Fewer than expected white nationalists took part in the rally
White nationalists have staged a rally near the White House in Washington, but were far outnumbered by counter-protesters.
About 20 far-right supporters attended the demonstration, which came a year after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead.
Hundreds of chanting opponents staged their own rally nearby, denouncing white supremacy and racism.
The two sides were kept apart by a heavy police presence.
About 400 people had initially been expected at the “Unite the Right 2” rally but on the day nowhere near that number took part.
The white nationalists were escorted by police officers to Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, and were heckled along the route by a larger group of counter-protesters chanting “shame” and “get out of my city”.
Tight security was in place and authorities banned all firearms from the area.
After about two hours, under heavy rain, the rally ended and supporters were escorted out of the area in two police vans.
A larger group of counter-protesters meanwhile gathered at Freedom Plaza, at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue that leads to the US Capitol, chanting and waving banners.
‘Racist message drowned out’
At the scene: Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington
As a small group of white supremacists gathered for their second “Unite the Right” rally, the rain began to fall.
Much like the sodden pavements outside the White House, the follow up to last year’s rally in Charlottesville was nothing more than a damp squib.
Organisers had applied for a permit for as many as 400 people – but in the end they couldn’t gather much more than 20. The counter-protesters came out in much larger numbers, a mix of locals with hand-made signs; Black Lives Matter activists, and also some Antifa – left-wing militants – dressed head to toe in black.
It all passed off peacefully, to the relief of many who remember last year’s violent clashes.
Police had worked hard to ensure the Unite the Right group was well away from counter-protesters. If today showed anything, it was that a message of racism was well and truly drowned out, in more ways than one.
Last year’s far-right rally in Charlottesville was one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists in America in decades.
The march had been organised to protest against plans to remove a statue of a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed after a neo-Nazi driver ploughed his car into a group of anti-racist protesters.
Dozens of other people were injured in violence between the two groups.
Mr Beattie told CNN that he did speak at that conference, and that he stood by his remarks “completely”.
“In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely,” he said in an email.
“It was the honour of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him 100%. I have no further comment.”ADVERTISEMENT
Mr Beattie had worked under Vince Haley, the president’s head of speechwriting.
When the White House learned of CNN’s investigation, Mr Beattie was first asked to step down, which he reportedly refused to do.
He reportedly said he made no controversial comments at the conference, according to CNN.
The HL Mencken Club, founded in 2008, describes itself as “a society” for “independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right”.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC) advocacy group, the Mencken Club “has hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views”.
Alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer has been a speaker at the Mencken Club’s conferences in the past.
Mr Beattie supported Mr Trump during his 2016 campaign and has been an outspoken advocate of the president’s immigration policies.
Before joining the Trump administration, he was a visiting professor of political science at Duke University.
He obtained his doctoral degree from Duke as well. His thesis focused on the Nazi Martin Heidegger, whose Nazi-ties he called “highly troublesome” while saying his work still merits academic consideration, according to Forward magazine.
During the 2016 Mencken conference, Mr Beattie was reportedly on a panel with noted English white nationalist Peter Brimelow – the head of the anti-immigrant website VDARE.
The SPLC describes Mr Brimelow’s site as “a hub for anti-Semites, nativists and Alt-Right figures”.
In his T-shirt, skinny jeans and sharply styled haircut, Martin Sellner is the European far right’s newest poster boy. The group he leads in Austria has attracted huge publicity. However, Sellner’s insistence that his movement is non-racist and non-violent doesn’t have everyone convinced.
In April 2016, hundreds of people sat inside the University of Vienna’s theatre watching The Suppliants, a play performed by asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And then the stage invasion began.
Members of a far-right group called Generation Identity (GI) rushed in, unfurling a banner calling the audience hypocrites and throwing fake blood over some of them. The performers screamed, fearing they were under attack. There were scuffles as some in the audience began shouting “Nazis raus” or “Nazis out” and tried to eject the protesters.
Ima was one of the performers. She had fled Mosul in Iraq when it was taken over by the so-called Islamic State group. “We came from the land of fear,” she says. And now, in the darkness and confusion, she was scared again.
