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Viacom, AT&T negotiations weigh on possible CBS tie-up: sources

FILE PHOTO: The Viacom office is seen in Hollywood, Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The Viacom office is seen in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

March 22, 2019

By Helen Coster, Liana B. Baker and Kenneth Li

(Reuters) – Viacom Inc’s bitter contract renewal talks with AT&T Inc’s DirecTV that could see the blackout of MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central by midnight Friday are weighing on a possible tie-up of CBS and Viacom, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Although the boards of CBS and Viacom have not discussed or decided on pursuing a merger, these sources say they are studying AT&T’s impact on Viacom and how it affects the company’s motivation to pursue a CBS merger. Viacom needs to resolve the AT&T contract before considering any other strategic moves including mergers and acquisitions, sources said.

Both companies are controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements Inc, which pushed for a merger last year but backed off as CBS explores other options before deciding on another run at Viacom.

Viacom would take a substantial financial hit without an AT&T deal. AT&T is Viacom’s largest distributor, representing 24.5 million total video subscribers, and was responsible for about 15 percent of Viacom’s 2018 revenue. At stake are about $2 billion annually in fees and advertising, which are seen declining in any new deal, according to Wall Street estimates.

The 2017 Viacom and Charter Communications Inc renewal resulted in a 15 percent rate decrease. A similar outcome with AT&T could lead to a $156 million drop in annual affiliate fees paid by AT&T to Viacom, although some analysts have estimated an approximate 10 percent decrease this time.

Viacom and AT&T declined to comment. Negotiations continued as of Friday afternoon, sources said.

Failure to reach a deal is seen emboldening CBS and Viacom’s controlling shareholder’s position to put the companies together to give them better leverage in future distribution contract talks.

“Viacom’s clear need for greater negotiating leverage after being dropped by AT&T might be the final factor necessary to drive the long-speculated CBS-Viacom merger given the common control of both companies by the Redstone-controlled National Amusements,” Credit Suisse analyst Doug Mitchelson said in a research note this week.

If AT&T and Viacom walk away from the table, the No. 2 U.S. telecoms company’s position could also be weakened, especially if it faces a combined CBS and Viacom by the end of June, when CBS’s contract with AT&T expires.

Dropping the CBS broadcast network and NFL games would be disastrous to AT&T, and they may end up paying more for Viacom channels through CBS, analysts have said.

Losing Viacom will also weaken AT&T’s leverage as it faces Walt Disney Co and Fox later this year.

(Reporting by Kenneth Li, Helen Coster and Liana B. Baker; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

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Trump, Germany’s Merkel discuss trade, NATO funding, Brexit

G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires
U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

March 22, 2019

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss a range of issues including trade and NATO funding, the White House and a senior administration official said.

The phone call took place shortly after Trump began a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

A White House statement said the conversation covered issues including trade, the Brexit debate in Britain, and upcoming meetings. A senior administration official said the conversation also covered funding for the NATO alliance.

Trump has long complained that Germany needs to pay more for the common defense in Europe.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton in Palm Beach, Florida; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

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Democratic Senate Candidate Mark Kelly Returns $55,000 Check For Speaking In United Arab Emirates

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly returned a $55,000 paycheck he earned for a speech in the United Arab Emirates, possibly avoiding the appearance of ties to a foreign government accused of violating basic human rights.

Kelly, a former astronaut, is angling for Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s seat in 2020. He was reportedly paid for the June 2018 speech at an event sponsored by the UAE’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to CNN Friday.

The crown prince is also in charge of the country’s military, which cooperated with a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition in Yemen reportedly guilty of war crimes — a claim the country denies. Kelly and his brother, fellow astronaut Scott Kelly, delivered a lecture titled “The Sky is not the Limit: Life Lessons from NASA’s Kelly Brothers,” according to CNN. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“Like many other former astronauts, Mark has given speeches to a variety of groups about his experiences in space, the United States Navy, and how he and (his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords) worked together to overcome tragedy. This engagement was focused entirely on Mark sharing his experiences in space and discussing our countries’ space programs,” Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters said in a statement to CNN.

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

NASA and the UAE have formally agreed to cooperate on space research in the past.

Kelly has said he will not take a dime of corporate PAC money. He’s teeing up a race against McSally, who was appointed to the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat in January.

If Kelly can beat McSally, Arizona will be represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since the 1950s. She lost her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by roughly 2.5 percentage points.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

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Giuliani: Trump Lawyers Want Look at Mueller's Findings Before They Are Made Public

President Donald Trump’s lawyers want an early look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings before they are made public.

That’s according to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney. He says Trump’s legal team hasn’t received any assurances that they’ll get the early look they want, though.

Mueller notified Attorney General William Barr on Friday that he had concluded his probe of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Donald Trump’s campaign.

Source: NewsMax

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McConnell Hopes Mueller Report ‘Improves’ Democracy While Schumer And Pelosi Call For Complete Public Release

Leaders on Capitol Hill responded Friday to special counsel Robert Mueller’s delivery of his report related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General Bill Barr.

Barr sent a letter to Capitol Hill committee chairmen in both chambers, informing them that the report was submitted to the Justice Department. (RELATED: Breaking: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement he welcomed that the announcement from the special counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.”

He continued, “Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the special counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”

McConnell said Barr will now need time to review the report, adding, “The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Little is known about the contents of the report that was two years in the making and led to the indictment or guilty plea of six Trump associates. However, not one indictment was related to conspiracy or collusion with Russians.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the complete public release of the report in a joint statement:

Now that special counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.

Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.

The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.

Although the Mueller investigation has ended, Democrats have vowed to continue their own investigations of Trump from the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee in the lower chamber. Additionally, Democrats are counting on investigations of the president and his allies from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.

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Source: The Daily Caller

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No More Indictments Coming From Mueller, Undercutting Trump Critics’ Hopes For Russia Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller will not issue any additional indictments in the Russia investigation and has not filed any charges under seal, a senior Justice Department official told news outlets Friday.

The revelation would seem to be a positive sign for President Donald Trump and several Trump associates who faced legal jeopardy in the Mueller probe. It also means no Trump associates will face charges related to the main focus of the special counsel’s investigation: whether Trump of members of his campaign conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. (RELATED: BREAKING: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017. In those 22 months, Mueller has indicted or obtained guilty pleas from six Trump associates, most recently Jan. 24 against longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone. None of the Trump associates faced charges related to contacts with Russia.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mueller provided a report of his investigation Friday to Attorney General William Barr, signaling the end of the probe. Barr notified the leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees that he had received the report and would likely provide more details to Congress over the weekend.

Trump critics have long speculated that Mueller would release a slew of indictments prior to or shortly after submitting his final report. Others asserted Mueller had filed a batch of sealed indictments that would be released at some point during the probe.

None of those predictions proved accurate.

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Source: The Daily Caller

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New rules in Mexico may limit cash payments for real estate

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. Picture taken February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

March 22, 2019

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico is developing rules that would cap the amount of cash that can used to buy real estate, Finance Minister Carlos Urzua said on Friday, part of a push to reduce the use of physical currency in a country rife with money laundering and corruption.

Urzua, speaking at a banking convention in the resort town of Acapulco, said the government was also considering rules that would require all its payments and collections to be processed electronically.

Also under discussion is the creation of incentives for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and architects to accept electronic payments over cash, he said.

Nearly 57 percent of people in Mexico work off the books, according to government data. Millions lack bank accounts and an estimated 90 percent of all transactions are done in cash.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has made it one of his priorities to draw more people into the formal economy and reduce cash in circulation to cut down on the laundering of proceeds from the drug trade and other illicit activities.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City and Dave Graham in Acapulco; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

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FILE PHOTO: The Viacom office is seen in Hollywood, Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The Viacom office is seen in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

March 22, 2019

By Helen Coster, Liana B. Baker and Kenneth Li

(Reuters) – Viacom Inc’s bitter contract renewal talks with AT&T Inc’s DirecTV that could see the blackout of MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central by midnight Friday are weighing on a possible tie-up of CBS and Viacom, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Although the boards of CBS and Viacom have not discussed or decided on pursuing a merger, these sources say they are studying AT&T’s impact on Viacom and how it affects the company’s motivation to pursue a CBS merger. Viacom needs to resolve the AT&T contract before considering any other strategic moves including mergers and acquisitions, sources said.

Both companies are controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements Inc, which pushed for a merger last year but backed off as CBS explores other options before deciding on another run at Viacom.

Viacom would take a substantial financial hit without an AT&T deal. AT&T is Viacom’s largest distributor, representing 24.5 million total video subscribers, and was responsible for about 15 percent of Viacom’s 2018 revenue. At stake are about $2 billion annually in fees and advertising, which are seen declining in any new deal, according to Wall Street estimates.

The 2017 Viacom and Charter Communications Inc renewal resulted in a 15 percent rate decrease. A similar outcome with AT&T could lead to a $156 million drop in annual affiliate fees paid by AT&T to Viacom, although some analysts have estimated an approximate 10 percent decrease this time.

Viacom and AT&T declined to comment. Negotiations continued as of Friday afternoon, sources said.

Failure to reach a deal is seen emboldening CBS and Viacom’s controlling shareholder’s position to put the companies together to give them better leverage in future distribution contract talks.

“Viacom’s clear need for greater negotiating leverage after being dropped by AT&T might be the final factor necessary to drive the long-speculated CBS-Viacom merger given the common control of both companies by the Redstone-controlled National Amusements,” Credit Suisse analyst Doug Mitchelson said in a research note this week.

If AT&T and Viacom walk away from the table, the No. 2 U.S. telecoms company’s position could also be weakened, especially if it faces a combined CBS and Viacom by the end of June, when CBS’s contract with AT&T expires.

Dropping the CBS broadcast network and NFL games would be disastrous to AT&T, and they may end up paying more for Viacom channels through CBS, analysts have said.

Losing Viacom will also weaken AT&T’s leverage as it faces Walt Disney Co and Fox later this year.

(Reporting by Kenneth Li, Helen Coster and Liana B. Baker; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires
U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

March 22, 2019

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss a range of issues including trade and NATO funding, the White House and a senior administration official said.

The phone call took place shortly after Trump began a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

A White House statement said the conversation covered issues including trade, the Brexit debate in Britain, and upcoming meetings. A senior administration official said the conversation also covered funding for the NATO alliance.

Trump has long complained that Germany needs to pay more for the common defense in Europe.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton in Palm Beach, Florida; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly returned a $55,000 paycheck he earned for a speech in the United Arab Emirates, possibly avoiding the appearance of ties to a foreign government accused of violating basic human rights.

Kelly, a former astronaut, is angling for Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s seat in 2020. He was reportedly paid for the June 2018 speech at an event sponsored by the UAE’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to CNN Friday.

The crown prince is also in charge of the country’s military, which cooperated with a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition in Yemen reportedly guilty of war crimes — a claim the country denies. Kelly and his brother, fellow astronaut Scott Kelly, delivered a lecture titled “The Sky is not the Limit: Life Lessons from NASA’s Kelly Brothers,” according to CNN. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“Like many other former astronauts, Mark has given speeches to a variety of groups about his experiences in space, the United States Navy, and how he and (his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords) worked together to overcome tragedy. This engagement was focused entirely on Mark sharing his experiences in space and discussing our countries’ space programs,” Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters said in a statement to CNN.

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

NASA and the UAE have formally agreed to cooperate on space research in the past.

Kelly has said he will not take a dime of corporate PAC money. He’s teeing up a race against McSally, who was appointed to the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat in January.

If Kelly can beat McSally, Arizona will be represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since the 1950s. She lost her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by roughly 2.5 percentage points.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump’s lawyers want an early look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings before they are made public.

That’s according to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney. He says Trump’s legal team hasn’t received any assurances that they’ll get the early look they want, though.

Mueller notified Attorney General William Barr on Friday that he had concluded his probe of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Donald Trump’s campaign.

Source: NewsMax

Leaders on Capitol Hill responded Friday to special counsel Robert Mueller’s delivery of his report related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General Bill Barr.

Barr sent a letter to Capitol Hill committee chairmen in both chambers, informing them that the report was submitted to the Justice Department. (RELATED: Breaking: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement he welcomed that the announcement from the special counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.”

He continued, “Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the special counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”

McConnell said Barr will now need time to review the report, adding, “The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Little is known about the contents of the report that was two years in the making and led to the indictment or guilty plea of six Trump associates. However, not one indictment was related to conspiracy or collusion with Russians.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the complete public release of the report in a joint statement:

Now that special counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.

Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.

The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.

Although the Mueller investigation has ended, Democrats have vowed to continue their own investigations of Trump from the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee in the lower chamber. Additionally, Democrats are counting on investigations of the president and his allies from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.

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Kerry Picket is a host on SiriusXM Patriot 125

Source: The Daily Caller

Special counsel Robert Mueller will not issue any additional indictments in the Russia investigation and has not filed any charges under seal, a senior Justice Department official told news outlets Friday.

