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The Pronk Pops Show 1093, June 14, 2018, Story 1: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray Responds To Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) 568 Page Report — Videos — Story 2: American People Demand Appointment of Special Counsel To Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspirators To Restore Public Confidence in Integrity of DOJ and FBI Employees — We Will Rock You — Deplorable POS – Videos — Story 3: Happy 72nd Birthday President Trump — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1093, June 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1092, June 13, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1091, June 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1090, June 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1088, June 6, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1087, June 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1086, May 31, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1085, May 30, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1084, May 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1083, May 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1082, May 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1081, May 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1078, May 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1077, May 15, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1075, May 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1073, May 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1072, May 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1071, May 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1069, May 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1068, April 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1067, April 25, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1066, April 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1065, April 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1064, April 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1063, April 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1062, April 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1061, April 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1060, April 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1059, April 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1058, April 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1057, April 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1056, April 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1055, April 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1054, March 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1053, March 28, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1052, March 27, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1051, March 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1050, March 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1049, March 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1048, March 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1047, March 20, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1046, March 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1045, March 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1044, March 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1043, March 6, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1042, March 1, 2018

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Story 1: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray Responds To Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) 568 Page Report- Videos —

 

Read IG Report

 

FBI employee calls Trump supporters “are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS …) (Piece of Shit)

“No documented political bias” — bureaucratic BS (bullshit)!

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Mark Levin: Not a single pro-Trump FBI agent in IG report

Horror show’: Trump hammers IG report findings

Giuliani on IG report: Mueller should suspend investigation

Giuliani: Time to investigate Mueller’s investigators

Nunes: IG report shows text messages were held from Congress

Gowdy, Goodlatte react to inspector general’s report on FBI

Sara Carter Reacts to Inspector General’s Report on FBI

Roger Stone, Dinesh D’Souza react to DOJ IG’s report

Steyn: IG report shows there is no rule book in the FBI

FBI director Christoper Wray reacts to the IG report on Clinton email investigation

Mark Levin: Not a single pro-Trump FBI agent in IG report

Sebastian Gorka: IG report is 560-page cover-up

‘Clinton Cash’ author reacts to IG report on email probe

Cuomo, congressman spar over DOJ report

Joe Arpaio: Why don’t we blame the adults?

Tucker: IG report is catalog of bias, abuse of power

Fitton: DOJ, FBI bent over backwards to protect Clinton

Steyn: IG report shows there is no rule book in the FBI

Gowdy, Goodlatte react to inspector general’s report on FBI

Three takeaways from IG report

IG Report shows foreign actors gained access to Clinton emails

IG report shows Comey broke FBI protocol

How will the FBI adjust after the Clinton email probe report?

Should Comey celebrate after release of IG report?

Napolitano: Very little in IG report we didn’t already know

IG Report: ‘We’ll stop’ Trump from becoming President

DOJ Inspector General report on Clinton email probe released

Tom Fitton: IG report will ‘destroy’ credibility of FBI, DOJ

 

Comey Was ‘Insubordinate’ in Clinton Probe, Inspector General Finds

 Updated on 

Former FBI Director James Comey was “insubordinate” in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, damaging the bureau and the Justice Department’s image of impartiality even though he wasn’t motivated by politics, the department’s watchdog found.

Although the report issued Thursday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz doesn’t deal directly with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with those around Donald Trump, the president and his Republican allies in Congress were primed to seize on it as evidence of poor judgment and anti-Trump bias within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department.

[Read the report here]

Horowitz said that five FBI officials expressed hostility toward Trump before his election as president and disclosed in his report to Congress that their actions have been referred to the bureau for possible disciplinary action.

“The president was briefed on the IG report earlier today, and it reaffirmed the president’s suspicions about Comey’s conduct and the political bias among some of the members of the FBI,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the 500-page report.

One example cited in the new document is an exchange of texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page on Aug. 8, 2016. Page questioned whether Trump would become president. Strzok replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

Under those circumstances, Horowitz said “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up” on potential new evidence in the Clinton case “was free from bias.”

