10/19/20

Biden’s New Super PAC Is A Foreign Government Agent

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer from last year:

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a brand new Super PAC in his corner, and it’s being run by a registered foreign agent for the government of Azerbaijan. Larry Rasky, a lobbyist who previously worked as a top campaign operative for Biden, is listed as the treasurer of the PAC, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

“A former Joe Biden aide has filed paperwork to form a super PAC, called Unite the Country, that is set to boost the former vice president with millions of dollars in spending in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary,” Politico reported on Tuesday.

Other 2020 Campaign Websites from Jan. 2019-Mar. 2020

Records filed with the Department of Justice show that Rasky is also a registered foreign agent lobbying on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan. The records, which were filed pursuant to the Foreign Agent Registration Act, show that Rasky was hired by the Azerbaijani government on April 23, 2019. Federal documents signed by Rasky show that he reports directly to Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the United States.

“[The government of Azerbaijan] will pay RASKY a minimum monthly non-refundable fee (the ‘Monthly Fee’) for the Services provided of $15,000 per month, plus a 5% administrative fee as described below,” Rasky’s contract with the foreign government states. “The Monthly Fees totaling $94,500 shall be paid in two equal installments. The initial payment of $47,250 is due upon the signing of this agreement. The second payment of $47,250 is due on July 15, 2019.”

Rasky changed the name of the PAC from “For The People” to “Unite the Country” on Monday, according to FEC filings. The filings do not state which country Rasky intends to unite on Biden’s behalf. More here.

***

So, what does all this have to do with the current Hunter email scandal? Plenty as it seems that Hunter with other people including additional members of the Biden family via the surfacing emails are defacto lobbyists… meaning paid foreign agents and in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act which is governed by the Justice Department.

Just now, a check of two keywords (Biden and Rosemont), shows no registration(s) at all.

For reference on Rosemont:

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of the money.

An update:

Devon Archer, whose conviction was reinstated by Wednesday’s ruling, had partnered with Hunter Biden in Rosemont Seneca, a Washington-based investment firm. Starting in 2014, the pair served together on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company accused of corruption, at the same time that his father oversaw U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Hunter Biden has called his decision to take the board seat “a mistake,” while Joe Biden has defended the decision, saying, “my son did nothing wrong.”

A lawyer for Archer, Matthew Schwartz, decried the ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. “As the experienced federal judge who presided over Mr. Archer’s month-long trial determined, he ‘lacked the requisite intent and is thus innocent of the crimes charged,’” Schwartz said. “Today’s ruling, which second-guesses that judge’s decision without having sat through the evidence and listened to the witnesses, is beyond disappointing.”

To say this is complicated is an understatement but now we must include Blue Star Strategies to be fair.

The company, Blue Star Strategies, was hired by Burisma in November 2015, after Hunter Biden joined the Burisma Board of Directors.   Blue Star’s task was to improve the “image” of Burisma and its oligarch owner,  Mykola Zlochevsky both in Ukraine and the United States.

Grassley & Johnson; Seek Information Regarding “Blue Star ...

The Obama administration let a Democratic p.r. company that worked for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma take part in a conference call about an upcoming visit to Ukraine by then-Vice President Joe Biden, emails obtained by The Post show.

An associate at Blue Star Strategies then emailed a memo with minutes of the conference call hosted by the White House to a top Burisma executive, Vadym Pozharskyi, as well as to Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, both of whom sat on Burisma’s board.

The trip, in December 2015, turned out to be the one during which Biden later bragged about forcing Ukrainian officials to fire a state prosecutor who was investigating Burisma by threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan guarantee.

The memo, sent shortly after the Dec. 2, 2015, call, also “outlined the trip’s agenda and addressed several questions regarding US policy toward Ukraine.”

Blue Star has said it began working for Burisma and contacting Ukrainian officials on its behalf in November 2015, and an email shows that on Nov. 18, 2015, Pozharskyi sent the Blue Star contract to Hunter Biden, Archer, and Eric Schwerin, president of the Rosemont Seneca Partners investment firm. More here.

Ah yes, we did find a FARA filing there for Blue Star Strategies:

Interesting names right? One of them, Sally Painter.

