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Biden Showed ‘Paternalistic’ Side During Anti-Rape Campaign, Activists Say

Biden Showed ‘Paternalistic’ Side During Anti-Rape Campaign, Activists SayWoolston/ShutterstockTaking the stage at the 2016 Oscars to introduce more than 50 survivors of campus sexual assault, then-Vice President Joe Biden received a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd. Smiling at the A-list audience, he joked that he was the “least qualified person here” and urged viewers to “change the culture” around campus sexual assault—an issue he had made his signature cause over the previous five years.U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden introduces singer Lady Gaga after making a plea to prevent sexual abuse at the Oscars in 2016. ReutersBut now, as Biden prepares for a possible presidential run—and as multiple women allege he made them feel uncomfortable—activists say Biden often stumbled in his fight against campus sexual assault. Multiple activists told The Daily Beast that Biden’s approach to sexual violence, while well-intentioned, was shot through with paternalism.“His language was very gendered about men having to protect women,” said Jasmin Enriquez, an anti-rape activist who attended several of Biden’s “It’s On Us” events. “It was just that benevolent sexism of ‘Men have to be the heroes,’ not ‘Nobody should have to experience sexual violence ever.’”“It infantilizes women and takes away their level of their own control,” she added later. Biden became vice president at the beginning of the campus anti-rape movement, which spurred investigations into more than 200 universities for their treatment of survivors. The Obama administration jumped on the problem, issuing new guidelines for campus sexual assault probes and signing a survivors’ bill of rights. Biden served as the public face of many of these reforms, giving speeches, meeting with survivors, and launching a national media campaign to combat sexual assault.Activists who worked on the issue say they appreciated having such a prominent champion in the White House, and everyone who spoke to The Daily Beast said they felt Biden’s intentions were good. Even Enriquez said that, though Biden was not a poster child for what an ally should look like, he did “use the power that he had available to him to open the White House to conversations about sexual violence.” But activists also said that Biden’s approach could come off as patronizing. One activist described the politician as having a “save the girls” mentality, which focused more on being a knight in shining armor than a partner in a women-led fight.“I think that his approach to the issues often feels more like a protective grandfather than an ally working with survivors who are agents in their own right,” said the activist, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her employment. “I don’t doubt that comes from a place of affection and concern, but that is different than looking at women as agents, as equal partners in this fight, or even as people from whom he should be taking the lead.”Others have called attention to Biden’s tendency to lump together women and children, such as in a recent speech where he recalled his father telling him never to “raise his hand to a woman or a child.” In one of his most famous speeches on campus sexual assault in 2017, Biden focused on the men in the audience, saying it was “our responsibility, men in particular, but all of us, to stop this culture.”In notes sent to Biden’s office in 2014, Enriquez’s organization pushed back on some of this gendered language, saying that his national anti-rape campaign, It’s On Us, “should be for people as a whole.” “There could be subtleties that focus on messaging towards men, but the message and brand as a whole has to lend itself to all people, regardless of their gender identity, for them to want to participate,” the leaders of the organization wrote. Enriquez said Biden’s office responded to that note with a one-sentence thank-you email.Several other activists told The Daily Beast they were frustrated with aspects of the It’s On Us campaign. Wagatwe Wanjuki, an anti-rape activist who has previously received funding from the organization, said she found it odd that Biden made himself the spokesperson for a movement that was ostensibly about survivors. (The vice president was the only one to speak before sharing the Oscars stage with the 50-plus sexual assault survivors.)Caroline Heldman, an Occidental College professor and author of a book on the campus anti-rape movement, said Biden could at times seem “dismissive of the expertise of survivor activists.” “He was not only the savior, he was the knower—the possessor of knowledge in the room about sexual assault, even when he was surrounded by experts on violence,” she said.In recent weeks, multiple women have claimed that Biden touched them inappropriately at public events. None of them have described the incidents as sexual in nature, but all said it made them uncomfortable. Several anti-rape activists were among those bothered by the touching—a particularly striking experience given Biden’s repeated comments about the importance of consent. Survivor Caitlyn Caruso told the New York Times that Biden had rested his hand on her thigh during an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2016. Activist Sofie Karasek wrote in the Washington Post about an “unwelcome, uncomfortable” interaction with Biden at the Oscars, in which Biden leaned in and touched his forehead to hers when she recounted an emotional story. Wanjuki told The Daily Beast about a similar experience at the same event, where she said Biden grabbed her hands backstage without her permission. “I’m there because I’m a survivor and he knows that,” she said of the experience. “Just to assume that I wanted to be touched felt jarring.”Lady Gaga holds hands with survivors of sexual abuse after singing her Oscar-nominated song "Til It Happens to You" at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. Vice President Joe Biden made a special appearance at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday to advocate for victims of sexual assault and introduced a powerful performance by Lady Gaga that featured survivors of sexual abuse. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni – TB3EC2T0ICV7EREUTERSBut the activists said their discomfort went beyond the touching, into the way Biden approached the issue of sexual assault. By painting himself and other men as saviors, they said, he unintentionally took agency away from female survivors.“I just feel like a paternalistic way of doing it is kind of antithetical to what you stand against,” Wanjuki said. “If you’re actually dealing with the core concepts of rape culture, thinking about protecting women and protecting survivors isn’t going to fix that.”Other sexual assault activists have come to Biden’s defense. Actress Alyssa Milano, a prominent figure in the MeToo movement, pointed to his work with It’s On Us and called him a “champion on fighting violence against women.” Some have highlighted his role in passing the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Another activist present at the 2016 Oscars, Chloe Allred, told The Daily Beast she had a positive experience with Biden and that he was “very warm and caring.” Biden’s campaign did not respond to several requests for comment.Even the activists who criticized Biden’s approach said they appreciated his commitment to addressing sexual assault, which is one of the reasons they did not speak up sooner. According to Heldman, “Everyone was so appreciative that he used his power to advance the cause that we overlooked it.”Zerlina Maxwell, a political commentator who serves on the Biden Foundation advisory council on Violence Against Women, said she thought the former vice president was a strong advocate for women and that his gaffes stemmed from a generational divide. But she also did not think this should shield him from criticism.“His motivation or his desire to do advocacy on this particular issue… comes from a paternalistic sort of protective headspace: ‘I want to protect women,’” she said. “I think some survivors find that condescending.”“His intentions are good, but again, we’re not talking about intentions, we’re talking about the impact,” she added.Biden himself addressed the controversy in a video released Wednesday. Though he stopped short of apologizing for his behavior, Biden acknowledged that times had changed and that he would be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space” in the future. During public remarks on Friday, he joked twice about touching attendees with their consent and later told reporters he was “not sorry for anything that I have ever done.”Biden also angered activists earlier this month when he failed to directly apologize for his treatment of Anita Hill, the law professor who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during confirmation hearings in 1991. At an event on sexual assault this week, Biden said he regretted that he “could not come up with a way to get [Hill] the kind of hearing she deserved” as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He did not apologize for his own actions.Kamilah Washington, a sexual assault activist who also attended the 2016 Oscars, said Biden’s failure to apologize to the women he made uncomfortable only made the situation worse. She said men like Biden were often applauded “just for being in the room” in conversations around sexual assault, and said it is crucial that they are now being held to a higher standard.Of herself and her fellow activists, she added: “There’s a sense that we’re all out for blood and want to ruin people's careers, but usually all people want is acknowledgement and accountability that isn’t blanketed in excuses.” “It needs to be humbling for people who are being held to account, and I don’t think he’s there,” she said.Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Donald Trump declares 'our country is full' during visit to Mexico border