The revelation would seem to be a positive sign for President Donald Trump and several Trump associates who faced legal jeopardy in the Mueller probe. It also means no Trump associates will face charges related to the main focus of the special counsel’s investigation: whether Trump of members of his campaign conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. (RELATED: BREAKING: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017. In those 22 months, Mueller has indicted or obtained guilty pleas from six Trump associates, most recently Jan. 24 against longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone. None of the Trump associates faced charges related to contacts with Russia.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mueller provided a report of his investigation Friday to Attorney General William Barr, signaling the end of the probe. Barr notified the leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees that he had received the report and would likely provide more details to Congress over the weekend.

Trump critics have long speculated that Mueller would release a slew of indictments prior to or shortly after submitting his final report. Others asserted Mueller had filed a batch of sealed indictments that would be released at some point during the probe.

None of those predictions proved accurate.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. Picture taken February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

March 22, 2019

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico is developing rules that would cap the amount of cash that can used to buy real estate, Finance Minister Carlos Urzua said on Friday, part of a push to reduce the use of physical currency in a country rife with money laundering and corruption.

Urzua, speaking at a banking convention in the resort town of Acapulco, said the government was also considering rules that would require all its payments and collections to be processed electronically.

Also under discussion is the creation of incentives for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and architects to accept electronic payments over cash, he said.

Nearly 57 percent of people in Mexico work off the books, according to government data. Millions lack bank accounts and an estimated 90 percent of all transactions are done in cash.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has made it one of his priorities to draw more people into the formal economy and reduce cash in circulation to cut down on the laundering of proceeds from the drug trade and other illicit activities.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City and Dave Graham in Acapulco; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz talks with journalists outside the government center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum days after Hurricane Maria, in San Juan
FILE PHOTO: Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz talks with journalists outside the government center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum days after Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico Sept. 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan and a fierce adversary of President Donald Trump, said on Friday she was running for governor of the U.S. territory in 2020.

Cruz gained international attention in 2017 when she sparred with Trump over the speed and scale of the federal response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated her Caribbean island.

“The day after the hurricane, it was clear that President Trump and his Republican government were going to leave us to die,” Cruz, 56, said in her announcement speech, wearing a T-shirt reading “Without Fear.” “The governor of Puerto Rico and the resident commissioner put their political interests in front of the country’s needs and kept quiet.”

Cruz will face Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello, 40, in the 2020 November general elections. Rossello, of the New Progressive Party which backs Puerto Rico becoming a U.S. state, is seeking a second term.

Cruz is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports Puerto Rico remaining a Commonwealth of the United States with self government. She is also a co-chair of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

She is in favor of eliminating a federal financial oversight board tasked with managing the territory’s finances.

The island is navigating the largest government bankruptcy in U.S. history, with $120 billion of combined bond and pension debt when it declared bankruptcy in May 2017 after more than a decade of recession.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

Senior White House adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will reportedly cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee's investigation into Trump's background.

According to The Hill, Kushner's lawyer confirmed he will hand over documents the panel requested as part of a sweeping Democratic probe.

With Democrats now in control of the House, they have targeted dozens of people in Trump's orbit as they look for anything that indicated Trump may have broken the law before or after he became president.

Judiciary panel chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., has also asked Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump for documents.

Source: NewsMax

Two of President Donald Trump's lawyers have spoken out regarding the end of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, saying the ball is now in the Department of Justice's court.

Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow released the following statement, which is similar to the straightforward one made by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders:

"We're pleased that the Office of Special Counsel has delivered its report to the attorney general pursuant to the regulations. Attorney General [William] Barr will determine the appropriate next steps."

Mueller delivered his final report on the Russia investigation, which began in May 2017 over allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, to Barr on Friday. It's not yet clear what the report says, although a DOJ official told the Associated Press the report does not recommend any more indictments as part of the probe.

Source: NewsMax

Four Democratic presidential candidates — California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — have previously spoken at AIPAC events, but are not scheduled to do so during next week’s conference after a progressive organization called for a boycott.

Harris has spoken to AIPAC on at least two occasions. Last year, she spoke in an off-the-record breakout session, The Intercept reported. She also spoke the year before publicly.

“I stand with Israel because of our shared values, which are so fundamental to the founding of both our nations. I believe the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us,” Harris said, during AIPAC’s 2017 conference.

Klobuchar, who has been silent about her plans surrounding this year’s AIPAC conference, was interviewed by Claire Shipman at the event last year.

“The last thing I would say is just the importance of taking on anti-Semitism across the world because we’re going to have trouble getting allies against Iran if we just let that fester,” she said during the interview. “And that means the 100 senators adjoin together to push back at the U.N. for the anti-Semitism that we have seen there, and it also means securing ourselves internationally, but at home.”

Gillibrand, another presidential candidate who won’t be in attendance next week, took part in an AIPAC panel with late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Israeli Air Force general Amos Yadlin.

WATCH:

Booker, who has not shared his plans on the upcoming conference publicly, spoke at an event with Rabbi Shmuley back in 2010.

Many other Democratic candidates revealed that they wouldn’t attend the annual AIPAC event after progressive group MoveOn called for the boycott the day before. Others who have announced they will not attend this year’s conference include South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete ButtigiegMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenVermont Sen. Bernie SandersFormer HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. (RELATED: Progressive Organization Calls For 2020 Dems To Boycott AIPAC And Many Are)

MoveOn cited four reasons for the boycott:

  • AIPAC advocated against the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • One of the speakers is Netanyahu, who was indicted earlier this year.
  • AIPAC has “been known to peddle anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while giving platforms to Islamophobes.”
  • AIPAC “has refused to condemn the antisemitism of Republicans,” and they specifically called out Steve Bannon.

Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar and Booker’s offices did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Neil Bruce, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin, poses in their head offices in Montreal
FILE PHOTO: Neil Bruce, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin, poses in their head offices in Montreal, November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

March 22, 2019

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL (Reuters) – SNC Lavalin Group’s chief executive said on Friday the company is looking at ways to protect its business in the event it loses a corruption trial that has created a political crisis for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

An SNC-Lavalin board subcommittee is weighing the construction and engineering company’s options as it takes “steps to minimize the effect of any potential sort of bad outcome in a few years’ time,” chief executive Neil Bruce told Reuters in an interview.

Trudeau has been on the defensive since Feb. 7 over allegations that top officials working for him leaned on former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last year to ensure that the construction company avoided a corruption trial. Trudeau has denied the allegations.

At the affair’s center is a request by SNC-Lavalin for a remediation agreement that would have enabled it to avoid a court case which, if lost, would block it from federal government contracts for a decade. SNC-Lavalin is facing fraud and corruption charges related to allegations that former executives paid bribes to win contracts in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which fell in 2011.

Bruce said SNC is now focused on defending itself in court, with little expectation that a remediation would become available. Any court decision which would likely be years away.

“We don’t want to be reacting too late or not early enough if the worst came to the worst,” he said. “We’ve got to be prudent and make sure that we position the company.”

Being blocked from federal contracts would raise the threat of job cuts among the company’s Canadian workforce of 9,000.

“If we were in a position where for whatever reason we couldn’t do work with a certain customer or in a certain country then we would plan all of that and make sure that our business development efforts and the work we were chasing and hopefully winning didn’t fall into that category. That’s part of the mitigation plan.”

Trudeau has often referred to the 9,000 potential job losses as a reason for helping the company, but Bruce told the CBC earlier this week that he never gave a specific number.

SNC wanted to take advantage of new legislation to pay a large fine rather than be prosecuted.

Bruce said the political issue engulfing the Liberals has “very little to do” with the Montreal-based company whose backlog of about C$15 billion ($11.17 billion) is expected to rise during the first quarter.

But politics impacted SNC’s ability to win new work in Saudi Arabia in December and January, amid tense relations between Riyadh and Ottawa. Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Ottawa in August after Canada demanded the release of jailed rights activists.

“Generally we would expect to win sometimes one in two, sometimes one in three,” he said. “And that actually went down to zero in a couple of areas.”

While the dispute has not impacted current contracts underway in Saudi Arabia, Bruce said SNC’s backlog in the country would taper off toward the end of the year if it didn’t win any new contracts in 2019.

The CEO also said an accelerated arbitration process around a delayed Chile project, which hit results from its mining unit in the fourth quarter, would likely not be resolved in 2019.

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Amran Abocar, Sandra Maler and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments as part of his sweeping Russia investigation which effectively ended Friday, according to a senior Justice Department official.

Mueller transmitted to the Justice Department the report on his team’s probe into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election. While the probe’s conclusions are not yet known, the investigation already has led to indictments, convictions or guilty pleas for nearly three-dozen people and three companies.

But a senior DOJ official told Fox News Mueller is “not recommending any further indictments.”

Information about the contents of the report could start to emerge in the coming days.

There has been speculation for the entirety of the investigation, lasting nearly two years, on whether President Trump or his family members could face criminal consequences.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News on Friday that the Trump legal team is “confident” in the results of the report.

“This marks the end of the investigation. We await a disclosure of the facts,” Giuliani said. “We are confident that there is no finding of collusion by the President and this underscores what the President has been saying from the beginning – that he did nothing wrong.”

The president has repeatedly blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt” and has maintained his innocence, stating since May 2017 that there was “no collusion” between himself, or members of his campaign, with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller has charged 26 Russian nationals while three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

But none of the Trump associates connected to Trump have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Mueller’s team charged former Trump associate Roger Stone in January with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Other convictions include: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017.

Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November.

Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.

Fox News’ John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News Politics

Attorney General William Barr should “swiftly prepare a declassified version” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, says Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.

"Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves. The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice,” the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a statement Friday.
“It is also critical that all documents related to the Special Counsel's investigation be preserved and made available to the appropriate Congressional committees,” he added.
“Any attempt by the Trump Administration to cover up the results of this investigation into Russia's attack on our democracy would be unacceptable."

Mueller on Friday delivered his long-awaited report to the Justice Department, a process that took 675 days and ate up most of Trump’s presidency.

Mueller’s team has indicted or won guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies as part of his investigation that has also probed issues unrelated to the 2016 campaign.

None of Trump’s associates have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Roger Stone in January was charged with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, the outlet that published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Trump has repeatedly decried the probe as a “witch hunt” and has emphatically denied he or his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances.

Source: NewsMax

A trader works at the post that trades Parsley Energy Inc. and Allergan Plc., on the floor of the NYSE
A trader works at the post that trades Parsley Energy Inc. and Allergan Plc., on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Allergan Plc plans to elect an independent board chairman, starting with the next leadership transition, the Botox maker said on Friday, as the drugmaker responds to calls from hedge fund Appaloosa LP to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer.

Appaloosa, led by billionaire David Tepper, has been pressing Allergan since last year to separate the roles, but the company has said it would do so only when the person who now holds the positions is replaced.

Brent Saunders currently holds the roles, and Allergan has said implementing Appaloosa’s recommendations would be “highly disruptive” to the company’s operations and impact his ability to continue to execute its current strategy.

Allergan also said https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1578845/000119312519083731/d633114d8k.htm in a regulatory filing on Friday that it had formed a committee to oversee mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions.

The company also named Thomas Freyman as the chair of the compensation committee, replacing Catherine Klema, who will not be standing for re-election.

A spokesman for Tepper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company in February had named former CEO of drugmaker Celgene, Robert Hugin, as a director, saying the appointment reflected its commitment to “active board refreshment”.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twelve days after being named special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Robert Mueller delivered a speech to his granddaughter’s high school graduating class at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts.

In this rare public appearance in May 2017, Mueller did not bring up President Donald Trump or the investigation, but offered a clear message stressing the importance of honesty and integrity.

“You could be smart, aggressive, articulate, indeed persuasive, but if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer,” Mueller said. “And once lost, a good reputation can never, ever be regained. The saying goes: If you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.”

On Friday, Mueller handed in the long-awaited report on his investigation.

Mueller, a 74-year-old decorated Vietnam War veteran and former FBI director known for his tough, no-nonsense leadership style, has faced unremitting attacks by Trump on his integrity as the Republican president has tried to discredit the investigation and the special counsel himself. Trump declined to sit for an interview with the special counsel’s team.

Mueller has remained silent about the inquiry but has spoken loudly through court filings and the indictments of 34 people, including several key Trump aides as well as Russian intelligence officers and three Russian companies.

Mueller, a longtime Republican, was named by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over the Russia investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency had led the probe. Mueller has looked into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president has unlawfully tried to obstruct the investigation.

Trump, facing political peril from the inquiry, has used Twitter, campaign-style speeches and comments to news media to assail Mueller, accusing him of running a politically motivated, “rigged witch hunt;” going “rogue;” surrounding himself with “thugs” and having conflicts of interest.

“It’s all a big hoax,” Trump said on Friday.

Mueller has been a fixture in American law enforcement for decades and is considered the architect of the modern FBI, serving as its director from 2001 to 2013. He was first appointed to the post by Republican President George W. Bush, then his appointment was extended by Bush’s successor, Democrat Barack Obama.

Mueller took over as Federal Bureau of Investigation director a week before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants that killed about 3,000 people. By the time Mueller left the position, his tenure was exceeded only by J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year stint.

‘BOBBY THREE STICKS’

Mueller was known by some as “Bobby Three Sticks” because of his full name – Robert Mueller III – a moniker that belies his formal bearing and sober approach to law enforcement.

