Tag Archives: Special

Judge orders special prosecutor to examine Smollett probe

Judge orders special prosecutor to examine Smollett probeA judge decided to appoint a special prosecutor Friday to investigate the decision by Cook County prosecutors to dismiss all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to the police by claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January. In a ruling that leaves open the possibility that Smollett could be charged again, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin suggested that the county's state's attorney, Kim Foxx, mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide to oversee it after she recused herself. Foxx had been in contact with a relative of the actor and had been approached by former first lady Michelle Obama's one-time chief of staff on behalf of Smollett's family, and she explained at the time that she was recusing herself to avoid "even the perception of a conflict" of interest.



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Iran Knocked Out of the Sky a Very Special U.S. Drone (And Exposed a Key Weakness)

Iran Knocked Out of the Sky a Very Special U.S. Drone (And Exposed a Key Weakness)The shoot-down of a U.S. Navy surveillance drone on June 20, 2019 underscores a weakness in the Pentagon’s surveillance forces.Aside from a few classified vehicles, the U.S. military largely relies on slow, non-stealthy manned and unmanned aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Those ISR systems are vulnerable to the latest Iranian, Chinese and Russian air defenses.The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed it shot down a “U.S.-made Global Hawk surveillance drone” flying in Iranian air space near the Strait of Hormuz. U.S. Central Command clarified that the drone was a Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator, a prototype naval variant of the 737-size Global Hawk. BAMS-D carries cameras and a radar and is designed to swoop between high and low altitudes, alternately scanning wide areas for ships then individually identifying them.Northrop built four BAMS-D drones starting in 2008. The Navy has stationed two of them in the United Arab Emirates for operational use as it prepares to deploy the full MQ-4C naval version of the Global Hawk starting in late 2019.



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'Oh my God. This is terrible.': Top quotes from special counsel Robert Mueller's report

'Oh my God. This is terrible.': Top quotes from special counsel Robert Mueller's report"Lawyers don't take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes," Trump told counsel Don McGahn, who replied he did because he's a "real lawyer."



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Mueller report: Donald Trump attempted to have Russia investigation's special counsel fired

