National security

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks at AIPAC in Washington
Israel’s Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks at AIPAC in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest election challenger, Benny Gantz, called on Monday for unity and moderation in a speech to a major pro-Israel U.S. lobby group that has been uneasy at Netanyahu’s courting of far-rightists.

Gantz’s appearance at AIPAC was overshadowed by a rocket strike on Israel from Gaza that prompted Netanyahu to cancel his own speech at the event so he could return and oversee retaliation.

Gantz, a retired army general who is a centrist newcomer to politics, went briefly off-script to commend Netanyahu’s decision, before delivering veiled censure of the conservative premier’s electioneering, which has included dismissive rhetoric about Israel’s Arab minority and appeals to ultranationalists.

“The divisive dialogue tearing our strong nation apart may serve – I doubt it, but it may serve – political purposes, but is shredding the fabric that holds us together,” he said.

If he succeeds Netanyahu after the April 9 election, Gantz said, “there will be no Kahanists running our country, there will be no racists leading our state institutions, and there will be no corruption leading our ways – no corruption whatsoever.”

Netanyahu forged a pre-election alliance last month with Jewish Power, an ultranationalist party that includes adherents of the late anti-Arab rabbi, Meir Kahane.

In a rare reprimand AIPAC, which is the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby, called Jewish Power “a racist and reprehensible party.”

The four-term premier also faces criminal charges in three corruption cases, pending a review hearing after the election. Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing and described himself as the victim of liberal media bias and judicial overreach.

U.S. Jews, a largely Democratic constituency, have at times fretted over Netanyahu’s alignment with President Donald Trump’s Republican administration, and Gantz talked up AIPAC’s bipartisan strategy.

Gantz called Trump “a true partner and ally of Israel,” but added: “We want all of America, Republicans and Democrats, to move forward in the spirit of true bipartisanship that served so well in the past.”

After the speech, Gantz met Vice President Mike Pence, who also addressed the gathering.

Posting a photo of himself shaking hands with Pence, Gantz wrote on Twitter: “I thanked him for his unequivocal support for Israel and for everything they are doing for us.”

Netanyahu, who opinion polls show running neck and neck with Gantz, has dismissed his rival as a “weak leftist,” accusing him of allowing Iran to hack his cellphone. Gantz outlined national security policies that were not significantly different from the prime minister’s, and laughed off the alleged breach.

Iran has denied targeting Gantz. Gantz has said he had been informed by Israel’s domestic security service of a breach but there was no sensitive information on the device.

Alluding on Monday to his military exploits against Iranian threats while in uniform, Gantz directed a warning toward Tehran: “You know me, and not only from my cellphone.”

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

There have been no conversations about President Donald Trump issuing pardons for any of his associates who have been charged or pleaded guilty as part of the U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the White House said Monday.

There has been "no discussion that I'm aware of" regarding pardons, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. Fellow White House spokesman Hogan Gidley also told MSNBC in an interview that the White House has not had any conversations about such pardons.

Gidley said he did not know whether any lawyers for Trump's associates had approached the White House counsel about pardons.

Mueller's team finished up work on Friday and submitted its findings to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who issued a four-page summary on Sunday. Barr said the Special Counsel's Office had found no evidence of criminal collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia in the 2016 election but had left open the issue of whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice.

Still, Mueller's investigation led to charges and guilty pleas against dozens of people, including a series of Russian nationals and companies as well as several top Trump advisers, such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former adviser Roger Stone.

"We have a very rigorous process that relates to pardons," Gidley told MSNBC.

Source: NewsMax

  • Carter Page is speaking out for the first time in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that nobody on the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.
  • Page was Prime Suspect #1 in the government’s collusion investigation. He was a target of illegal government leaks to the media.
  • But Page said he was “not even slightly” worried he would face indictments by Mueller.

Carter Page insists he was never worried about being indicted in the special counsel’s probe, which ended on Sunday with more of a whimper than a bang.

“Not even slightly,” the former Trump campaign adviser insisted to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Sunday when asked if he ever expected to be charged in the investigation.

“That’s why I laughed at this stuff all along,” he said.

Page, 47, was at one point in time a major focus of the Russia investigation, which was led by special counsel Robert Mueller and played out in the media.

In a letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr said Mueller found no evidence that President Donald Trump, Trump associates or members of his campaign conspired with Russia to sow disinformation or release emails stolen from Democrats. (RELATED: Mueller Finds No Collusion)

The letter exonerates Trump. It also exonerates Page, who was a volunteer national security adviser for Trump’s team.

Page was one of four initial targets of that counterintelligence investigation, which was formally opened by the FBI on July 31, 2016. Dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation started with George Papadopoulos, another young Trump aide who joined the campaign at the same time as Page.

During the probe, Page faced perhaps the most intrusive media and government scrutiny other than Trump himself. He faced it all without the base of support enjoyed by Trump, or his financial means.

Page was placed under government surveillance, was targeted by at least one FBI informant, and was the subject of a series of leaks by government officials to the media. He was also the target of public ridicule, allegations that he was a Russian agent and the death threats that accompanied such an explosive charge. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cambridge Prof With CIA, MI6 Ties Met With Trump Campaign Adviser During Campaign, Beyond)

FBI Director Robert Mueller III testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Dec.14, 2011 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Page, a Naval Academy graduate, dispels the idea that he’s a victim.

He says Trump was the true target and that he was collateral damage.

Page has said he had interactions over the years with the FBI and CIA, largely because of his work in Moscow, where he worked as a consultant during the 2000s. He landed back on the U.S. government’s radar just after he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and other U.S. officials discussed Page after he joined Trump’s team. The FBI deployed a longtime informant, Stefan Halper, to make contact with Page in July 2016.

The pair met at an event held at Cambridge University on July 11-12, 2016 where the upcoming U.S. election was the topic of discussion. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in attendance, as was Sir Richard Dearlove, a former chief of MI6.

Halper, a colleague of Dearlove at Cambridge, approached Page at the conference, and the pair remained in contact through September 2017, the same month the FBI’s fourth and final Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant expired.

It is still unclear what information the FISA warrants and Halper recovered from Page. But Page’s absence on the roster of indictees in the Mueller investigation suggests they didn’t find much.

The FBI appears to have applied for the first FISA against Page in September 2016, around a month before obtaining the warrant on Oct. 21, 2016.

Applications that have been declassified and released show the Steele dossier was a major component of the investigation. Compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats, the dossier makes several serious allegations against Page, all of which he denies.

Steele claimed in his 35-page report that Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to conspire with the Russians. It was also Page’s idea to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee through WikiLeaks, Steele’s sources said.

The dossier also alleges that Page met with two sanctioned Kremlin insiders, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin, during a trip to Moscow he made just before his Cambridge visit. During an alleged conversation with Sechin, the dossier says that Page offered to lobby against Russian sanctions in exchange for a brokerage stake on a deal involving Rosneft, the Russian oil giant.

Steele, a former MI6 officer, shared those allegations with reporters, including Michael Isikoff at Yahoo! News. On Sept. 23, 2016, Isikoff published an article laying out the claims about Page. It would later be revealed that Isikoff was one of a handful of reporters who Steele met with at the behest of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump.

Republicans in Congress have investigated the FBI’s applications for the FISA warrants. They say that bureau officials withheld key evidence from FISA Court judges regarding the provenance of the Steele dossier, which remains unverified.

That investigation is expected to intensify now that Mueller has closed his investigation. Page is among those supporting the probe.

Page was also targeted with a series of damaging media leaks that he believes were tied to his decision to speak out publicly about the dossier’s allegations. His first television appearance was with PBS’s Judy Woodruff on Feb. 15, 2017, a month after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed.

Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson listens as his lawyer, Joshua Levy, speaks to members of the media following a meeting with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee in the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill on October 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson on Capitol Hill on Oct. 16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

On April 3, 2017, a story broke in BuzzFeed that Page was targeted for recruitment in 2013 by two Russian spies. Page was not accused of wrongdoing in the case. One of the Russian spies was recorded calling Page an “idiot.” Nevertheless, Page’s contacts with Russian operatives fit into the prevailing narrative that he had illicit ties to Russia. James Wolfe, a senior staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has since been identified as leaking information to BuzzFeed for the report. He pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with the BuzzFeed reporter, who he was dating at the time.

A bigger bombshell landed a week after the BuzzFeed report.

On April 11, 2017, The Washington Post broke the news that Page was the target of a FISA application. In order to be targeted with that type of surveillance, the FBI and Justice Department would have had to present probable cause that Page was working clandestinely as an agent of Russia.

The source for that leak of classified information has yet to be identified.

“I think it’s all interrelated, right?” Page said when asked whether the leaks were a response to his media appearances. “It’s all retribution.”

The Washington Post leak had its intended effect, Page argues.

The argument at the time was that if the FBI felt that Page was a Russian agent, then surely he must have been. That thesis has since come under scrutiny as it became clear the FBI relied heavily on the Democrat-funded dossier to meet that probable cause standard.

Even Halper, the FBI-CIA informant, hinted to Page that collusion was a non-starter.

“It seems attention has shifted a bit from the ‘collusion’ investigation to the ‘contretempts’ [sic] within the White House,” Halper wrote in a July 28, 2017 email to Page.

“I must assume this gives you some relief,” he continued, urging Page to “be in touch when you have the time. Would be great to catch up.”

Twenty-six months after its publication, none of the major allegations in the dossier have been verified. There is strong reason to doubt many of its claims.

Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer, has denied one of the dossier’s most serious collusion allegations under oath. On Feb. 27, he told Congress that he has never visited Prague, which is where the dossier claims Cohen visited in August 2016 to pay off Russia-linked hackers.

The dossier has other inaccurate information about Cohen. The source who provided information to Steele was also an intermediary for allegations about Page.

Page is vague when asked about his dealings with the FBI and the Mueller team. He has recently — albeit reluctantly — acknowledged he testified to Mueller’s grand jury on Nov. 1, 2017. He told TheDCNF that he was informed that he was not a target of the investigation.

“I was never even asked any question which comes anywhere near the zone of illegality. Not by a long shot,” he said.

He hinted he was informed during the course of the investigation that he was not a target. Federal prosecutors place individuals involved in investigations into three separate categories: witness, subject and target.

Page made an analogy to salsa: “mild, medium or hot.”

“I was the mildest of the mild,” he said.

Page concedes that if he has one regret, it’s not speaking out forcefully against allegations that began trickling into the press about him in the run-up to the 2016 election. He said if he had not been so easy-going in the face of allegations he was a Russian agent, he could have avoided further surveillance and media attention.

“If I had fought about the witch hunt earlier, all of this stuff wouldn’t have transpired,” he said, noting his relative obscurity made him an easy target for investigators, in the media and in government.

“It’s a lot easier to paint a picture on a blank slate,” he added.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Attorney General William Barr told Congress Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, destroying two years of media speculation and bad reporting.

The obsession to prove collusion has dampened the media’s journalistic abilities, leading to a seemingly endless list of corrections, retractions and apologies.

In light of Mueller concluding his investigation, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst media screwups in the history of Russia theories.

1. CNN Accuses Don Jr. Of Wikileaks Collusion

Last December, CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Wikileaks emailed Donald Trump Jr. to give him access to stolen documents a full 10 days before they were released to the public.

Unfortunately for CNN, it turns out their sources gave them the wrong date. Don Jr. actually received an email with access to the stolen docs on Sept. 14, 2016, after they had already been released publicly.

2. ABC Tanks Stock Market With Fake Flynn News

ABC was forced to suspend Brian Ross after he falsely reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians.

The stock market dropped a few hundred points at the news — but it turned out to be fake.

ABC clarified that Flynn was actually prepared to testify that Trump asked him to contact Russia while the administration was transitioning into office. Pretty standard preparation for an incoming president.

3. The Mooch Is NOT Under Investigation

CNN earns another spot on this list for their shoddy reporting about former Trump adviser Anthony, “The Mooch,” Scaramucci. In June, CNN relied on a single unnamed source to claim that Scaramucci was under investigation for a meeting he took with a Russian banker prior to Trump’s inauguration.

