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5-Year-Old A.J. Freund Died From Repeated Blows to the Head in Fatal Beating, Coroner Says

5-Year-Old A.J. Freund Died From Repeated Blows to the Head in Fatal Beating, Coroner SaysScott Olson/GettyAndrew “A.J.” Freund, the 5-year-old Illinois boy whose body was found Wednesday morning in the woods, was forced into a cold shower “for an extended period of time” before he was beaten “repeatedly” to death by his parents on April 15, prosecutors allege. He died as a result of “craniocerebral trauma” caused by “multiple blunt force injuries,” the McHenry County Coroner's office announced Thursday. Nine days after his murder, the missing toddler’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave about seven miles away from his Crystal Lake home. The toddler’s parents, 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham, who is currently pregnant, and 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., were arrested and charged hours after the Wednesday discovery with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, domestic battery, and failure to report a missing child or child death. Freund Sr. was also charged with concealment of a death.“It was apparent to me that nobody was going to sleep and nobody will sleep until justice is brought for AJ. This is the beginning of that process,” said FBI Agent Jeffrey Sallet at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.The couple appeared at McHenry County Circuit Court on Thursday morning, wearing orange prison jumpsuits as Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt set their bond at $ 5 million each. Both were represented by public defenders, who did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that three days before the 5-year-old’s parents reported him missing, he was forced into the shower and then “struck” to death.Local, state, and federal authorities launched a multi-county search for the little boy, finally finding his body after the couple was confronted with cell-phone evidence, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black told The Daily Beast on Thursday. Search crews recovered the toddler’s body in the woods and technicians immediately removed evidence from the family’s home, including a child’s mattress and a shovel. “To A.J.’s family, it is my hope that you may have some solace knowing that A.J. is no longer suffering, and his killers have been brought to justice,” Black said Wednesday. “To A.J., we know you’re at peace playing in heaven’s playground, and are happy you no longer have to suffer.”According to Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) records, A.J. was born in 2013 with “opiates in his system,” and was removed from his parents’ custody a month later. He was placed in foster care, records show, for two years before he was returned to Cunningham and Freund Sr. in June 2015. Twice last year, DCFS caseworkers were called to the Freund home to investigate separate allegations of neglect, but both were “determined to be unfounded,” a spokesperson said Thursday. In December, when police called the agency after Cunningham was arrested on a misdemeanor traffic charge, authorities documented “significant problems” with the couple’s “cluttered” and “dirty” home, including an “overwhelming” “smell of feces” in the toddlers’ bedroom, documents show. Crystal Lake Police also confirmed officers visited the home, which is an hour outside of Chicago, about 10 times over the past five years, and often noted the poor condition of the house in their reports. “This news is heartbreaking. Protecting vulnerable children who come to our attention is at the core of our mission at DCFS. All of us feel this loss,” Marc Smith, acting director of DCFS, said in a statement obtained by The Daily Beast. “Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew’s younger sibling.”A DCFS spokesman confirmed Thursday that the couple’s younger son, 3-year-old Parker, has been placed in protective custody.Cunningham and Freund are scheduled to appear in court on April 29. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Death toll from Sri Lanka bombing attacks rises to 359: police

Death toll from Sri Lanka bombing attacks rises to 359: policeThe death toll from the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka rose to 359, police said on Wednesday without providing any further details. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera released the toll but did not give a breakdown of casualties from the three churches and four hotels hit by suicide bombers. The attacks were claimed on Tuesday by the Islamic State militant group, which said they were carried out by seven attackers but gave no evidence to support the claim.



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Ford Is Getting a New Electric Vehicle from Michigan Startup Rivian

Ford Is Getting a New Electric Vehicle from Michigan Startup RivianFord's $ 500 million investment is another check mark for the startup American electric-truck company.



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Trump news – live: White House 'blocking' officials from testifying as senior Democrats join push for impeachment

Trump news – live: White House 'blocking' officials from testifying as senior Democrats join push for impeachmentThe Trump administration is being accused of “stonewalling” Congress by ignoring a deadline for the Treasury to hand over Donald Trump's tax returns and defying a subpoena requesting ex-personal security director Carl Kline appear before a House investigative committee.“It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” said Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.President Trump made his feelings on Democrat-led investigations in the wake of the Mueller report perfectly clear in an interview on Tuesday, stating: “There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan – obviously very partisan. I don’t want people testifying to a party, because that is what they’re doing if they do this.”Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load



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Kushner: Mueller Probe Worse for U.S. Than ‘a Few Facebook Ads’ From Russia