Zeroing in on the evidence of anti-Trump sentiment, Representative Darrell Issa of California said “it appears as though all or most of the 39 people who were tangentially involved had a bias toward believing they were going to work for Hillary Clinton — and as a result didn’t have the guts to take on wrongdoing.”

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that “any effort to use this report as an excuse for shutting down Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is both disingenuous and dangerous. Nothing in this report detracts from the credibility and critical importance of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Clinton Decision

Horowitz, whose office said it reviewed more than 1.2 million documents and interviewed more than 100 witnesses, didn’t challenge Comey’s fundamental decision against recommending prosecution of Clinton for mishandling classified information.

But the inspector general called it “extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors, the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same.”

Tracking Trump: Follow the Administration’s Every Move

He said that “we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part,” but “by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

The report also noted that Comey used personal email at times to conduct official business.

Comey’s Response

Comey said the report “found no evidence that bias or improper motivation affected the investigation, which I know was done competently, honestly and independently.” In an op-ed article for the New York Times, he said the report “also resoundingly demonstrates that there was no prosecutable case against Mrs. Clinton, as we had concluded.”

Horowitz examined actions taken by top officials before the 2016 election, including the handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. The inquiry expanded to touch on an array of politically sensitive decisions by officials including Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that John Huber, a U.S. attorney based in Utah who’s reviewing allegations of FBI bias and wrongdoing, “will provide recommendations as to whether any matter not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of Special Counsel.”

The FBI said in a statement included in the inspector general’s report that Comey’s handling of the Clinton findings may have violated regulations on releasing information and that his letter disclosing reopening of the inquiry shortly before the election “was a serious error in judgment.”

The bureau also said it accepts findings “that certain text messages, instant messages and statements, along with a failure to consistently apply DoJ and FBI interview policies, were inappropriate and created an appearance that political bias might have improperly influenced investigative actions or decisions.”

Why Mueller Is One Contestant Trump Can’t Easily Fire: A QuickTake

Some of what Horowitz discovered has already been made public, and Trump and Republican lawmakers have pounced on those findings in an effort to discredit Comey and, by extension, the investigation now being run by Mueller.

In tweets, Trump has called Comey’s investigation into Clinton “phony and dishonest” and said that Comey, who he fired on May 9, 2017, left the FBI’s reputation in tatters.

Trump’s Interest

Trump has expressed great interest in the inspector general’s report, as well as some skepticism it might not be as damning as he hoped.

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey,” Trump tweeted on June 5. “Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!”

The inspector general reviewed Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that no prosecutor would find grounds to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for improperly handling classified information on her private email server. He also looked at Comey’s decision to inform Congress only days before the election that the Clinton investigation was being re-opened. Comey’s public announcement of findings angered Republicans, while his reopening of the inquiry outraged Democrats.

“This finding could have been reached the day of Comey’s press conference,” Brian Fallon, who was spokesman for Clinton’s presidential campaign, said Thursday. “It was obvious at the time that Comey was completely deviating from department protocols and it had a fateful impact on the 2016 campaign and the long-term reputation of the FBI.”

Anti-Trump Texts

Republican critics seized on previous revelations from the inspector general Strzok and Page, two of the FBI officials who worked on Mueller’s Russia investigation, exchanged text messages sharply critical of Trump. Mueller removed Strzok from the inquiry after the texts were discovered, and Page has since left the FBI.

But Horowitz said in the report to be issued Thursday that “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.” Still, he wrote that “the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”

Comey-Lynch Criticism

Horowitz found a “troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” between Comey and Attorney General Lynch ahead of Comey’s July 5 press conference on Clinton and his October 28 letter to Congress.

“We found it extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided that the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions.”