Mueller report: Donald Trump attempted to have Russia investigation's special counsel firedKey findings from special counsel's Trump investigation Redacted report finds Russians 'did not have cooperation of President' Trump tweets 'GAME OVER' and says 'I'm having a good day' Mueller found Trump's answers 'inadequate' but decided against subpoena Democrats decry 'partisan effort to spin Mueller report' Analysis: Mueller's report shows how Donald Trump was saved from himself Donald Trump ordered the removal of special counsel Robert Mueller after expressing fears the Russia probe would “end” his presidency, the newly released Mueller report concluded. The US president phoned his White House legal counsel weeks after Mr Mueller had been appointed to lead the Russian election meddling investigation and said he “had to go”.  The order, which ultimately was not acted upon, was one of 11 incidents of alleged obstruction of justice which Mr Mueller recounted in detail in his 448-page report, released with redactions on Thursday.   Other controversial episodes included Mr Trump attempting to limit the Russia probe’s remit and trying to put one of his cabinet members back in charge of the investigation.  Mr Mueller did not clear the president over obstruction of justice, instead handing that decision on to Mr Trump's Justice Department – who in turn decided not to bring charges.  "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr Mueller’s report concluded.  "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”  The obstruction of justice findings formed only half of Mr Mueller’s report, with volume one looking at Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign – the original reason for the probe.  Those findings were much more categoric for the president. Mr Mueller concluded that neither Mr Trump nor his campaign advisers conspired with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  Mr Mueller found that figures linked to the Russian government made a "systematic" attempt to influence the election, both by hacking Democratic Party emails and spreading disinformation to US voters.  Mr Mueller did find that the Trump campaign had "expected" to benefit electorally from "information stolen and released through Russian efforts" and in some instances figures were “receptive” to offers.  However he concluded no crime had been committed, saying that the Trump campaign had not "coordinated or conspired with the Russian government". TOLD YA!!!— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 18, 2019 Mr Trump had proclaimed victory even before the report was published, tweeting an image in the style of TV show Game of Thrones with the words “GAME OVER”.  The president’s lawyers called the report a “total victory”, adding: “This vindication of the President is an important step forward for the country and a strong reminder that this type of abuse must never be permitted to occur again.”  Leading Democrats criticised the administration’s handling of the report – which saw Mr Trump’s attorney general giving a press conference before publication – but remained largely silent on its contents.  Findings in volume two of the report, about Mr Trump’s actions towards the probe and whether they amounted to obstruction of justice, contained many new details.  It recounted how Mr Trump said after Mr Mueller was appointed in May 2017: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f—–.” In total 11 separate incidents of alleged obstruction were looked at, many of which had been reported before, giving detailed accounts of what happened and whether it could amount to a crime.  One involved Mr Trump calling Don McGahn, at the time his White House counsel, and ordering him to remove Mr Mueller. The report says that in June 2017, The Washington Post reported that Mr Mueller was investigating whether the president himself had obstructed justice.  The following Saturday, Mr Trump called Mr McGahn twice and urged him to tell the man overseeing the probe – Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general – that Mr Mueller had conflicts of interest.  Mr McGahn recalled Mr Trump telling him in the second call that “Mueller had to go”. Instead of following the direction Mr McGahn prepared to resign, but was persuaded not to by senior advisers.  Another incident recounted in the report described how Mr Trump met with Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, alone in the White House.  During the meeting Mr Trump is said to have “dictated a message” meant for Jeff Sessions, his then attorney general, attempting to limit the probe’s scope to Russian meddling in future elections only.  Robert Mueller Credit:  AP In a third instant, Mr Trump ordered Mr McGahn to issue a statement denying he had been ordered to get rid of Mr Mueller by the president after the press got wind of the story. He refused to do so.  Mr Mueller ultimately concluded that Mr Trump’s attempts to limit the investigation were largely unsuccessful because those people ordered by the president to take certain steps decided not to do so.  There were also new details in volume one, which looked at Russia election interference.  A key focus of the investigation was a meeting on June 9, 2016 between senior campaign figures, including Donald Trump Jr, and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Mr Mueller said emails setting up the meeting showed "that the campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump's electoral prospects". However, he concluded the meeting did not rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy to collude with Russia. He said the "evidence was not sufficient to charge any campaign official" with being an unregistered agent of the Russian government, or with campaign finance violations. The Mueller report also found that the Trump campaign had been tipped off before the election about the presence of potentially damaging Russian “tapes” from when he visited for the Miss Universe Pageant. It is unclear what the tapes were said to show.  William Barr, the US attorney general, used a press conference earlier in the day to explain Mr Trump’s actions towards the investigation, saying that the president had been “frustrated and angered”.  Attending an event in the White House on Thursday, Mr Trump said: "I'm having a good day. It's called 'No collusion, no obstruction'." 8:38PM Democrats won't pursue impeachment The two most senior Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have issued a joint statement criticising the administration’s handling of the report. They said there are "stark" differences between what Mr Barr and Mr Mueller have said about obstruction of justice.  As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: AG Barr presented a conclusion that @realDonaldTrump did not obstruct justice while the MuellerReport appears to undercut that finding. pic.twitter.com/mHCzGc8RGT— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 18, 2019 However, Democrats have indicated they would not pursue impeachment of Mr Trump based on the Mueller report. Steny Hoyer, the Democrat leader in the House of Representatives, said: "Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. "Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment."  8:31PM Trump's personal legal team reviewed report The president's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said he was not briefed on the Mueller report but was able to review it in a secure room in the Department of Justice. 