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Rep. Norman on Mueller report: Democrats don't like the message so they're trying to kill the messenger

Rep. Norman on Mueller report: Democrats don't like the message so they're trying to kill the messengerHouse Democrats issue subpoena for the full Mueller report; reaction and analysis from South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman, Republican member of the House Oversight Committee.



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Don't say Trump is exonerated. It's too soon for that

Don't say Trump is exonerated. It's too soon for thatThe fact Mueller failed to bring charges does not mean he failed to find evidence of highly disturbing conduct‘Even if the Mueller report contained only the facts that are publicly known so far, it would have been grounds for impeachment in saner political times’ Photograph: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty ImagesTo listen to the Trump administration right now, you would think that Robert Mueller has exonerated the president, found Hillary Clinton and the liberal media guilty of treason, and definitively proven once and for all that Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd really was the largest in world history.Indeed, the initial rollout of Mueller’s conclusions has been a public relations triumph for the president, mainly because it was in the hands of Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr. In the four-page letter which Barr delivered to Congress, less than 100 words are quoted directly from Mueller’s report. But while these words certainly tell us something, they hide much more than they reveal. And Barr’s decision to exonerate Trump on the charge of obstruction of justice – something Mueller himself declined to do – likewise raises a suite of questions about his reasoning and motives.As might be expected, the president’s defenders are ready to declare the case closed on that basis. Trump himself is reported to be out for revenge and plans to call for the resignation of journalists who he says led a witch hunt against him. More disturbingly, some commentators outside the Trump bubble appear to share the president’s fury at the media. In a much-shared piece, the writer Matt Taibbi has even described the Russia story as “this generation’s WMD”, alleging a pattern of errors and exaggerations which could destroy the reputation of the media forever.Such reasoning is absurd. To start with the obvious, the conclusion that Trump has been exonerated is premature. Mueller “did not establish” that Trump campaign officials colluded or coordinated with Russia, which is a legal term meaning he failed to find admissible evidence proving it beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high bar, and was always going to be. It is certainly far lower than the bar for impeachment or damning an administration in the eyes of reasonable public opinion. The fact Mueller failed to bring charges does not mean he failed to find evidence of highly disturbing conduct, and until we have the full report we won’t know what that evidence is.In the other main strand of his investigation, Mueller explicitly did not exonerate the president of the charge of obstruction of justice. The evidence he considers in reaching this conclusion includes, according to Barr’s letter, matters which have not yet been the subject of public reporting. Especially given Barr’s own quaint legal views on obstruction of justice, his decision to clear Trump of this charge is grossly insufficient. Again, we need to see the evidence.As well as being premature, the conclusion that the Mueller probe really was a witch hunt after all represents a disturbing surrender to the Trumpian worldview.In the last three years, Trump and his hand-picked senior aides have engaged in a pattern of behavior which was at once sinister and baffling. They said “I love it” when offered Russian government assistance in the election. They shared polling data with a man connected to Russian intelligence. They pursued a business deal in Moscow at the same time they were running for election. They openly called for a hostile power to intervene in the election. They echoed that hostile power’s propaganda and cozied up to the Kremlin in a manner which was completely contrary to their domestic political interests and the national interests of the United States. Throughout it all, they lied about what they were doing as easily as they breathed.At the same time, they and their surrogates – even as their lies were uncovered – attacked the very idea that they ought to be subject to the rule of law. They lied to the investigators about their lies. They called federal agents executing lawful warrants “stormtroopers”. The president himself fired or tried to fire those who would not be loyal to him over what he called “this Russia thing”, and then admitted doing so. At the same time, a Republican-controlled Congress made a mockery of its constitutional duty of oversight, refusing to carry out meaningful investigations of the administration.To suggest that the critics of Trump ought to have ignored or downplayed this behavior – without precedent in the modern presidency – is absurd. And to suggest they now ought to issue a mea culpa based on a short letter by Trump’s attorney general is so absurd that it beggars explanation.Worst of all, any sudden rush to condemn those who pointed out the foregoing facts, in the media and outside of it, plays squarely into Trump’s hands. He has attempted all along to move the goalposts so that anything short of outright criminality was meaningless. And he has weathered the many revelations of actual criminality – or corrupt and immoral behavior which fell short of being criminal – because the revelations came in dribs and drabs and were quickly pushed from the news cycle by his mendacious attacks on his enemies.The bottom line is this: even if the Mueller report contained only the facts that are publicly known so far, it would have been grounds for impeachment in saner political times. And it likely contains much more. Given this, the administration’s continued attacks on the media for reporting what we all saw with our own eyes is designed to obfuscate what is already known and inoculate the public against what is to come. It would behoove true defenders of the rule of law and a free press not to make their job any easier.