Donald Trump declares 'our country is full' during visit to Mexico borderDeclaring "our country is full," Donald Trump on Friday insisted the US immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border. The US president, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier – and not new wall. "There is indeed an emergency on our southern border," Mr Trump said at the briefing, adding that there had been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. "It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. … We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full." As Air Force One touched down in the state, California and 19 other states that are suing Mr Trump over his emergency declaration to build a border wall requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project. But Mr Trump, who ratcheted up his hard-line immigration rhetoric in recent weeks, declared that his move, which included vetoing a congressional vote, was necessary. US President Donald Trump speaks with members of the US Customs and Border Patrol as he tours the border wall between the United States and Mexico in Calexico Credit: AFP Also on Friday, House Democrats filed a lawsuit preventing Mr Trump from spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border. Congress approved just under $ 1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Mr Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer an additional $ 6.7 billion to wall construction. Mr Trump, who earlier in the week threatened to shut down the border over the high numbers of migrants trying to enter the US, appeared to walk back his comments on Thursday. He said on Friday that it was because Mexico had got tougher in stopping an influx of immigrants from moving north. "Mexico has been absolutely terrific for the last four days," the president said as he left the White House. "I never changed my mind at all. I may shut it down at some point." The president’s visit came a day after he withdrew his nominee to lead US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Longtime border official Ron Vitiello appeared to be cruising towards confirmation, but Mr Trump said on Friday that he wanted to go in a "tougher direction." At a glance | Donald Trump’s border wall Mr Trump complained about the Flores legal settlement that governs treatment of migrant children and families. He blamed "Judge Flores, whoever you may be", but Flores was an unaccompanied 15-year-old girl from El Salvador. He also downplayed the claims of people seeking asylum at the border, declaring without evidence that many are gang members while comparing some of their efforts to find safety in the US to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. "It’s a scam, it’s a hoax," Mr Trump said. "I know about hoaxes. I just went through a hoax." As Trump landed in California, the state’s governor criticised the president’s push for Congress to pass legislation that would tighten asylum rules to make it harder for people to qualify. "Since our founding, this country has been a place of refuge – a safe haven for people fleeing tyranny, oppression and violence. His words show a total disregard of the Constitution, our justice system, and what it means to be an American," said Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Mr Trump has been increasingly exasperated at his inability to halt the swelling number of migrants entering the US, including thousands who have been released after arriving because border officials have no space for them. Arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed in recent months, and border agents were on track to make 100,000 arrests or denials of entry in March, a 12-year high. More than half of those are families with children, who require extra care.