He was credited with transforming the premier U.S. law enforcement agency after Congress and an independent government commission determined the FBI and CIA had failed to share information before the Sept. 11 attacks that could have helped prevent them. Mueller revamped the FBI into an agency centered on protecting national security in addition to law enforcement, putting more resources into counterterrorism investigations and improving cooperation with other U.S. agencies.

He put his career on the line in 2004 when he and Comey, then the deputy attorney general, threatened to resign when White House officials sought to reauthorize a domestic eavesdropping program that the Justice Department had deemed unconstitutional. The two rushed to a Washington hospital and prevented top Bush aides from persuading an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft, recovering from gall bladder surgery, to reauthorize the surveillance program.

Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director in 2013.

After graduating from Princeton University, Mueller served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, leading a rifle platoon and receiving commendations including the Bronze Star. His became a federal prosecutor in 1976 and remained in public service until his FBI retirement, with the exception of a couple of short stints with law firms.

He became a U.S. assistant attorney general in 1991 and was a key player on high-profile federal prosecutions such as the 1992 convictions of former Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega and New York Mafia boss John Gotti and the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Mueller’s Russia investigation already has yielded a series of guilty pleas and a conviction in the only trial held to date.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight charges and pleaded guilty to two others, receiving a 7-1/2-year prison sentence. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos have entered guilty pleas. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges.

The big question is whether Mueller will present evidence of criminal conduct by Trump himself. Such findings could prompt the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to begin the congressional impeachment process laid out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While Trump has hammered away at Mueller, others have defended the special counsel’s integrity, including some formerly associated with the president such as former White House attorney Ty Cobb.

“I think,” Cobb said in an ABC News podcast interview, “Bob Mueller is an American hero.”

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates on Friday, March 22.

Almost immediately, Democratic leaders reiterated their calls for the report to be made public as soon as possible.

The report was submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr, but the specific contents have not yet been revealed. Mueller is, however, not expected to recommend any further indictments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released a joint statement on the report after the early-evening disclosure on the submission.

“Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress," the statement said. "Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public."

“The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation," the statement continued. "The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.”

Presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Senator Kamala Harris, D-Cal. also joined in on Twitter with similar insistent demands that the report be public.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz, Alex Pappas and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed relief that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has ended, asking for "openness and transparency" moving forward as Department of Justice officials prepare to make the report's findings public.

"I welcome the announcement that the special counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections," said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. "Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the special counsel's report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.

"The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible."

Attorney General William Barr received Mueller's report on Friday, and he wrote to Congressional leaders that he might be able to brief them on the findings as soon as this weekend.

It's still unclear when the report's conclusions will be made public.

"I am grateful we have an experienced and capable attorney general in place to review the special counsel's report," McConnell said. "Attorney General Barr now needs the time to do that."

Source: NewsMax

Trump's hosts a meeting with Caribbean leaders at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida
U.S. President Donald Trumps, seated with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan (C) and National Security adviser John Bolton speaks during a meeting with the leaders of The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 22, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The closure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election does not mark the end of legal worries for President Donald Trump and people close to him. Other ongoing investigations and litigation are focusing on issues including his businesses and financial dealings, personal conduct, charitable foundation and inaugural committee.

These investigations, pursued by prosecutors at the federal and state level, could result in charges beyond those brought in Mueller’s investigation or civil liability. The special counsel on Friday submitted his confidential report on the investigation to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who must decide on how much of it to make public.

The U.S. Justice Department has a decades-old policy that a sitting president cannot face criminal charges, so such a case against Trump would unlikely while he is in office even if there were evidence of wrongdoing. Some legal experts have argued that the department is wrong and that a president is not immune from prosecution. Either way, Trump potentially could face charges once he is out of office.

Here is an explanation of some criminal investigations and civil lawsuits still underway.

MUELLER’S CRIMINAL CASES

Mueller charged 34 individuals and three companies. Several of those cases resulted in guilty pleas and one case went to trial, with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort convicted in August 2018 of eight criminal counts including bank fraud and tax fraud. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted in January 2019 and pleaded not guilty but his trial is still pending. There are other cases involving indicted Russians that have not gone to trial. Other prosecutors within the Justice Department will likely take over criminal cases begun by Mueller, legal experts said.

BUSINESS PRACTICES AND FINANCIAL DEALINGS

Trump may face significant peril from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to legal experts. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump’s business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District of New York investigation.

Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump’s direction, “hush money” payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s candidacy. Both women said they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago. He has denied that.

Prosecutors said the payments constituted illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.

The New York investigation has involved long-time Trump ally David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, who admitted to paying McDougal for the rights to her story and then suppressing it to influence the election, an arrangement called “catch and kill.”

In his Feb. 27 hearing, Cohen said he was in “constant contact” with Manhattan federal prosecutors and said other crimes and wrongdoing by Trump are being investigated by them, though he did not offer details. Cohen said he could not testify about the nature of his last conversation with Trump in early 2018 because it was under investigation by the federal prosecutors in New York.

NEW YORK STATE CHARGES AGAINST MANAFORT

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is exploring criminal charges against Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, over financial crimes related to unpaid state taxes and possibly loans. In cases bought by Mueller, Manafort in 2018 was convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts in Virginia and pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges in Washington. He was sentenced to a combined 7-1/2 years in prison in the two cases. Trump has not ruled out granting Manafort a pardon. The president would not be able to pardon Manafort if he is convicted of charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney because they would not be federal crimes. However, New York has broad double jeopardy protections that usually prevent the state from prosecuting a person for crimes arising from the same criminal conduct the federal government has prosecuted before.

SUMMER ZERVOS DEFAMATION SUIT

A defamation lawsuit against Trump by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice,” continues in New York state court after a judge in 2018 allowed it to proceed. Zervos sued Trump after he called her and other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct liars and retweeted a post labeling her claims a hoax.

Trump has agreed to provide written answers to questions from Zervos by Sept. 28, according to a court filing.

Zervos accused Trump of kissing her against her will at his New York office in 2007 and later groping her at a meeting at a hotel in California. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances against them years before he entered politics.

Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer for Trump, had argued that the lawsuit unconstitutionally impedes the president from performing his duties. An appeals court rejected that argument on March 14 by a 3-2 vote. Kasowitz said he would appeal the decision to the state’s highest court.

Separately, two lawsuits against Trump brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels were dismissed.

THE TRUMP FOUNDATION

A lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General’s Office already led the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was presented as the charitable arm of Trump’s business empire, to agree in December 2018 to dissolve, and the litigation continues.

The state is seeking an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from leadership roles in any other New York charity. Trump has said the lawsuit was concocted by “sleazy New York Democrats.” The state’s Democratic attorney general accused the foundation of being “engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” in violation of federal law.

The attorney general’s office alleged Trump and his family members used the charity to pay off his legal debts and purchase personal items. The foundation agreed to dissolve and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision.

“EMOLUMENTS” LAWSUIT

Trump is accused in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution through his businesses’ dealings with foreign governments.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on March 19 in the Trump administration’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte’s 2018 rulings allowing the case to proceed.

The Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” bars U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments and the governments of U.S. states without congressional approval. The lawsuit stated that because Trump did not divested himself of his business empire, spending by foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington amounts to unconstitutional gifts, or “emoluments,” to the president.

TRUMP INAUGURAL COMMITTEE

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether the committee that organized Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 accepted illegal donations from foreigners, misused funds or brokered special access to the administration for donors.

Federal election law prohibits foreigners from donating to U.S. political campaigns or inaugural committees, and corruption laws ban donors from making contributions in exchange for political favors.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in December 2018 that the president was not involved in his inaugural committee. The $107 million raised by the committee, which was chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission filings.

IMPEACHMENT

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president, vice president and “all civil officers of the United States” can be removed from office by Congress through the impeachment process for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives acts as the accuser – voting on whether to bring specific charges such as obstruction of justice – and the Senate then conducts a trial with House members acting as prosecutors and the individual senators serving as jurors. A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to convict and remove.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington after Special Counsel Mueller handed in report on Trump-Russia investigation in W
The U.S. Capitol is seen after Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in a keenly awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election has ensnared dozens of people, including several advisers to President Donald Trump and a series of Russian nationals and companies.

Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 U.S. Justice Department official, in May 2017 appointed Mueller to look into Russian interference, whether members of Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow officials and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Mueller has charged 34 people and three companies.

Trump denies collusion and obstruction. Russia denies election interference.

Mueller has handed in a report on his investigation, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

The following are those who have pleaded guilty or have been indicted in Mueller’s inquiry. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2RwJarW)

PAUL MANAFORT

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, guilty of five counts of tax fraud, was sentenced to a combined 7-1/2 years in prison in two cases brought by Mueller in which he was convicted by a jury in Virginia in August 2018 and pleaded guilty a month later in Washington.

In Virginia, he was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Manafort, who prosecutors said tried to conceal from the U.S. government millions of dollars he was paid as a political consultant for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in a separate case in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. The Washington case had focused on accusations of money laundering and failing to report foreign bank accounts, among other charges.

A judge on Feb. 13 ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe including his interactions with a business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

MICHAEL COHEN

Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to crimes including orchestrating “hush money” payments before the 2016 election to women who have said they had sexual encounters with Trump, violating campaign laws. That case was handled by federal prosecutors in New York, not Mueller’s office.

As part of a separate agreement with Mueller’s team, Cohen pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress about negotiations concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, a project that never materialized.

Cohen is due to report to prison on May 6 to begin serving a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen in February 2019 testified at a public hearing before a House of Representatives committee. He accused Trump of approving the “hush money” payments and knowing in advance about the 2016 release by the WikiLeaks website of emails that prosecutors have said were stolen by Russia to harm Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. He said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the Moscow real estate project.

He promised to keep cooperating with prosecutors and made multiple closed-door appearances before congressional panels.

MICHAEL FLYNN

Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month in early 2017, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during Trump’s presidential transition and agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

Trump fired him as national security adviser after it emerged that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his dealings with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. His sentencing is pending.

ROGER STONE

The longtime Trump ally and presidential campaign adviser was charged in January 2019 with seven criminal counts including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements, pleading not guilty.

His trial date has been set for Nov. 5.

Prosecutors said Stone shared with members of the Trump campaign team advance knowledge of the plan by WikiLeaks to release the stolen Democratic emails. Prosecutors also accused him of trying to interfere with a witness, a radio host who matched the profile of Randy Credico.

RICK GATES

The former deputy chairman of Trump’s campaign, Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators. He agreed to cooperate with Mueller and testified as a prosecution witness against Manafort, his former business partner. His sentencing is pending.

KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

A Manafort aide in Ukraine and a political operative described by prosecutors as linked to Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was charged in June 2018 with tampering with witnesses about their past lobbying for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

Prosecutors said in January 2019 that Manafort shared political polling data with Kilimnik in 2016, providing an indication that Trump’s campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians.

TWELVE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2018, accused of hacking the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations as part of a Russian scheme to release emails damaging to Clinton during the 2016 race. They covertly monitored employee computers and planted malicious code, as well as stealing emails and other documents, according to the indictment.

THIRTEEN RUSSIAN NATIONALS, THREE COMPANIES

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were indicted in Mueller’s investigation in February 2018, accused of taking part in an elaborate campaign to sow discord in the United States ahead of the 2016 election and harm Clinton’s candidacy in order to boost Trump. The companies included: the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based propaganda arm known for trolling on social media; Concord Management and Consulting; and Concord Catering.

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

The former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced in September 2018 to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, including a professor who told him the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton.

ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

A lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to Mueller’s investigators about contacts with a Trump campaign official. Van Der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, was sentenced in April 2018 to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000.

RICHARD PINEDO

Pinedo was not involved with the Trump campaign, but in February 2018 pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a case related to the Mueller investigation for helping Russian conspirators launder money, purchase Facebook ads and pay for supplies.

He was sentenced in October 2018 to six months in jail and six months of home detention.

(Compiled by Susan Heavey, Sarah N. Lynch, Jan Wolfe; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Andy Sullivan

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other U.S. prosecutors have been investigating whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia. Trump and Moscow have denied any collusion.

Mueller handed in the keenly awaited report on his probe, the Justice Department said on Friday.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia interfered in the presidential election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States and damage the Republican Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Russia denies it.

Here are some key interactions between Trump advisors and Russian figures that have been unearthed by Mueller’s probe and investigations in Congress.

TRUMP TOWER MEETING

Several top Trump aides, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr., met in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York with a Russian lawyer who had offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. prosecutors said the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was an agent for the Kremlin. The meeting was arranged by Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist. Participants in the meeting said nothing improper occurred and that Veselnitskaya discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia and adoption policy, not election issues. The president said he did not know about the meeting beforehand.

EFFORTS TO BUILD A SKYSCRAPER IN MOSCOW

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he pursued a deal to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow until June 2016, after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Cohen said in a guilty plea that he spoke with an assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary in January of that year and briefed Trump on the project more than three times.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said the Moscow skyscraper talks continued until Trump won the November 2016 election but later said he misspoke.

Trump, who repeatedly said during the campaign that he had no contacts with Russia, said after Cohen’s guilty plea in November 2018 there was nothing wrong with pursuing the deal.