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'We don't see the enemy' concealed jihadists slow IS defeat

'We don't see the enemy' concealed jihadists slow IS defeatDEIR AL-ZOR PROVINCE, Syria (Reuters) – The young Syrian man crossing out of Islamic State’s last enclave in eastern Syria brought confirmation that the fight was still not over despite days of ferocious bombardment by U.S.-backed forces. “There are people coming out and others not coming out,” said the bearded man wearing a robe and head scarf, one of hundreds of people who left the enclave at Baghouz on Thursday to surrender to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). On Friday suicide attackers struck a group of people leaving Baghouz and surrendering, the SDF said, the first such blasts to target any of the thousands of people abandoning the enclave.



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Omar throws shade at Obama: 'We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished'

Omar throws shade at Obama: 'We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished'Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is an outspoken critic of President Trump. But she’s also critical of his predecessor.



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7 Energy Stocks That Don't Need Higher Oil Prices

7 Energy Stocks That Don't Need Higher Oil PricesThe best oil stock ideas from Bank of America.



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Don't expect details from Mueller probe: senior U.S. Republican

Don't expect details from Mueller probe: senior U.S. RepublicanIf Representative Doug Collins is right, Democratic-led congressional committees that have launched their own probes of Trump may be stuck with a Mueller investigation report that serves more as a general guidebook than a detailed roadmap of Russian interference and any Trump campaign collusion. Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, want congressional investigators to have access to Mueller’s grand jury evidence and other information from the probe, fearing that Attorney General William Barr could release only a summary of Mueller’s report. Barr must decide what to do with it, a major test for the new Justice Department chief.



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Make El Chapo pay for a border wall? Don't count on it

Make El Chapo pay for a border wall? Don't count on itNEW YORK (AP) — After El Chapo's conviction in a drug-trafficking trial that included florid testimony of jewel-encrusted guns, a fleet of cash-laden jets and a personal zoo with roaming big cats, some Americans have floated an idea they see as poetic justice: Why not take some of the Mexican drug lord's billions in ill-gotten gains and make him pay for a border wall?



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Saudis don't know where Khashoggi's body is: official

Saudis don't know where Khashoggi's body is: officialRiyadh does not know the location of dissident Jamal Khashoggi’s body, despite having detained the Saudi team that murdered him, a high-ranking foreign affairs official in the kingdom said in an interview broadcast Sunday. Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said the murder was carried out by Saudi officials “acting outside their scope of authority” and that 11 people have been charged with the crime. Jubeir was interviewed Friday, the same day President Donald Trump ignored a congressional deadline for reporting on who assassinated Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been openly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



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El Chapo defense to US jury: Don't believe 'garbage' testimony

El Chapo defense to US jury: Don't believe 'garbage' testimonyMexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s defense team on Thursday urged a US jury not to believe “garbage” testimony of government witnesses, insisting their client was not the real mastermind of the Sinaloa cartel. The 14 ex-associates of Guzman who took the stand during the trial in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn did so to get reduced sentences, attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told the jury.



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Don't deal in Venezuelan gold, White House says, in anti-Maduro push

Don't deal in Venezuelan gold, White House says, in anti-Maduro pushNational security adviser John Bolton tweeted that traders should not deal in gold, oil or other commodities “being stolen” from the Venezuelan people, as opponents of Maduro’s government worried the government was surreptitiously moving to ship gold reserves abroad. The White House said President Donald Trump spoke to Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, by phone on Wednesday, reiterating support for his “fight to regain democracy.” On one side of the tussle for control of Venezuela – an OPEC member with the world’s largest oil reserves but in dire financial straits – Guaido and Western backers led by the United States are insisting on an immediate transition and fresh elections.



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