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Three Palestinians dead amid clashes with Israeli military during 'Great Return' border protests

Three Palestinians dead amid clashes with Israeli military during 'Great Return' border protestsTens of thousands of Gazans gathered at the Israeli border on Saturday to mark a year since protests and clashes erupted there, testing a fragile truce only 10 days ahead of an Israeli general election.   Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, one during an overnight demonstration and two 17-year-olds in clashes later Saturday, the health ministry in Gaza City said. Another 316 Gazans were wounded. Earlier, another Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in an overnight demonstration ahead of the main protest, the ministry said. Egypt had sought to mediate between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas to rein in violence and avoid the sort of deadly response from the Israeli army that has accompanied past protests. Clashes so far appeared limited, but warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence that marks the border were not being heeded by all. "We will move towards the borders even if we die," said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag. Israeli soldiers deploy on the Israel and Gaza border Credit:  Tsafrir Abayov/ AP "We are not leaving. We are returning to our land." Dozens of Palestinians were seen approaching the border fence east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip at around midday (0900 GMT) before retreating as Israeli troops fired tear gas. The protesters threw stones at the Israeli soldiers and burnt tyres. A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl a rock towards Israeli forces Credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP Further south, an Egyptian security delegation visited a protest site east of Gaza City. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya also visited the site. The city's mosques used loudspeakers to call on people to attend, and buses shuttled protesters to sites in rainy weather. Israel's army said most demonstrators were remaining away from the fence. Tear gas canisters fall amongst Palestinian protesters during the demonstration Credit:  MAHMUD HAMS/AFP "Approximately 40,000 rioters and demonstrators are currently gathered in several locations along the Gaza Strip security fence," it said in a statement. "The rioters are hurling rocks and setting tyres on fire. In addition, grenades and explosive devices have been hurled at the Gaza Strip security fence in a number of different incidents." It said soldiers were "responding with riot dispersal means and are firing in accordance with standard operating procedures." Israel's army had not commented on the death in the overnight demonstration, but late Friday said explosive devices were thrown at the fence "throughout the evening." A tank "struck a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip" in response, it said. Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim called Saturday's protest "a very important message sent from Gaza today to all parties, mainly the Israelis and the international community". "Gazans today are gathering here, thousands and thousands of people peacefully, to raise their voice against aggression and the imposed siege on Gaza," he told AFP. A Palestinian woman reacts after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces Credit:  REUTERS Protesters were marking the first anniversary of often violent weekly demonstrations in which around 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed. The anniversary comes only days after another severe flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire restored calm. The timing is especially sensitive for Israel, which holds a keenly contested general election on April 9 in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge from centrist former military chief Benny Gantz. He is widely seen as wanting to avoid a major escalation, but has at the same time faced political pressure over accusations of being soft on Hamas. The demonstrators are calling for Palestinians to be allowed to return to land their families fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel's creation. Israel says any such mass return would spell the end of a Jewish state and that its actions have been necessary to defend the border. It accuses Hamas of orchestrating violence, but its soldiers' use of live fire has come under heavy criticism.