The Mooch denied the story and CNN later gave him a much-deserved apology. Oh … and three CNN employees resigned over the botched piece.

4. Bloomberg’s Dirty Deutsche Bank Scoop

Bloomberg initially reported in December that special counsel Robert Mueller had “zeroed in” on Trump by subpoenaing Deutsche Bank records for the incoming president and his family.

Bloomberg later admitted that Mueller was looking for records relating to “people affiliated” with Trump.

5. Sessions Exonerated

Last May, CNN was sure that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had botched protocol when he didn’t list meetings he had with the Russian ambassador on his security clearance forms. To CNN and other establishment media outlets, this was proof that Sessions was hiding something related to Russia.

A little over six months later, CNN quietly walked back the scandal, explaining the FBI sent emails informing Sessions’ aide that he did not need to disclose the meetings on his forms because they were carried out in the course of his duties as a senator.

6. Russians Aren’t Just Hacking The Election — They’re Hacking Our Power Grid

The Washington Post claimed in January 2017 that Russians were hacking the U.S. power grid through a company in Vermont, only to change the story to say that only one laptop was infiltrated. It turns out that one laptop was never even connected to the power grid.

7. Republicans Funded The Dossier! 

A number of news outlets have consistently claimed that Republicans initially paid for the anti-Trump Steele dossier, failing to note that Steele wasn’t even contracted by Fusion GPS until after the GOP donors pulled funding. The Republican donors say they paid Fusion for standard opposition research and that they have zero connection to the dossier.

The media has perpetuated this falsehood so consistently that even former FBI director James Comey was confused, repeating the lie in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier.

8. CNN Gets Comey Prediction Wildly Wrong

Prior to former FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony last June, CNN asserted that Comey was prepared to contradict a key claim by President Trump — that Comey told him he was not under investigation.

Sadly for them, Comey’s prepared testimony was released with the line, “During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower … I offered that assurance [that he was not under investigation].”

9. The ’17 Intel Agencies’ Lie

The media perpetuated a false claim from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for months, insisting that all 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The New York Times, for example, rated that claim as true only to later say the exact opposite.

Only four intelligence agencies ultimately deemed Russia responsible for meddling because the other 13 have no business making judgments on the claim. As The NYT succinctly explained, “The rest were doing other work.”

10. Manafort Notes Are A Nothing Burger

NBC botched its big scoop claiming that Paul Manafort’s notes from a meeting with a Russian lawyer included the word “donations” near a reference to the Republican National Committee.

Turns out, not only did the word “donations” not appear in Manafort’s notes, but the word “donor” didn’t, either. POLITICO had to correct the NBC report, leaving the legacy network looking awfully embarrassed.

11. NBC Issues Cohen Correction

NBC issued a major correction in May on a story about wiretaps and Michael Cohen.

NBC initially claimed that federal investigators were listening in on Cohen’s phone calls, but it turns out they had what’s called a “pen register warrant,” which means they could see who Cohen spoke to on the phone but could not hear what was said.(RELATED: MSNBC Issues HUGE Correction To Michael Cohen ‘Wiretap’ Story)

12. Did Cohen Go To Prague?

A McClatchy report stated that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence that Michael Cohen visited Prague in the summer of 2016, which seemed to corroborate the portion of the Steele dossier claiming Cohen visited Prague at that time to meet with a Kremlin official.

However, no other outlets ever confirmed the report and Cohen told Congress during an open hearing in February that he has never been to Prague. (RELATED: Here’s Why You Should Be Skeptical Of That Michael Cohen Prague Story)

13. Busted BuzzFeed 

The special counsel’s office disputed a 2019 report by BuzzFeed claiming that Trump directed his lawyer to lie about a potential business deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The BuzzFeed report was used to float impeachment proceedings and obstruction of justice charges against the president, but Mueller’s team disputed the core premise of the reporting.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

14. Lanny Davis Obliterates CNN’s Trump Tower Story

CNN reported in July that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president had knowledge in advance of a Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians.

ut Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in August that CNN’s reporting got “mixed up” and that Cohen had no information related to the Trump Tower meeting. Cohen said the same to Congress on two separate occasions.

CNN doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on its reporting, despite a series of issues with the report.

15. NPR Accuses Don Jr. Of Perjury

NPR published a report in November insisting that Donald Trump Jr. lied to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow because his statements conflicted with those of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

However, NPR failed to realize that the piece of Trump Jr.’s testimony they quoted was about a different project.

“Trump Jr.’s statements about work on a Trump Tower Moscow that ended in 2014 referred to negotiations with Aras Agalarov,” The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Chuck Ross explained. “Felix Sater, a businessman with links to Cohen and Russian officials, tried to make a Trump Tower Moscow happen in 2015.”

16. Mic Claims Russian Spy Infiltrated The Oval 

Shortly after it was revealed that a Russian spy was attempting to infiltrate right-wing networks, Mic writer Emily Singer claimed that same Russian spy was present during an Oval Office meeting with Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov.

Singer claimed Russian spy Maria Butina was spotted in a photo of the meeting, citing the fact that she has red hair like the woman in the photo.

The woman in the photo is actually NSC staffer Cari Lutkins. 

This story was originally published in May 2018 but has been updated with additional information regarding the delivery of Mueller’s report to Attorney General Bill Barr. 

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Samia Nakhoul

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights was manna from heaven for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an election.

For many Arabs, it crushed any hope that there will one day be a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts that Washington is an impartial arbiter.

But allies and enemies can agree on one thing: Trump’s statement last Thursday was a turning point in U.S. policy over territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in 1981, in a move the U.N. Security Council declared unlawful.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel when Trump made his announcement on Twitter, told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview.

Netanyahu, who has thanked Trump for the announcement, is seeking re-election on April 9 but faces a tough battle and possible indictment in three corruption cases in which he denies wrongdoing.

He was due to meet Trump on Monday on a trip highlighting what Netanyahu calls the strongest ever bond between an Israeli leader and a U.S. president, though Trump has said his decision on the Golan Heights was not connected with the election.

But Trump’s decision, following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, could tempt other powers to annex land, undermine the roll-out of a U.S. Middle East peace plan and tilt Israel back into conflict with its Arab neighbors, Middle East analysts say.

“Donald Trump has made sure that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades to come,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and author of the book Making the Arab World.

“What Trump has done is to hammer a deadly nail in the coffin of the peace process and Arab-Israeli reconciliation. This is a fundamental turning point. There is nothing left to discuss anymore.”

RESHAPING THE MIDDLE EAST

Trump’s move is, according to many analysts, partly intended to boost his own chances of re-election in 2020, by targeting the vast pool of U.S. evangelical Christians. Many of them voted for his in 2016 and they are championed in his administration by Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and others.

The announcement on the Golan Heights was the latest in a flurry of decisions that are widely seen as intended to redraw the contours of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Most have ticked the wish-list of Israel’s right-wing government and met longstanding demands of its U.S. supporters, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital. The Arab east of the city was occupied by Israel and then annexed after 1967 in a move that is legally repudiated internationally.

White House officials say the decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights acknowledge the reality on the ground, which they say must be the basis for legitimate peace negotiations.

Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said it was inconceivable Israel “would allow the Golan to be controlled by the state of Syria or by any of the rogue actors operating in the areas, including Iran.”

But with Sunni Arab leaders dealing with crises in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan and Qatar, and their standoff with non-Arab Shi’ite Iran, they are less focused on Israel.

 

ARABS IN DISARRAY

Trump’s aides have indicated privately that they believe his moves on Jerusalem have provoked a less severe reaction in the Arab world than experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

In particular, they did not appear to have blocked behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and the United States’ Gulf allies over their common enemy Iran, the person said.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was that Washington could again weather the storm, the same person said.

Support for the move in the Trump administration had gained momentum over the past year as Israel increasingly expressed concern about Iranian forces and their proxies taking up positions in southwestern Syria, the official said.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and one of the administration’s leading Iran hawks, was an important proponent of the policy shift, the official said.

But skeptics say the move will also give Iran and its local ally Hezbollah what they would see as justification for new attacks on Israel and hamstring anti-Iranian Arab leaders if they are seen to accept the U.S. move.

The Trump administration has identified Iran as its main target in the Middle East, and withdrew from the deal signed by Tehran, the United States and other world powers in 2015 on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

MORE TO COME

But after the moves on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Iran and Hezbollah may feel better able to present themselves as the only steadfast allies of the Palestinian cause.

They could also play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by helping him in his portrayals of Israel and the United States as enemies.

“This will give further power to the Iran axis of resistance between Iran-Hezbollah-Assad against Israel and the U.S.,” said Galip Dalay, visiting fellow at Oxford University and a fellow at Brookings Doha. “This axis has just been given a very strong symbolic victory and this will give them the high ground.”

He said Arab leaders could not publicly support Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights because it would threaten their popularity, in some cases already low.

“From the Arab standpoint, this makes them more hesitant to be supportive because the political space they need to maneuver has been eroded,” said Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East negotiator. “Each move by this administration has put Arab states on the defensive.”

Ross also suggested that U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could embolden the Israeli right-wing to step up its push for annexing settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“I worry that the right in Israel can say ‘they recognized this. It will be a matter of time before we can annex all or part of the West Bank’,” he said. “That would be the end of the two-state solution.”

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Samia Nakhoul

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights was manna from heaven for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an election.

For many Arabs, it crushed any hope that there will one day be a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts that Washington is an impartial arbiter.

But allies and enemies can agree on one thing: Trump’s statement last Thursday was a turning point in U.S. policy over territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in 1981, in a move the U.N. Security Council declared unlawful.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel when Trump made his announcement on Twitter, told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview.

Netanyahu, who has thanked Trump for the announcement, is seeking re-election on April 9 but faces a tough battle and possible indictment in three corruption cases in which he denies wrongdoing.

He was due to meet Trump on Monday on a trip highlighting what Netanyahu calls the strongest ever bond between an Israeli leader and a U.S. president, though Trump has said his decision on the Golan Heights was not connected with the election.

But Trump’s decision, following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, could tempt other powers to annex land, undermine the roll-out of a U.S. Middle East peace plan and tilt Israel back into conflict with its Arab neighbors, Middle East analysts say.

“Donald Trump has made sure that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades to come,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and author of the book Making the Arab World.

“What Trump has done is to hammer a deadly nail in the coffin of the peace process and Arab-Israeli reconciliation. This is a fundamental turning point. There is nothing left to discuss anymore.”

RESHAPING THE MIDDLE EAST

Trump’s move is, according to many analysts, partly intended to boost his own chances of re-election in 2020, by targeting the vast pool of U.S. evangelical Christians. Many of them voted for his in 2016 and they are championed in his administration by Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and others.

The announcement on the Golan Heights was the latest in a flurry of decisions that are widely seen as intended to redraw the contours of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Most have ticked the wish-list of Israel’s right-wing government and met longstanding demands of its U.S. supporters, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital. The Arab east of the city was occupied by Israel and then annexed after 1967 in a move that is legally repudiated internationally.

White House officials say the decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights acknowledge the reality on the ground, which they say must be the basis for legitimate peace negotiations.

Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said it was inconceivable Israel “would allow the Golan to be controlled by the state of Syria or by any of the rogue actors operating in the areas, including Iran.”

But with Sunni Arab leaders dealing with crises in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan and Qatar, and their standoff with non-Arab Shi’ite Iran, they are less focused on Israel.

 

ARABS IN DISARRAY

Trump’s aides have indicated privately that they believe his moves on Jerusalem have provoked a less severe reaction in the Arab world than experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

In particular, they did not appear to have blocked behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and the United States’ Gulf allies over their common enemy Iran, the person said.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was that Washington could again weather the storm, the same person said.

Support for the move in the Trump administration had gained momentum over the past year as Israel increasingly expressed concern about Iranian forces and their proxies taking up positions in southwestern Syria, the official said.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and one of the administration’s leading Iran hawks, was an important proponent of the policy shift, the official said.

But skeptics say the move will also give Iran and its local ally Hezbollah what they would see as justification for new attacks on Israel and hamstring anti-Iranian Arab leaders if they are seen to accept the U.S. move.