EFFORTS TO SET UP A MEETING WITH RUSSIAN LEADERS

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos worked between March 2016 and August 2016 to set up a meeting with Russian leadership, according to prosecutors. They said a London-based professor with ties to the Russian government told him in April 2016 that Moscow had compromising information on Clinton.

Papadopoulos served 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about those efforts.

MANAFORT OFFERS CAMPAIGN INSIGHTS

Manafort shared election campaign polling data in August 2016 with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business partner who Mueller has described as having ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing inadvertently made public by Manafort’s lawyers. The two also discussed a plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, a major Kremlin foreign policy goal as it seeks relief from U.S. economic sanctions, according to court filings.

Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant who earned million of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, also offered private briefings about the campaign to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who is close to Putin, in an effort to collect past debts, according to the Washington Post.

ROGER STONE AND WIKILEAKS

Roger Stone, a veteran Republican political consultant who has worked on and off with Trump for decades, shared with Trump campaign officials advance knowledge he had of a plan by the WikiLeaks website to release emails stolen from the Clinton campaign by Russians, prosecutors said. The charging document mentions that a senior Trump campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had about the Clinton campaign, raising the possibility Trump himself made the request. Stone pleaded not guilty to lying to Congress and witness tampering.

MEETINGS WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEI KISLYAK

Several Trump advisers met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, before Trump became president.

They included: Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s first White House national security advisor. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Kislyak in December 2017, after Trump won the election but before he took office. During those calls, according to the indictment, Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and asked Kislyak to help delay a U.N. vote seen as damaging to Israel, a move that ran counter to the policies of then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Jeff Sessions, a Republican U.S. senator serving as a campaign adviser who Trump later named attorney general, said he met with Kislyak at least twice in 2016 after initially telling Congress he was unaware of any communications between the campaign and Russia. As attorney general, Sessions recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation, drawing the ire of Trump. The recusal by Sessions left Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, with oversight over the probe, which at the time was headed by the FBI. After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to take over the probe.

Kushner said he asked Kislyak if he could set up a secure communications channel at the Russian Embassy after Trump won the election. Kushner also said he met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, during that period at Kislyak’s insistence. Vnesheconombank has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since mid-2014.

(Compiled by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

The White House has made its first comment regarding special counsel Robert Mueller's final report, saying it has not been briefed on the contents.

"The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter. "The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel's report."

Mueller delivered his final report on the Russia probe to Barr late Friday afternoon. According to reports, the White House was informed of the news around 4:45 p.m. ET.

It's not yet clear what the report says, but Barr wrote to Congressional leaders that he might be able to brief them on the findings as soon as this weekend.

The probe began in May 2017 over claims that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election.

Source: NewsMax

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

  • A coalition of 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes is suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and some members of the billionaire family that controls it over the country’s deadly opioid crisis.
  • “This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler defendants for their own financial gain,” attorneys representing the communities wrote in the filing.
  • A spokesperson for certain members of the Sackler family denied the allegations and called them “baseless.”

A coalition of 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes is suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and some members of the billionaire family that controls it over the country’s deadly opioid crisis.

The suit against Purdue Pharma and at least eight members of the Sackler family was filed earlier in March in a southern New York federal court, reported The Guardian Friday.

“This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler defendants for their own financial gain,” attorneys representing the communities wrote in the filing, according to CBS News. (RELATED: Prestigious London Art Museum Says It Won’t Be Taking Donation Linked To Purdue Pharma’s Sackler Family)

The suit is being brought by communities in 26 states and eight tribes, CBS reported. It accuses the parties of racketeering.

The suit alleges that while the Sackler family has an estimated net worth of $13 billion, the opioid crisis cost the U.S. over $504 billion as of 2015. The suit also links the opioid crisis to allegedly aggressive and even deceptive marketing of prescription opioids by Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family.

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

A spokesperson for the Dr. Mortimer and Dr. Raymond Sackler families issued the following statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation:

These baseless allegations place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis, and we deny them. The company our fathers and grandfathers founded manufactures an FDA-approved medicine that has always represented a tiny portion of the opioid market — never more than four percent of nationwide opioid prescriptions and currently less than two percent — while providing life-changing relief for the millions of pain patients who need it. While we have always acted properly, we remain committed to making a meaningful contribution to solutions that save lives by preventing diversion and abuse of prescription medicines and treating those who are suffering from addiction.

Purdue Pharma issued a statement to TheDCNF that read in part:

This complaint is part of a continuing effort by contingency fee counsel to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis in the United States, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system. … Instead, the plaintiffs are seeking to publicly vilify Purdue, its executives, employees and former directors while unfairly undermining the important work we have taken to address the opioid crisis. The complaint is riddled with inaccurate allegations. Absent from the complaint is any acknowledgement of the fact that most opioid overdoses now result from heroin and illicit fentanyl. In fact, rates of overdoses from illegal fentanyl have skyrocketed.

This suit is the latest in a litany of legal action against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family in multiple states. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has gotten press for filing a suit in June 2018 alleging the parties misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids to increase prescriptions.

“They don’t want to accept blame for this. They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients,” Healey told CBS News.

Some critics blame the way Purdue Pharma promoted OxyContin for the roughly 200,000 prescription opioid-related overdose deaths since 1999.

One of London’s most prestigious art institutions will not be accepting a grant worth roughly $1.3 million dollars from the Sackler Trust, an organization connected to the late Mortimer Sackler.

Other prescription opioid makers are starting to face lawsuits like the ones brought against Purdue Pharma. An Oklahoma suit against several drugmakers will paint Johnson & Johnson as an opioid “kingpin,” according to media reports in mid-March.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

Send tips to [email protected].

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Musk looks on at SpaceX Falcon 9 post-launch news conference in Cape Canaveral
FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder Elon Musk looks on at a post-launch news conference after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifted off on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., March 2, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 22, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for Elon Musk said on Friday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had failed to satisfy its heavy burden of showing that the Tesla Inc chief executive should be held in contempt of court.

In a Manhattan federal court filing, Musk’s lawyers also said their client “respects his obligations” to the electric car company, its shareholders and the court.

Musk is trying to avoid being held in contempt for violating his October 2018 fraud settlement with the SEC, for having tweeted on Feb. 19 to his more than 24 million Twitter followers that Tesla could build around 500,000 vehicles in 2019.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 22, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted the report on his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, Attorney General William Barr must decide how much of the document – if any – to make public.

Justice Department regulations governing special counsels adopted in 1999 give Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, broad discretion in deciding how much to release to Congress and the public. Barr, in his January Senate confirmation hearings after being nominated by Trump, promised to “provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law” – a pledge that still gives him a lot of wiggle room.

Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report.

Mueller was named special counsel in May 2017 by the department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over an investigation that had been headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He examined whether Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

Here is an explanation of the rules Barr must follow and the political pressures that he faces in deciding on disclosure of Mueller’s findings.

WHAT DO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS CALL FOR?

Justice Department regulations do not require the release of the entire special counsel report but also do not prevent Barr from doing so, giving him leeway to disclose it if it is in the public interest.

Special counsels can be appointed by the department to investigate matters of high sensitivity that are not handled through the normal channels.

The department placed limits on special counsel powers in the 1999 regulations creating the post.

The regulations state that when an investigation is conducted a special counsel must provide the attorney general a “confidential report” explaining why particular individuals were or were not charged.

The regulations require Barr to notify the top Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees that the investigation has ended. Department policy calls for Barr to summarize the confidential report for Congress with “an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.” According to the regulations, Barr “may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

In deciding what to release, Barr may have to confront thorny legal issues involving secrecy of grand jury testimony, protecting classified information, communications with the White House possibly subject to the principle of executive privilege shielding certain information from disclosure, and safeguarding confidential reasons for why some individuals were not charged.

WHAT POLITICAL PRESSURE MIGHT BARR BE FEELING?

Some Democrats have expressed concern Barr may try to shield Trump and bury parts of the report. Barr may feel pressure from the Republican president to conceal damaging parts of Mueller’s report and release any findings that may exonerate him.

Barr, 68, is a veteran Washington insider who also was attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under Republican President George H.W. Bush. He has embraced an expansive view of presidential powers but also is considered a defender of the rule of law.

Trump fired Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, in November after complaining for months about Sessions’ 2017 decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

WHAT IF BARR DECLINES TO RELEASE THE FULL REPORT?

Democrats control the House and some already have pledged to subpoena the report and Mueller and go to court if necessary to secure its full release. The House on March 14 voted 420-0, with four conservative Republican lawmakers voting “present,” to approve a non-binding resolution urging Barr to make public everything in Mueller’s report that is not expressly prohibited by law and to provide the entire document to Congress.

HOW HAVE OTHER SPECIAL COUNSEL REPORTS BEEN HANDLED?

Only two special counsels have been appointed under the 1999 regulations: Mueller and former Senator John Danforth, who was appointed that same year to investigate the deadly 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas. Danforth’s report in 2000 cleared government officials of wrongdoing.

In appointing Danforth, Attorney General Janet Reno specifically directed him to draft a report for public release on his findings, which he did. Rosenstein made no such demand on Mueller.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia vs Gardner-Webb
Mar 22, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs guard Jose Perez (5) dunks the ball during the second half of the game against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

No. 1 seed Virginia used a dominant second half to cruise by 16th-seed Gardner-Webb 71-56 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region at Columbia, S.C.

Sophomore De’Andre Hunter scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Cavaliers rallied and allowed just 20 points in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Virginia advances to the round of 32, and it will face No. 9 seed Oklahoma on Sunday.

The Cavaliers (30-3) flexed their muscles early and often in the second half and used a 25-5 run to put the game away after trailing by six at halftime. Virginia shot 53 percent in the second half and overcame its largest halftime deficit of the season to notch the win.

Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points while Ty Jerome added 13 to complement Hunter on the offensive end. Despite making 15 turnovers, Virginia outrebounded Gardner-Webb 35-21 and shot 51.9 percent for the game.

The Bulldogs (23-12) were held to 44 percent shooting after connecting on 54 percent of their attempts in the first half. Jose Perez led three Bulldogs in double figures with 19 points while David Efianayi and DJ Laster added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

After tying the score at 4-4 early, Virginia trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half as Gardner-Webb turned eight turnovers into nine points.

The Bulldogs used four early 3-pointers to cushion their lead, led by two apiece from Perez and Efianayi. Gardner-Webb led 36-30 at halftime.

Virginia was beat on the defensive end multiple times but shot 50 percent to cut the deficit to six as Kyle Guy scored all eight of his points in the first half.

Gardner-Webb shot just 32 percent in the second half and made 12 turnovers.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Attorney General Bill Barr has delivered a letter to Capitol Hill announcing he has received Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Mueller’s report was delivered earlier Friday afternoon to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office and it was delivered to Barr’s office within minutes, a senior DOJ official told Fox News. The White House was notified that the DOJ had received the report around 4:45 p.m., before lawmakers on Capitol Hill were informed.

MUELLER SUBMITS LONG-AWAITED RUSSIA PROBE REPORT TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:

Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:

        I write to notify you pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3) that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters. In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I provide you with a "description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General" or acting Attorney General "concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so in appropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued." 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3). 

There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation.

The Special Counsel has submitted to me today a "confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions" he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. 600.8(c). I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.

Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies.  I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review.  

Finally, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” this notification “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. 600.9 (c).  I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.

Sincerely, 

William P. Barr
Attorney General

Source: Fox News Politics

A headline in Reason Magazine said it all: “Have Gun, Can’t Travel.”

That’s the plight of New York City “premises licensees” under one of the most bizarre and oppressive gun control laws in the nation.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has that law in its sights.

In January, the high court agreed to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholding the regulation against a challenge under the Second Amendment and other constitutional provisions. The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York.

Should the court resolve the case on Second Amendment grounds, it will be the first time since McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010 that the Supreme Court applied that provision to a gun control law.

Even many gun control advocates probably don’t expect New York City’s regulation to fare any better before the high court than the handguns bans from Washington, D.C. and Chicago did in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Like those laws, the handgun travel ban is an outlier.

Most of the suspense and speculation instead revolve around whether the court will resolve the case narrowly or establish more generally applicable principles that could broadly be applied to other gun control laws.

But the story of New York City’s defiance of the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s renewed interest in reviewing overreaching gun control demonstrate how the steadfast activism of the NRA and our five million members continues to play a vital role in securing our nation’s constitutional legacy.

New York City’s handgun laws are a case study of the strange and often contradictory thinking of the nation’s most fervent gun control advocates.

The system is designed to make obtaining the license necessary to acquire and own handguns as difficult and expensive as possible for the ordinary applicant.

It dates back to the enactment of New York’s Sullivan Act in 1911 when its proponents – including the New York Times – openly promoted it as a way to keep firearms out of the hands of Italian immigrants.

Commenting on what was supposedly the first conviction under the law – of Italian immigrant Marino Rossi, who claimed to be an honest working man carrying a revolver for self-defense – the Times wrote on Sept. 29, 1911:

Judge FOSTER did well in sentencing to one year in Sing Sing MARINO ROSSI, who carried a revolver because, as he said, it was the custom of himself and his hot-headed countrymen to have weapons concealed upon their persons. The Judge’s warning to the Italian community was timely and exemplary.