8:04PM Democrat: Mueller report a 'road map' for Congress Congressman Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has just held a press conference. He accused attorney general Bill Barr of undermining "an unsettling willingness to undermine his own department in order to protect President Trump”. He said it was “disingenuous and misleading” of Mr Barr to say Mr Trump is “clear of wrongdoing”. Mr Nadler told reporters in New York that Mr Mueller probably wrote the report with the intent of providing Congress a road map for future action, but the congressman said it was "too early" to talk about impeachment. 6:20PM HBO unimpressed by Trump tweet HBO responds to Trump's GoT-themed tweet: “Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes.” t.co/KOZ17dXhkz— Brian Fung (@b_fung) April 18, 2019 6:19PM Russia: 'Mueller investigation is a bad TV series' Alec Luhn in Moscow reports: Russian state television has finally picked up on the Mueller report, covering it in its second story on the six o'clock news—after Vladimir Putin discussing new road projects with the Moscow governor—and comparing the investigation to a "bad television series". "There was no collusion. Prosecutor general William Barr confirmed that neither Trump nor any other Americans had any agreements with Russia," the state television anchor began.  "The US press has claimed every day for two years that Trump colluded with Russia, it was as if you could be shot for expressing any other opinion. Russia was of course to blame for everything, but in fact neither Trump nor any other American was involved with Russian. This conclusion cost Americans $ 25 million. In reality, the Mueller commission didn't find anything." "In the United States they think Russia interfered in the election, but Trump had nothing to do with this," the channel's correspondent in Washington told viewers. A Kremlin spokesman, when asked whether Mr Putin will be told about the Mueller report, said: "First we have to flip through the document to understand if there's anything there worth analysing."  5:40PM Trump campaign says 'investigate' those who started the Russia probe   Brad Parscale, Mr Trump's 2020 campaign manager, has issued a statement. He said: "President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again. Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever. "Now that the collusion and obstruction conspiracy theories have been exposed for the pathetic hoaxes they always were, the Obama-era department of justice and FBI must answer for their misdeeds, and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people. Justice will be served." 5:33PM Why Mueller decided not to prosecute Trump Jnr The investigation decided not to prosecute the president's son, Donald Jnr, and other members of the campaign for campaign finance violations over their infamous Trump Tower meeting because they couldn't prove their "mental state".  "Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting." Mr Mueller added: "A prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law." The report also notes that when journalists learned that a Russian lawyer had proposed the June meeting and offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump edited Donald Jnr's response to the reporters admitting those facts. Instead, Donald Jnr's statement claimed the meeting had been about adoptions. He later acknowledged the real reason but described it as "opposition research". Mr Trump's personal lawyer "repeatedly denied the president had played any role" to journalist, the report states. 5:16PM Trump attempted to fire Mueller Mr Trump called then White House counsel Don McGahn in June 2017 and directed him to call the acting attorney general and say Mr Mueller "had conflicts of interest and must be removed". Mr McGahn refused to do so, saying he would "rather resign".  5:05PM Russians targeted Clinton within hours of Trump appeal Mueller says Russian intelligence targeted Clinton’s personal office within five hours of Trump publicly requesting it on July 27, 2016— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 18, 2019 5:00PM Trump: 'I'm f—-d' after Mueller appointment After Mr Mueller's appointment Donald Trump said: ''I'm f—-d'.  According to the report, Mr Trump was devastated when Mr Mueller was appointed as special counsel. He told attorney general Jeff Sessions: "Oh my God this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I' m f—-d. How could you let this happen Jeff? "Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won't be able to do anything. "This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me." 4:49PM Mueller 'unable' to conclude Donald Trump was 'not guilty of obstruction'   Mr Mueller said in his investigation report he was unable to declare Mr Trump not guilty of obstruction of justice based on the evidence. He wrote: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment." BREAKING: Mueller said he lacked confidence to clear Donald Trump of obstruction of justice but suggested Congress could take action on at least 10 instances where the president sought to interfere with the probe.— Mike Dorning (@MikeDorning) April 18, 2019 4:47PM House Democrats call for Mueller to testify before them Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has "formally invited" Mr Mueller to testify before the committee. "After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin," Mr Schiff says. The House Intelligence Committee has formally invited Special Counsel Mueller to testify on the counterintelligence investigation. After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin. pic.twitter.com/PWIXvl7MLv— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 18, 2019  Republicans have hit back, saying it is time to "move on". House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's statement: "It is time to move on."— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) April 18, 2019 4:44PM Russia investigation sparked 14 other probes Mr Mueller referred 14 investigations to other state prosecutors, including one of Mr Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen and one involving President Obama's former White House counsel Greg Craig. The other 12 investigations have been redacted. 4:41PM Mueller found Trump's answers 'inadequate' but decided against subpoena Mr Mueller's team considered Mr Trump's written answers "inadequate", but decided against issuing a subpoena for an in-person interview because it would delay the investigation, the report reveals. The special counsel wrote in the report: "We made the decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation". "We had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President's testimony." The report also states that although the Office of Legal Council has concluded a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, "a criminal investigation during a President’s term is permissible." The report also highlights that the OLC legal opinion recognises that Mr Trump "does not have immunity" after he leaves office. 