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Mueller report: How Trump avoided interview with special counsel during Russia investigation

Mueller report: How Trump avoided interview with special counsel during Russia investigationIt was March 2018, nearly 10 months into his Russia investigation, when special counsel Robert Mueller III, a man of few words, raised the stakes dramatically in a meeting with Donald Trump's lawyers: If the president did not sit down voluntarily for an interview, he could face a subpoena.In the months that followed, Mr Mueller never explicitly threatened to issue a subpoena as his office pursued a presidential interview, a sit-down for which the special counsel was pushing as late as December.But with that prospect hanging over them, Mr Trump's legal team conducted a quiet, multi-pronged pressure campaign to avert such an action and keep the president from coming face-to-face with federal investigators – fearful he would perjure himself.At one point last summer, when a lull in talks had the president's attorneys worried that Mr Mueller was seriously contemplating a subpoena, White House lawyer Emmet Flood wrote a memo laying out the legal arguments for protecting the president's executive privilege. He sent the document to Mr Mueller's office and to the deputy for top Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the probe, according to two people familiar with Mr Flood's outreach.Meanwhile, the Trump lawyers sent a steady stream of documents and witnesses to the special counsel, chipping away at Mr Mueller's justification for needing an interview with the president.[gallery-0] In the end, the decision not to subpoena the president is one of the lingering mysteries of Mr Mueller's 22-month investigation, which concluded last week when he filed a report numbering more than 300 pages.The special counsel did not find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but – in an unusual move – failed to come to a decision about whether Mr Trump obstructed justice, according to a summary of the Mueller report released by attorney general William Barr. An interview with the president would have been pivotal to helping assess whether the president had corrupt intent, a key element of such a charge, legal experts said.It is an open question whether a subpoena would have survived the court challenge Mr Trump's lawyers say they would have waged. The Supreme Court has never issued definitive guidance on issuing a subpoena to a president, but had Mr Mueller pursued one, the courts could have established a precedent for future presidents.In assessing whether to pursue such a high-stakes move, the special counsel was not operating with complete autonomy. That was a contrast with predecessors such as Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton and had broad leeway under the now-expired independent counsel statute.But Mr Mueller was supervised by Mr Rosenstein, a Trump appointee. The special counsel, Mr Rosenstein noted in one letter to a Republican senator, "remains accountable like every other subordinate."Mr Rosenstein himself was under intense political pressure: Mr Trump mused about firing the one-time George W Bush appointee and former US attorney for Maryland, whom he derided at one point as "the Democrat from Baltimore." And House conservatives threatened to impeach Mr Rosenstein, accusing him of withholding information about the Russia probe.Internal Justice Department discussions about whether to subpoena the president – including Mr Rosenstein's views on such an action – remain tightly held.In the final months of the probe, there was upheaval in the department's leadership. Mr Trump ousted attorney general Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the investigation. He was replaced temporarily by his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who was publicly critical of the special counsel before joining the department.A month before Mr Mueller submitted his report, Mr Barr was confirmed as attorney general. He had questioned Mr Mueller's obstruction-of-justice inquiry in a June 2018 memo to Mr Rosenstein months before his appointment, writing that "Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction."If Mr Mueller wanted to push for a subpoena, he did not force the issue with Justice Department leaders. Mr Barr told lawmakers last week that no decision the special counsel wanted to take was vetoed during the investigation.The Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment.More answers could be revealed in Mr Mueller's full report, which House Democrats are pushing Mr Barr to release.What is known is that the president's lawyers now believe keeping their client from sitting down with investigators was their greatest victory."The president would not have helped his case had he gone in," said Mark Corallo, a former spokesperson for Mr Trump's legal team. "No lawyer worth his salt would let that happen."The president was initially inclined to sit for an interview with Mr Mueller. He thought he could deliver a convincing performance and put a swift end to the probe.Negotiations between the sides began around Thanksgiving 2017, and an interview was scheduled for January 2018, according to a person close to the legal team and a former senior administration official.But John Dowd, then the president's lead attorney, cancelled the session. He had argued against it because he feared Mr Trump could misspeak or even lie. And a practice session with the president further convinced Mr Dowd that the president could be a problematic interviewee, these people said.White House officials declined to comment.Over the next 12 months, Mr Mueller tried repeatedly to reschedule the interview, to no avail.Mr Trump continued to state publicly that he would be glad to sit for an interview – he believed being seen as willing to talk with prosecutors showed "strength," according to a former administration official with direct knowledge of his thinking. But the president came to agree with his lawyers that doing so would be too risky, especially after former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017, current and former White House aides said.Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that some of what Mr Trump's legal advisers were hearing from Mr Mueller "raised our suspicion that this is a trap, rather than a search for more information."As the standoff continued, Mr Mueller's team discussed at length the idea of issuing a subpoena, if necessary, to compel Mr Trump to sit for an interview, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations.The discussions – which included Mr Mueller, his top deputy James Quarles, and prosecutors Michael Dreeben and Aaron Zebley – centred both on whether a subpoena was legally feasible and what the costs of such a move might be to the overall investigation, the person said.A fight over a presidential subpoena would have been likely to set legal precedent.Under President Richard Nixon, the US Supreme Court ruled that investigators could subpoena evidence from a sitting president and ordered Nixon to turn over materials including secret recordings made in the Oval Office. That ruling did not, however, address testimony by the president.When Mr Starr was independent counsel, he issued a subpoena to Mr Clinton ordering the president to testify before a grand jury about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Mr Clinton's team considered challenging the subpoena in court but instead decided that it would be politically damaging to be seen as fighting the investigation. Mr Clinton's lawyers agreed that he would voluntarily sit for an interview, and Mr Starr withdrew the subpoena – leaving open the question of whether a president can be compelled to give testimony.Robert Ray, a former independent counsel now in private practice at Thompson & Knight, said Mr Mueller's team would have had to weigh whether a subpoena could survive the court challenge that was all but certain to come from the Trump White House.The Supreme Court has never issued definitive guidance on the question, but in a previous independent counsel investigation, of Mike Espy, an agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, an appellate court offered some clarity on the bounds of how the White House could fight a subpoena by citing presidential privilege.On the basis of the precedent from that case – which was focused on documents, rather than an interview – Mr Mueller would have had to demonstrate both a need to subpoena Mr Trump to advance his investigation and show that he could not get the information he sought in any other way, Mr Ray said.Another major factor was time: Mr Mueller had to consider the likelihood that such a move would bog the investigation down in a lengthy legal battle."That's a major fight, and you have to decide whether, in the country's best interests, it's worth it," Mr Ray said.Mr Mueller broached the topic during a tense meeting on 5 March 2018, at the special counsel offices in Southwest Washington, as Mr Trump's attorneys maintained that the president had no obligation to talk to investigators.The special counsel noted there was an option if Mr Trump declined: He could be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, as The Washington Post previously reported.Mr Dowd erupted angrily."You're screwing with the work of the president of the United States," he told Mr Mueller, according to two people briefed on the discussion.After that meeting, the special counsel team changed its approach: trying to coax Mr Trump to sit for an interview voluntarily.Prosecutors hoped the president would agree to meet, mindful that they could not explicitly threaten a subpoena unless they were prepared to issue one, according to a person familiar with the matter.Still, Mr Trump's legal advisers felt after the March meeting that a subpoena threat hung over the president."The whole exercise was premised on the idea that that was a legal option they could pursue, and we were never absolutely sure until the end that they would not," said one Trump adviser familiar with the legal negotiations.That threat governed the president's legal strategy in the months that would follow.Mr Trump's lawyers left the distinct public impression that they were not an equal match for Mr Mueller, a venerated former FBI director. Mr Dowd and Ty Cobb, another legal adviser to Mr Trump, were overheard by a reporter discussing over lunch at a popular Washington steakhouse how much they would cooperate with Mr Mueller. Mr Giuliani developed a habit of misspeaking in meandering television interviews.But behind the scenes, Mr Trump's legal advisers had a quiet weapon: a husband-and-wife pair of criminal lawyers, Jane and Martin Raskin, who brought rigor and regimen to the team when they came aboard in April 2018.While Mr Giuliani and attorney Jay Sekulow managed the public relations strategy, the Raskins did most of the lawyering from a temporary office they set up in Washington. They declined to comment.Mr Giuliani said that roughly 80 per cent of the Trump team's interactions with the special counsel's office were handled by Jane Raskin, who has known both Mr Mueller and Mr Quarles for years. She knew Mr Mueller from her time as a federal prosecutor in Boston, while her husband had worked with Mr Quarles.She communicated mostly by email, developing a written record that Mr Trump's attorneys