Trump inaugural committee head accused of being UAE agent

LOS ANGELES — The chair of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested Tuesday on charges alleging he secretly conspired to influence U.S. policy to benefit the United Arab Emirates, even while he was seeking a position as an American diplomat.

Tom Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, Calif., was among three men charged in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., with acting as unregistered foreign agents as they tried to influence U.S. policy on the UAE’s behalf while Trump was running in 2016 and later while he was president.

Barrack has denied any wrongdoing.

Off-duty DEA agent arrested on Capitol riot charges

An off-duty Drug Enforcement Administration agent posed for photographs in which he flashed his DEA badge and firearm outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, according to a court filing Tuesday following the agent’s arrest.

A video posted on the internet also showed Mark Sami Ibrahim carrying a flag bearing the words “Liberty or Death” outside the Capitol, about 12 minutes before a mob of people pulled apart a nearby set of barricades, authorities said.

Ibrahim, of Orange County, Calif., was a probationary employee of the DEA and was on personal leave from the agency when he traveled to Washington on Jan. 6. Several weeks before the riot, he had given notice of his intention to resign.

Also on Tuesday, a third person pleaded guilty to participating in a plot for members of the anti-government Oath Keepers group to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. The judge who accepted Caleb Berry’s guilty plea didn’t immediately schedule his sentencing hearing.

U.S. Catholic official resigns

NEW YORK — Citing allegations of “possible improper behavior,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday announced the resignation of its top administrative official, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, ahead of a media report that probed his private romantic life.

Shortly after the announcement, the Roman Catholic news outlet The Pillar published its article based on data it said was “correlated to Burrill’s mobile device” and indicated he had visited gay bars and private residences using a dating app popular with gay people.

The Pillar alleged “serial sexual misconduct” by Burrill — homosexual activity is considered sinful under Catholic doctrine, and priests are expected to remain celibate.

McConnell: ‘Get vaccinated’

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell implored unvaccinated Americans Tuesday to take the COVID-19 shot, issuing a stark and grave warning of a repeat of last year’s rising caseloads and shutdowns if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

McConnell urged Americans to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines. As cases skyrocket, he noted that nearly all the new virus hospitalizations in the U.S. are among people who have not been vaccinated.

“If there is anybody out there willing to listen: Get vaccinated,” McConnell, R-Ky., said at his weekly press conference at the Capitol.

“These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year,” he said. “This is not complicated.”

Biden holds Cabinet meeting

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden marked six months in office on Tuesday with a crowded Cabinet meeting, a gathering meant to symbolize both a return to normalcy due to vaccines and a display of the federal government doing the people’s business.

Biden crammed 25 Cabinet-level officials, as well as another 18 senior staffers, into the ornate West Wing space to hear the president extol his administration’s actions after taking office during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

“The bottom line is we’re delivering on our promises,” Biden said.

The Cabinet members were packed tightly around a table for their first full meeting in the Cabinet room, with a group of journalists squeezed in shoulder-to-shoulder at the outset to chronicle the event.

The Associated Press

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