4:26PM Mueller report released to public A redacted version of the special counsel's report has been released to the public. You can find all 448 pages here. 4:22PM Trump: I'm having a 'good day' Donald Trump says he is having a 'good day'. Attending an event for Wounded Warriors the president said: "I'm having a good day. Its' called 'No collusion, no obstruction'. "There never was there never will be. This should never happen to another president again, this hoax." President Donald Trump at the White House today Credit: AP 4:05PM Pelosi: 'staggering partisan effort to spin Mueller report' Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House Speaker,  says: "AG Barr has confirmed the staggering partisan effort by the Trump admin to spin the public's view" of the Mueller report. 3:56PM Russia says it is not concerned by Mueller report Alec Luhn in Moscow writes: Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian president is not following the publication of the Mueller report.  "For us this isn't an issue, it's not a topic of interest, it's not a topic of fear, it's not a topic of concern. All these reports by Mueller and other reports about this until today have not brought anything besides superficial, unprofessional statements. We have lots of other important, interesting, fruitful and constructive affairs, so we prefer to concentrate on that," Mr Peskov said. Specifically, Mr Putin was shown on state TV meeting with the governor of the Moscow region to discuss the development of the road system today. At the same time, Mr Peskov confirmed that Mr Trump's security council Russia advisor Fiona Hill did indeed visit Moscow, as was reported by a Russian newspaper this morning. She met in the Kremlin with top Putin advisor Sergei Ushakov to discuss "questions of bilateral relations" when she was in Moscow on April 16-17, he said. He said she did not discuss a possible meeting between Trump and Putin. 3:23PM Trump: 'Game over'  Mr Barr concludes his 22-minute press conference which was full of positive news for the president. As he took questions Mr Barr was asked to defend himself against accusations that he was spinning the report on Mr Trump's behalf. Mr Barr dismissed the question and brought the q&a; session to a close shortly afterwards.  Meanwhile Mr Trump, who was watching the conference live from the White House, tweeted "no obstruction, no collusion. Game over" with a Game of Thrones inspired image of himself. pic.twitter.com/222atp7wuB— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019 3:12PM Barr says Trump had 'non-corrupt motives' and 'cooperated fully' Mr Barr says: "Evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation. "There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks." He went on to say: "The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel's investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims." He says none of the redactions in the report were made due to executive privilege, a legal doctrine that allows the president to withhold information from other government branches.  The White House counsel was given an opportunity to read the report before publication. 3:03PM 10 episodes of Trump obstruction of justice Mr Barr says Mr Mueller examined ten episodes pertaining to President Trump and obstruction of justice.  The report "recounts ten episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offence". But he added that he and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had decided "the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offence." We do not yet know what these episodes relate to but the firing of FBI director James Comey is likely to be one of them. At the time, the Trump administration said they were taking the action because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. However, Mr Trump later admitted in an NBC interview that "this Russia thing" was on his mind when he fired him. 3:00PM Trump faced 'unprecedented situation' Mr Barr says  "in assessing the president's actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation".  "As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinising his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president's personal culpability." 2:42PM Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, AG says Attorney General Bill Barr began by talking about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He said: "I am sure all Americans share my concern about the Russian attempt to interfere in our investigation. Thanks to the special counsel's investigation we now know that the Russians did not have the co-operation of President Trump or the Trump campaign. " 2:39PM Barr and Rosenstein 'disagreed' with Mueller on obstruction of justice Attorney General Bill Barr opens his press conference by stating he is "committed to ensuring the greatest degree” of transparency. Mr Barr says he will deliver a redacted copy of the Mueller report to Congress at 11am (4pm UK) and the report will then be posted the department’s website. William Barr speaks about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report Credit: AP “Volume 1” of Mr Mueller’s report focuses on the question of Trump-Russia collusion, Mr Barr says. Going on to say it  "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.” He went on to thank his deputy Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Russia investigation, for staying on to see its conclusion. However he went on to say that he and Mr Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mr Mueller's "legal theories" about obstruction of justice. 2:37PM 'No collusion – no obstruction!' President Donald Trump has posted his own video cut of the last two years. No Collusion – No Obstruction! pic.twitter.com/diggF8V3hl— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019 2:30PM 5am texts from Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, has been up since the crack of dawn briefing the press on the White House's take on the report. “Ready to rumble,” Mr Giuliani texted the Washington Post in anticipation of the Mueller report, adding the counter-report his team has been preparing is "30 or so” pages “without appendix.”  2:26PM Robert Mueller may be called to Congress House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Wednesday he would "probably find it useful" to call Robert Mueller and members of his team to testify after reading a redacted version of the report. Mr Nadler also criticised the attorney general for trying to "bake in the narrative" of the report to the benefit of the White House. Late Wednesday, Mr Nadler joined the chairs of four other House committees in calling for William Barr to cancel his news conference. But Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, defended Mr Barr and accused Democrats of "trying to spin the report." Mr Collins said Mr Barr had done "nothing unilaterally," saying he had worked with Mr Rosenstein and Mr Mueller’s team "step by step." Democrats have vowed to fight in court for the disclosure of the additional information from the report and say they have subpoenas ready to go if it is heavily redacted.