Kushner: Mueller Probe Worse for U.S. Than ‘a Few Facebook Ads’ From RussiaJared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Trump, on Tuesday claimed that the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been “way more harmful to our country” than any Russian meddling in the 2016 election.“I thought the whole thing was nonsense to be honest,” Kushner said of the two-year investigation, which concluded with the release of a 448-page report released last week. “It’s been very, very thoroughly investigated.”The findings, submitted to Congress by Attorney General William Barr, detailed Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election in support of Trump, in addition to at least ten potential instances of obstruction of justice by the president.Despite the embarrassing—and potentially criminal—details plainly described in the report, Kushner said at the TIME 100 Summit in New York that he believes the investigation has “been just a big distraction for the country.” “You look at Russia did: buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent. It’s a terrible thing, but I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads,” Kushner continued. “If you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.”Of course, Russia’s interference in the U.S. election wasn’t just “a couple Facebook ads,” as Kushner dismissively characterized it. The Mueller report described how Russia’s efforts to undermine the election “demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.” And beyond using social-media platforms to sow discord, Russian operatives engaged in cyber-espionage.TIME senior White House correspondent Brian Bennett, who interviewed Kushner at the Tuesday event, said as much: “Well, it was a lot more than Facebook ads. There were Russian operatives organizing real events during the campaign, so it had a real-world impact on their social-media campaign.”“Not only that,” Bennett added, “but Russia was actively hacking and stealing documents that they then systematically released at certain key points during the campaign. One of the biggest things I think that doesn’t sit well with the public is: Why didn’t the trump campaign openly say ‘Russia, we don’t need your help. We don’t want your help. Please stop.’”Kushner replied: “The one thing the Mueller report was conclusive on is that there was no coordination or collusion with the Trump campaign [and Russia]. Everything the president’s been saying and I’ve been saying for two years has been fully authenticated.”The TIME 100 Summit, which showcases several of the magazine’s picks for its 2019 list of the most influential people in the world, will also feature an interview with Trump’s nemesis, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign emails were among those stolen by Russian operatives.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Rudy Giuliani: There's 'Nothing Wrong' With Trump Campaign Taking Information From Russians

Rudy Giuliani: There's 'Nothing Wrong' With Trump Campaign Taking Information From RussiansRobert Mueller's report detailed over 100 interactions between Trump's associates and Russians



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President Trump and his businesses ask a court to block Congress from obtaining accounting records

President Trump and his businesses ask a court to block Congress from obtaining accounting recordsPresident Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Monday to block a House subpoena for financial records from the Trump Organization's accountant, Mazars USA



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Trump lawyer Giuliani says 'there's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians'

Trump lawyer Giuliani says 'there's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians'Defending President Trump’s campaign for its willingness to accept help from Russia in the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said there was “nothing wrong” with a campaign taking information from foreign sources.



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‘Nothing wrong with taking information from Russians’, Giuliani says as Democrats keep Trump impeachment options open

‘Nothing wrong with taking information from Russians’, Giuliani says as Democrats keep Trump impeachment options openDonald Trump’s personal lawyer has claimed there was “nothing wrong” with his campaign taking information from Russia, as the fallout and toxicity triggered by the publication of Robert Mueller’s report grew.As Democrats said they were keeping open their options of seeking to impeach Mr Trump for his alleged efforts to obstruct Mr Mueller’s probe, Rudy Giuliani went on the offensive, saying “any politician” in the US would have sought damaging information about an electoral rival.“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Mr Giuliani told CNN. Asked by CNN host Jake Tapper if he would have taken information from a foreign source, the former New York city mayor replied: “I probably wouldn’t. I wasn’t asked. I would have advised, just out of excess of caution, don’t do it.”Mr Giuliani’s defence of the president came after senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate who lost to Barack Obama, launched a scathing attack on Mr Trump’s campaign, following the release of Mr Mueller’s report. While the report said it did not find evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, it said the “investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government”. It also said, Russia’s alleged interference in the election was intended to help Mr Trump.Among those interactions was a now infamous meeting at Trump Tower in New York in the summer of 2016, when Mr Trump’s eldest son and other campaign members, met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who had allegedly offered incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. The president later said no such information had been provided, and that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was seeking to lobby the campaign on overturning a specific US sanction targeting several Russians.Mr Romney, one of a just a handful of senior Republicans to voice concern about the report’s finding, said in a statement released on Friday: “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.“I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia.”Speaking on Sunday, Mr Giuliani claimed Mr Romney’s 2012 campaign had also tried to “dig up dirt on people”. “Stop the bull. What a hypocrite. What a hypocrite,” Mr Giuliani said. “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information – who says it’s even illegal?”Democrats are now confronted with a difficult choice of whether to push for Mr Trump’s impeachment, something favoured by progressives such as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or focus their efforts on defeating him in the 2020 election.Democrat Jerry Nadler, chair of the House of Representative’s judiciary committee, whose panel would lead any impeachment proceedings, said his party would press ahead with investigations of Mr Trump in congress and “see where the facts lead us”.“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” he told NBC News.Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the same chamber’s intelligence committee, told Fox News the issue of whether to seek Mr Trump’s impeachment would be “very consequential”. He added: “I’m going to reserve judgment on until we have a chance to fully deliberate on it.”



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