  • Newly released State Department emails from 2016 shed light on an effort by a consultant for Burisma Holdings to set up a meeting with a top State Department official regarding Ukraine. 
  • Hunter Biden served with the consultant, Sally Painter, on the board of the Truman National Security Project. Biden reportedly recommended that Burisma hire Painter’s firm, Blue Star Strategies.
  • Emails show that Painter approached Tony Blinken about Ukraine at a conference for the think tank in June 2016. Blinken is now a top campaign surrogate for Joe Biden.

Then there is Karen Tramontano. From 1997 to 2001, Ms. Tramontano served in the White House as deputy chief of staff to President William Jefferson Clinton and counselor to Erskine Bowles and John Podesta. Her portfolio encompassed a wide range of issues, including international trade and transatlantic relations as well as economic and financial issues concerning the World Trade Organization, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

10/19/20

Meet the Key Biden Team Players

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Out of the Biden campaign’s nearly 700-person volunteer advisory group, eight members work for Facebook, Apple, Google, or Amazon, the New York Times reported in August. They include Jessica Hertz who previously worked in the Obama White House and left a top position at Facebook to join the Biden transition team. Then there is Carlos Monje, a former Twitter public policy director that also joined forces with the Biden operation. More here.

There is also the campaign chairperson Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist, married to Robert Bauer, a former partner at Perkins Coie and former personal counsel to President Obama and the White House Counsel. Anita Dunn left the Obama White House to later to return to SKDKnickerbocker, an advertising and consulting firm she founded that lobbies for a variety of corporate interests, and where she serves as a partner. As of November, she was still leading the firm. The “D” in the firm’s name refers to Dunn. The first “K” is for Bill Knapp, currently on leave from the company to work for Michael Bloomberg’s campaign.

Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff during his time as vice president, isn’t officially on the campaign payroll, the longtime Biden confidant is still one of his closest advisers and is said to know his strengths and weaknesses more than almost anyone. Before working directly for Biden, Klain helped President Bill Clinton shepherd through his judicial nominations and later became Vice President Al Gore’s chief of staff.

Klain also helped lead Hillary Clinton’s debate prep back in 2016 and reprised that role prior to Biden and Trump’s first debate.

Critically, Klain served as the “Ebola czar” for the Obama administration and successfully helped guide the federal response to containing the outbreak of that virus in 2014 and 2015. Biden also hired younger sister, Valerie Biden Owens. Biden Owens was just 27 when she ran her brother’s successful first Senate run against an entrenched Republican incumbent. Biden Owens was instrumental in her brother’s decision to reverse his longtime support of the Hyde Amendment during the Democratic primary. Then there is Steve Ricchetti who also had a lobbying firm that worked for a few major pharmaceutical companies, among other clients. Add in Mike Donilon is another longtime Biden adviser and friend. He’s considered one of the former vice president’s most trusted confidants, and the pair has a long history — he’s been helping Biden as a strategist since 1981. Donilon previously worked for former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder — who, in 1990, became the country’s first Black governor since Reconstruction — and President Clinton. And like much of Biden’s inner circle, he’s helped the candidate prepare for debates in this campaign.

Biden campaign announces $280 million ad buy through fall ...

But hold on… there is more. Plenty more, but you’ll get the point as you read on.

Here is a list of who’s who on Biden’s economic team. Several are likely to get key posts if the former vice president manages to win the White House.

The progressives

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Sarah Bloom Raskin, former Fed governor and Obama Treasury hire, her husband is a progressive member of House
  • Richard Cordray, the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • William Spriggs, chief economist to the AFL-CIO and former assistant secretary for policy at Obama Labor Department
  • Andrew Yang, former presidential candidate

The Biden veterans

  • Jared Bernstein served as chief economist to Vice President Biden. and now at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Ben Harris, also served as chief economist to Vice President Biden. He is now at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management
  • Don Graves, was Biden’s counselor as vice president, currently head of corporate responsibility and community relations at KeyBank

The Obama moderates

  • Gary Gensler, former head of the CFTC under Obama
  • Larry Strickling led Obama’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • Lael Brainard, Fed governor, and former Obama Treasury official
  • Austan Goolsbee, former Obama chair of the council of economic advisers