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Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testify

Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testifyAttorney general William Barr is set to appear before Congress for the first time since he received Robert Mueller's Russia report — and Democrats say they plan on grilling him on it as soon as they have the opportunity.The eyes of Washington – and of observers around the world – have been fixed on Mr Barr since last month when the special counsel submitted his report to the justice department after nearly two years of investigating Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.Democrats have already indicated that they are planning a push beyond Mr Barr’s testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, and say they want to bring in Mr Mueller himself at some point to explain his findings.“In order to ask special counsel Mueller the right questions, the committee must receive the special counsel’s full report and hear from attorney general Barr about that report on May 2. We look forward to hearing from Mr Mueller at the appropriate time,” tweeted House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler.Shortly after Mr Barr received the Mueller report last month, he penned a short letter to Congress indicating that Mr Mueller’s team had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In that letter, Mr Barr also said he had determined not to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.In the time since, though, reports have surfaced indicating that members of Mr Mueller’s team felt as though the attorney general let the president off easy, leading to demands among Democrats for the report to be released in full.“Certainly the Mueller report will come up," congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, told Fox News, while discussing Mr Barr’s planned testimony.“I may ask about that, but probably not,” the Pennsylvania politician continued. “Until the actual redacted version of the Mueller report comes out, we’re all just kind of stabbing around in the dark about what’s going to be left out.”Mr Barr’s visit to Capitol Hill comes as the justice department’s budget is being considered in Washington, although that process is likely to be overshadowed by the Russia questions that have captivated the US for much of the Trump presidency.While Mr Barr can expect some tough questioning from Democrats in the House and Senate appropriations committees, the forums are not known for the kinds of political grandstanding that was seen during the testimony of other key players in the Russia investigation like Michael Cohen or James Comey.The House’s committee is chaired by Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is rarely featured in national press reports. Her Republican counterpart is representative Kay Granger.The Senate committee, meanwhile, is chaired by senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. The top democrat on that committee is senator Patrick Leahy.Mr Barr has indicated he plans on sending a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress sometime later this month, and that the Justice Department is currently working to ensure that sensitive information — like grand jury information and information related to ongoing investigations — is redacted.It is unclear how satisfied democrats in Congress will be with the report, and many have already made demands for the entire, unredacted report.