“We thought they were going to kill us. In my homeland it’s just so much killing and dead people so that’s what we believed.”ADVERTISEMENT
The young man who leads GI in Austria plays down the incident. “I actually don’t think people were really traumatised,” he says. “I don’t know anybody who had a severe trauma or a medical condition.”
His name is Martin Sellner, and with his striking haircut, fashionable skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses, he looks like a typical style-conscious 29-year-old. Like many others of his generation, he can normally be found staring into the lens of a mobile phone – but in Sellner’s case, it’s typically to deliver a monologue about the evils of multiculturalism and how Muslims want to take over Europe.
He is often joined in his videos on YouTube by his fiancee, Brittany Pettibone, an alt-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist. Her posts about a so-called “white genocide” and a paedophile ring connected to Hillary Clinton led the Anti-Defamation League to place her on its list of hate groups.
Earlier this year Sellner and Pettibone were both banned from entering the UK. The Home Office said that when “the purpose of someone’s visit to this country is to spread hatred, the Home Office can and will stop them entering Britain”.
Sellner isn’t just GI’s leader in Austria. He’s also a poster boy for the Europe-wide Identitarian movement, which is fiercely opposed to Muslim migrants – claiming that they threaten Europe’s identity and will eventually replace the indigenous populations. The movement began in France in 2012 and has expanded to nine countries including Germany, Italy and recently the UK. It doesn’t have many members but gets publicity through confrontational and expensive stunts.
In the summer of 2017, GI raised over £150,000 through crowdfunding to charter a boat in the Mediterranean to target non-governmental organisations that patrol the sea to rescue migrants in peril. GI said it would arrest illegal migrants and sink their boats – its campaign received the backing of a neo-Nazi website, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and a leading American white supremacist.
It didn’t quite go to plan, though. GI’s boat was detained and the captain was arrested, accused of having illegal Sri Lankan refugees on board and false documents. They were all later released.
A few months later, GI paid for a red helicopter to land on the crisp white snow of the French Alps. Flanked by 100 activists from across Europe, a massive poster was laid out telling migrants to go home. This stunt cost more than £50,000.
But the organisation’s actions in Austria have landed it in deep trouble.
The Austrian authorities think that actions like the protest at the University of Vienna theatre and Generation Identity’s accompanying rhetoric amount to incitement of hatred against Muslims, foreigners and refugees. It’s why they have taken the unprecedented step of charging GI with being a criminal group, rather than the non-governmental organisation it says it is.
The Austrian prosecutor compiled evidence from stunts GI carried out in the past two years. These included the targeting of a lecture at Klagenfurt University, a small campus set amidst the jagged mountains and cool lakes of Carinthia. Identitarians disrupted a talk on refugees and integration, unfurling a banner while a man with a megaphone barked at a shocked audience.
Enis Husic, a softly spoken student from Bosnia, challenged them that day. “It was very tense and aggressive. I could really sense that,” he says. “At the time I wasn’t scared but I was very scared afterwards once it was all over.”
The fresh-faced rector, Prof Oliver Vitouch, was looking out of his office window when he saw protesters and rushed to confront them. He was hit by one of them as they tried to escape. “Although they usually say they’re completely free of violence and completely peaceful, it’s pretty clear to me that the readiness to violence is obviously there,” he says.
For years, GI was dismissed by its critics as a bunch of wannabe hipster Nazis – but Natasha Strobl, an author and researcher, has long thought their actions and rhetoric pose a threat to the country.
“They paint refugees as invaders, as dangerous soldiers of Islam who come here to destroy Europe. It really destroys society,” she says. As a result of this rhetoric, she adds, “people get aggressive, people harass Muslim women on the streets”.
She wrote a book about the Identitarian movement and then began receiving threats. “There are rape and murder threats when you open your email… I try not to go the same ways in the city because I don’t want to be followed. So you change how you live.” Generation Identity says it’s not racist or violent but articulating the views of many Austrians.
Martin Sellner grew up in an affluent suburb outside of Vienna. In his teenage years, Strobl says, he was drawn to the nationalist fringe in Austria. “He was part of the neo-Nazi scene and the most well-known figure of the neo-Nazis, Gottfried Kussel, was his mentor,” she says.