The young guns

  • Byron Auguste, president of [email protected] and worked at the Obama White House as well as McKinsey & Co.
  • Heather Boushey, president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She served as chief economist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential transition team
  • Gautam Raghavan, chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He was a former staffer for the Obama White House
  • Julie Siegel, a former Warren staffer who worked at CFPB and at Obama White House
  • Felicia Wong, president, and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute and an expert on race and barriers to an inclusive economy
  • Sonal Shah previously worked at Goldman Sachs, Google, and the Obama White House. She was most recently the national policy director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign
  • Bharat Ramamurti, Warren’s senior counsel for banking and economic policy
  • Cecilia Munoz, former head of Obama’s domestic policy and worked at the National Council of La Raza

Pulling from Wall Street

  • Roger Altman, founder and senior chairman of Evercore, served in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department
  • Jamie Dimon, head of JP Morgan Chase JPM, -1.16%. Dimon is routinely mentioned as a potential candidate for Treasury secretary
  • Roger Ferguson, president, and CEO of TIAA. He is a former vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve
  • Tom Nides, managing director and vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley MS, -0.69% was deputy secretary of state in the Obama Administration
  • Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock BLK, -0.73% has been backed by some of Biden’s Wall Street supporters for a role in the new administration
  • Tony James, the executive vice-chairman of the private equity firm Blackstone BX, -0.18% is also on the wish-list of Biden’s Wall Street supporters
  • Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, has been a policy adviser to congressional Democrats

Team Fed

While not advisers in any sense, these officials could be tapped for jobs in the administration or for top Fed jobs.

  • Raphael Bostic, president of the Atlanta Fed, is the first Black leader of a regional Fed. Bostic has been speaking out about the need to narrow racial and economic gaps
  • Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Fed, has a unique story, rising from high-school dropout to head a regional Fed bank. She is a gay woman who can explain economic issues to a broader audience than Wall Street.
  • Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed. Longest-serving regional Fed president, first appointed in 2007. He has been tough on Wall Street regulation.

Potential Republicans

  • Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, has been mentioned as having a possible role in a Biden administration due to her tough stand on bank regulation
  • Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed and former Republican candidate for governor of California, favors tougher capital standards for banks and has been a dove on interest-rate policy

10/19/20

Are there Enough Christians to Save America?

By: Cliff Kincaid

Deaths from the China virus number more than 1 million worldwide. Deaths from abortion worldwide number 1 billion. Interestingly, the China virus problem has been used in many states to shut down churches and keep abortion clinics open as “essential businesses.” In effect, the China virus serves as a cover for mass murder and Christian persecution.

In response, a movement called “Let Us Worship” is calling for civil disobedience against governmental authorities in the United States suppressing Christian gatherings. It is led by Christian activist Sean Feucht, who says “I burn to see abortion and Roe v. Wade overturned,” and quotes Mother Teresa as saying, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

In regard to abortion, which has claimed 63 million lives in America since Roe v. Wade, the comparison with the China virus is made not to minimize the suffering and lives lost by one evil or another. Rather, the comparison is designed to highlight how the threat of the China virus has diverted our attention from what Thomas W. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Global Life Campaign, has called “the greatest genocide in history.”

“Many Christian leaders are reluctant to talk about abortion,” he says, “but it is the number one cause of death in the United States and worldwide.”

“It is a great tragedy that more than 1 million people have died worldwide this year from the coronavirus pandemic,” Jacobson says. “It is also a great tragedy that about 1 million babies are aborted by choice every month (and this only includes the reported ones).”

He adds, “Look at the massive global efforts every nation is undertaking to protect our lives – the lives of the born.  Should we not undertake an equally great effort to protect babies in the womb and end abortion?”

Taking a religious view, he says, “Covid-19 is a global plague like those recorded or prophesied in the Bible.  This year is 2020, the 100th anniversary of the first government authorizing abortion [the Russian communist regime], and more than 1 billion babies have been sacrificed in one century. I do not know for certain, but if Covid-19 is the beginning of God’s judgments for the slaughter of innocent babies, then either this pandemic or additional plagues or catastrophes may continue, one after another, until we humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and stop murdering babies.”

The Global Life Campaign is trying to provide copies of its Abortion Worldwide Report: 1 Century, 100 Nations, 1 Billion Babies, to “leaders and people of influence in the United States.” These include 130 church denomination headquarters, 40 selected clergy and churches, 60 Christian leaders and ministries, 45 Christian colleges and universities, and 55 pro-life/family organizations.