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Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testify

Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testifyAttorney general William Barr is set to appear before Congress for the first time since he received Robert Mueller's Russia report — and Democrats say they plan on grilling him on it as soon as they have the opportunity.The eyes of Washington – and of observers around the world – have been fixed on Mr Barr since last month when the special counsel submitted his report to the justice department after nearly two years of investigating Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.Democrats have already indicated that they are planning a push beyond Mr Barr’s testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, and say they want to bring in Mr Mueller himself at some point to explain his findings.“In order to ask special counsel Mueller the right questions, the committee must receive the special counsel’s full report and hear from attorney general Barr about that report on May 2. We look forward to hearing from Mr Mueller at the appropriate time,” tweeted House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler.Shortly after Mr Barr received the Mueller report last month, he penned a short letter to Congress indicating that Mr Mueller’s team had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In that letter, Mr Barr also said he had determined not to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.In the time since, though, reports have surfaced indicating that members of Mr Mueller’s team felt as though the attorney general let the president off easy, leading to demands among Democrats for the report to be released in full.“Certainly the Mueller report will come up," congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, told Fox News, while discussing Mr Barr’s planned testimony.“I may ask about that, but probably not,” the Pennsylvania politician continued. “Until the actual redacted version of the Mueller report comes out, we’re all just kind of stabbing around in the dark about what’s going to be left out.”Mr Barr’s visit to Capitol Hill comes as the justice department’s budget is being considered in Washington, although that process is likely to be overshadowed by the Russia questions that have captivated the US for much of the Trump presidency.While Mr Barr can expect some tough questioning from Democrats in the House and Senate appropriations committees, the forums are not known for the kinds of political grandstanding that was seen during the testimony of other key players in the Russia investigation like Michael Cohen or James Comey.The House’s committee is chaired by Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is rarely featured in national press reports. Her Republican counterpart is representative Kay Granger.The Senate committee, meanwhile, is chaired by senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. The top democrat on that committee is senator Patrick Leahy.Mr Barr has indicated he plans on sending a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress sometime later this month, and that the Justice Department is currently working to ensure that sensitive information — like grand jury information and information related to ongoing investigations — is redacted.It is unclear how satisfied democrats in Congress will be with the report, and many have already made demands for the entire, unredacted report.



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Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testify

Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testifyAttorney general William Barr is set to appear before Congress for the first time since he received Robert Mueller's Russia report — and Democrats say they plan on grilling him on it as soon as they have the opportunity.The eyes of Washington – and of observers around the world – have been fixed on Mr Barr since last month when the special counsel submitted his report to the justice department after nearly two years of investigating Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.Democrats have already indicated that they are planning a push beyond Mr Barr’s testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, and say they want to bring in Mr Mueller himself at some point to explain his findings.“In order to ask special counsel Mueller the right questions, the committee must receive the special counsel’s full report and hear from attorney general Barr about that report on May 2. We look forward to hearing from Mr Mueller at the appropriate time,” tweeted House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler.Shortly after Mr Barr received the Mueller report last month, he penned a short letter to Congress indicating that Mr Mueller’s team had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In that letter, Mr Barr also said he had determined not to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.In the time since, though, reports have surfaced indicating that members of Mr Mueller’s team felt as though the attorney general let the president off easy, leading to demands among Democrats for the report to be released in full.“Certainly the Mueller report will come up," congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, told Fox News, while discussing Mr Barr’s planned testimony.“I may ask about that, but probably not,” the Pennsylvania politician continued. “Until the actual redacted version of the Mueller report comes out, we’re all just kind of stabbing around in the dark about what’s going to be left out.”Mr Barr’s visit to Capitol Hill comes as the justice department’s budget is being considered in Washington, although that process is likely to be overshadowed by the Russia questions that have captivated the US for much of the Trump presidency.While Mr Barr can expect some tough questioning from Democrats in the House and Senate appropriations committees, the forums are not known for the kinds of political grandstanding that was seen during the testimony of other key players in the Russia investigation like Michael Cohen or James Comey.The House’s committee is chaired by Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is rarely featured in national press reports. Her Republican counterpart is representative Kay Granger.The Senate committee, meanwhile, is chaired by senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. The top democrat on that committee is senator Patrick Leahy.Mr Barr has indicated he plans on sending a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress sometime later this month, and that the Justice Department is currently working to ensure that sensitive information — like grand jury information and information related to ongoing investigations — is redacted.It is unclear how satisfied democrats in Congress will be with the report, and many have already made demands for the entire, unredacted report.



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Betsy DeVos wants to cut Special Olympics funds and people are outraged: What we know now

Betsy DeVos wants to cut Special Olympics funds and people are outraged: What we know nowEducation Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposal to eliminate federal funding for Special Olympics has drawn strong reaction on Capitol Hill and beyond.



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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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Text of letter summarizing special counsel's report

Text of letter summarizing special counsel's reportThe text of Attorney General William Barr's letter to congressional lawmakers outlining the principal conclusions reached by the special counsel in the Russia probe (with footnotes below):



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