At the time Kussel had already been to prison for trying to revive Nazism. He was arrested again in 2011 and later jailed for nine years for continued far-right activity. It was after this, in 2012, that Martin Sellner set up the Identitarians in Austria.
We meet him inside their offices in a scrappy apartment in the centre of Vienna. It’s fairly basic apart from a room full of cameras, laptops and lights where they make and edit their videos. Sellner is relaxed and confident; the day before he had been acquitted, along with 16 other GI members and supporters, of belonging to a criminal organisation.
“I really think we were vindicated and I hope that this verdict will also have an effect beyond this case and beyond Austria in the rehabilitation of GI,” he says, sipping from a glass of sparkling water.
The prosecutor is appealing against the acquittal and is investigating GI’s finances.
GI likes to stress it’s not violent or racist, but what of Martin Sellner’s past?
He admits he was involved with neo-Nazis when he was younger because, he says, “there was no alternative. There was no right-wing patriotic movement”.
When asked bluntly: “So you weren’t a racist?” his fluency falters.
“I don’t think I was.”
Find out more
Simon Cox’s documentary Generation Identity, produced by Anna Meisel, is broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents at 11:00 on Thursday 20 September 2018. Listen again on iPlayer
For transmission times on the BBC World Service, click here
When pressed further – “Surely you’d know if you were a racist?” – he still sounds a little unsure. “I wouldn’t say I was. It was a very ambiguous thing. I would say I was like a conservative, patriot.”
Earlier this year, before he was banned from the UK, he was secretly filmed by undercover reporters during a trip to London. He was captured using a racist and offensive term. He says it was a genuine mistake. “I really thought that ‘Paki’ was a completely normal term. If I would have known it, that it was considered a racial slur, I would have definitely not used it.”
“Come off it,” we tell him. “You come to the UK a lot – the idea you wouldn’t know it was offensive isn’t believable.”
He once again insists he didn’t know and apologises. “If I insulted anybody with this word, I absolutely say sorry and I will never use it again.”
GI’s actions often target events which promote integration – because, he says, he doesn’t believe in this. The Muslims who come to Europe must do more, he says – they must assimilate.
“Assimilation means that you completely identify with the country, the nation, its history,” he says – otherwise, he warns, “it’s treason, because you’re betraying this community… because this community is giving you open hands, taking you in and then you have to put the interests of this community in front of your own.”
Standing in his way are anti-fascist campaigners like Jerome Trebing.
Publicly, Sellner’s group says it is not violent or racist. But Trebing has worked with activists who have gone into meetings GI holds in isolated rural areas.
As he sips sweet tea in a Turkish cafe in Vienna’s multicultural 10th district, a place that GI abhors, Trebing says: “There is some really hard stuff going on. There are people who are allowed to say racist stuff, anti-Semitic stuff and there is no-one who is saying there is no place for it here.”
According to Trebing, in these meetings GI supporters said it wasn’t just Muslims who wanted to replace the local population, but Jews too.
GI’s leader denies it has any bias against the Jewish population. He wants to expand the Identitarian movement to other European nations. In Austria, he says, “We have a right-wing government. And we want to push for that everywhere in Europe, we really want to change public discourse.”
The nationalist, anti-immigration Freedom Party joined Austria’s coalition government last year.
Sellner’s ban on visiting the UK has made it harder for him to spread his message to potential supporters, but online he is still very active – although he has been banned from Facebook.
In mainland Europe he is free to lead GI’s continued aggressive, provocative targeting of Muslims.
Besima is one of those who have been on the receiving end of GI activity.
Sitting in her faded apartment drinking sweet tea with freshly made lamb koftas, she describes how she was performing with other asylum seekers at the University theatre in Vienna when GI stormed in.
Her son Mohammed was on stage with her too and she said the experience had traumatised him. “He has refused to go out, he is still at home, saying ‘If I go out something bad will happen to me.'”
Mohammed had been kidnapped in Iraq, which is one of the reasons she originally fled Basra with her three children. When she arrived two years ago she felt welcomed and accepted but feels the atmosphere towards migrants is changing.