It is sad that an effort has to be undertaken to provide this report to religious leaders and churches.  But Jacobson cites the case of two Baptist denominations, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the American Baptist Church USA (ABC).  He notes, “The SBC stands firmly for the sanctity of human life and against abortion. But the ABC thinks abortion can be ‘morally acceptable.’”

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris is a member of the ABC. Presidential candidate Joe Biden claims to be a Catholic.

His review of 14 church denominations found the following:

  • Church denominations standing for the sanctity of human life and opposing abortion include the Anglican Church, Assemblies of God, Catholic Church, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, North American Lutheran Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • Church denominations supporting abortion, include the American Baptist Church USA, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and United Methodist Church.

But the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court gives him hope. “Based on her faith, character, integrity, and commitment to the original intent of the Framers of the United States Constitution, President Donald Trump made an exceptionally wise choice in nominating Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,” he says. “By her life, family, instruction, legal career, and judicial decisions, she represents the most honorable aspects of our nation.”

Former Trump Campaign Deputy Chairman Rick Gates says Trump’s appointment of Barrett has galvanized voters on both sides of the political aisle. But he goes on to say, “The current Trump Administration is going to be assessed on its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the state of the economy.”

But how many of those voters know about the death toll from abortion and the differences between the two major political parties on the issue? How many know that abortion has taken far more lives than the China virus? What’s more, how many understand that China leads the world in the number of abortions – and that the number from that communist nation alone is now more than 401 million?

Some observers say that if Trump emphasizes his pro-life stand, contrasting that with the Biden/Harris ticket, he could turn the tide.  There are more than 80 million Catholics in the U.S. and Barrett is one of them.

All he has to do is quote Bishop Rick Stika of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, who says that “abortion is the preeminent issue for the Catholic Church” and that Democratic candidate Joe Biden “supports ending the Hyde Amendment [limiting federal funding of abortion], is against parental choice for education, and wishes to make abortion the law of the land.” Putting the issue in direct and stark terms, he added, “If a person supports or promotes abortion, it is no different than supporting slavery. It is the ultimate abuse against human dignity and the human rights of the baby. It is the ultimate act of child abuse.”

A similar message has come from Father Ed Meeks of Christ the King Catholic Church, who says America is “staring into the abyss” on November 3 and that “Catholic” Joe Biden betrays Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life and marriage.

In a new video, “The Silence That Kills,” an Operation Rescue video calls for protests against Catholic Bishops that do not denounce Joe Biden by name.

Non-Catholics are also speaking out. Black Baptist Minister E.W. Jackson Sr., founder of the S.T.A.N.D. Foundation sponsors regular conference calls with experts on election issues to bypass Big Tech censorship and bring the truth to millions of Christians. He asks, “Will Christians vote in large enough numbers to counteract ‘ballot harvesting,’ mail-in balloting, and other practices that make vote fraud easier?”

At the March for Life in Washington earlier this year, President Trump said, “They are coming after me because I am fighting for you.” He was the first sitting president to appear at the massive pro-life event.

10/19/20

Was the MERS Virus a Model for the Creation of COVID-19?

By: Col. Lawrence Sellin (Ret.) | CCNS

First reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus with symptoms similar to the COVID-19 coronavirus, namely, fever, cough, and shortness of breath with a range from none, to mild, to severe.

As of January 2020, about 2,500 cases of MERS have been reported worldwide. Human-to-human transmission typically requires close contact with an infected person, the spread being uncommon outside of hospitals.

In contrast to COVID-19, the death rate from MERS is about 35%.

MERS is believed to have originated in bats, was transmitted to camels as an intermediate host, then infecting humans, who had contact with the infected animals.

Although the COVID-19 virus has structural similarities to bat coronaviruses, its precise origin has yet to be identified.

The most distinguishing and unique structural feature of the COVID-19 virus is the furin polybasic cleavage site, a sequence of amino acids that interacts with human cell enzymes, which “cut” or “cleave” parts of the viral structure, thus contributing to the life cycle of the virus.

In the case of COVID-19, that sequence of amino acids is usually identified as proline-arginine-arginine-alanine or, in scientific notation, PRRA, which precedes an arginine-serine cleavage point, R-S.

It is unknown from where the PRRA sequence originated because it does not exist in any of the bat coronaviruses identified as close relatives of the COVID-19 virus.