intended to use as evidence of their cooperation and responsiveness if they ended up in court fighting a subpoena.Martin Raskin, meanwhile, did a great deal of the writing and editing of legal arguments, including a "counter report" defending the president that Mr Giuliani said has been prepared but may never be released.Central to the Trump strategy – developed first by Mr Cobb and Mr Dowd and later carried out by Mr Giuliani, Mr Sekulow and the Raskins, as well as Mr Flood, who from his White House perch represented the office of the presidency – was to cooperate fully with every request for documents and witnesses from Mr Mueller, including Mr Trump's written answers to some questions.Their goal: to satisfy Mr Mueller's hunt for information to the extent that the special counsel would not have legal standing to subpoena the president's oral testimony."We allowed them to question everybody, and they turned over every document they were asked for: 1.4 million documents," Mr Giuliani said. "We had what you would call unprecedented cooperation."Mr Trump's lawyers, citing the independent counsel investigation of Mr Espy, argued that to justify a subpoena of Mr Trump, Mr Mueller needed to prove he could not get the information in any way other than by asking the president."No matter what question they would say they wanted to ask, I felt confident we could turn it over and say, 'You already have the answer to it,'" Mr Giuliani said. "If they said, 'Why did you fire Comey?' I'd give them five interviews, and particularly the Lester Holt tape, where he goes into great detail as to his reasons."Mr Giuliani was referring to Mr Trump's May 2017 interview with the NBC Nightly News anchor in which the president said he was thinking about "this Russia thing" when he fired James Comey as FBI director, one of the actions Mr Mueller was investigating as possible obstruction of justice.All the while, Mr Giuliani said, the legal team was not convinced that it would have prevailed in court. "Honestly, I don't know who would have won," he said. "I think our argument got better as time went on. But I don't know if we would have won."As Mr Mueller's lawyers quietly laboured, a political storm was raging around them.Mr Trump, his lawyers and his allies in Congress routinely attacked Mr Mueller and his investigators as compromised and corrupt. The president repeatedly urged an end to the probe, which he condemned as a "witch hunt," a "fraud" and a "hoax" that was wasting taxpayer money.Mr Rosenstein urged lawmakers to respect the confidential work of the special counsel, saying in a June 2018 letter to senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the probe would comply with all laws and Justice Department policies.But Mr Rosenstein also noted that Mr Mueller was not an entirely independent actor – and that his work was being closely supervised."Under the terms of his appointment, both by statute and by regulation, special counsel Mueller remains accountable like every other subordinate Department official," Mr Rosenstein wrote.A few months later, Mr Flood sent his memo on the scope of executive privilege. While it made broad arguments, the document could have been construed to pertain to Mr Mueller's push to interview the president, according to someone with knowledge of the contents.Notably, Mr Flood sent the memo not just to Mr Mueller's office, but also to Mr Rosenstein by way of his top deputy, Edward O'Callaghan.Mr Flood declined to comment.As each month passed without a subpoena, the president's attorneys increasingly doubted that Mr Mueller would seek to obtain one, according to people with knowledge of internal discussions.Mr Mueller's team kept insisting it needed to interview the president – but never followed through with an actual demand.Mr Mueller and Mr Quarles would stress that they needed to know Mr Trump's intentions when he fired Mr Comey and took other actions that could have thwarted the Russia investigation. Jane Raskin would respond by pressing them for a legal justification for seeking to interview the president, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.The president's team asked, "What evidence have you obtained that justifies you interviewing the president?" according the person, who added that Mr Mueller's office was "never able to articulate a compelling case. They never gave up asking, but they had no good answer for that question."In the absence of an interview, Mr Trump's attorneys offered Mr Mueller a substitute: The president would provide answers to a set of questions about Russia and the campaign, submitted in writing. But, citing executive privilege, they refused to provide answers to questions pertaining to the president's time in office – questions that went to the heart of the special counsel's inquiry into possible obstruction of justice.However, the process of compiling answers dragged. Mr Trump's lawyers found it difficult to get the president to focus on drafting the submission, according to people familiar with the sessions. Mr Trump's meetings with his lawyers were frequently interrupted by phone calls and other White House business.Finally, in late November 2018, the lawyers sent Mr Trump's answers to Mr Mueller.In December, Mr Mueller's team made one more request for an interview with the president.And in January, the special counsel's office contacted Mr Trump's lawyers to ask some follow-up questions, according to people familiar with the request.But Mr Trump's lawyers again declined. They neither agreed to an interview nor answered the additional questions.Two months later, Mr Mueller submitted his report without having spoken to the president. The investigation was over.The Washington Post