“I thought I found happiness and peace here,” she says, “but I feel it’s not safe any more.”
US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted he lied about a Trump property deal in Russia during the 2016 election.
Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He said he did so out of loyalty to Mr Trump.
Mr Trump said his former right-hand man was “lying” to prosecutors in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.
A special counsel is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump colluded with it.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 election by handling hush money for Mr Trump’s alleged lovers.
What happened in court?
Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.
He said at the hearing that he had submitted a false written statement about a Trump Organization plan to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital.
“I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1,” Cohen said in court.
He has previously identified “individual 1” as Mr Trump.
Cohen was interviewed in October last year behind closed doors by lawmakers conducting their own investigation into whether Mr Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the US election two years ago.
According to the criminal complaint, he told the Senate and House intelligence committees that talks over the Moscow project had lasted from September 2015 until January 2016, while Mr Trump was running for the White House.
But the criminal complaint says that “as Cohen well knew”, negotiations over the Moscow project continued until June 2016.
Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Mr Trump about the project, when in fact it had been “more extensive”.
Prosecutors said Cohen had tried to give a false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Republican presidential campaign properly began in 2016.
In a press scrum outside court, Cohen said nothing to reporters.
But his lawyer said: “Mr Cohen has co-operated. Mr Cohen will continue to co-operate.”
President’s political nightmare worsens
Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington
Up until now, Michael Cohen had been a tangential figure in Donald Trump’s Russia-related headaches. After his plea agreement with the special counsel’s office, however, he’s now smack dab in the middle of Robert Mueller’s probe.
In particular, Cohen is sharing information with the special counsel about Mr Trump’s Russian business interests – including efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow – which, according to the president’s former personal lawyer, continued well into Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.
That runs counter to the president’s continued insistence that he had no financial ties to Russia – an assertion he frequently made when questioned about his past praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and efforts to improve US-Russian relations.
If Cohen can provide evidence supporting his claims, it would be a political nightmare for the president and, if Mr Trump made false claims in his recent written testimony to Mr Mueller, a legal one, as well.
The president has been tweeting furiously about the special counsel team in recent days, and given the steady drumbeat of news on Mr Mueller’s investigation, it feels as though a crescendo is approaching.
What did President Trump say?
As he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr Trump told reporters of Cohen: “He’s a weak person and not a very smart person.
“He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story.”
Mr Trump told reporters of the Moscow real estate project, which never came to fruition: “When I’m running for president, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business.”
He added: “He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it.”
Soon after those remarks, Mr Trump abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.
Manafort has already pleaded guilty to a range of charges from money laundering to unregistered lobbying.
On Thursday, Mr Trump told reporters: “It is sad what happened to Paul.”
The president also said he had not explicitly offered a pardon to Manafort, but: “I’m not taking anything off the table.”
US media report that Mr Trump last week provided much-anticipated written answers to Mr Mueller’s questions about two key issues in the inquiry.
The president reportedly denied a political associate, Roger Stone, had tipped him off that Wikileaks would publish hacked Democratic emails, and said he had no knowledge of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between his son and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Mr Mueller has already brought criminal charges against a series of former Trump aides and associates, including his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Russian individuals and entities.
The inquiry is ongoing, but no hard evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Kremlin has so far been produced.
US President Donald Trump has called Saudi Arabia’s response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi “the worst cover-up ever”.
He added that whoever organised the plot “should be in big trouble”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, shortly afterwards, that the US “will punish those responsible” and is revoking visas of 21 identified suspects.
The US has faced pressure to toughen its stance on Saudi Arabia, a key ally.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Trump said: “They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover up was the worst in the history of cover-ups.”
“Where it should have stopped is at the deal standpoint, when they thought about it,” he continued. “Because whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble.”
The Saudi kingdom has provided conflicting accounts of what happened to Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post contributor. After weeks of maintaining he was still alive, the authorities now say the 59-year-old was killed in a rogue operation after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
In a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Mr Pompeo said that he and the president were “not happy with the situation”.
“We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this ruthless action to silence Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence,” he said.
When asked whether the US would accept Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s explanation of the incident, Mr Pompeo said: “We’re going to accept what America learns.”