Consistent with this discriminatory outlook, the law allows licensing officials a wide degree of discretion in determining who possesses the requisite “good moral character” and, in some cases, “proper cause” for a license.

It also provides for different types of licenses, including “premises licenses,” which allow the holder to “have and possess [a handgun] in his dwelling” and “carry licenses,” which bestow some latitude to possess or carry the handgun beyond one’s own residence.

New York City supposedly provides for both types of licenses.

But in reality, the only applicants who can get a New York City carry license are the rich and famous or the especially well-connected. The licensing system has repeatedly spawned corruption scandals and prosecutions over the years.

The best an ordinary New York City resident can realistically hope for is a premises license, yet even that requires a substantial investment of time, money, and self-disclosure.

As of January, the mandatory application fee for a three-year premises license was $340, not counting a separate $88.25 fingerprinting fee.

Applicants must register online with the city and complete a lengthy application form, which includes the uploading of numerous documents. Besides providing information about prior arrests, convictions, summonses, and orders of protection, applicants must disclose employment and residential timelines and any history of “mental/physical conditions and any medications taken in connection therewith.”

Paper applications have been prohibited since January 1, 2018. Low income residents who lack ready access to computer equipment, including digital scanners and high-speed Internet access, are out of luck.

After the online application is completed, the New York Police Department (NYPD) License Division will schedule a date for the applicant to appear in person during business hours to pay the required fees, get fingerprinted, and provide hard copies of the same documents that were already submitted digitally.

Once the application is reviewed by the Licensing Division, the applicant may be required to appear on subsequent occasions to submit additional documentation.

In any case, when the application itself is considered complete, all applicants must appear for an in-person interview with a licensing official.

Applicants can expect a decision from the Licensing Division, according to its website, “[w]ithin approximately six months of receipt of your handgun application, and all required documents/forms.”

Unfortunately, none of these requirements is specifically at issue in the case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Even more unfortunately, most of them have been upheld by lower state and federal courts in New York. They do, however, form the backdrop for the Supreme Court’s deliberations.

For now, the issue before the Supreme Court is the circumstances in which premises licensees can travel with their own firearms.

New York City currently allows them to do so only for specified purposes and only to one of seven approved shooting ranges in the city, which in some cases require advanced written permission from the NYPD. In all cases, the firearms must be unloaded and in a locked container, with any ammunition stored separately.

The plaintiffs in the case, however, wish to travel with their lawfully licensed handguns to ranges outside the city for use in training or competition. One plaintiff wants to be able to take his lawfully licensed handgun back and forth between his New York City residence and his second home in upstate New York.

These are all prohibited by New York City’s rules.

It takes an especially zealous gun control advocate to even think up such ludicrous regulations, much less to argue them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, it appears that New York City’s transport ban may be the first and only one of its kind in U.S. history. That does not bode well for the city’s position that it is nevertheless a commonsense measured aimed at promoting public safety.

Even taking the city’s arguments at face value, it appears the real reason for the law is simply to exercise a maniacal level of scrutiny and control over Gotham’s lawful handgun owners.

In its brief urging the Supreme Court not to hear the case, the city noted that it used to have a “target license” that allowed for holders to transport their locked, unloaded guns to NYPD-approved ranges outside New York City. What it discovered, however, was that it was difficult as a practical matter to determine whether licensees who ventured outside the city with their own handguns were actually doing so for NYPD-approved reasons.

Notably, the city did not go so far as to claim there were any violent crimes or other harmful behavior committed by traveling target licensees. City officials instead apparently expect the court to believe that any movement of a licensed handgun that has not been specifically preapproved and documented by the NYPD is inherently dangerous, even if done for innocent reasons.

Thus, premises licensees can only practice at or compete at NYPD-approved shooting ranges within the city itself (and at big city prices). These facilities, in turn, “are required to maintain a roster listing the names and addresses of all persons who have used the range and the date and hour that they used it and to make those records available for inspection by NYPD during their hours of operation.” This underscores that owning a gun in New York City is a bureaucratically administered privilege, not a fundamental right.

For nearly 10 years, lower courts have upheld almost every sort of gun control law imaginable, while the Supreme Court has not taken up another Second Amendment case.

Thanks to the work of NRA members like you, President Donald Trump has appointed two justices to the high court who take the Constitution’s original meaning seriously.

Time will tell, but that will hopefully mean the Supreme Court is finally poised to accord our right to keep and bear arms the respect it deserves.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Source: The Daily Caller

William Davis | Contributor

An FEC complaint has been filed against Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, alleging that the campaign is violating federal election law by employing an illegal immigrant.

The complaint was first obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and mentions Sanders’ deputy national press secretary, Maria Belen Sisa.

Sisa is an illegal immigrant from Argentina living in the United States under protections from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) that is currently tied up in court. (RELATED: New Spokeswoman For Sen. Bernie Sanders Is An Illegal Immigrant)

US Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael VadonUS Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael Vadon

US Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael Vadon

The complaint filed by the Free Beacon argues that “Sen. Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”

Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir told The Daily Caller that Sanders plans to continue to fight for permanent protections for DACA recipients while also accusing President Donald Trump of racism. (RELATED: Here’s A List Of Hoax ‘Hate Crimes’ In The Trump Era)

“Unlike the Trump administration, President Sanders will not only act to protect DACA recipients and their community, he will ensure this campaign seeks out their voices and treats them with respect,” Shakit said. “Now more than ever, we need leadership that brings us together and stands up to Trump’s racist and bigoted attempts to divide us up.”

Sanders previously accused Trump of being a “racist, a sexist, a homophobe [and] a xenophobe” in his campaign announcement last month.

Follow William Davis on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

The White House will defer the review of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Attorney General Bill Barr, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a Friday afternoon statement.

“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report,” Sanders said minutes after Barr revealed that he had received the report. (RELATED: The Mueller Investigation Is Over) 

FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters June 25, 2008 in Washington, DC. The news conference was to mark the 5th anniversary of Innocence Lost initiative. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters June 25, 2008 in Washington, DC. The news conference was to mark the 5th anniversary of Innocence Lost initiative. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mueller delivered his final report to Barr after 675 extraordinary days of appointment, during which he sought to review any potential contact between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign. The investigation became a sprawling review and led to the indictment of many of those in Trump’s orbit. It dominated headlines in the first two years of Trump’s presidency and became a major foil for the president who decried it as a “WITCH HUNT” throughout the process.

William Barr, nominee to be US Attorney General, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 15, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

William Barr, nominee to be US Attorney General, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 15, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Mueller’s appointment came in May 2017 after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him. Rosenstein appointed Mueller after a period of turmoil during which Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, prompting questions of whether he did so to curtail the Russia investigation.

Barr will now review Mueller’s report and told lawmakers Friday afternoon that he hopes to share the top findings of the report with them as soon as this weekend. Barr’s letter noted that at no point did the Department of Justice curtail any of Mueller’s activities.

Source: The Daily Caller

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On the roster: Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report – Poll: Winning is focus for Dems, not ideology in 2020 – House Dems’ campaign arm seeks primary truce - Audible: Everybody’s gone gaga – He was just trying to get to Electric Avenue 

MUELLER SUBMITS LONG-AWAITED RUSSIA PROBE REPORT
Fox News: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates — marking the end of the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle over its contents and implications. The report was delivered earlier Friday afternoon to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office and it was delivered to Barr’s office within minutes, a senior DOJ official told Fox News. The White House was notified that the DOJ had received the report around 4:45 p.m., before lawmakers on Capitol Hill were informed. Both Barr and Rosenstein have seen the report, according to a senior DOJ official. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted following the report’s drop. ‘The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,’ she said. ‘The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.’ Several lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received a letter about the report’s drop.”

THE RULEBOOK: PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
“Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the State governments; and in its express guaranty of the republican form to each of the latter.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39

TIME OUT: A DIFFERENT PRESIDENTIAL RECORD  
AJC: “When Jimmy Carter left office in 1981 … a friend pointed out that Carter, at the tender age of 56, could expect to live at least until 80-years-old. … March 22, 2019, marks yet another milestone. While it is not his birthday, Carter becomes the oldest living former president in United States history. At the age of 94 years and 172 days, he passes George H.W. Bush, who was 94 years, 171 days when he died last November. ‘We at the Carter Center sure are rooting for him and are grateful for his long life of service that has benefited millions of the world’s poorest people,’ the center said in a statement. … Already, Carter had set for presidential record for living the longest number of years out of office, at 38 plus. But then again, he started the job young. When he was elected in 1976, Carter was only 52-years-old, making him the 17th youngest elected president in history.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -10.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points 
[Average includes: USA Today/Suffolk: 48% approve – 49% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 55% disapprove.]

POLL: WINNING IS FOCUS FOR DEMS, NOT IDEOLOGY IN 2020
USA Today: “As the 2020 presidential field takes shape, Democratic voters by double digits say they are more interested in nominating a candidate who can defeat President Trump than one they agree with most on the issues, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds. By 55-35 percent, the Democrats surveyed endorse electability over ideological purity even though they also embrace progressive priorities such as the Green New Deal. They are even inclined to be open to a nominee who espouses socialism. The debate over balancing policy positions with electoral appeal is always part of the calculation in campaigns. Almost a year before the Iowa caucuses open the nominating contests, it has taken on particular intensity as a sprawling field jockeys to challenge a Republican president who inflames the opposition. … Among Democratic and independent voters combined, sentiment was more closely divided: 48 percent say they want the Democratic Party to nominate ‘a candidate who can win, even if different from my priorities,’ while 38 percent prefer ‘a candidate in line with my priorities, even if it is harder to win.’”

Trump is ready, revealing his ‘dream’ 2020 rival - Fox News: “President Trump, in an extensive interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, accused Democrats embracing ideas like court-packing and the Green New Deal of becoming ‘radicalized’ — while voicing confidence as he sized up the ever-expanding field of potential 2020 opponents. The president mocked the Democratic contenders for ‘saying a lot of weird things,’ calling the Green New Deal ‘the most preposterous thing’ and blasting Beto O’Rourke’s idea of taking down sections of border wall. But asked which candidate in the massive field he’d truly like to run against in 2020, Trump threw out a few names: ‘I mean, I’d love to have [Joe] Biden. I’d love to have Bernie [Sanders], I’d love to have Beto,’ he said, adding: ‘I mean, Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto. … When I watch Beto, I say we could dream about that.’”

Drucker: ‘Republicans resigned to Trump losing 2020 popular vote’ – WashEx: “Senior Republicans are resigned to President Trump losing the popular vote in 2020, conceding the limits of the flamboyant incumbent’s political appeal and revealing just how central the Electoral College has become to the party’s White House prospects. Some Republicans say the problem is Trump’s populist brand of partisan grievance. It’s an attitude tailor-made for the Electoral College in the current era of regionally Balkanized politics, but anathema to attracting a broad, national coalition that can win the most votes, as past presidents did when seeking re-election amid a booming economy. Others argue that neither Trump, nor possibly any Republican, could win the popular vote when most big states are overwhelmingly liberal. … If Trump wins a second term without the popular vote, it would mark the first time in American history that the candidate who finished second in overall votes won consecutive presidential elections.”

What’s Beto all about? - WaPo: “In his first blitz as a candidate for president, O’Rourke has dealt with nagging questions — Is a failed Senate candidate ready for the presidency? Is he serious about policy? — with real-time prose. Other candidates talk in applause lines, while O’Rourke speaks in paragraphs, with lots of asides and emphasis and aphorisms. The result (so far) is the first Democratic campaign to really shake up this race since Kamala Harris’s enormous early crowds surprised her rivals and boosted her in public polls. It is not like any other campaign — by design. He’s still figuring this whole thing out. More than any other candidate for the presidency, O’Rourke admits that he does not have all the answers and will get things wrong. He thanks crowds for telling him what he did not know. He thanks reporters for being patient with him — after some complaints about access in Iowa, he began to hold 10- to 15-minute news conferences after nearly every event.”

Donors shy from Biden - CNBC: “Several top Democratic donors have told former Vice President Joe Biden that they won’t help him raise funds in the early stages of the party’s 2020 presidential primary, CNBC has learned. Their reason: skepticism that Biden actually can win the Democratic primary. Biden, who has yet to announce whether he will run, has reached out to leading financiers over the past week to see whether they will help him raise money for a presidential run. … However, during those calls, some high-profile donors told Biden that they will not commit to bundling for him, at least in the early stages of the primary, said the people, who declined to be named. The donors told Biden they’re not yet convinced he can overtake the younger, more diverse and progressive field, and that they are going to wait to see how he competes in the race, the people added.”

Many 2020 Dems will not attend AIPAC summit – AP: “Multiple Democratic presidential candidates said Thursday that they won’t attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference in Washington next week. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, are among the 2020 contenders who have decided not to attend. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for president, will also avoid the AIPAC conference. It comes as the liberal advocacy group MoveOn has called on Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year’s policy conference, saying AIPAC had tried to thwart the Iran nuclear deal and had employed ‘anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric.’ By not attending, the Democratic candidates can demonstrate their progressive bona fides in an increasingly crowded 2020 field.”

