomatic support, economic, humanitarian support. That will continue, and in fact, the President says we’re doubling down on that.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary Blinken, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks, Lester. Good to be with you.
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October 31, 2021
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September 8, 2021A California man has agreed to plead guilty today to federal criminal charges for attacking five victims at a family-owned Turkish restaurant last year while shouting anti-Turkish slurs, hurling chairs at the victims and threatening to kill them, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison of the Central District of California announced.
- Statement of Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen
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- Tax Preparer Sentenced in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme
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In U.S GAO NewsSeptember 9, 2020As required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, the Department of Defense (DOD) for fiscal year 2019 underwent a financial statement audit. In the military services’ full financial statement audit reports for fiscal year 2019, the independent public accountants reported serious control issues related to events that occur during the life cycle of real property, consisting of adding, disposing, reconciling, valuing, and performing physical inventory counts. These control issues affect not only the reliability of financial statement reporting but also the quality of property record data that DOD officials need to make decisions for budget and mission planning, space management, and buying versus leasing options. Further, with DOD having almost half of the government’s buildings, better data could help the federal government identify opportunities to dispose of unneeded buildings and reduce lease costs, thus potentially saving it millions of dollars. DOD has not yet developed a comprehensive, department-wide strategy—an element of leading practices for enterprise-wide real property management—to address the reported real property issues. Instead, each of the military services is independently developing corrective actions to address control issues, without applying common solutions among the services or department-wide. A department-wide strategy for remediating control issues would better position DOD to develop sustainable, routine processes that help ensure accurate real property records and, ultimately, auditable information for financial reporting for the department. Additionally, a DOD-wide strategy could help the military services more effectively and efficiently address reported control issues, particularly for those categorized as DOD-wide issues. The Acting Secretary, noting that the services had not accurately accounted for DOD’s buildings and structures, required existence and completeness (E&C) verifications to be performed for all real property for fiscal year 2019. Given the lack of department-wide instructions for how to carry out the requirement, the military services independently developed approaches for performing the E&C verifications. Their approaches differed in both scope (what assets were verified) and methodology (how the assets were verified), including the extent to which instructions were written. Reporting and monitoring of the results by service and department-level management also differed. Without department-wide instructions for performing the fiscal year 2019 E&C verifications, the results were not comparable among the military services. Further, DOD and the military services did not obtain the complete and consistent information needed to create a DOD real property baseline or to help ensure that the department’s real property records are reliable. DOD-wide instructions would help DOD obtain complete and comparable E&C verifications results, which would help DOD achieve an auditable real property baseline and, ultimately, its objective of an unmodified (“clean”) audit opinion. DOD manages one of the federal government’s largest portfolios of real property. This engagement was initiated in connection with the statutory requirement for GAO to audit the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements. DOD’s uncorrected deficiencies, including those affecting real property, prevent DOD from having auditable financial statements, one of the three major impediments preventing GAO from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government. This report (1) identifies the real property control issues that independent public accountants reported that may affect the ability of the military services to establish and maintain accurate and complete real property records, (2) examines the extent to which DOD had a strategy to address the control issues, and (3) assesses the extent to which DOD provided guidance for the required E&C verifications during fiscal year 2019 and how each military service implemented the directive. GAO analyzed fiscal year 2019 audit findings, reviewed key DOD documents, and interviewed DOD and military service officials. GAO is recommending that DOD (1) develop and implement an enterprise-wide strategy to remediate real property control issues and (2) issue DOD-wide instructions for the E&C verifications. DOD concurred with GAO’s recommendations. For more information, contact Kristen Kociolek at (202) 512-2989 or email@example.com.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Lucia Duraccio of RAI TG1
June 29, 2021
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