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Trump authorizes sanctions on International Criminal Court officials – NBC News

The Trump administration launched an attack Thursday on the International Criminal Court, which is set up to prosecute war crimes and genocide, authorizing economic sanctions against officials investigating or prosecuting U.S. personnel without Washington’s consent.

The decision to slap sanctions on court officials comes after ICC appeals judges authorized an investigation in March into allegations of war crimes by U.S. military and intelligence personnel, Afghan forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against ICC officials and their family members.

“The International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon our national sovereignty,” the White House said in a statement.

In order to place economic sanctions on these officials, the president had to declare a national emergency, using authorities more often reserved for pursuing terrorists or actions against North Korea and Iran.

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The administration said it had “strong reason to believe” that there is “corruption and misconduct” at the highest levels of the prosecutor’s office, but provided no evidence to back up this claim.

ICC officials declined to comment immediately but said they would be issuing a reaction soon.

The decision on the war crimes investigation by the Hague-based court in March overturned a ruling by a lower chamber last year that blocked the probe concluding, among other reasons, that its chances of success and prosecution were “extremely limited.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly lambasted the court.

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In April last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would repeal or deny visas to International Criminal Court staff seeking to investigate Americans for crimes in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

The White House pointed out Thursday that the United States is not a member of the ICC and accused it of pursuing “politically-motivated” investigations against Washington and its allies, including Israel.

The White House added that it was concerned that “adversary nations” were manipulating the court by “encouraging these allegations” against American personnel.

Attorney General William Barr later specifically named Russia without providing details or evidence to substantiate the claims.

About U.S. forces, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office has said it has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed by members of the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and by members of the CIA in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan and in other countries, particularly between the period 2003-2004.

It also determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed by the Taliban and their Haqqani network and that war crimes were committed by the Afghan National Security Forces.

America’s war in Afghanistan — its longest — has raged for more than 18 years, costing the lives of around 2,300 U.S. troops and wounding many thousands of others.

Saphora Smith

Saphora Smith is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital. 

Image: Abigail WilliamsAbigail Williams

Abigail Williams is a producer and reporter for NBC News covering the State Department.

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FDA Authorizes Gilead’s Remdesivir for COVID-19 – Motley Fool

A temporary authorization for emergency use during the pandemic follows two successful clinical trials.

Jim Crumly

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) to use its investigational antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19. President Trump made the announcement in the Oval Office along with Gilead Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day, and the FDA released a letter confirming the authorization.

Remdesivir hasn’t been formally approved to treat any disease, but today’s action by the FDA authorizes it for temporary use during the pandemic to treat hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

Vials of drugs on a manufacturing line

Image source: Getty Images.

The FDA decision was based on a review of top-line data from two clinical trials. In a placebo-controlled phase 3 trial  conducted by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 1,063 critically ill patients receiving remdesivir had an average recovery time of 11 days, compared with 15 days in the placebo group. Those receiving the drug also had a lower mortality rate, although the mortality result was not proven with statistical significance. Patients in Gilead’s own Simple-1 trial showed improvement as well, but that trial was for comparing two different durations of treatment and wasn’t placebo-controlled.

Gilead is donating its entire current supply of the drug at no cost, which amounts to enough to treat 140,000 patients, assuming a course of treatment lasting 10 days. The biotech company is racing to ramp up manufacturing capacity and has set a goal of producing 500,000 treatment courses by October and a million by December. The Simple-1 study, though, suggested that a 5-day course of treatment produced similar results as a 10-day course, so Gilead now believes it will be able to treat far more patients than it thought when it set those goals.


Jim Crumly owns shares of Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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