The Trump administration has identified Iran as its main target in the Middle East, and withdrew from the deal signed by Tehran, the United States and other world powers in 2015 on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

MORE TO COME

But after the moves on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Iran and Hezbollah may feel better able to present themselves as the only steadfast allies of the Palestinian cause.

They could also play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by helping him in his portrayals of Israel and the United States as enemies.

“This will give further power to the Iran axis of resistance between Iran-Hezbollah-Assad against Israel and the U.S.,” said Galip Dalay, visiting fellow at Oxford University and a fellow at Brookings Doha. “This axis has just been given a very strong symbolic victory and this will give them the high ground.”

He said Arab leaders could not publicly support Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights because it would threaten their popularity, in some cases already low.

“From the Arab standpoint, this makes them more hesitant to be supportive because the political space they need to maneuver has been eroded,” said Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East negotiator. “Each move by this administration has put Arab states on the defensive.”

Ross also suggested that U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could embolden the Israeli right-wing to step up its push for annexing settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“I worry that the right in Israel can say ‘they recognized this. It will be a matter of time before we can annex all or part of the West Bank’,” he said. “That would be the end of the two-state solution.”

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McClean, Virginia
U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McClean, Virginia, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 25, 2019

By Makini Brice and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Monday it was up to the U.S. Justice Department to decide if detailed findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation would be made public, a day after the attorney general said President Donald Trump had been cleared of any collusion.

Mueller wrapped up his investigation after nearly two years on Friday and submitted his findings to Attorney General William Barr, who on Sunday released a four-page summary saying there was no evidence of criminal collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. Mueller’s report left unresolved whether Trump obstructed justice.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Monday said President Vladimir Putin was ready to improve ties with the United States following the release of Barr’s summary and called on the United States to formally recognize there was no collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

Trump last week openly backed the public release of the report from the investigation, which he had repeatedly lambasted as a “witch hunt.”

The Barr summary handed Trump a political victory ahead of his 2020 re-election effort, even as Democratic challengers and lawmakers vowed to press on with other investigations into his business and personal dealings.

Democrats also called for the full findings from Mueller to be released to Congress and the public and vowed to call Barr to appear before lawmakers to answer questions.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that while Trump wanted the special counsel’s report to come out, it was not up to him.

“I think that the president is doing exactly what he should and that’s leaving that decision into the hands of the attorney general and we’ll see what decision he makes on that front,” Sanders said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program on Monday.

Sanders declined to comment on whether Trump would invoke presidential privilege to withhold any information. But Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said it “would be very inappropriate” to release the president’s written answers to the special counsel, saying they were confidential. Despite lengthy negotiations, Mueller never obtained an in-person interview with the president.

“As a lawyer, you don’t waive privileges and you don’t waive investigative detail absent either a court order or an agreement between the parties,” Sekulow told CNN in an interview, adding that Barr would make the final decision.

Trump embraced the summary’s findings, retweeting Barr’s assessment and related headlines news media despite years of decrying the “fake news” as #ReleaseTheFullMuellerReport trended nationwide on social media.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a on a conference call with reporters, called on Washington to make the first move to reset ties and repeated Moscow’s denial of any interference in U.S. elections and internal affairs or those of any other country.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said the allegations of election meddling against a number of Russians were politically motivated.

Mueller’s investigation led to charges and guilty please against dozens of people, including a series of Russian nationals and companies as well as several advisers to President Donald Trump, including this former campaign chairman and national security adviser.

(The story was refiled to add the dropped word “said” in the first paragraph)

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Makini Brice; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

The prevailing media narrative was that the Mueller report was going to damage President Donald Trump — but as the details began to roll out, many criticized the media as being hardest hit.

Attorney General William Barr delivered a summary of Mueller’s conclusions to Congress on Sunday, and the takeaway was that the special counsel had found no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice.

Many were quick to pile on, blaming media personalities for perpetuating a narrative that now appears to be based wholly on faulty premises.

Donald Trump Jr. jumped into the fray as well, taking direct aim at specific outlets and challenging “honest journalists” to hold them accountable. (RELATED: Trump Jr. Lays Into ‘Sick And Twisted Conspiracy Theories’ Of ‘Collusion Truthers’)

A few people then pointed out that the Washington Post and the New York Times won Pulitzers “for their supposed stellar reporting on Trump’s treasonous activity with Russia.”

Trump Jr. responded with a plan to make a quick correction. “They should convert those Pulitzer’s to #fakenews awards,” he said.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that there is compelling evidence that President Donald Trump colluded with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential election.

The accusation comes as special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation without charging any U.S. citizen with a collusion-related crime, though six Trump associates were charged for unrelated criminal offenses.

“There’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy,” Schiff told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I have trust in [Mueller’s] prosecutorial judgment,” Schiff added. “But that doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.”

Schiff listed several episodes as substantiating the collusion charge, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Kremlin-aligned lawyer, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s post-election conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and erstwhile Trump confidant Roger Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks.

The conduct underlying those widely reported episodes did not result in criminal indictments, though Flynn and Stone were charged with various process crimes. Mueller’s investigation, at Schiff’s urging, of Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince and Jared Kushner for lying to Congress also concluded without indictments. (RELATED: Tucker Calls For Roger Stone Pardon)

WATCH the interview:

Attorney General William Barr will deliver a top line summary of Mueller’s report to Congress on Sunday. It is not yet clear whether Congress or the public will have access to Mueller’s report in full. In a Friday letter to relevant committee chairmen, Barr said he would make decisions as to disclosure consistent with the law and DOJ practice.

“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible,” Barr wrote.

A related dispute as to executive privilege may follow. The White House may wish to shield portions of the report that relate to communications within the executive branch, among other subjects. Such a move is sure to draw fierce criticism from Democrats.

Whatever the particulars of the special counsel’s report, Schiff indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would continue its investigations, Mueller’s own conclusions notwithstanding.

“We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people,” Schiff said. “We in the Intelligence Committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence that the president may be compromised in any way, whether that is criminal or not.”

The House Judiciary Committee is separately undertaking its own wide-ranging investigation of the president.

Mueller submitted his final report to Justice Department leadership on Friday.

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Democrats are pressing for full disclosure of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation and vowing to use subpoena powers and other legal means if necessary to get it.

Attorney General William Barr was expected to release his first summary of Mueller's findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said, on what lawmakers anticipated could be a day of reckoning in the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Russian efforts to elect him. Since receiving the report Friday, Barr has been deciding how much of it Congress and the public will see.

Democrats are on a hair trigger over the prospect that some information may be withheld.

"I suspect that we'll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn't get this underlying evidence," Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on ABC's "This Week."

His plan: Ask for information and if that's denied, "subpoena. If subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information."

At his resort in Florida, Trump stirred from an unusual, nearly two-day silence on Twitter with the anodyne tweet Sunday morning: "Good Morning, Have a Great Day!" Then followed up: "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Democrats won't be willing to wait long for the Justice Department to hand over full information on the probe into whether Trump's 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later sought to obstruct the investigation.

"It won't be months," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Asked if he still believes Trump obstructed justice, he indicated there has been obstruction but "whether it's criminal is another question."

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversaw much of his work, analyzed the report on Saturday, laboring to condense it into a summary letter of main conclusions.

The Russia investigation has shadowed Trump for nearly two years and has ensnared his family and close advisers. And no matter the findings in Mueller's report, the probe already has illuminated Russia's assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

Barr has said he wants to release as much as he can under the law. That decision will require him to weigh the Justice Department's longstanding protocol of not releasing negative information about people who aren't indicted against the extraordinary public interest in a criminal investigation into the president and his campaign.

Democrats are citing the department's recent precedent of norm-breaking disclosures, including during the Clinton email investigation, to argue that they're entitled to Mueller's entire report and the underlying evidence he collected.

Even with the details still under wraps, Friday's end to the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump's orbit who had feared a final round of charges could target more Trump associates or members of the president's family.

The White House sought to keep its distance, saying Sunday it had not been briefed on the report. Trump, who has relentlessly criticized Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," went golfing Saturday and was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Not so one of his guests, musician Kid Rock, who posted a picture with the president and the tweet, "Another great day on the links!" He added: "What a great man, so down to earth and so fun to be with!!"

The conclusion of Mueller's investigation does not remove legal peril for the president.

He faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election. He's also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Trump asked him to arrange the transactions. Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president's inaugural committee.

As for Mueller, absent the report's details it was not known whether he concluded the campaign colluded with the Kremlin to tip the election in favor of the celebrity businessman. A Justice Department official did confirm that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments, meaning the investigation had ended without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy, or of obstruction of justice by the president.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the congressional judiciary committees, Barr noted on Friday that the department had not denied any request from Mueller, something Barr would have been required to disclose to ensure there was no political interference. Trump was never interviewed in person by Mueller's team, but submitted answers to questions in writing.

In a conference call Saturday about next steps, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a warning for his fellow Democrats, some of whom have pinned high political hopes on Mueller's findings: "Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters."

A number of Trump associates and family members have been dogged by speculation of possible wrongdoing. Among them are Donald Trump Jr., who helped arrange a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller's prosecutors.

All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.

Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, said Saturday that the case of former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Gates was a key cooperator in Mueller's probe and court papers show he continues to help with several other federal investigations.

Justice Department legal opinions have held that sitting presidents may not be indicted. But many Democrats say Trump should not be immune from a public accounting of his behavior. Though the department typically does not disclose negative information about people who are not indicted, officials have at times broken from that protocol.

Former FBI Director James Comey famously held a July 2016 news conference in which he criticized Clinton as "extremely careless" in her use of a private email server but said the FBI would not recommend charges. The Justice Department also took the extraordinary step of making available to lawmakers the details of a secret surveillance warrant obtained on a Trump campaign aide in the early days of the Russia probe.

Source: NewsMax

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

GOP Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is preparing to introduce a “Green Real Deal” resolution to contrast with Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, according to Politico.

Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her resolution on Feb. 7 and immediately faced criticism for its scope and potential cost, which reached toward tens of trillions of dollars. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Bungled Green new Deal’s Release. Her Staff Took Its Webpage Offline)

A draft of Gaetz’s resolution, obtained by Politico, recognizes risks to the U.S. from climate change, citing Department of Defense reports that identify certain military assets and bases as at risk to rising sea levels and increasing severe weather events, such as hurricanes.

“Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth,” the draft says.

Energy lobbyists have seemingly received copies of Gaetz’s resolution are beginning to line up behind it in support.

“Congressman Gaetz deserves to be applauded for taking the lead in crafting a bold resolution that identifies actionable climate solutions that will benefit America’s economy, environment, and national security,” Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, said in a statement.

Gaetz’s resolution pushes market-driven innovation and competition from companies developing green energy technology. It does not set any emission reduction goals.

The draft pledges “to reduce and modernize regulations so that clean energy technologies can be deployed, and compete.”

In contrast to the Green New Deal, the draft Green Real Deal resolution takes a positive view on nuclear energy. Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution did not mention the energy sector, causing some controversy among pro-nuclear energy experts.

Gaetz’s legislation takes a wide-ranging approach to cutting emissions through investing in fossil fuel carbon capture technology, new and updated nuclear and hydropower placements, making the power grid more efficient and granting energy companies improved access to public lands.

The resolution pledges to “empower individuals, states, and the marketplace” to develop and disseminate new technology that will cut the United States’ carbon emissions.

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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 23, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. law enforcement official could release as early as Saturday the main findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s confidential report on his 22-month-long inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.

Attorney General William Barr, who received the report from the former FBI director on Friday, told U.S. lawmakers he may be able to inform them of Mueller’s “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.” Under Justice Department regulations, Barr is empowered to decide how much to disclose publicly.

The big question is whether the report contains allegations of wrongdoing by Trump or exonerates him. Mueller investigated 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.

Mueller did not recommend any further indictments, a senior Justice Department official said, signaling there might be no more criminal charges against Trump associates arising from the investigation. Throughout his investigation, Mueller brought charges against 34 people and three companies, with prison sentences for some of Trump’s key former aides.