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Boeing 737 MAX makes emergency landing during US transfer: FAA

Boeing 737 MAX makes emergency landing during US transfer: FAAA Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines made an emergency landing Tuesday after experiencing an engine problem as it was being ferried from Florida to California, the US Federal Aviation Agency said. “The FAA is investigating,” added the agency, which grounded the Boeing 737 MAX on March 13 following two deadly accidents involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air but continues to allow the planes to be ferried from airport to airport. It was the latest setback for Boeing’s flagship narrow-body plane following October’s Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines accident earlier this month, which together killed 346 people.



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Ilhan Omar hits back at Benjamin Netanyahu for attack during AIPAC speech: 'This from a man facing bribery indictments'

Ilhan Omar hits back at Benjamin Netanyahu for attack during AIPAC speech: 'This from a man facing bribery indictments'Ilhan Omar has hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he rebuked her comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. The freshman Democrat responded to a line from the prime minister’s speech at an event held by the lobbying group in which he appeared to rebuke her statement that stirred controversy and forced an anti-Semitism resolution in the US House of Representatives. “This from a man facing indictments for bribery and other crimes in three separate public corruption affairs,” the congresswoman wrote in a tweet, referring to Netanyahu.



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Ilhan Omar hits back at Benjamin Netanyahu for attack during AIPAC speech: 'This from a man facing bribery indictments'

Ilhan Omar hits back at Benjamin Netanyahu for attack during AIPAC speech: 'This from a man facing bribery indictments'Ilhan Omar has hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he rebuked her comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. The freshman Democrat responded to a line from the prime minister’s speech at an event held by the lobbying group in which he appeared to rebuke her statement that stirred controversy and forced an anti-Semitism resolution in the US House of Representatives. “This from a man facing indictments for bribery and other crimes in three separate public corruption affairs,” the congresswoman wrote in a tweet, referring to Netanyahu.



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'A gift sent from the heavens': Nebraska pals find fridge full of beer during flood cleanup

'A gift sent from the heavens': Nebraska pals find fridge full of beer during flood cleanupKyle Simpson and Gayland Stouffer had spent the day cleaning up from flooding in Nebraska when a fridge appeared in the distance. It was full of beer.



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Hero charged attacker during New Zealand mosque massacre: witness

Hero charged attacker during New Zealand mosque massacre: witnessA survivor of the Christchurch massacre has described how a heroic worshipper at one of the targeted mosques seized an empty rifle discarded by alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant and then used it to chase their attacker away. Alabi Lateef said he was praying with others inside Linwood Masjid, the second mosque attacked on Friday by self-confessed white supremacist Tarrant, when he heard the sound of gunfire. Alabi said he told worshippers to duck down and then described how he and a “brother” decided to confront the attacker during a lull in the gunfire.



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Dozens of Dogs Rescued from Filthy Conditions at Virginia Home During Dog Fighting Investigation

Dozens of Dogs Rescued from Filthy Conditions at Virginia Home During Dog Fighting InvestigationInvestigators seized 33 dogs from a Portsmouth home during an investigation into dog fighting, according to a search warrant.



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