Lynch had announced that she would go along with whatever Comey recommended with regard to the Clinton case, although she didn’t formally recuse herself. Lynch had come under heated criticism for agreeing to meet with former President Bill Clinton in June 2016 on her plane while it was sitting on a tarmac in Phoenix. The two sides have said they didn’t discuss anything related to the investigation.

The inspector general released a report in April finding that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe lacked candor on four different occasions regarding interactions with the media, including providing information to a news reporter about the FBI’s investigation into the foundation created by Hillary and Bill Clinton. The inspector general has referred the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for further investigation.

Attorney General Sessions relied on the report to fire McCabe only hours before he was set to retire and qualify for his full government pension. McCabe and his lawyer have adamantly contested the allegations.

The inspector general also has opened a separate review into whether the Justice Department and FBI followed appropriate procedures in obtaining a secret warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016 and early 2017.

— With assistance by Jennifer Epstein, Jennifer Jacobs, Billy House, Justin Sink, and Steven T. Dennis

(Updates with White House comment in fourth paragraph.)

 

The Latest: FBI attorney removed for anti-Trump messages

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on a report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

An FBI attorney was removed from the special counsel’s Russia investigation in February after the Justice Department’s internal watchdog found he had written anti-Trump messages.

This was in addition to FBI agent Peter Strzok who was removed from the investigation last year after exchanging anti-Trump texts.

The reassignment of the FBI attorney was revealed in the report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s inspector general on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

It identifies the attorney as “FBI Attorney 2” and says he was assigned to the Clinton investigation and also to the investigation into Russian interference.

The report describes some of his messages, including one the day after the election in which he said he was “so stressed about what I could have done differently.” In another message, he called then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence “stupid.”

Strzok had exchanged his anti-Trump texts with another FBI attorney, Lisa Page, who had already left the special counsel’s team when he was reassigned.

4:30 p.m.

In a revelation some Democrats see as ironic, the Justice Department’s inspector general report about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation says former Director James Comey occasionally used personal email for work.

In several instances Comey forwarded items to his personal account, including drafts of messages and other unclassified items.

When interviewed by the inspector general, Comey said he used it for word processing at home when he was writing something longer. He said it was “incidental” and he forwarded the emails to his government account.

Comey said he wasn’t sure if that was in accordance with FBI regulations, but had checked it with another official and he “had the sense that it was okay.”

The inspector general says he did not follow regulations.

__

4:15 p.m.

A lawyer for FBI agent Peter Strzok (struhk) says a watchdog’s report shows his politics did not affect an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Strzok has come under fire for text messages critical of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. He left special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election after the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered the problematic texts in mid-2017.

On Thursday, a report by the inspector general revealed that Strzok had told an FBI lawyer “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.

Strzok was also involved in the probe of Clinton’s handling of classified emails that roiled the election.

Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman, says Thursday’s report reveals no evidence that the FBI agent’s political views affected the handling of the Clinton investigation.

___

3:20 p.m.

The White House says a report by the Justice Department’s watchdog on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is reaffirming President Donald Trump’s “suspicions” about former FBI Director James Comey’s conduct.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the inspector general’s report is also reaffirming Trump’s suspicions about the “political bias among some of the members of the FBI.” She is deferring additional comments to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The report says Comey was “insubordinate” in his conduct of the probe, but it didn’t find he was motivated by political bias.

Sanders says Trump was briefed on the report’s findings earlier in the day.

___

2:55 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he disagrees with some of the conclusions of the Justice Department’s inspector general about his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

But Comey says in a tweet that he respects the inspector general’s work and believes the conclusions are “reasonable.” He says “people of good faith” can see the “unprecedented situation differently.”

Comey’s comments come in response to the public release of a report that is heavily critical of his decisions in the probe. The report says Comey was insubordinate and departed from established protocol numerous times.

The report does find that Comey’s actions were not politically motivated to help either candidate.

Comey also wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times responding to the report’s findings.

__

2:40 p.m.

An FBI investigator who worked on probes into Hillary Clinton’s emails and into Russian interference in the 2016 election told an FBI lawyer “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.