HOUSE DEMS’ CAMPAIGN ARM SEEKS PRIMARY TRUCE 
National Journal: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making an early move to deter primary challenges against sitting incumbents in the caucus with a new policy aimed in part at protecting the new majority. The campaign arm on Friday sent out a list of hiring standards to more than 100 political firms, including one provision that made clear it will neither contract with nor recommend to House candidates any political vendors that work to oust sitting members of Congress. That offers key protection to the caucus’s moderate members in battleground seats, where House control will be won or lost. It is intended to help stymie attempts by insurgent progressive groups who plan to primary incumbents deemed insufficiently liberal on key issues, but also to shield members of the party’s ascendant liberal wing who represent safe Democratic territory and could face intraparty challenges of their own.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Marine Corps commandant: Border deployments an ‘unacceptable risk’ - LAT

As Washington awaits Mueller, a look at how Trump has performed under pressure before - Politico

Cornyn, Joaquin Castro already locking horns ahead of potential 2020 Senate race Dallas Morning News

Meet the legislative linebackers from the NFL Roll Call

Charles Lane: ‘Red America and blue America depend on each other. That’s how it should be.’ - WaPo

Dems want Trump’s business tax filings as well as his personal tax returns - Politico

AUDIBLE: EVERYBODY’S GONE GAGA 
“It’s like waiting for a baby… If the report is good, I’ll give out cigars.” – Rudy Giuliani talking about the wait for the Mueller report to the WaPo in a phone interview on Friday. 

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“It would be very helpful, given all the talk about eliminating the Electoral College, if you could enlighten us regarding what would be required to change it. Most of the angst about this situation seems to stem from the perception of ‘the unfairness’ of it all, when I believe the original purpose was to ensure that all states got an appropriate voice. The ‘popular’ vote for Hillary came from a few very populous places and was not representative of the country as a whole. In addition, as a number of states have passed legislation to assign all their delegates to the popular vote as an ‘end run’, as it were, around the Constitution, I would guess that would be challengeable legally and ultimately end up going through the constitutional process I initially requested that you elucidate.” – Michael McEvoy, Houston

[Ed. note: The way to eliminate or alter the Electoral College is straight forward but hard: Amend the Constitution. A number of Democratic leaning states, however, have a plan to attack the Constitution and eliminate the Electoral College without putting the matter before all 50 states. Thirteen states have joined a compact in which they have agreed to award their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote, regardless of how their citizens cast their ballots. This deal would kick in once the states with the combined total of 270 electoral votes have joined the compact. Much that is lost in the discussion about the Electoral College is its actual purpose. We tend to see it as a practical, political matter: Something that is good for Republicans and bad for Democrats. The Electoral College, though, is more about the balance of power than it is about partisan control. Taking away the value of states as individual political units would further decrease their ability to counterbalance the national government. Remember Madison’s belief that ambition must be made to counteract ambition. There is very little left in the way of the federal government’s ambitions, regardless of who is in power.]

“I am a long time and very satisfied subscriber to ‘Halftime Report’ and was recently traveling in the New Zealand and Australia area and at times, WiFi was spotty or nonexistent and thus it was difficult to keep up with our news.  Consequently, I have an even greater appreciation for the daily content of your ‘note’ as I was able to stay current with our political news and thus, indirectly with other happenings… I looked forward to each opportunity to receive emails and sit back and catchup. One of our guides in Australia told us about their mandated voting laws which I found to be very interesting… the voting age is 18 and if a person neglects to vote, they are fined and possibly face a day in court.  The fine for a first offense is $20.00 which is not an exorbitant amount of money but reports have noted that it does seem to be enough of an incentive to achieve a very high percentage of voter turnout at election time. I also subscribe to the ‘Halftime Report’ on Fox Nation and never fail to pick up an ‘I didn’t know or realize that’ not to mention the comfortable and fun conversation between you while ‘Brainstorming with Stirewalt’!” – Patricia White, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

[Ed. note: In the spirit of full disclosure, Ms. White, I think our readers should know that you are the grandmother of our own dear Brianna. But that’s a bias I can definitely allow here! Many Americans have observed approvingly of Australia’s compulsory voting regime. If you think what’s wrong with our politics is that not enough people are participating, then one can see why. I look at it a little differently. The voting franchise is an extraordinary privilege, one that history would rightly regard as unusual. In the United States, we have had universal suffrage since the 1920s by law and the 1960s in reality. It’s extraordinary compared to most of history and much of the world today. If you cannot be bothered to exercise so great a privilege, why on earth would I want you to vote? I think the problem that we have traces its roots to a lack of civics education in which too few Americans understand the value of their votes and an increasingly jumbled political calendar. I have long advocated for making Election Day a federal and national holiday while also curtailing the ever-extending early voting calendar and mail-in balloting. I would like to see a return to a communitarian ethic for American elections. Thank you for your thoughtful question, your high praise and for helping to make such a fine colleague as your granddaughter.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

HE WAS JUST TRYING TO GET TO ELECTRIC AVENUE 
KABC: “A slow-speed chase through the San Fernando Valley ended with the suspect breakdancing as officers held him at gunpoint. The chase began in Calabasas when California Highway Patrol officers said a reckless driver failed to yield to commands to stop. The driver led officers on a chase over the 101 Freeway through the San Fernando Valley, north on the 405 Freeway and east onto the 118 Freeway. The suspect mostly drove at speeds under 60 mph, making no evasive maneuvers to escape the officers but also declining to pull over. He slowed to about 20 mph on the 118 and then exited on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Officers followed closely behind and were finally able to spin out his vehicle with a PIT maneuver in the Pacoima area. He got out of the car and complied with officers’ orders, but then at one point began breakdancing.” 

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The conventional perception, incessantly repeated by Democrats and the media, is that Washington dysfunction is the work of the Party of No.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Nov. 6, 2014. 

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America are seen escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after crossing the border from Mexico to surrender to the officials in El Paso, Texas, U.S., in this pictured taken from Ciudad Juarez
FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America are seen escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials after crossing the border from Mexico to surrender to the officials in El Paso, Texas, U.S., in this pictured taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Dan Levine and Lizbeth Diaz

SAN FRANCISCO/TIJUANA (Reuters) – Two people from Central America seeking asylum in the United States were sent back across the border to Mexico on Thursday, despite their claims that a return to Mexico was too dangerous, as part of the first test of a controversial new Trump administration policy.

The returns came as a U.S. federal judge in San Francisco on Friday heard legal arguments on whether or not to halt the policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which was rolled out in late January.

The major policy shift is based on a decades-old law that says migrants who enter from a contiguous country can be returned there to wait as their deportation cases move forward. But this provision had never been used for these types of returns before.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups have sued, saying that migrants are being returned to dangerous border towns where they cannot access legal counsel or get proper notice of their hearings.

Two migrants from Honduras tried to make the case to U.S. asylum officers that Mexico was too dangerous for their return, according to their lawyer Robyn Barnard from the nonprofit group Human Rights First. But on Thursday evening, after being held in custody for two days, they were sent back across the border.

A third migrant, 35-year-old Douglas Oviedo from Honduras, said he was interviewed by authorities and returned to Tijuana on Tuesday. They are among the first to test the process of claiming a fear of returning to Mexico.

Asylum seekers typically undergo what is known as a “credible fear” interview to assess their eligibility for a court process. But the standard of proof for a “reasonable fear” of being returned to Mexico is much stiffer.

Barnard said one client, 19-year-old Ariel, who asked to be identified only by his middle name, broke down in tears during the interview with U.S. officials, which lasted several hours.

Another client, a 29-year-old man who said he was an evangelical leader who fled Honduras because of threats over his anti-gang activity, was also sent back, Barnard said.

More than 200 people have been returned to Mexico so far under the MPP, which is now in place at the San Ysidro and Calexico ports of entry in California and the El Paso, Texas, port of entry and to migrants who ask for asylum between ports of entry in the San Diego area, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

That is a small portion of the tens of thousands of migrants mostly from Central American who have tried to enter the United States and claim asylum in recent months.

The U.S. government has said the policy is necessary to stem the ballooning number of asylum claims, many of which are ultimately denied, because migrants can end up living in the United States for years due to huge immigration court backlogs.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their cases. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which conducts asylum interviews said it cannot comment on individual cases because confidentiality rules apply.

“A lot is still unknown, I haven’t been given any written reasons or determinations for their return,” Barnard said.

Lawyers for the rights groups and for the government argued over the technical aspects of the policy on Friday in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. He asked a series of detailed questions about whether the Trump administration had discretion to implement the policy. Seeborg also wondered how broadly of an injunction he could issue and whether any stop to the policy should apply nationally. He is expected to rule on the case in a written decision.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana; Additional reporting and writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Audrey Conklin | Reporter

China’s communist government has been steadily trying to eradicate a Muslim ethnic group in the ancient city of Urumqui for several years, though the impact hasn’t been completely visible until now.

While the West has only known about this crisis in Urumqui for several years because of the area’s strict government security, China is making steady progress with its destruction of a once-vibrant community, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Nearly 13 million Turcik Muslims — the majority of whom are Uighur Muslims — make up the northwestern territory of Xinjiang, China, where Urumqui is located. Turcik Muslims have appeared in recorded Chinese history since the third century A.D.

In the city of Urumqi specifically, Uighurs make up about 13 percent of the total population. In 2017, however, the total population of the city fell 15 percent, from 2.6 million to 2.2 million.

The government has already succeeded in forcing about 1 million Uighur people into internment camps that they’ve dubbed “boarding schools” or “re-education camps” in an effort to suppress their religious beliefs, which Chinese officials say will stay unless Uighurs give up Islam. In more recent developments, the government is destroying homes, businesses and general Uighur existence in the area. (RELATED: China Strongly Implies Muslim Internment Camps Will Never Go Away)

“When plans for Urumqi’s urban overhaul were announced in 2017, the party-controlled Xinjiang Daily said the government would offer compensation to residents forced to move, and planned new residential districts ‘designed with full consideration of the customs and convenience of all ethnic groups,’” The Journal explains.

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

While there were about 400 active mosques in Uighur in 2015, there are now only bare-boned remnants of places of worship. Traditional Uighur restaurants and food stands have closed; Uighur language books have been removed from stores; signs written in the Uighur language have been replaced by Chinese characters; homes have been destroyed as Uighur communities are forced out of the area. And as these places disappear, they are replaced by stores and restaurants meant to appeal to Chinese tourists.

The government has allocated billions to Urumqi for infrastructure spending. In 2017, fixed assets exceeded $30 billion to invest in infrastructure, factories and other building (or rebuilding) plans for the city. In 2018, Urumqi spent $10 billion to destroy the city’s increasingly abandoned outskirts.

And those Uighur people who are still living outside of internment camps organized by the government have been subject to massively invasive digital surveillance. (RELATED: Uighur Muslim Woman Recalls Torture In Chinese Government Internment Camp: ‘I Thought I Would Rather Die’)

As The Journal explains, “It is nearly impossible to move about the region without feeling the unrelenting gaze of the government. Citizens and visitors alike must run a daily gauntlet of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras and machines scanning their ID cards, faces, eyeballs and sometimes entire bodies.”

The Chinese government justifies its massive crackdown on this specific population of citizens as a way to keep China unified and safe from radical Islamic terrorism.

A recent TIME magazine article says China has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in Xinjiang.

According to Human Rights Watch, “Domestic state media reports and government documents do talk about the [detainment] camps. They explain that these camps are necessary to cure the minds of Turkic Muslims who have an ‘ideological illness.’”

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio on Friday urged current or former Boeing Co and Federal Aviation Administration employees to come forward with any information about the government’s aircraft certification program.

Federal prosecutors, the Transportation Department’s inspector general and lawmakers are investigating the FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft that has been involved in two fatal crashes since October.

“It is imperative we continue to ensure we have the highest level of safety for the traveling public,” DeFazio said in a statement, urging people to utilize the committee’s whistleblower web page.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Colgate Raiders vs the Tennessee Volunteers
Mar 22, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Colgate Raiders guard Tucker Richardson (15) collects a rebound in the second half against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

Admiral Schofield sank consecutive corner 3-pointers in the final two minutes Friday, enabling second-seeded Tennessee to avoid a major upset at the hands of 15th–seeded Colgate and earn a 77-70 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

Schofield’s first 3-pointer with 1:34 left upped the Volunteers’ lead to 70-64, and he drained his second with 45.8 seconds on the clock to make it a nine-point game. That finally provided them the separation they needed to hold off the underdog, short-handed Raiders.

Schofield paced the balanced Tennessee attack with 19 points, while Jordan Bone hit for 16. Jordan Bowden came off the bench to pump in 14 points, and Lamonte Turner finished with 13. Leading scorer Grant Williams was held to nine points.

Jordan Burns starred in defeat for Colgate (24-11), canning 8 of 12 3-point attempts and scoring a game-high 32 points. Will Rayman and Tucker Richardson each added 10.

The Raiders’ leading scorer, junior forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, missed all four shots he took and didn’t score before leaving the game early in the second half. Suffering from a bloody nose and vision problems, Ivanauskas wasn’t able to return to the game. He averaged 16.4 points per game and was named Patriot League Player of the Year this season.

The Volunteers (30-5) will meet No. 10 Iowa, which beat Cincinnati earlier Friday, in the second round of South Region action on Sunday.