Lawmakers in both parties urged a quick release of the report, and Democrats in particular demanded that nothing be held back, saying they would issue subpoenas if necessary. Barr, who took office in February, was appointed by Trump after the president fired his predecessor Jeff Sessions in November.

“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Barr told lawmakers in a letter.

By handing over the long-awaited report to Barr, Mueller marked the end of his work, with his spokesman saying the 74-year-old special counsel would conclude his service in the coming days.

Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest. But he said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report.

Key Trump aides, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, national security adviser Michael Flynn and personal lawyer Michael Cohen, have already either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mueller.

None of those charges, however, directly related to the question of collusion between the campaign and Moscow. The Justice Department has a policy that sitting presidents cannot face criminal charges.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – the two top Democrats in Congress – said it was “imperative” the full report be made public, that Barr not give Trump and his team a “sneak preview” of the findings and that the White House not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts are made public.

They said the 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 White House has not received or been briefed on the report, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, adding that “we look forward to the process taking its course.”

‘OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, said, “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.”

Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican and a strong ally of the president, expressed confidence the report would not find collusion with Russia.

“The reports that there will be no new indictments confirm what we’ve known all along: there was never any collusion with Russia. The only collusion was between Democrats and many in the media who peddled this lie because they continue to refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election,” Scalise said.

Even if the Mueller report exonerates Trump, that may not spell the end to his legal troubles. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations in a case overseen by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who said in court filings that Cohen carried out the crimes at the direction of Trump.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is also looking at the spending of Trump’s inaugural committee and business practices at the Trump Organization, the family’s company.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.

A small number of House Democrats have pushed for Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office but the party’s leadership including Pelosi has urged caution. No president has every been removed from office via impeachment.

Several House committees in the meantime are conducting aggressive investigations of Trump and people around him.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Eric Beech, Makini Brice, Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell and Steve Holland in Washington, Nathan Layne in New York and Roberta Rampton in Florida; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

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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

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

Follow Jason on Twitter

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

A man stands outside the Bandes bank headquarters in Caracas
A man stands outside the Bandes bank headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

March 22, 2019

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s development bank, Bandes, a day after the Trump administration warned there would be consequences for the arrest by Venezuelan authorities of opposition leader Juan Guaido’s top aide.

The U.S. Treasury said on Friday it was slapping the sanctions on Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, including its subsidiaries in Uruguay and Bolivia.

Congress head Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, has accused Bandes of being used by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to funnel money outside Venezuela.

The White House said in a statement it was committed to preventing Maduro’s government from stealing Venezuela’s resources and from arresting those pushing for political change.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, was detained in a pre-dawn raid on Thursday, sparking vows of reprisals from the United States, which along with most Western countries backs Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

“The United States will not tolerate the arrest of peaceful democratic actors, including members of the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly and those Venezuelans working with interim President Juan Guaido,” the White House said in a statement.

The U.S. Treasury said Maduro tried to move $1 billion out of Venezuela through Banco Bandes Uruguay in early 2019 as he came under increasing pressure from the United States and other countries in the region to step down.

Bandes has received billions of dollars over the past decade from the China Development Bank, in exchange for oil, which the Venezuelan government used to fund infrastructure projects.

Uruguay has stayed neutral on Venezuela’s political crisis and has called for dialogue, while China, Russia and regional ally Cuba have backed Maduro.

But the sanctions on Bandes could test Beijing’s ties with Caracas, since it would impede Venezuela from restructuring its $20 billion debt with China, opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado said on Friday.

“That makes it even less likely that China will step in to save Maduro,” Alvarado wrote on Twitter. Guaido and his allies have repeatedly argued that China and Russia are more likely to collect on their loans to Venezuela with Maduro out of office.

The sanctions freeze assets belonging to the bank and its subsidiaries, and prevent U.S. citizens from any dealings with Bandes. They follow a raft of other sanctions imposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump in recent months against Maduro, top government officials, and state oil firm PDVSA.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton tweeted: “BANDES bank is to Venezuela’s financial sector what PDVSA is to its oil sector. This action will severely affect any attempted currency movements by Maduro and his cronies moving forward. Do not test the resolve of this Administration.”

Maduro’s government accuses Washington of waging a “economic war” to force them from power and has said that the sanctions only harm regular Venezuelans.

The United States also on Friday imposed sanctions on other state-owned Venezuelan banks, including Banco de Venezuela and Banco Bicentenario. It said that Visa, Mastercard and American Express would be prohibited from facilitating transactions involving those banks, beginning in March 2020.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, additional reporting by Angus Berwick and Luc Cohen in Caracas, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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

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

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: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

March 22, 2019

By Foo Yun Chee and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will next week urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks but will ignore U.S. calls to ban Huawei Technologies, four people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries.

The United States has lobbied Europe to shut out Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue.

Ansip will tell EU countries to use tools set out under the EU directive on security of network and information systems, or NIS directive, adopted in 2016 and the recently approved Cybersecurity Act, the people said.

For example, member states should exchange information and coordinate on impact assessment studies on security risks and on certification for internet-connected devices and 5G equipment.

The Commission will not call for a European ban on global market leader Huawei, leaving it to EU countries to decide on national security grounds.

“It is a recommendation to enhance exchanges on the security assessment of digital critical infrastructure,” one of the sources said.

The Commission said the recommendation would stress a common EU approach to security risks to 5G networks.

The EU executive’s guidance marks a tougher stance on Chinese investment after years of almost unfettered European openness to China, which controls 70 percent of the global supply of the critical raw materials needed to make high-tech goods.

The measures, if taken on board, will be part of what French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday was a “European awakening” about potential Chinese dominance, after EU leaders held a first-ever discussion about China policy at a summit.

Germany this month set tougher criteria for all telecoms equipment vendors, without singling out Huawei and ignoring U.S. pressure.

Big telecoms operators oppose a Huawei ban, saying such a move could set back 5G deployment in the bloc by years. In contrast, Australia and New Zealand have stopped operators using Huawei equipment in their networks.

The industry sees 5G as the next money spinner, with its promise to link up everything from vehicles to household devices.

Alongside from the Huawei issue, the bloc also plans to discuss Chinese subsidies, state involvement in the Chinese economy and more access to the Chinese market at an EU-China summit on April 9.

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

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends CDU party meeting in Potsdam
FILE PHOTO: CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends meeting of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Potsdam, Germany, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt -/File Photo

March 22, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s credibility with its NATO partners is at stake unless lawmakers commit to increase military spending, German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Friday, as divisions widen within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

Merkel’s cabinet approved a budget plan on Wednesday that would boost defense spending to 45.1 billion euros, or 1.37 percent of gross domestic product, in 2020, but allow that percentage to drop in subsequent years.

The plan, which must be finalised by parliament, drew sharp criticism this week from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who questioned Germany’s commitment to meeting the target for NATO members to spend 2 percent of GDP on the military.

The defense spending row has added to tensions within a coalition government already at odds over tax rates, social spending and an embargo on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Kramp-Karrenbauer told Der Spiegel magazine that Germany needed to live up to its commitments and called on lawmakers to “correct” the four-year budget plan prepared by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat.

Merkel said on Thursday that Germany will meet an undertaking to NATO allies to spend 1.5 percent of economic output on defense by 2024.

A separate push by Scholz’s Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, to extend an embargo on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia by six months has meanwhile strained ties with Britain.

The embargo is holding up London’s efforts to finalize a 10 billion pound sale of Eurofighter combat jets to Riyadh. German components account for about a third of the jet’s content.

France has also warned it will not proceed with several large Franco-German weapons development programs unless Germany agrees to a binding accord that would allow the countries to block each other’s future exports only when “direct interests or national security are compromised”.

“If you want a European security and defense policy, then you have to agree on European rules — and they will not be as strict as the German ones,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told Der Spiegel.

Matthias Wachter, defense expert at the BDI Federation of German Industry, said extending the Saudi arms embargo created uncertainty for German companies, who face a growing risk of contractual penalties for not shipping arms ordered by Riyadh.

“Companies have to evaluate legal options, since they might be liable to their shareholders by law,” he said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

The International Criminal Court building is seen in The Hague
FILE PHOTO: The International Criminal Court building is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

March 22, 2019

GENEVA (Reuters) – United Nations human rights experts called on the United States on Friday to stop its “threats” and visa bans against the International Criminal Court (ICC), which they rejected as “improper interference”.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a week ago that the United States will withdraw or deny visas to any ICC personnel investigating possible war crimes by U.S. forces or allies in Afghanistan. The visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, he said.

The Hague-based court has responded that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue to do its work “undeterred” by Washington’s actions.

In a joint statement, U.N. experts rejected the warnings of measures by Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton last September.

“These threats constitute improper interference with the independence of the ICC and could hinder the ability of ICC judges, prosecutors, and staff to carry out their professional duties,” the statement said.

“We are particularly concerned in light of recent reports of senior ICC staff resigning from their positions as a consequence of these threats,” it said.

The U.S. mission in Geneva had no immediate comment on the statement.

The United States did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the ICC in 2002. U.S. President Barack Obama took some steps to cooperate with it.

The U.N. experts, Diego Garcia-Sayan, special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Michael Forst, special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said that were in touch with U.S. authorities on the issues.

Activist groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), welcomed the experts’ “condemnation”.

“The purpose of the visa restrictions is to block and deter legitimate criminal investigation into serious crimes under international law,” they said.

“Not only might they have a chilling effect on ICC personnel and others advocating for accountability, but they will set a dangerous precedent with serious implications on the overall fight for impunity,” said the ACLU, International Commission of Jurists and International Service for Human Rights.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

No matter how loudly Democrats deny it, the national security crisis on our southern border isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Just recently, several dozen Central American migrants tried to rush an international port of entry near Laredo, Texas — a move that forced U.S. authorities to shut down an entire bridge tp vehicle traffic for several hours.

The migrants occupied the vehicle lane and attempted to breach the border, apparently in hopes of claiming asylum, but were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents who erected a temporary barrier across the bridge, highlighting the exact reason President Trump found it necessary to take executive action in order to fund the border wall.

The president’s most important duty is to protect and defend American citizens, but obstructionist Democrats in Congress have refused to provide the resources he needs to do so, leaving President Trump with no other option than to use his statutory authority to reallocate various funding necessary to construct a barrier on our border.

Though some of us have objected for years to bills that do not have enough specificity, the trouble is that Congresses have passed and recent presidents have signed into law various spending bills with a significant amount of discretion on how those dollars are spent. Presidents really have had a great deal of leeway in how dollars are spent. Another bill Congress passed back in the 1970’s with far too much discretion for the president was the National Emergency Act.

President Clinton used the National Emergency Act in aid of U.S. involvement in Bosnia. Now the Democrats get upset because the National Emergency Act is used to protect our OWN borders instead of those of foreign countries. Is that political hypocrisy, or just very poor judgment? Sometimes it is difficult to tell.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 22,000 minor children crossed our southern border illegally in December alone, with 25 percent of them unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. In February, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border hit an 11-year high, as Border Patrol agents interdicted more than 76,000 illegal immigrants.

While Congress played games and allowed the partial government shutdown to drag on for over a month, they ignored the fact that in 2017, more Americans died from illegal drugs — most of which are smuggled in through the southern border — than were killed during all the years of the entire Vietnam War.

More than 48,000 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses alone in 2017, the same year that U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 900 pounds of heroin from smugglers trying to cross the border.

Meanwhile, thousands of the illegal immigrants currently incarcerated by ICE have been convicted of violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder.

Despite these very real threats to our country, though, the U.S. House of Representatives has now passed legislation to overturn the President’s emergency declaration, and now the Senate seems poised to force him into issuing his first-ever veto.

The concerns expressed by some conservatives about expanding executive power sound genuine, but they’re also misplaced. The problem is not how President Trump is using his power to protect our sovereignty, but that Congress ever gave that much power to Presidents to begin with. President Obama vastly exceeded the powers he was given, as he himself even noted before creating the DACA program without ever passing a law. That was unlike President Trump’s emergency declaration because the Obama actions had absolutely no grounding in laws previously passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, open-borders Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent President Trump from protecting our country’s border as he attempts to seize control back from the drug cartels. The most discerning Americans are beginning to recoil from the radical obstructionist efforts by Democrats who seem to care less about their own constituents than they do about the border crisis.