The inflammatory texts between Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page are highlighted in the report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which is critical of former FBI director James Comey’s handling of the investigations.

According to the report, Page texted Strzok in August 2016: “(Trump’s) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

Strzok responded: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

The report says the watchdog “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence” that political bias directly affected parts of the probe, it says Page and Strzok’s conduct “cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”

__

2:05 p.m.

The Justice Department has issued a stinging rebuke to the FBI for its handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The report released Thursday calls former FBI Director James Comey “insubordinate” and says his actions were “extraordinary.”

But the report, by the department’s watchdog, does not find evidence that Comey was motivated by political bias or preference in his decisions.

The report criticized Comey for publicly announcing his recommendation against criminal charges for Clinton. It also faulted him for alerting Congress days before the 2016 election that the investigation was being reopened because of newly discovered emails.

President Donald Trump has been eager for the report in hopes that it would vindicate his decision to fire Comey and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

__

12:15 p.m.

The Justice Department’s watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with established protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But it found that his decisions were not driven by political bias.

The report also criticizes Comey for not keeping then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Justice Department superiors properly informed about his handling of the investigation.

That’s according to a person familiar with the report’s conclusions who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The person was not authorized to speak on the record because the report is not yet public.

The report’s findings are set to be made public later Thursday. It represents the culmination of an 18-month review into one of the most consequential FBI investigations in recent history.

__ Chad Day in Washington

___

12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump was expected to receive a briefing at the White House on a report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was spotted entering the West Wing on Thursday. White House officials have not yet confirmed that Rosenstein will be conducting the briefing.

The inspector general’s detailed report is set to be released later in the day. It will look at how the nonpartisan law enforcement agency became entangled in the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump is expected to use the report to renew his attack against two former top FBI officials — Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

___

11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is bashing the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling as a “pile of garbage” ahead of the release of a highly anticipated report looking into the Justice Department’s conduct during the 2016 election.

Trump says in a pair of tweets that now that he’s back from his summit with North Korea, “the thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt.”

Trump is yet again insisting there was “No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime” and is accusing Democrats of making up “a phony crime,” paying “a fortune to make the crime sound real,” and then “Collud(ing) to make this pile of garbage take on life in Fake News!”

The report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog is being released Thursday afternoon and is expected to criticize the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

___

11:35 a.m.

Two Republican-led House committees say their own monthslong probe into the now-closed FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails has so far shown “questionable decision-making” by the agency.

A document listing preliminary conclusions was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of a separate report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog. That much-anticipated report is due to be released Thursday afternoon. It is expected to criticize the FBI’s handling of the investigation.

Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees say they have “substantial questions about whether DOJ and FBI properly analyzed and interpreted the law surrounding mishandling of classified information.” They charge that the FBI did not follow legal precedent and treated the Clinton probe differently from other cases.

The Republicans allege bias against Donald Trump in his campaign against Clinton.

— Mary Clare Jalonick

___

1 a.m.

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is releasing its much-anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The report being issued Thursday afternoon is the culmination of an 18-month review of one of the most consequential FBI investigations in recent history.

Its findings will revive debate about whether FBI actions affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and contributed to Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump.

Trump’s supporters have eagerly awaited the report in hopes that it would skewer the judgment of James Comey, who was fired as FBI director last year.

Among the actions scrutinized is Comey’s decision to publicly announce his recommendation against prosecuting Clinton, and his disclosure to Congress days before the election that the investigation was being revived because of newly discovered emails.

https://www.apnews.com/99ed3059a42e4ed99e71d2486a18856c

Story 2: American People Demand Appointment of Special Counsel To Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspirators To Restore Public Confidence in Integrity of DOJ and FBI Employees — We Will Rock You — Deplorable POS – Videos –

Who’s Behind the FBI Cabal Breakup? Was This An Intel Inside Job? Cui Bono? Setups & Double Crosses