The game’s beginning offered zero hint to the dramatics it later provided. Tennessee needed exactly 2:12 to score the first nine points and led 11-2 at the 16:40 mark after Williams drilled a jumper off a Schofield pass.

Colgate made its first serious push after that, slicing the margin down to 20-18 when Jack Ferguson stroked a 3-pointer from an Ivanauskas pass. At that point, the Volunteers flexed their considerable muscles, rattling off a 16-2 run.

Williams’ jumper off a feed from Turner finished the spurt and made it 36-20 with 2:51 left in the half. Two foul shots by Schofield with 24 seconds remaining enabled Tennessee to head to the locker room with a 42-30 advantage.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

A building that houses an office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pictured in Washington
One of the buildings that houses an office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is seen in southwest Washington, U.S., March 21, 2019. Picture taken March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Here is a timeline of significant developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow.

2017

May 17 – U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and to look into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and people associated with Republican Trump’s campaign.

The appointment follows President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on May 9 and days later Trump attributed the dismissal to “this Russia thing.”

June 15 – Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, the Washington Post reports.

Oct. 30 – Veteran Republican political operative and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who worked for the campaign for five pivotal months in 2016, is indicted on charges of conspiracy against the United States and money laundering as is his business partner Rick Gates, who also worked for Trump’s campaign.

– Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.

Dec. 1 – Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month who also had a prominent campaign role, pleads guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI about his discussions in 2016 with the Russian ambassador to Washington.

2018

Feb. 16 – Federal grand jury indicts 13 Russians and three firms, including a Russian government propaganda arm called the Internet Research Agency, accusing them of tampering to support Trump and disparage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election” according to the court document filed by Mueller.

– An American, Richard Pinedo, pleads guilty to identity fraud for selling bank account numbers after being accused by prosecutors of helping Russians launder money, buy Facebook ads and pay for campaign rally supplies. Pinedo was not associated with the Trump campaign.

Feb. 22 – Manafort and Gates are charged with financial crimes, including bank fraud, in Virginia.

Feb. 23 – Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators. He agrees to cooperate and testify against Manafort at trial.

April 3 – Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, is sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000 for lying to Mueller’s investigators, becoming the first person sentenced in the probe.

April 9 – FBI agents raid home, hotel room and office of Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described “fixer” Michael Cohen.

April 12 – Rosenstein tells Trump that he is not a target in Mueller’s probe.

April 19 – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump supporter in the election campaign, joins Trump’s personal legal team.

June 8 – Mueller charges a Russian-Ukrainian man, Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner whom prosecutors say had ties to Russian intelligence, with witness tampering.

July 13 – Federal grand jury indicts 12 Russian military intelligence officers on charges of hacking Democratic Party computer networks in 2016 and staged releases of documents. Russia, which denies interfering in the election, says there is no evidence that the 12 are linked to spying or hacking.

July 16 – In Helsinki after the first summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump publicly contradicts U.S. intelligence agencies that concluded Moscow had interfered in the 2016 election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda. Trump touts Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of meddling. He calls the Mueller inquiry a “rigged witch hunt” on Twitter.

Aug. 21 – A trial jury in Virginia finds Manafort guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

– Cohen, in a case brought by U.S. prosecutors in New York, pleads guilty to tax fraud and campaign finance law violations. Cohen is subsequently interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Aug. 31 – Samuel Patten, an American business partner of Kilimnik, pleads guilty to unregistered lobbying for pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.

Sept. 14 – Manafort pleads guilty to two conspiracy counts and signs a cooperation agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors.

Nov. 8 – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request. He had recused himself from overseeing the Mueller inquiry because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador as a Trump campaign official. Trump appoints Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a critic of the Mueller probe, as acting attorney general.

Nov. 20 – Giuliani says Trump submitted written answers to questions from Mueller, as the president avoids a face-to-face interview with the special counsel.

Nov. 27-28 – Prosecutors say Manafort breached his plea deal by lying to investigators, which Manafort denies. Trump says he has not ruled out granting Manafort a presidential pardon.

Nov. 28 – Giuliani says Trump told investigators he was not aware ahead of time of a meeting in Trump Tower in New York between several campaign officials and Russians in June 2016.

Nov. 29 – Cohen pleads guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to Congress about the length of discussions in 2016 on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. “I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1,” says Cohen, who previously identified “individual 1” as Trump.

– The president criticizes Cohen as a liar and “weak person.”

Dec. 12 – Two developments highlight growing political and legal risks for Trump: Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the election; American Media Inc, publisher of National Enquirer tabloid, strikes deal to avoid charges over its role in one of two hush payments. Publisher admits payment was aimed at influencing the 2016 election, contradicting Trump’s statements.

2019

Jan. 25 – Longtime Trump associate and self-proclaimed political “dirty trickster” Roger Stone charged and arrested at his home in Florida. Stone is accused of lying to Congress about statements suggesting he may have had advance knowledge of plans by Wikileaks to release Democratic Party campaign emails that U.S. officials say were stolen by Russia.

Feb. 21 – U.S. judge tightens gag order on Stone, whose Instagram account posted a photo of the judge and the image of crosshairs next to it.

Feb. 22 – Manhattan district attorney’s office is pursuing New York state criminal charges against Manafort whether or not he receives a pardon from Trump on federal crimes, a person familiar with the matter says. Trump cannot issue pardons for state convictions.

Feb. 24 – Senior Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff says Democrats will subpoena Mueller’s final report on his investigation if it is not given to Congress by the Justice Department, and will sue the Trump administration and call on Mueller to testify to Congress if necessary.

Feb. 27 – Cohen tells U.S. House Oversight Committee Trump is a “racist,” a “con man” and a “cheat” who knew in advance about a release of emails by WikiLeaks in 2016 aimed at hurting rival Clinton. Trump directed negotiations for a real estate project in Moscow during the campaign even as he publicly said he had no business interests in Russia, Cohen testifies.

March 7 – Manafort is sentenced in the Virginia case to almost four years in prison. The judge also ordered Manafort to pay a fine of $50,000 and restitution of just over $24 million.

March 13 – Manafort is sentenced to about 3-1/2 more years in prison in the Washington case, bringing his total prison sentence in the two special counsel cases to 7-1/2 years.

– On the same day, the Manhattan district attorney announces a separate indictment charging Manafort with residential mortgage fraud and other New York state crimes, which unlike the federal charges cannot be erased by a presidential pardon.

March 22 – Mueller submits his confidential report on the findings of his investigation to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

(Compiled by Grant McCool in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University
FILE PHOTO: Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University speaks on Day 1 of Securing Sport 2015 – the annual conference of the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS). Photo Andrew Kelly for ICSS

March 22, 2019

By Lesley Wroughton and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Inter-American Development Bank on Friday canceled a meeting of its member countries due to be held in China next week after Beijing refused to allow a representative of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to attend, two sources with knowledge of the decision said.

The sources said the decision was made by the board of the IADB, the region’s largest development lender, after China refused to change its position.

The sources said the board of member countries would vote within 30 days to reschedule the annual meeting for another date and location.

On Thursday, the United States threatened to derail the meeting unless Beijing granted a visa to Guaido’s representative, Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann. The meeting, which is an annual gathering of the IADB’s 48-member countries, was meant to mark the bank’s 60th anniversary.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume Venezuela’s interim presidency in January, saying the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro was not legitimate. Most Western countries have recognized Guaido as head of state, but Russia and China, among others, back Maduro.

The Washington-based IADB voted last week to replace Maduro’s board representative with Hausmann.

It would have been the first time the IADB held its annual meeting in China. The Asian country has become a major player in Latin America and has poured more than $50 billion into Venezuela over the past decade in oil-for-loan agreements.

With relations between Washington and Beijing marred by an acrimonious trade dispute, U.S. officials have expressed concern in recent months at China’s growing influence in Latin America – a region Washington has long regarded as its backyard.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Roberta Rampton; editing by Leslie Adler and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Company logo and trading information for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Company logo and trading information for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 22, 2019

Source: OANN

Tennis: Miami Open
Mar 22, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan serves against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium (not pictured) in the second round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – World number one Naomi Osaka endured a rollercoaster start to the Miami Open on Friday advancing to the third round with a 6-0 6-7(3) 6-1 win over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

After facing eight-times Miami champion Serena Williams in her first match last year, Osaka might have expected an easier opener on Friday against the 141st-ranked Belgian qualifier.

Yet that was not the case as she needed more than two hours to dispose of her Belgian opponent, having dispatched the 23-times grand slam singles champion 6-3 6-2 a year earlier.

“It was really hard for me, I think, emotionally in the second set because I just started thinking about winning, not exactly the things I could do in order to win,” said Osaka. “I had a bit of a dip. She was also playing really well.”

The first match on Stadium Court the contest again looked like it might wrap up before the late arrivals had settled in but it turned into a head scratcher for Osaka that ebbed and flowed between dominance and despair.

The Japanese, who had been firing on all cylinders while Wickmayer sleepwalked through a one-sided opening set, suddenly began to sputter in the second as the Belgian woke from her slumber.

Letting her foot off the gas, the Australian and U.S. Open champion was left muttering to herself and flipping her racket as shots that had been finding their target minutes before were sprayed all over the temporary court allowing Wickmayer back into the match.

Yet just as quickly as Osaka lost her way the 21-year-old got back on track in the third set, securing the early break on her way to a 3-0 lead and a topsy-turvy victory.

Although South Florida is home for Osaka, the Miami stop has not been kind to the Japanese, who has never ventured past the third round.

Osaka will next face Taiwan’s 27th seed Hsieh Su-wei who was a 6-2 7-5 winner over American Alison Riske.

“I consider Miami a home,” said Osaka. “I definitely always want to do well here whenever I play.

“I haven’t really done well here compared to the other tournaments. It’s definitely been a really big goal of mine.”

After a dramatic comeback win in her opening match, Canadian teen sensation Bianca Andreescu took a more confident step towards the ‘Sunshine Double’, disposing of American 22nd seed Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-3 to reach the third round.

The youngest player to win Indian Wells since Serena Williams in 1999, Andreescu is bidding to become just the fourth woman to win both there and Miami back-to-back in the same year.

While Andreescu’s run continues, two other promising American teenagers saw their time in Miami come to an end.

After picking up her first career WTA Tour event win on Thursday, 15-year-old Cori Gauff fell to 14th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2 while 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova lost 6-3 1-6 6-4 to Estonian Anett Kontaveit.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller has handed in a keenly awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Mueller submitted the report to Attorney General William Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, the department said. The report was not immediately made public – Barr will have to decide how much to disclose – and it was not known if Mueller found criminal conduct by Trump or his campaign, beyond the charges already brought against several aides.

Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since 2017 whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow to try to influence the election and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

(Reporting by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

Dutch officials said a suspected gunman admitted to killing three people in the Netherlands shooting on a Utrecht tram Monday.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, admitted to three terrorism-related charges, BBC reported Friday. (RELATED: Dutch Police Searching For Turkish Man After Tram Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 5 Injured)

A 19-year-old woman and two men, 28 and 49, were killed. The suspected gunman also wounded five other people.

Authorities are still investigating whether Tanis was motivated by terrorism or personal issues along with radicalized ideas, BBC reported. Police considered Tanis, who was born in Turkey, might have had a terrorist motive after finding a letter in his getaway vehicle.

Officials evacuated all mosques in Utrecht and security was temporarily increased at mosques around the country, The New York Times reported. It is unclear whether evacuations were due to a specific threat or were done to be cautious after the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand Friday.

A child places flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of a tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

A child places flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of a tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Zabit Elmaci, who used to work with Tanis, said he was “always in trouble,” according to the Times.

A judge extended Tanis’s detention for two more weeks Friday, BBC reported. Investigation is ongoing.

This is not the first terror-related incident the Netherlands has faced in recent time. Seven men were arrested for conspiring to commit a major terrorist attack in the country and an Afghan man stabbed two Americans in a railway station in September 2018.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report of the Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr, numerous news outlets are reporting.

Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima first broke the news Friday on Twitter.

The House Judiciary Committee and a spokesman for Mueller’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Check back for updates.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller listens at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing about the FBI on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, listens at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing about the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has been told to expect notification by 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, according to media reports.

Mueller had been investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and if the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, allegations that Russia and Trump denies.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Eric Beech)

Source: OANN

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., received a letter about the report’s drop

“Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters," the letter said.

Barr also said that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

It’s not clear how much, if any, of the report will be made public or provided to Congress. None of Mueller’s findings were immediately released.

The president has repeatedly decried Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” emphatically denying he or his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 race. The president has alleged a slew of internal “conflicts of interest” from Mueller’s team and has previously said his legal team is drafting a “major counter report” in response to its findings.

Mueller’s investigation, which was initially ordered to look into the 2016 election in May of 2017, has gone on for almost two years. It has expanded to probe financial crimes of Trump associates before the election, conversations Trump’s national security adviser had with the Russians during the transition and whether Trump obstructed justice with his comments and actions related to the probe.

Mueller, the former director of the FBI under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May of 2017. In his order, Rosenstein directed Mueller to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, as well any other matters that arose from the investigation.

“If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” Rosenstein wrote to Mueller.