Even suburban women, who are widely credited with helping Democrats secure their House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, are becoming increasingly supportive of the President’s actions. It is ironic that the most compassionate, caring action the U.S. could take to help those in Mexico and Central America would be to completely secure our southern border cutting off the tens of billions of dollars that flow across to the drug cartels every year. Securing our southern borders means ending the reign of terror by the cartels against our southern neighbors, which would allow them to develop thoroughly vibrant economies.

According to a new Zogby Analytics poll, the president’s recent executive actions to fund construction of the border wall are even more popular among suburban women than they are among likely voters in the broader population. A plurality of suburban women — 45 percent — support President Trump’s executive actions, and 50 percent back his decision to declare a state of emergency.

Keeping America safe shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the Democrat Party has embraced a radical, open-borders agenda that is anathema to most Americans.

The threats and harm that are created by our porous southern border should be precisely the type of issue that brings all Americans together. After all, most Democrats in Congress have previously supported much of what our president is trying to do to secure our border. Unfortunately, too many Democrats are letting their President Trump Derangement Syndrome keep them from doing what is best for our nation’s people.

Louie Gohmert has represented Texas as a Republican in the House of Representatives since 2005.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

No matter how loudly Democrats deny it, the national security crisis on our southern border isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Just recently, several dozen Central American migrants tried to rush an international port of entry near Laredo, Texas — a move that forced U.S. authorities to shut down an entire bridge tp vehicle traffic for several hours.

The migrants occupied the vehicle lane and attempted to breach the border, apparently in hopes of claiming asylum, but were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents who erected a temporary barrier across the bridge, highlighting the exact reason President Trump found it necessary to take executive action in order to fund the border wall.

The president’s most important duty is to protect and defend American citizens, but obstructionist Democrats in Congress have refused to provide the resources he needs to do so, leaving President Trump with no other option than to use his statutory authority to reallocate various funding necessary to construct a barrier on our border.

Though some of us have objected for years to bills that do not have enough specificity, the trouble is that Congresses have passed and recent presidents have signed into law various spending bills with a significant amount of discretion on how those dollars are spent. Presidents really have had a great deal of leeway in how dollars are spent. Another bill Congress passed back in the 1970’s with far too much discretion for the president was the National Emergency Act.

President Clinton used the National Emergency Act in aid of U.S. involvement in Bosnia. Now the Democrats get upset because the National Emergency Act is used to protect our OWN borders instead of those of foreign countries. Is that political hypocrisy, or just very poor judgment? Sometimes it is difficult to tell.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 22,000 minor children crossed our southern border illegally in December alone, with 25 percent of them unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. In February, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border hit an 11-year high, as Border Patrol agents interdicted more than 76,000 illegal immigrants.

While Congress played games and allowed the partial government shutdown to drag on for over a month, they ignored the fact that in 2017, more Americans died from illegal drugs — most of which are smuggled in through the southern border — than were killed during all the years of the entire Vietnam War.

More than 48,000 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses alone in 2017, the same year that U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 900 pounds of heroin from smugglers trying to cross the border.

Meanwhile, thousands of the illegal immigrants currently incarcerated by ICE have been convicted of violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder.

Despite these very real threats to our country, though, the U.S. House of Representatives has now passed legislation to overturn the President’s emergency declaration, and now the Senate seems poised to force him into issuing his first-ever veto.

The concerns expressed by some conservatives about expanding executive power sound genuine, but they’re also misplaced. The problem is not how President Trump is using his power to protect our sovereignty, but that Congress ever gave that much power to Presidents to begin with. President Obama vastly exceeded the powers he was given, as he himself even noted before creating the DACA program without ever passing a law. That was unlike President Trump’s emergency declaration because the Obama actions had absolutely no grounding in laws previously passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, open-borders Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent President Trump from protecting our country’s border as he attempts to seize control back from the drug cartels. The most discerning Americans are beginning to recoil from the radical obstructionist efforts by Democrats who seem to care less about their own constituents than they do about the border crisis.

Even suburban women, who are widely credited with helping Democrats secure their House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, are becoming increasingly supportive of the President’s actions. It is ironic that the most compassionate, caring action the U.S. could take to help those in Mexico and Central America would be to completely secure our southern border cutting off the tens of billions of dollars that flow across to the drug cartels every year. Securing our southern borders means ending the reign of terror by the cartels against our southern neighbors, which would allow them to develop thoroughly vibrant economies.

According to a new Zogby Analytics poll, the president’s recent executive actions to fund construction of the border wall are even more popular among suburban women than they are among likely voters in the broader population. A plurality of suburban women — 45 percent — support President Trump’s executive actions, and 50 percent back his decision to declare a state of emergency.

Keeping America safe shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the Democrat Party has embraced a radical, open-borders agenda that is anathema to most Americans.

The threats and harm that are created by our porous southern border should be precisely the type of issue that brings all Americans together. After all, most Democrats in Congress have previously supported much of what our president is trying to do to secure our border. Unfortunately, too many Democrats are letting their President Trump Derangement Syndrome keep them from doing what is best for our nation’s people.

Louie Gohmert has represented Texas as a Republican in the House of Representatives since 2005.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 22, 2019

By Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering.

Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets that have led to bombshell charges against several of President Donald Trump’s aides, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer, who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.

To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure.

One common restriction in SCIFs is to keep out smartphones and other electronic devices, which can be turned into covert listening devices or spy cameras. Visitors were also required to turn these over before entering.

The restrictions, while not surprising given the team was investigating whether a hostile foreign power tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and whether his campaign conspired in the effort, have not been previously reported.

Accounts of witnesses interviewed by the special counsel’s team, their lawyers and others familiar with the investigation reveal the lengths to which Mueller, a former FBI director, went to ensure his high-profile probe safeguarded its secrets.

In a city known for its leaks, Mueller pulled off a rare feat. He kept a tight lid on both his office and the evidence he was amassing in his highly sensitive investigation that has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency. And he did it even as Trump relentlessly criticized him, calling the probe a “witch hunt” and the special counsel’s team “thugs.”

THE ADVISER AND THE DODGE CHARGER

When former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo agreed to an interview with Mueller in May 2018, he was told he would be picked up at the hotel where he was staying in Washington. On the lookout for a black government SUV, Caputo and his lawyer were surprised when an FBI agent drove up in his personal car, a white Dodge Charger.

    “Then he drove us 15 blocks to their location and we went in through the garage so that nobody would see,” Caputo said in an interview.

Caputo was questioned about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Manafort’s aide Rick Gates and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. When the interview was over, Mueller’s team told him they would take him back to his hotel. Caputo said Mueller’s team was not happy with what he said next.

     “I said I’m meeting a TV crew downstairs so I won’t need a ride,” Caputo said. “They weren’t upset that I was talking to the media, they were disturbed that I was doing it in (front of) the office.”

“They were concerned … that would put their agents and attorneys at risk,” Caputo said, adding that he agreed to meet the news crew at a different location nearby.

Former Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said an FBI agent picked him up at the train station to take him to the office.

“You put your phone and any electronic devices and leave them in a compartment out front,” Nunberg added. “It was a very plain office.”

Nunberg said he went into a conference room with three tables, and prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, a member of Mueller’s team, came in with three FBI agents, one female and two males.

    The office’s location was not publicly revealed but was discovered by journalists. Still, it has not been widely publicized. Mueller’s team has asked media outlets not to publish the exact location for security purposes.

“We are working in a secure location in Southwest DC,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, has said.

STAYING OUT OF THE NEWS

“In a town where everybody and their mother is trying to get on the front page, Bob Mueller was always trying to stay out of the news,” said Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman. “He wanted to be judged on actions, not press conferences.”

Corallo, who was briefly a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in February 2018.

Corallo and other witnesses summoned for interviews by Mueller’s team said they were picked up from their lawyers’ offices and taken to a secure parking garage in the building in southwest Washington.

The team’s office suite was anonymous with no plaque on the door to identify its occupants, said Washington lawyer A. Joseph Jay, who represented a witness he declined to identify.

More than once, Jay recalled, members of Mueller’s team expressed their commitment to confidentiality. “They made it clear on a number of occasions, ‘We don’t leak. You don’t have to worry about that with us.’”

“By keeping to their code of silence, they were professionals,” Jay said. “They weren’t reacting to the spin. They were doing their jobs. They spoke through a number of indictments. They spoke through a number of sentencing memos.”

Mueller has remained silent throughout the investigation and his office has issued only one statement. In that statement, issued this past January, spokesman Carr labeled as “not accurate” a BuzzFeed News account describing evidence collected by the special counsel that allegedly showed that Trump had directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. BuzzFeed has stood by its story.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor, also remarked on Mueller staying out of sight.

“Whenever we talk to them, they say, ‘We’ll take it to Bob.’ He’s like the Wizard of Oz,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said although he was suspicious of leaks to the news media, he acknowledged he knew of none for sure from the special counsel’s team and that nothing he told Mueller’s office was leaked.

“Mueller doesn’t talk to us. I don’t know why he’d talk to the press,” the former New York mayor added.

Joseph Campbell, a former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division who worked at the agency when Mueller headed it, said the special counsel knows how to handle sensitive investigations and ignores the attacks on him.

“He went through 12 years starting with 9/11 of extremely critical and sensitive investigations around the world,” said Campbell, referring to the 2001 attacks on the United States. “This is right in his wheelhouse.”

“He is not affected by external criticism or speculation,” Campbell added.

Robert Litt, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said any leaks about the investigation appeared to have come from witnesses or their lawyers.

“There’s nothing he can do about that,” Litt said, referring to Mueller.

Litt said Mueller, the 74-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps officer and architect of the modern FBI, probably “cares little about the public perception of him.”

“He cares,” Litt said, “about doing the job right.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham and Ross Colvin)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

By Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering.

Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets that have led to bombshell charges against several of President Donald Trump’s aides, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer, who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.

To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure.

One common restriction in SCIFs is to keep out smartphones and other electronic devices, which can be turned into covert listening devices or spy cameras. Visitors were also required to turn these over before entering.

The restrictions, while not surprising given the team was investigating whether a hostile foreign power tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and whether his campaign conspired in the effort, have not been previously reported.

Accounts of witnesses interviewed by the special counsel’s team, their lawyers and others familiar with the investigation reveal the lengths to which Mueller, a former FBI director, went to ensure his high-profile probe safeguarded its secrets.

In a city known for its leaks, Mueller pulled off a rare feat. He kept a tight lid on both his office and the evidence he was amassing in his highly sensitive investigation that has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency. And he did it even as Trump relentlessly criticized him, calling the probe a “witch hunt” and the special counsel’s team “thugs.”

THE ADVISER AND THE DODGE CHARGER

When former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo agreed to an interview with Mueller in May 2018, he was told he would be picked up at the hotel where he was staying in Washington. On the lookout for a black government SUV, Caputo and his lawyer were surprised when an FBI agent drove up in his personal car, a white Dodge Charger.

    “Then he drove us 15 blocks to their location and we went in through the garage so that nobody would see,” Caputo said in an interview.

Caputo was questioned about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Manafort’s aide Rick Gates and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. When the interview was over, Mueller’s team told him they would take him back to his hotel. Caputo said Mueller’s team was not happy with what he said next.

     “I said I’m meeting a TV crew downstairs so I won’t need a ride,” Caputo said. “They weren’t upset that I was talking to the media, they were disturbed that I was doing it in (front of) the office.”

“They were concerned … that would put their agents and attorneys at risk,” Caputo said, adding that he agreed to meet the news crew at a different location nearby.

Former Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said an FBI agent picked him up at the train station to take him to the office.

“You put your phone and any electronic devices and leave them in a compartment out front,” Nunberg added. “It was a very plain office.”

Nunberg said he went into a conference room with three tables, and prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, a member of Mueller’s team, came in with three FBI agents, one female and two males.