“We have people working all across the world to put our own understanding together. We have to develop our own data set. We will learn the facts ourselves.”
He said Turkey had strong evidence Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated and “savage” murder at the consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
He also called for the suspects to be tried in Istanbul.
Mr Erdogan’s address coincided with the start of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia that has been overshadowed by the Khashoggi case. Dozens of government and business leaders have pulled out, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared at the event on Tuesday.
A cameraman from India’s national broadcaster, Doordarshan, and two policemen have been killed in an alleged attack by Maoist rebels.
They were ambushed on Tuesday morning in the central state of Chhattisgarh, which is often hit by Maoist violence.
The attack comes days after rebels blew up a vehicle of India’s central paramilitary force, killing four personnel.
Chhattisgarh is scheduled to hold state elections next month.
“Today our patrolling party was ambushed by Naxals,” deputy inspector general P Sundar Raj told ANI news agency. He added that two other police officers were also injured in the attack.
The TV crew from Doordarshan was in the area to cover the upcoming polls, according to the broadcaster. They were travelling with security forces when their vehicles were attacked.
DD News had deployed a camera team for election coverage in Chatisgarh. The team included cameraman Achyutananda Sahu, reporter Dhiraj Kumar and light assistant Mormukt Sharma. The team came under attack by Maoists this forenoon near Dantewada.
Prasar Bharati parivar condoles the death of Cameraman Achyutananda Sahu earlier today near Dantewada in Chhatisgarh. Our prayers with his family during this difficult moment.
The mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh has witnessed an armed conflict for more than three decades.
While the government encourages mineral extraction industries in the area, the Maoists – an armed left-wing rebel guerrilla group – opposes it.
Ethan, from Burry Port, was told his left kidney had become non-functioning after scans at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen in June 2014.
He was fitted with a tract in his side after suffering from a build up of fluid and visited his GP up to three times a week to have dressings changed prior to the surgery last year.
He was referred to a consultant at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and put on an urgent waiting list for his kidney to be removed.
But despite constant calls to the hospital – including to the chief executive – an appointment never came.
Mr Matthews said his son, who is now 15, missed out on a normal childhood for nearly three years.
“We had to ban Ethan and stop him from taking part in any contact sport – no football, no rugby, even general horseplay out with his mates. He couldn’t do it.
“At one point he asked us whether he could join army cadets and we had to say “no, just in case. You can’t risk having an injury to your side” – especially being left with an open wound to his side for three years. The risk of infection was quite high.”
He said he was told the wound on Ethan’s side would not heal until his kidney was removed – and over the three years it constantly became infected.
“He spent two years taking antibiotics to combat the infection in his side all the time,” said Mr Matthews.
“We were taking him back and forth to the GP’s surgery to change the dressing and to monitor it every week.
“Ethan became frustrated. He would constantly be asking “when am I having my operation done”. It was very difficult to tell him “we don’t know”.
“You have got no idea when it’ going to get sorted, when it will get done.
“He did get upset on numerous occasions with his side and there was nothing you could do. The only thing he could have done was to have his operation and we couldn’t get it done.”
“Low and behold, the day after it was broadcast we had a date for his operation,” Mr Matthews added.
“We were so overjoyed and relieved he would finally get his operation.”
Ethan, who finally had the nine-hour kidney removal operation in May 2017, added: “It’s a really good feeling that I can actually live a normal life again, playing sports and going out with my friends.
The ombudsman’s report into the delay said Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales did not tell the referring hospital that it could not meet treatment targets in this case, denying the opportunity for alternatives to be considered.
Mr Bennett said: “This is a shocking series of events where an 11-year-old child was unable to thrive for almost three years because of totally unacceptable delays.
“It has clearly been a dreadful experience for this young boy and his family and it is likely his human rights have been compromised due to the impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing, and the extent of suffering he has endured.”
His report said health officials have agreed to apologise and adopt recommendations.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it wanted to convey its “sincere apologies” for the distress caused to Ethan and his family.
“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the patient and their relatives to personally convey our apologies and to provide some assurance with regard to the much improved referral to treatment time performance and the ongoing monitoring of the waiting lists,” a spokesman added.