Since then, Mueller’s team has indicted, convicted, or won guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies as part of an investigation that has also probed issues unrelated to the 2016 campaign.

Twenty six Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

But none of the Trump associates connected to Trump have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Mueller’s team charged former Trump associate Roger Stone in January with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Other convictions include: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017.

Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November.

Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.

Mueller has also looked at actions taken by Trump after sworn in as president, like his firing of FBI director James Comey and his ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions, once one of President Trump’s most loyal and trusted advisers infuriated Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation. In March 2017, Sessions announced his plans to recuse himself after reports surfaced detailing undisclosed conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

At the time of his recusal, Sessions said he met with the “relevant senior career department officials” to discuss the issue.

“Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said.

Rosenstein, Sessions’ number two at the Justice Department, then took control of the investigation and decided to appoint Mueller to take over the probe – an investigation Trump has repeatedly lambasted as a “phony witch hunt.”

Rosenstein said at the time, “What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Mueller said in a statement, upon his appointment: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.’’

Rosenstein later ceded oversight to then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker when he took over for Sessions. But the report was submitted to Barr, who was confirmed in February by the Senate as attorney general.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

An ancient canyon in Iceland has been closed because of a spike in tourism after Justin Bieber shot a music video there.

The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon—which measures 1.2 miles long and 328 feet high—was the site of a 2015 video for the 25-year-old pop singer’s hit song “I’ll Show You” and has reportedly been “overrun by visitors.” (SLIDESHOW: 142 Times Josephine Skriver Barely Wore Anything)

And officials say before the video the place was relatively unknown, but after everything changed with the interest in the area going from 150,000 to 282,000 between 2017 and 2018, per RUV according to Lonely Planet.com Wednesday(RELATED: Report: Selena Gomez Takes Break From Spotlight Following Justin Bieber Breakup)

WATCH:

“This canyon was somewhat unknown,” Daníel Freyr Jónsson, with the Environment Agency of Iceland shared. “But I think Icelanders have known about it a lot longer.”

“The great increase in foot traffic began after [Justin] Bieber came,” he added. “There has been an increase of 50 [percent] to 80 [percent] between 2016, 2017 and 2018.” (RELATED: Report: Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin Tied Knot After 2-Month Engagement)

A statement on the agency’s website reportedly translated read:

The area’s vegetation has been damaged greatly by heavy foot traffic, combined with thawing weather conditions. Iceland has seen an unusually warm winter this year with higher incidents of rainfall which has turned the pathways into mudfields. To avoid the muddy paths, visitors have been walking on the grass and heath vegetation alongside the trails which are extremely fragile during early spring, especially in March and April when the ground has not yet fully thawed.

The concern is that the giant uptick in foot traffic is “wreaking havoc” on the area’s “fragile vegetation.” Originally the canyon was only supposed to remain off-limits to visitors for two weeks,” per Fox News on Friday. Those plans have since changed and now the place will remain closed until June 1. This is the second time in the last few years the canyon has been closed.

The area is thought to have first been formed about 9,000 years ago, the end of the first Ice Age.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, U.S., April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. judge overseeing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial in Washington recommended on Friday that his sentence be served at a prison in Cumberland, Maryland.

Earlier this month, Manafort was sentenced to a total of 7-1/2 years behind bars for witness tampering, tax and bank fraud, and other crimes.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by David Alexander)

Source: OANN

Unidentified suspects talk inside the Rwandan high court after being convicted of belonging to extremist groups including al Shabaab and Islamic State and providing them support, in Nyanza
Unidentified suspects talk inside the Rwandan high court after being convicted of belonging to extremist groups including al Shabaab and Islamic State and providing them support, in Nyanza, Rwanda March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

March 22, 2019

KIGALI (Reuters) – A Rwandan high court on Friday sentenced 13 people to five years and two others to ten years in jail after convicting them of belonging to extremist groups including al Shabaab and Islamic State and providing them support.

The court in Rwanda’s southern Nyanza area acquitted 25 others after the prosecution failed to prove their involvement in extremist acts.

Police in the central African country arrested the 40 in January 2016, less than a week after they killed Muhammad Mugemangango, a preacher accused of encouraging youths to join extremist groups. Security personnel also seized jihadist materials such as books, CDs and social network messages.

One of those convicted, Salim Fundi, participated in “coordinating people in Rwanda who wanted to join terrorist group of al Shabaab in Somalia,” said Judge Eugene Ndagijimana while delivering the ruling.

Those convicted included three women, two of them arrested at the airport in Kigali while en route to Syria and another convicted of helping them with $1,000 for flight tickets.

Most Rwandans are Christians, Muslims account for about 2.5 percent of population.

After Mugemangango’s death, the country’s main Muslim association, Rwanda Muslims, said it planned to circulate messages condemning radicalization to all of Rwanda’s mosques.

“This case reminds that we should tell our youth to be cautious…(of) those who lure them after promising them that they will give them better things,” said Rwanda’s Muslim community mufti, Sheikh Salim Hitimana.

Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia’s central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation if Islamic law, while Islamic State once aspired to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Elias Biryabarema)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Woman checks a curtain at a store in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: A woman checks a curtain at a store in Mexico City, Mexico February 28, 2019. Picture taken February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

March 22, 2019

By Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s annual inflation continued to slow in the first half of March, the statistics institute said on Friday, raising expectations the nation’s central bank will loosen monetary policy later in the year.

Mexican consumer prices rose 3.95 percent in the year through February, slightly below the 3.99 percent increase registered in the second half of February.

Inflation was in line with estimates from a Reuters survey, in which the median forecast of 13 specialists predicted an increase of 3.96 percent.

Fitch Ratings this week said it believed Mexico’s cycle of raising rates was over for now. The central bank will announce its next decision on interest rates on Thursday. The bank held the benchmark lending rate at 8.25 in February after a series of hikes.

Central Bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon said at a banking convention on Friday that it would be important for the entity to consider not only cyclical factors in its decisions on rates, but also other risks including shocks and structural factors.

Diaz de Leon has called for maintaining the central bank’s independence as key to the economic health in Mexico, where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December.

He also has advocated for keeping the central bank’s focus on inflation. In an interview on Thursday, he noted that Lopez Obrador’s decision in late October to cancel a partly-built new Mexico City airport had fanned market volatility in Mexico, as well as concern over the financial health of state oil firm Pemex. [nL1N219025]

Responding to the inflation data, Capital Economics said it expected the headline rate would decline during the second half of the year, paving the way for monetary loosening.

“We expect 75bp of interest rate cuts this year, which is more than markets are currently pricing in,” Capital Economics said in a note.

Core inflation, which strips out some volatile food and energy prices, rose 3.51 percent in the year through the first half of the month.

Consumer prices rose 0.26 percent in the first half of March compared with the previous month.

The data showed that prices for gasoline, lemons and tomatoes rose. Declines in prices for foodstuffs such as potatoes and eggs helped lower prices overall.

Last month, Mexico’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate steady at 8.25 percent, its highest level in more than a decade.

This week, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it does not anticipate rate hikes in 2019, easing pressure on the Mexican central bank to raise the benchmark interest rate in its decision on monetary policy next Thursday.

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo in Mexico City and Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher in Acapulco; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

CNN tweeted Wednesday that founding father James Madison called the Electoral College “evil.”

Verdict: False

CNN took Madison’s quote out of context. The House of Representatives gets to choose the president if no candidates earn a majority of the vote in the Electoral College, and Madison was critical of this “back up” procedure, not the electoral system itself.

Fact Check:

Several Democratic candidates for president have discussed the idea of abolishing the Electoral College, which led CNN’s John Avlon to discuss the topic Wednesday on the network’s “Reality Check” segment.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said at a CNN town hall in Mississippi that she wanted to make sure that “every vote matters.” “And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” she said.

Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor who is running for president, said on “CBS This Morning” that “the Electoral College needs to go, because it’s made our society less and less democratic.” Other Democratic contenders like Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have suggested that they are open to eliminating the electoral system.

To introduce Avlon’s segment, CNN host Erica Hill teased that there was a man who “wore a wig and helped write the Constitution” who “really hated the Electoral College, probably even more than Elizabeth Warren.”

“Is this just a case of Dems trying to change the rules because they’ve won the popular vote but lost the presidency twice so far this century? Is this an insult to the founding fathers?” Avlon asked. “It was the subject of intense debate among the founders. The biggest controversy was the winner-take-all structure. James Madison, not a fan.”

Avlon then showed a quote from Madison that read, “At the present period, the evil is at its maximum.”

CNN clipped the segment and shared it on social media. “The electoral college has been debated since the days of James Madison, who called it ‘evil,’” it said on Facebook.

The quote comes from a letter Madison wrote about the Electoral College in 1823, but CNN took his remarks out of context. In reality, he wasn’t calling the system “evil.”

If none of the candidates running for president receive a majority of the vote in the Electoral College, the duty to elect the president falls to the House. This latter process is what Madison was criticizing. The comment was not an indictment of the electoral system itself, but rather a criticism of the “back up” measure put in place to elect the president.

Only two presidential elections have been decided in this way – the elections of 1800 and 1824.

“The ‘evil’ to which Madison referred in this context would rear its head only when presidential elections were decided in the House of Representatives, and not in the normal operations of the electoral college,” Angela Kreider of the Papers of James Madison project told The Daily Caller in an email.

When an election did go to the House, state delegations voted together, one vote per state, to pick a winner.

Even though Madison thought this process was “evil,” he thought that as states’ populations grew, as they have in the nearly two centuries since he penned the letter, the “evil” would be curbed.

“Specifically, Madison was concerned that when new states had small populations that qualified them for only one or two seats in the House, those representatives could be more easily corrupted in presidential balloting than larger groups of representatives from more populous states. He believed that this ‘evil’ would quickly diminish as the populations of new states rapidly increased,” Kreider said.

CNN’s incorrect use of this quote misrepresents Madison’s views on the Electoral College. According to the writings of Donald Dewey, the former associate editor of “The Papers of James Madison,” although Madison was in some ways critical of how the president was elected, he spent “as much effort in defending the electoral system provided in the Constitution as seeking improvements on it.”

Tara Ross, author of “The Indispensible Electoral College,” told the Caller that Madison was actually a member of the committee that drafted the language establishing the Electoral College. Although Madison at one point said that, in principle, “the people at large” are “fittest” to choose the president, he also later cautioned against direct elections, saying in an 1826 letter, “If the election be referred immediately to the people, however they may be liable to an excess of excitement on particular occasions.”

“It is true that Madison, like other members of the Constitutional Convention, considered the so-called Russian-style direct election, but like the others he ultimately rejected it as not consistent with the ideas of federalism set forth in the rest of the Constitution,” Professor Robert Hardaway of the University of Denver College of Law told the Caller in an email.

“Madison is not condemning the Electoral College in itself but merely supporting an improvement in the process by which it functions,” Fergus Bordewich, the author of “The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government,” told the Caller in an email.

Madison supported the idea of having electors to the Electoral College selected on a district, not statewide, basis. 

The Electoral College is established in Article II of the U.S. Constitution. Article II says that “each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”

In other words, the number of electors each state receives is equal to its two senators plus its representatives in the House, which vary by population size. The states with the most electoral votes currently are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29) and Florida (29).

CNN also failed to mention that Madison’s use of the word “evil” may not have meant what the network implied in the segment.

“It is also important to realize that the word ‘evil’ did not by any means always have the intense and absolute connotation then that it does today. In political writing, it mostly meant something closer to ‘deficit,’ ‘problem,’ or ‘shortcoming’ than it did something diabolical or truly awful. Its use by JM does not add up to a severe indictment of the system,” Bordewich told the Caller.

President Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 by the Electoral College (304 votes to Clinton’s 227) despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. There have been five instances of the president winning the Electoral College and losing the popular vote – 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016.

As mentioned by CNN in its segment, there is a movement to reform the electoral college called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The group’s goal is to get states to agree to cast their electoral votes for whatever candidate wins the overall popular vote. While some states are on board with the agreement, it would not take effect until states comprising at least 270 electoral votes (the number required to win the Electoral College) were a part of the compact.

Neither Avlon nor CNN responded to a request for comment.

Follow Aryssa on Twitter 

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

March 22, 2019

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Czech search engine Seznam urged Google on Friday to disclose more details about its plan to boost rival search apps in Android smartphones, saying it continued to lose users due to what it said were Google’s anti-competitive practices.

Seznam, which attracts as much advertising spend as Google in the Czech Republic, took its grievance to the European Commission nearly three years ago.

It subsequently joined lobbying group FairSearch whose complaint triggered the European Commission’s investigation into Google’s mobile operating system Android which ultimately led to a record 4.34 billion euro ($4.9 billion) fine.

“Time is running out, every day makes a difference. Seznam is losing market share because of Google’s search engine installed by default on mobiles,” said Michal Feix, Seznam’s former chief executive and now a partner at a consultancy advising the company.

EU antitrust enforcers said Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., had used its Android market power to hinder rivals.

Google’ senior vice-president of global affairs, Kent Walker, said in a blog this week that his company planned to prompt users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps, but he did not provide details.

Feix welcomed that idea in principle. “It is probably the solution we are looking at but it depends on the details. Walker’s blog lacked details,” he said.

Google spokesman Al Verney declined to comment.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN


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