    The office’s location was not publicly revealed but was discovered by journalists. Still, it has not been widely publicized. Mueller’s team has asked media outlets not to publish the exact location for security purposes.

“We are working in a secure location in Southwest DC,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, has said.

STAYING OUT OF THE NEWS

“In a town where everybody and their mother is trying to get on the front page, Bob Mueller was always trying to stay out of the news,” said Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman. “He wanted to be judged on actions, not press conferences.”

Corallo, who was briefly a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in February 2018.

Corallo and other witnesses summoned for interviews by Mueller’s team said they were picked up from their lawyers’ offices and taken to a secure parking garage in the building in southwest Washington.

The team’s office suite was anonymous with no plaque on the door to identify its occupants, said Washington lawyer A. Joseph Jay, who represented a witness he declined to identify.

More than once, Jay recalled, members of Mueller’s team expressed their commitment to confidentiality. “They made it clear on a number of occasions, ‘We don’t leak. You don’t have to worry about that with us.’”

“By keeping to their code of silence, they were professionals,” Jay said. “They weren’t reacting to the spin. They were doing their jobs. They spoke through a number of indictments. They spoke through a number of sentencing memos.”

Mueller has remained silent throughout the investigation and his office has issued only one statement. In that statement, issued this past January, spokesman Carr labeled as “not accurate” a BuzzFeed News account describing evidence collected by the special counsel that allegedly showed that Trump had directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. BuzzFeed has stood by its story.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor, also remarked on Mueller staying out of sight.

“Whenever we talk to them, they say, ‘We’ll take it to Bob.’ He’s like the Wizard of Oz,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said although he was suspicious of leaks to the news media, he acknowledged he knew of none for sure from the special counsel’s team and that nothing he told Mueller’s office was leaked.

“Mueller doesn’t talk to us. I don’t know why he’d talk to the press,” the former New York mayor added.

Joseph Campbell, a former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division who worked at the agency when Mueller headed it, said the special counsel knows how to handle sensitive investigations and ignores the attacks on him.

“He went through 12 years starting with 9/11 of extremely critical and sensitive investigations around the world,” said Campbell, referring to the 2001 attacks on the United States. “This is right in his wheelhouse.”

“He is not affected by external criticism or speculation,” Campbell added.

Robert Litt, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said any leaks about the investigation appeared to have come from witnesses or their lawyers.

“There’s nothing he can do about that,” Litt said, referring to Mueller.

Litt said Mueller, the 74-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps officer and architect of the modern FBI, probably “cares little about the public perception of him.”

“He cares,” Litt said, “about doing the job right.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham and Ross Colvin)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg
FILE PHOTO: U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo

March 22, 2019

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Istanbul chief prosecutor said on Friday it had ordered the detention of 126 suspects employed in the judicial system with alleged links to the network of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who Turkey says orchestrated a July 2016 coup attempt.

About 250 people were killed in the failed putsch, in which Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has denied involvement. Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Turkey says that along with its military and state institutions, its judiciary was infiltrated by members of Gulen’s network. Since the coup, thousands of prosecutors and judges have been dismissed.

The prosecutor’s office said the suspects had lived in houses where the network trained individuals for work in the judicial system. The network then sought to place those who passed the exam in the judicial system as prosecutors or judges, while the rest became part of the network’s lawyer organization.

Of the 126 suspects, 108 were lawyers on active duty, eight were judge or prosecutor candidates who were previously removed from their positions and one was a judge or prosecutor candidate on active duty, the prosecutor’s office said.

Addresses of 12 of the suspects could not be determined or records showed they had left the country, it said, adding that operations spread over 37 provinces to detain the remaining 114 people were continuing.

In a separate operation on Friday, Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the detention of 18 suspects accused of links to Gulen who were working as engineers for the defense industry company Havelsan.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the coup and widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, with Erdogan’s critics accusing him of using the putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkish authorities say the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Mert Ozkan, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

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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

James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

Follow Chuck on Twitter

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

James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

Follow Chuck on Twitter

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

Imported automobiles are parked in a lot at the port of Newark New Jersey
Imported automobiles are parked in a lot at the port of Newark New Jersey, U.S., February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A conservative group has sued the U.S. government for access to a report on whether auto imports pose a big enough security risk to justify hefty tariffs on the sector, part of a growing chorus demanding a copy of the document.

Cause of Action Institute (CoA), a watchdog aligned with the conservative political activists David and Charles Koch, asked the District of Columbia Federal Court on Wednesday to require the Commerce department to hand over a copy of the report, which could unleash tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts.

Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted the so-called “Section 232” national security report to President Donald Trump, starting a 90-day countdown for him to decide whether to impose the tariffs on millions of imports.

The Commerce department declined to comment.

The industry has warned that tariffs could add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses throughout the U.S. economy.

The Commerce Department started its investigation in May 2018 at Trump’s request. Known as a Section 232 investigation, its purpose was to determine the effects of imports on national security. It had to be completed by February.

In the suit, CoA alleged the Commerce Department has missed deadlines to respond to Freedom of Information Act Requests it filed for the report on Feb. 18, a day after the report was sent to the White House.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has also sought a copy of the report without success, Politico reported.

Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Additional Reporting by David Shepardson and David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner suggested the late Sen. John McCain wouldn’t have turned the Trump Dossier over to the FBI had he known it was Democrat-funded during a Thursday interview on CNN.

“Christopher Steele said the dossier was being given to McCain for the purposes of legitimizing it,” Turner began. (RELATED: Lou Dobbs Defends Trump Against GOP Critics Over McCain Comments)

He continued:

My expectation is that if John McCain had known this information was Democratic-Party-funded — Hillary-Clinton-funded information — that it had not been verified as Christopher Steele has testified now — he probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with it. That’s largely on the minds of people as we hear the president doing these attacks, I think John McCain is a national hero.

I worked with him on national security issues. I cannot believe if he had not been deceived and had been told this information was being paid for by Hillary Clinton, that Christopher Steele himself was being paid for by Hillary Clinton he would have had nothing to do with it.

President Donald Trump spent five minutes during his Wednesday rally in Ohio criticizing McCain and reiterated his statement that he wasn’t thanked for the late Arizona senator’s funeral.

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump said in a Tank factory. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.”

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson called the president’s behavior regarding McCain “deplorable.”

“It’s deplorable what he said, it will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again,” he continued. “We don’t talk about our veterans in any way but to brag on them for the service they render.”

The sentiment was echoed by Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter. “Today and every day, I miss my good friend John McCain. It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate.”

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen before a family photo during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

March 21, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may meet President Donald Trump in the United States in late April for talks on North Korea and Japan-U.S. trade, two government officials and Japanese media said on Thursday.

The meeting was requested by the Japanese side and arrangements were being made for the end of April, the Asahi Shimbun daily said, without giving a specific date.

Two government officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that planning for Abe’s visit was underway.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said an overseas trip by Abe had not been decided.

The talks would likely focus on North Korea after Trump’s failed meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February, against a backdrop of Tokyo’s concern that is being sidelined in those negotiations, the Asahi Shimbun said.

Japan’s cabinet is expected to vote next month on extending unilateral sanctions against North Korea by two years, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday.

Japan-U.S. trade is also expected to be on the agenda.

Trump has prodded Japanese automakers to add more jobs in the United States as the White House has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported vehicles, on the grounds of national security.

Japanese officials have repeatedly said that Abe and Trump agreed last year that Washington would not impose auto tariffs as long as bilateral trade talks are going on.

The Asahi Shimbun said discussions are also being held on a separate meeting in April between Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Shoshana Bryen | Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center

There is a difference between an “honest broker” and a “neutral arbiter.” In advance of the rollout of its Middle East peace plan, the Trump administration has taken a series of steps to ensure its role as the honest broker. The U.S. is not “neutral” between our ally, Israel, and the Palestinians who seek to replace it. But it won’t be easy to change presumptions that are deeply embedded in the process.

The State Department’s annual survey of human rights released this month referred to the Golan Heights simply as “Israeli-controlled territory,” ending its tradition of referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “occupied territory.”

To the community of Washington professionals wedded to the “peace process,” that was an outrage! “Poof,” said one prominent commentator. “With a word change, Israel no longer occupies territory, they now control it. The strategic objective of this administration is to change U.S. policy on refugees; Jerusalem; territory. And they’re doing it.”

But the State Department is correct. The West Bank and Gaza are the remains of the British Mandate — in legal limbo since the Jordanians occupied it in 1948. The Golan Heights were captured after a Syrian attack in 1967 and a second Syrian attack in 1973.

For more than 25 years, the on-again-off-again “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians has been predicated on unlikely theories about “peace” and erroneous assumptions about both Palestinians, Israelis, and American foreign policy.

First, the process assumed Israel’s security problems are related to the non-state status of Palestinians — hence the name “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”  And the proposed remedy was “the two-state solution,” an independent state for the Palestinians. More precisely, however, it is the “Arab-Israeli conflict” or the “Arab wars against Israel.”  Arab states went to war in 1948 to erase Israel; they failed.

Second, the process assumed that security for Israel would emerge from “peace.” A situation of peace, however, emerges when countries are secure. The 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 got it right, demanding that the Arab states give Israel “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

Third, the process presumed that multiple generations of people held in miserable pens in Arab countries meet the world’s definition of “refugees.” They do not. The Palestinian demand though is that generations of progeny must be able to return to places their grandparents and great-grandparents claim to have come from.

Fourth, and most incredible, the “two-state solution” presumed the Palestinians would simply give up deeply held positions on three crucial points — land/borders, refugees, and Jerusalem — as a gift to what they believe are “interlopers” in “their” country. The Galilee, Jaffa, Haifa are all “Palestine” on PA maps. As is Jerusalem. The idea that they would agree that those can be sovereign Israeli territory has no basis in their negotiating history.

For years, the United States was complicit and encouraged these misleading assumptions, treating the Palestinians as if they were actually a country. The PA office in Washington was considered an embassy; the U.S. office in Jerusalem — a consulate, really, from the time that Jordan was occupying Jerusalem and our Embassy was in Amman — served as an embassy to the Palestinian Authority.  

Most damning, the process had assumed that the United States was a neutral arbiter between two equally worthy parties: Israel and the Palestinians. Neutral between Israel — a democratic, diverse, free-market, egalitarian, self-sufficient partner in the military, scientific, and high-tech fields — and the Palestinian Authority — an arm of the PLO, a terrorist, irredentist, kleptocratic, failed government reliant on international handouts that it uses to pay “salaries” to terrorists who kill Jews.

The U.S. should never have allowed itself to be considered neutral — it is an affront to American ideals and principles.

The Trump administration is not neutral.

The PA Washington office is closed and the Jerusalem consulate has been folded into the new American Embassy in Jerusalem. And Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.

The administration has declined to “pay for slay,” reducing aid to the PA by the amount figured to go to terrorists’ “salaries.” Money for UNRWA, overseer of Palestinian refugee camps, has also been reduced. And the president and members of his administration have been outspoken about the American commitment to the security of Israel.

Precise language coupled with specific actions to differentiate the State of Israel from the not-a-state Palestinian Authority sets the stage for the presentation of the administration’s “peace plan” next month. Which, if it proceeds from these new assumptions, will be an important statement about the new realities in the region.

Shoshana Bryen is senior director of The Jewish Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and the editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Iron workers install steel beams during a hot summer day in New York
Iron workers install steel beams during a hot summer day in New York, July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Wednesday that domestic producers were being harmed by imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China and Mexico, keeping alive an investigation that could lead to duties on the products.

The ITC’s preliminary determination ensures that an anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation launched by the U.S. Commerce Department last month will move forward.

U.S. lawmakers, car companies and Canada and Mexico have strongly urged the Trump administration to drop U.S. national security tariffs on steel and aluminum imports after a deal announced last year to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The fabricated structural steel under investigation is used in major building projects, including bridges, office and residential buildings, parking decks and ports.

If the Commerce Department determines the imports are being dumped in the U.S. market at less than fair value, unfairly subsidized, or both, and if the ITC affirms its finding of harm, the United States will impose duties for an initial five years.

The department launched the trade case after receiving a petition from an industry trade group.