A model for such a structure, however, does exist in the MERS coronavirus, which has a proline-arginine-serine-valine or PRSV sequence preceding the R-S cleavage point and having the following alignment:

COVID-19    PRRAR-S

MERS           PRSVR-S

Both sequences begin with proline (P), both are polybasic having more than one arginine (R) and both have a non-polar amino acid in the fourth position, alanine (A) and valine (V), respectively, prior to the cleavage point, R-S.

It is important to note that COVID-19 and MERS are from two completely different families of coronaviruses, so one could not have evolved from the other.

According to the scientific article “Structures and dynamics of the novel S1/S2 protease cleavage site loop of the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein,” the presence of proline (P) is highly unusual.

Unlike other amino acids, proline produces structural rigidity in proteins and is found in only 5 out of 132 identified furin cleavage site sequences.

Likewise, alanine (A) located just prior to the R-S cleavage point exists in only 5 out of 132 furin cleavage site sequences.

In an early June scientific article, “A novel bat coronavirus closely related to SARS-CoV-2 contains natural insertions at the S1/S2 cleavage site of the spike protein,” the authors claimed to have identified a bat coronavirus, called RmYN02, that appears to have a “precursor” of the COVID-19 furin polybasic cleavage site.

RmYN02 has a proline-alanine-alanine (PAA) insertion roughly in a similar position to the COVID-19 virus, but PAA is chemically neutral, lacks any basic amino acids, and has no R-S point to be cleaved.

RmYN02’s PAA sequence, therefore, cannot be considered a precursor of the COVID-19 furin polybasic cleavage site.

So, the question remains, if no yet identified close relative of COVID-19 has a similar furin polybasic cleavage site, from where did such a unique structural feature with amino acids in unusual positions arise?

Furin polybasic cleavage sites are known to increase viral infectivity and pathogenicity. Genetic engineering techniques for inserting such cleavage sites have existed for at least fifteen years.

At present, no natural evolutionary pathway has been identified to explain the presence of COVID-19’s furin polybasic cleavage site.

Those who may have manufactured the COVID-19 virus could have been trying to mimic the cleavage site found in MERS.

Furthermore, the high rate of human-to-human transmission found for COVID-19, may have resulted from “pre-adapting” the virus for human infection by serial infection or “passaging” of the virus using animal models genetically-engineered to express the human coronavirus receptor.

There is now a preponderance of evidence that the COVID-19 virus was the product of laboratory experimentation rather than a natural infectious “jump” from bats to humans.

China still has a lot of explaining to do.

This column was originally published at WION.

(Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, who previously worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and conducted basic and clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry. He is a member of the Citizens Commission on National Security. His email address is [email protected])

10/19/20

Trump Working to Free American Hostages, Including Austin Tice

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Some things just cannot be mentioned by President Trump on the campaign trail for fear of damage to existing talks and harm to the hostages. Such is true with those that the President is working diligently to release. Further, it should be noted that under the Obama/Biden administration, the notable hostages released include the treasonous Bowe Bergdahl for 5 Gitmo detainees and likely some other side deals, yet to still be determined beyond the Taliban’s diplomatic facility in Qatar.

There were also 4 Americans that were released by Iran and thankfully so, however that included an exchange of at least 7 Iranians imprisoned in the United States and that pesky pile of money alleged to have been $150 billion.

But read on and give a hat tip to the Trump White House for all of these efforts.

WSJ: A top White House of­fi­cial re­cently trav­eled to Dam­as­cus for se­cret talks with the As­sad regime, mark­ing the first time such a high-level U.S. of­fi­cial has met in Syria with the iso­lated gov­ern­ment in more than a decade, ac­cord­ing to Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and oth­ers fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Journalist Austin Tice went missing in Syria in 2012 and hasn’t been heard from since. Photo: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Zuma Press

Kash Pa­tel, a deputy as­sistant to Pres­i­dent Trump and the top White House coun­tert­error­ism of­fi­cial, went to Dam­as­cus ear­lier this year in an ef­fort to se­cure re­lease of at least two Amer­i­cans be­lieved to be held by Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad, the of­fi­cials said. Of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the trip de­clined to say whom Mr. Pa­tel met with dur­ing his trip.

The last known talks be­tween White House and Syr­ian of­fi­cials in Dam­as­cus took place in 2010. The U.S. cut off diplo­matic re­la­tions with Syria in 2012 to protest Mr. As­sad’s bru­tal crack­down on pro­testers call­ing for an end to his regime.