The United States imported $658.3 million worth of fabricated structural steel from Canada in 2017, $841.7 million worth from China, and $406.6 million from Mexico.

The Commerce Department alleges there are 44 subsidy programs for Canadian fabricated structural steel, including tax programs, grant programs, loan programs, export insurance programs, and equity programs. There are also 26 subsidy programs for China and 19 subsidy programs for Mexico, according to the agency.

Last month, a Canadian steel industry group said it would strongly oppose anti-dumping duties on certain steel imports from Canada. The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction said allegations “that these products from Canada are unfairly traded and cause injury to U.S. producers of fabricated steel products are baseless.”

(Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by David Alexander and Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An Afghan man casts his vote during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan
FILE PHOTO: An Afghan man casts his vote during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo

March 20, 2019

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s presidential election has been postponed by two months to Sept. 28, as authorities try to iron out problems with the voting process, the election board said on Wednesday.

The election was pushed back for the second time to allow time for reforms to the voting system, Independent Election Commission spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi said.

It was originally scheduled for April but was delayed to July 20 due to concerns about winter conditions and security.

Afghanistan’s parliamentary election took place in autumn after months of wrangling and delay.

That vote was marred by accusations of widespread fraud including ballot-stuffing, technical problems with biometric registration equipment, and attacks by Taliban insurgents.

President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former national security adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar are among the declared candidates for the presidential election.

It is unclear how recurring peace talks between U.S. officials and the Taliban may affect the election.

The Taliban has so far refused to talk with the Ghani government, which it considers illegitimate.

(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; Writing by Rod Nickel; Editing by Catherine Evans and Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party speaks to the media in Kibbutz Nir-Am
FILE PHOTO: Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party speaks to the media in Kibbutz Nir-Am, Israel March 15, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

March 20, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran on Wednesday denied an Israeli media report that its intelligence service had hacked the mobile phone of Benny Gantz, the main challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in next month’s election.

The alleged hack, first reported by an Israeli TV station, was not confirmed or denied by the Israeli national security agency Shin Bet.

The report has been aired repeatedly by Netanyahu’s Likud party in a bid to cast Gantz, former head of the Israeli armed forces, as weak on security and possibly vulnerable to blackmail.

Gantz has confirmed that his phone was hacked but said it carried no sensitive information. He has not blamed Iran.

Answering a question about the report, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said that “the (Israeli) regime’s officials are long used to spreading lies”, according to the state news agency IRNA.

“They use their propaganda tools to link any event in the world to Iran.”

Qasemi said the allegations were part of an Israeli “psychological war” aimed at stoking hostility.

The two arch-enemies have long been locked in a shadow war. Israel and the United States are widely suspected of deploying the Stuxnet malware, uncovered in 2010, that sabotaged components of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian hackers have been behind several cyber attacks and online disinformation campaigns in recent years as Iran tries to strengthen its clout in the Middle East and beyond, a Reuters Special Report published in November found.

The European Union digital security agency said in January that Iran was likely to expand its cyber espionage as its relations with Western powers worsen.

Qasemi also denied reports by Australian media in February that attempts to hack into the Australian parliament’s computer network originated from Iran.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Several media personalities actively floated the possibility that Saudi Arabia played a role in leaking billionaire Jeff Bezos’s racy text messages to his mistress before recent media reports torpedoed the idea.

Washington Post columnist Max Boot joined The Daily Beast as two of the biggest proponents of the conspiracy theory, one that blew up Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported Michael Sanchez — the brother of Bezos’s lover — sold the Amazon CEO’s secrets for $200,000 to the National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc. (AMI). Other outlets picked up on the idea, especially after Bezos began stoking the theory.

Bezos, a media tycoon who purchased WaPo in 2013, suggested in a Feb. 7 blog post that his outlet’s coverage of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a potential reason for why people would target him. Subsequent reports have also noted that American Media once asked Saudi Arabia to invest in the company to stave off bankruptcy. Boot and others then began adding spice to those theories.

“As the mystery deepens of how the National Enquirer obtained Jeff Bezos’s private communications, I am reminded that Saudi Arabia (which has no love lost for the Washington Post) bought very sophisticated spy software from an Israeli company,” Boot wrote in a Feb. 9 tweet that linked to a story he wrote in 2018 fleshing out his full contention.

The Daily Beast’s Iyad El-Baghdadi jumped on board as well.

“For the last two weeks, we’ve been investigating the connection between AMI’s leak Jeff Bezos’ personal texts and selfies, and Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in an extended Twitter thread on Feb. 25, adding: “We’ve found more convergences of timing than can possibly be a coincidence.”

El-Baghdadi included a link to an article he published on the same day of the tweet titled “How the Saudis Made Jeff Bezos Public Enemy No. 1.” He wrote: “It sounded almost like a conspiracy theory when Jeff Bezos not-so-subtly hinted that there might be a Saudi connection to the attempt to strong-arm him with his ‘below the belt selfies.”

Washington, DC – July 19, 2017: Views from the rooftop of the Washington Post. – Image (Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock)

He added: “But there’s mounting evidence that the de facto ruler of the kingdom has been trying to punish Bezos for the fierce coverage by his newspaper, The Washington Post, of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

The remaining portion of El-Baghdadi’s article attempts to make broad connections between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Donald Trump and AMI.

CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem provided some coverage for the theory as well, telling Brian Stelter on a Feb. 11 edition of “Reliable Sources” that Bezos would not have suggested the Saudis were involved without some credible evidence. (RELATED: REPORT: Discloses How The National Enquirer Got Its Hands ON Jeff Bezos’ Racy Text Messages)

“Bezos may have been careless in his marriage … he’s not careless in terms of his business,” said Kayyem, who served as Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs during the Obama-era. “He’s not going to throw a name out there like the Saudis without some basis in the memo, because it undermines the whole security assessment.”

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

Doug Schoen, pollster and Democratic strategist, blasted President Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy and said it projects an image of the U.S. abdicating its role as "democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen made his comments in a column posted by Fox News website Tuesday.

Schoen referred to former Vice President Dick Cheney recently pressing Vice President Mike Pence about Trump's foreign policy during a closed-door event.

"Despite often opposing Vice President Cheney, I largely agree with him that the Trump administration's foreign policy lacks direction and discipline," he said.

"I remain concerned that President Trump's nationalistic, isolationist 'America First' approach to foreign policy projects an image of the United States as abdicating our role on the world stage as democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen claimed many of the "more reasoned voices" on Trump's national security team have left, notably former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

"While I may not have wholeheartedly agreed with Secretary Mattis on everything, we share an understanding of the role that the United States should play on the world stage: the role of a global leader who champions democracy and stands up for our allies," he said.

And Schoen said Trump's lack of foreign policy direction has been particularly troubling.

"For America to truly succeed, we must renew our commitment to global leadership in a way that is informed by an idealistic, moral, yet also practical outlook toward the international community," he said.

Source: NewsMax

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Sen. Ted Cruz criticized a United Nations report that concluded Israel committed war crimes against Palestinians during a 2018 protest despite Hamas’s use of human shields.

“This U.N. report is on its face absurd and dishonest and we know because they have been doing it for a long time,” the Texas Republican said on a telephone call Monday hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. “Hamas and Hezbollah use human shields as a deliberate tactic. They use innocent Palestinian civilians, to put them in harm’s way, because they intend to exploit those human shields for when they are injured or killed when Israel defends itself.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council determined in the report, released Monday, that Israel used “excessive force” during the nine-month period in question. Over that time, Israeli security forces shot and wounded 6,016 protesters in Gaza and “there was no justification” for Israel’s use of force. The report did acknowledge Hamas encouraged Palestinian protesters to cause use incendiary kites, which caused “fear among civilians and significant damage to property in southern Israel.”

“The United Nations long has been a reservoir of deep anti-Israel animus,” Cruz continued. “This report today is yet another example of that.” (RELATED: Ted Cruz Explains Why Interventionist And Isolationists Are Both Wrong)

The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in May 2018 after President Donald Trump relocated the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that inspired thousands of Palestinians to riot and ultimately storm the Gaza-Israel border.

Hamas preemptively offered compensation to the families of Palestinians who were injured or killed during the demonstration — a spokesperson for the terrorist organization revealed the payment rates would be as high as $3,000, reported The Jerusalem Post. Humans were also reportedly used as shields, a concept that Cruz acknowledged.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“It is a repeated and deliberate strategy of Hamas to use human shields,” the Texas senator said. “The U.N. report ignores that reality.”

United States officials have maintained that Israeli Defense Forces acted appropriately.

“America stands with Israel for many reasons, but none more important than standing with Israel furthers our own national security interests,” Cruz added.

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FILE PHOTO: Dignified transfer ceremony for four Americans killed in Syria is attended by President Trump at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
FILE PHOTO: The casket carrying the remains of Scott Wirtz, a civilian employee of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency killed along with three members of the U.S. military during a recent attack in Syria, sits in a military vehicle during a dignified transfer ceremony as they are returned to the United States at Dover Air Force Base, in Dover, Delaware, U.S., January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-backed forces have captured Islamic State fighters tied to a January suicide bombing in Syria that killed four Americans, U.S. officials say, generating concrete leads for Washington about the deadliest attack to date there against U.S. personnel.

The bombing killed Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent and Scott Wirtz from the Defense Intelligence Agency. It also killed Ghadir Taher, a naturalized U.S. citizen working as a civilian interpreter for a U.S. contractor.

One of the officials told Reuters the number of people detained was in the “single digits.” A second official said there were several “initial detentions” made in February, without offering a specific number. The detentions have not been previously reported.

“Those initial detentions have provided some leads and opportunities that we are continuing to exploit,” the second official said, speaking on condition of anonymity and declining to offer additional details.

“The investigation is ongoing as are efforts to bring all of those terrorists responsible to justice.”

The attack was the worst single incident involving U.S. personnel in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015 and took place at a cafe in the town of Manbij, which was controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

The bombing occurred nearly a month after President Donald Trump confounded his own national security team and allies with a surprise decision on Dec. 19 to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, declaring Islamic State had been defeated there.

Critics seized on the killings as clear evidence that the Islamic State still posed a threat.

Trump backtracked in February, agreeing to leave a small U.S. presence to help keep pressure on Islamic State during what the U.S. military believes will be a critical stabilization phase in Syria. The United States is seeking contributions from allies including Britain and France to remain in Syria.

INSURGENCY THREAT

The U.S. military has warned that Islamic State may still count tens of thousands of fighters, dispersed throughout Iraq and Syria, with enough leaders and resources to present a menacing insurgency in the months ahead.

The Pentagon’s own internal watchdog released a report last month saying Islamic State remained an active insurgent group and was regenerating functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria.

“Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory,” the report from the Pentagon’s inspector general said.

The report, citing information from U.S. Central Command, said Islamic State would portray the withdrawal as a “victory” and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process.

A report by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Islamic State has transformed into a covert network, but is still a threat with centralized leadership, up to $300 million at its disposal and thousands of fighters.

It said the group was interested in attacking aviation and using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and that there were up to 18,000 Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreign fighters.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz
A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 19, 2019

MAINZ, Germany (Reuters) – Germany launched its 5G mobile spectrum auction on Tuesday, finally going ahead after a court threw out legal challenges and regulators resisted U.S. pressure to ban Chinese network vendors from building out next-generation networks.

Four firms are vying for 41 blocks of spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands that are suited to running ‘connected’ factories – a priority for Europe’s largest economy as it seeks to remain competitive in the digital age.

“It is important for us that we have a focus on industry, and on better coverage,” Jochen Homann, head of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said ahead of the auction.

Germany’s three network operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – have been admitted into the auction.

Also participating is 1&1 Drillisch, a virtual mobile operator controlled by United Internet that wants to run a fourth network.

Bid teams surrendered their smartphones on entering the former army barracks in the southwestern city of Mainz where the auction is being held. They are bidding via a secure network from separate rooms and can only discuss strategy with their head offices via fax.

All 41 blocks will be auctioned simultaneously, with results posted online after each round. The government hopes to raise billions from the auction – a 4G auction in 2015 collected 5.1 billion euros ($5.8 billion) – which is likely to go on for weeks.