U.S. of­fi­cials are hop­ing a deal with Mr. As­sad would lead to free­dom for Austin Tice, a free­lance jour­nal­ist and for­mer Ma­rine of­fi­cer who dis­ap­peared while re­port­ing in Syria in 2012, and Majd Ka­mal­maz, a Syr­ian-Amer­i­can ther­a­pist who dis­ap­peared af­ter be­ing stopped at a Syr­ian gov­ern­ment check­point in 2017. At least four other Amer­i­cans are be­lieved to be held by the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, but lit­tle is known about those cases.

Ibrahim Ka­mal­maz, one of Mr. Ka­mal­maz’s sons, wel­comed Mr. Pa­tel’s trip as a pos­i­tive step in try­ing to bring his fa­ther home.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to our dad’s case, and we con­tinue to speak with of­fi­cials at the high­est lev­els of the U.S. Gov­ern­ment to bring dad home,” he said Sun­day.

A State De­part­ment spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment. White House of­fi­cials didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. The Syr­ian mis­sion to the United Na­tions didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on the visit.

Both the Trump and Obama ad­min­is­trations worked to iso­late Mr. As­sad, who has en­listed help from Rus­sia and Iran to sup­press pop­u­lar protests and armed re­sis­tance that has un­suc­cess­fully sought to force him from power. The nearly decade­ long war has frac­tured the coun­try and left nearly a half-mil­lion peo­ple dead. Ear­lier this year, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed pun­ish­ing new eco­nomic sanc­tions on Syria that have fur­ther mar­gin­al­ized the As­sad regime.

In March, Mr. Trump wrote Mr. As­sad a pri­vate let­ter propos­ing a “di­rect di­a­logue” about Mr. Tice, and ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have tried a va­ri­ety of ways to ne­go­ti­ate a deal.

Last week, Lebanon’s top se­cu­rity chief, Ab­bas Ibrahim, met at the White House with Robert O’Brien, the White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, to dis­cuss the Amer­i­cans held in Syria, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple in­volved in the talks.

Mr. Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s Gen­eral Se­cu­rity agency, has served as a vi­tal me­di­a­tor be­tween the U.S. and Syria. Last year, he helped to se­cure the re­lease of Sam Good­win, an Amer­i­can trav­eler held for more than two months while vis­it­ing Syria as part of an at­tempt to visit every coun­try in the world.

Mr. Trump has boasted in re­cent months of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts in cam­paign ral­lies, and the Re­pub­li­can con­ven­tion fea­tured a video of Mr. Trump meet­ing with Amer­i­cans who had been held in In­dia, Iran, Syria, Tur­key and Ve­nezuela.

Last week, Mr. Pa­tel helped bro­ker a deal that led to the re­lease of two Amer­i­cans held by Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen in ex­change for the re­turn of more than 200 Houthi loy­al­ists stuck out­side the frac­tured Mid­dle East na­tion.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is also try­ing to press Ve­nezuela to re­lease six oil ex­ec­u­tives held since 2017. Two other Amer­i­cans were ar­rested in May af­ter en­ter­ing Ve­nezuela to al­legedly take part in an at­tempted coup to over­throw Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.

The fam­i­lies of both Mr. Tice and Mr. Ka­mal­maz be­lieve that the two men are alive, but Syr­ian of­fi­cials haven’t of­fered de­finitive proof.

Talks with the As­sad regime haven’t got­ten very far, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple briefed on the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The As­sad regime has re­peat­edly de­manded that the U.S. with­draw all its forces from Syria. Sev­eral hun­dred Amer­i­can forces help pro­tect oil fields in the north­east­ern part of the coun­try as part of an ef­fort to pre­vent Is­lamic State from re­gain­ing a foothold in the coun­try.

Con­cerns about the fate of both men was height­ened by the death of Layla Shweikani, a 26-year-old Illi­nois na­tive, who hu­man rights groups said was de­tained, tor­tured and ex­e­cuted by the As­sad regime in 2016 af­ter work­ing as an ac­tivist and aid worker in Syria.

Mr. Trump has taken a per­sonal in­ter­est in try­ing to se­cure Mr. Tice’s free­dom, men­tion­ing his case in a March news con­fer­ence and is­su­ing a state­ment on the eighth an­niver­sary of his dis­ap­pear­ance.