After months of uncertainty, the auction went ahead after a court last week threw out lawsuits from the operators, who had complained that a requirement to provide high-speed coverage to 98 percent of households by 2022 was too onerous.

Regulators also clarified ground rules applying to network equipment vendors following U.S. pressure on its allies to ban China’s Huawei Technologies on national security grounds.

Germany opted instead to impose tighter compliance requirements on all vendors, creating a level playing field and allaying the concerns of the operators – all of which already use Huawei equipment – that they would have to replace parts of their networks at great expense.

“The same rules apply, whether you are from Sweden or China,” Homann told reporters.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

An employee of Germany's Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) uses his mobile phone in front of a screen set up for the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur headquarters in Mainz
An employee of Germany’s Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) uses his mobile phone in front of a screen set up for the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur headquarters in Mainz, Germany, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 19, 2019

By Douglas Busvine

MAINZ, Germany (Reuters) – Germany begins an auction of spectrum for next-generation 5G mobile networks on Tuesday, the outcome of which will play a decisive role in determining whether Europe’s largest economy remains competitive in the digital age.

It nearly didn’t happen: a raft of lawsuits brought by network operators was thrown out by a court only last week. The buildup has also been overshadowed by U.S. pressure on its allies to bar Chinese vendors from participating in building 5G networks due to national security fears.

In the end, regulators preferred to draft tougher rules for all vendors rather than meet the U.S. demand to banish China’s Huawei Technologies, the global network market leader.

Here’s an overview of how the auction will work:

WHAT IS BEING AUCTIONED?

Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is auctioning off 41 blocks of spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands.

These frequencies have relatively short range and high data-carrying capacity, suiting them to use in running ‘connected’ factories – an industrial policy priority.

Urban areas should get 5G coverage early, with another application likely to be super-fast domestic wireless broadband.

WHO’S TAKING PART?

Germany’s three network operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – have been admitted into the auction.

Also participating is 1&1 Drillisch, a virtual mobile operator controlled by United Internet that wants to run a fourth network.

The Big Three filed lawsuits to delay the auction, arguing that its requirement to provide high-speed coverage to 98 percent of households by 2022 was too onerous. They also criticized rules for network sharing, arguing they would make life too easy for new market entrants.

The Cologne Administrative Court threw out those lawsuits on Friday. Outstanding litigation may yet lead to the results of the auction being reviewed, although BNetzA says it is on firm legal ground.

HOW MUCH MONEY WILL THE AUCTION RAISE?

BNetzA has declined to forecast proceeds but the federal government hopes to raise several billion euros – money it will reinvest in upgrading Germany’s broadband networks.

The last auction in 2015, for 4G frequencies, raised 5.1 billion euros ($5.8 billion). Back in 2000, a 3G auction raised more than 50 billion euros – a ruinous sum that forced some players out of the market and others to merge.

HOW WILL IT WORK?

The auction is being held in old army barracks in the south-western city of Mainz. Bid teams will have to surrender their phones when they enter. They will submit offers from separate rooms via a secure network, and can only seek guidance via fax from their head offices.

All 41 blocks will be auctioned simultaneously and results will be published online https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/DE/Sachgebiete/Telekommunikation/Unternehmen_Institutionen/Frequenzen/OeffentlicheNetze/Mobilfunknetze/mobilfunknetze-node.html after each round. Minimum bids range between 1.7 million and 5 million euros and total 104.6 million euros. The process ends when no fresh bids are entered.

Based on past experience, the auction could run for weeks – a previous one in 2010 lasted six weeks.

WHAT ABOUT U.S. CALLS TO SHUT OUT CHINESE VENDORS?

Germany resisted calls from the United States to shut Chinese network vendors out of its 5G buildout due to national security concerns.

Instead of banning Huawei outright, regulators have tightened rules on all network vendors. These won’t bid in the auction but will be key partners in upgrading network infrastructure.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER EUROPEAN AUCTIONS?

Several countries – among them Ireland, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and Austria – have already auctioned 5G spectrum. Most have been low-key affairs, with only modest sums raised because the sales were designed to leave operators with money left over to invest in network upgrades.

The exception was Italy, where frenzied bidding last year raised 6.5 billion euros for the cash-strapped government but left operators financially stretched.

Countries like France have yet to hold 5G auctions, leaving Europe as a whole lagging early adopters like the United States, Japan and Korea.

($1 = 0.8818 euros)

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

The Trump administration is requesting $86 billion in spending for intelligence agencies, including $23 billion for highly classified military intelligence activities (MIP) in fiscal year 2020, The New York Times reports.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the administration wants $62.8 billion for its intelligence agencies while the Pentagon asked for $22.95 billion for its secretive "black budget."

Overall, the budget includes a 6 percent spending increase and covers the costs of cyberweapons, spy satellites, and the national intelligence program that supports the armed services and tactical units.

Both budgets also propose spending more money on capabilities to compete with Russia and China, according to officials who spoke with the Times.

The MIP supports "defense intelligence activities intended to support tactical military operations and priorities," according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service, while funding for the National Intelligence Program goes to nondefense organizations.

The Pentagon in a statement said the request includes base budget funding as well as the war fund known overseas as the overseas contingency operations account.

"The department determined that releasing this top-line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP," the statement noted. "No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons."

Source: NewsMax

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and China's Premier Li Keqiang leave after a signing ceremony in Beijing
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and China’s Premier Li Keqiang leave after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

March 19, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China played a “constructive role” in reducing tension between Pakistan and India, the foreign ministry said, after the nuclear-armed rivals almost came to blows last month following an attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in disputed Kashmir.

The sparring threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by U.S. officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events have told Reuters.

At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”, said Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.

A Pakistani minister said China and the United Arab Emirates also intervened to lessen tension between the south Asian neighbors.

In a faxed statement to Reuters late on Monday, responding to a question on China’s role in reining in the crisis, its foreign ministry said peaceful coexistence between Pakistan and India was in everyone’s interest.

“As a friendly neighbor of both India and Pakistan, China pro-actively promoted peace talks and played a constructive role in easing the tense situation,” it said.

“Some other countries also made positive efforts in this regard,” the ministry added.

China is willing to work with the international community to continue to encourage the neighbors to meet each other half way and use dialogue and peaceful means to resolve differences, it said, without elaborating.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, is set to meet Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Beijing later on Tuesday.

The Feb. 14 attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary police was the deadliest in Kashmir’s 30-year-long insurgency, escalating tension between the neighbors, who said they shot down each other’s fighter jets late last month.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather” friends, but China has also been trying to improve ties with New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held an informal summit in China last year agreeing to reset relations, and Xi is expected to visit India sometime this year, diplomatic sources say.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

A Justice Department official who worked on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s case is leaving the special counsel’s office, a spokesman for Robert Mueller said Monday.

“Zainab Ahmad has concluded her detail with the Special Counsel’s Office but will continue to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to her during her detail,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement, first reported by Yahoo! News.

Ahmad’s departure is the latest signal that Mueller’s probe is nearing its end. Carr confirmed Thursday that Andrew Weissmann, the high-profile Mueller prosecutor who handled cases against Paul Manafort, is planning to leave the team. (RELATED: Mueller’s ‘Pit Bull’ Is Leaving, Signaling Investigation Is Nearly Over)

Ahmad, a counterterrorism prosecutor, is one of the Mueller team members to sign Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI regarding his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn departs after a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Flynn has cooperated with several investigations as part of his plea agreement. He is expected to testify later in 2019 in a trial against his former business partner, Bijan Kian. Kian was indicted on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey.

Ahmad and Weissmann recently came under scrutiny over their interactions during the 2016 campaign with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.

It recently emerged that Ohr testified to Congress on Aug. 28, 2018, that he briefed Ahmed, Weissmann and FBI officials in September 2016 about his interactions with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the anti-Trump dossier.

Ohr, who served as a back-channel between Steele and the FBI, said he told the Justice Department and FBI officials Steele’s reporting on the Trump campaign was unverified and needed further investigation. Nevertheless, the FBI relied heavily on the dossier’s allegations to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

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A Huawei company logo is seen outside a shopping mall in Shanghai
A Huawei company logo is seen outside a shopping mall in Shanghai, China March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

March 18, 2019

GENEVA (Reuters) – Chinese telecoms giant Huawei led the pack with Asia accounting for more than half of the international patent applications at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last year, WIPO said on Tuesday.

Huawei, which has been under pressure since the United States demanded its allies bar Chinese vendors from participating in building 5G networks due to national security concerns, made 5,405 patent applications to the U.N. body, up from 4,024 in 2017.

“It’s an all-time record by anyone,” WIPO director general Francis Gurry told a news conference.

WIPO oversees international treaties governing patents, trademarks and industrial designs. Its annual report on the applications it receives – a subset of all intellectual property filings globally – gives an early snapshot of the trends.

Asia-based filings accounted for 50.5 percent of the total applications received, Gurry said.

“Historically, this is really quite extraordinary,” he said. “Historically, this is a momentous occasion, this is something that is really a very, very significant result.”

The second-biggest user of the WIPO international patent system in 2018 was Mitsubishi Electric with 2,812 filings, followed by Intel with 2,499.

Although inventors in the United States filed more applications than in any other country, China looks set to take the top place this year or next, after a meteoric rise over the past quarter century.

Having filed only one patent application in the WIPO system in 1993, its applications overtook Japan’s in 2017 and grew by a further 9.1 percent to 53,345 in 2018, while the number of U.S.-based filings slipped 0.9 percent to 56,142.

Asia accounted for six of the top eight companies, with China’s ZTE Corp and BOE Technology Group and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics also among the leaders.

China also jumped up the academic rankings, with four of its universities making the top ten list for the first time.

While the University of California remained well ahead among educational institutions, with 501 patent applications in 2018, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology was second, Shenzhen University and South China University of Technology leapt into third and fourth spot, just ahead of Harvard.

Gurry said Chinese universities benefited from an extremely strong emphasis on innovation and the commercialization of basic research, as well as access to the world’s second largest national pool of research and development spending.

He said China had introduced an equivalent of the U.S. Bayh-Dole Act, ensuring that patents taken out on government-sponsored research were being used, which may have had an influence on Chinese universities’ attitude towards commercializing their research.

The WIPO report represents applications for patents, trademarks and designs that their owners feel are valuable enough to protect and promote in overseas markets. Another WIPO report, released in December includes millions of applications for IP protection that are never filed overseas.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump walks down Capitol steps with Speaker of the House Pelosi after they attended luncheon at U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump walks down the U.S Capitol steps with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after they both attended the 37th annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 18, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee said on Monday that it expects to receive tens of thousands of documents as part of its wide-ranging corruption and obstruction of justice probe of Republican President Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago, the committee requested documents from 81 individuals, government agencies and other entities including Trump family members, current and former business employees, Republican campaign staffers and former White House aides, the FBI, White House and WikiLeaks.

The probe, which Republicans have denounced as an overreach of congressional authority, is aimed at determining whether Trump has used his office to enrich himself or has sought to obstruct investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by his campaign.

Trump maintains that his campaign did not collude with Russia and has dismissed the probe as a “political hoax.”

In a statement issued as Monday’s deadline for document submissions expired, the House of Representatives committee said it has heard from “a large number” of those who received document requests on March 4 and that many have either sent or agreed to send documents to the committee.

“Those documents already number in the tens of thousands,” the statement said.

“The committee continues to be in discussions with others, including some who have requested a subpoena … before they are comfortable supplying the information requested,” it said. The statement did not say which recipients have submitted or agreed to submit material.

Among the recipients were the president’s sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

The committee has also sought documents from among those already charged in U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump adviser Roger Stone and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

“I am encouraged by the responses we have received since sending these initial letters two weeks ago,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler said in the statement.

“It is my hope that we will receive cooperation from the remainder of the list, and will be working to find an appropriate accommodation with any individual who may be reluctant to cooperate with our investigation.” 

The Republican president faces several investigations including congressional committee inquiries and Mueller’s probe into Russian campaign interference and any Trump campaign role.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN


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