WATCH: House Republicans hold news briefing regarding special counsel

House Republicans demand second special counsel

Republican lawmakers introduce legislation targeting FBI, DOJ

Reps. Jordan, Gaetz on demand for second special counsel

Republicans ask for special counsel to probe Clinton, Obama

GOP lawmakers call for second special counsel to probe DOJ

Deep state will get a reckoning here: Mark Penn

Caputo: FBI not only the agency that came at Trump campaign

Why a second special counsel is needed to investigate DOJ, FBI

Trump calls on DOJ to investigate FBI

Republicans want second special counsel, Trump wants answers

Graham calls for a special counsel to investigate Dems

Hillary Clinton says half of Trump’s supporters are in a “basket of deplorables”

Barack Obama’s small town guns and religion comments

Victor D Hanson Explains The Complete Corruption of the Obama Administration helped Sabotage Hillary

Pepsi Commercial HD – We Will Rock You (feat. Britney Spears, Beyonce, Pink & Enrique Iglesias)

Charles Kesler Introduces Angelo Codevilla

1. America’s Ruling Class

3. What’s Wrong with the CIA?

The Revolution of America’s Regime

Angelo Codevilla – Does America Have a Ruling Class?

456. The Iron Fist of the Ruling Class | Angelo Codevilla

The Role of Intelligence in American National Security

Conservatism in the Trump Era: American Statecraft

See the source image

  • ANGELO M. CODEVILLA

July 16, 2010, 10:09 am

After the Republic

By: Angelo M. Codevilla 
September 27, 2016

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America. Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. Nowadays, more businesses die each year than are started. In this century, all net additions in employment have come from the country’s 1,500 largest corporations. Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power. Ever wonder why the quality of our leaders has been declining with each successive generation?

Moreover, since the Kennedy reform of 1965, and with greater speed since 2009, the ruling class’s immigration policy has changed the regime by introducing some 60 million people—roughly a fifth of our population—from countries and traditions different from, if not hostile, to ours. Whereas earlier immigrants earned their way to prosperity, a disproportionate percentage of post-1965 arrivals have been encouraged to become dependents of the state. Equally important, the ruling class chose to reverse America’s historic practice of assimilating immigrants, emphasizing instead what divides them from other Americans. Whereas Lincoln spoke of binding immigrants by “the electric cord” of the founders’ principles, our ruling class treats these principles as hypocrisy. All this without votes or law; just power.

Foul is Fair and Fair is Foul

In short, precisely as the classics defined regime change, people and practices that had been at society’s margins have been brought to its center, while people and ideas that had been central have been marginalized.

Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer. Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions. Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.” In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism. The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis—none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials—is enforced as if it had been. No surprise that America has experienced a drastic drop in the formation of families, with the rise of rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites equal to the rates among blacks that was recognized as disastrous a half-century ago, the near-disappearance of two-parent families among blacks, and the social dislocations attendant to all that.

Ever since the middle of the 20th century our ruling class, pursuing hazy concepts of world order without declarations of war, has sacrificed American lives first in Korea, then in Vietnam, and now throughout the Muslim world. By denigrating Americans who call for peace, or for wars unto victory over America’s enemies; by excusing or glorifying those who take our enemies’ side or who disrespect the American flag; our rulers have drawn down the American regime’s credit and eroded the people’s patriotism.

As the ruling class destroyed its own authority, it wrecked the republic’s as well. This is no longer the “land where our fathers died,” nor even the country that won World War II. It would be surprising if any society, its identity altered and its most fundamental institutions diminished, had continued to function as before. Ours sure does not, and it is difficult to imagine how it can do so ever again. We can be sure only that the revolution underway among us, like all others, will run its unpredictable course.

All we know is the choice that faces us at this stage: either America continues in the same direction, but faster and without restraint, or there’s the hazy possibility of something else.

Imperial Alternatives

The consequences of empowering today’s Democratic Party are crystal clear. The Democratic Party—regardless of its standard bearer—would use its victory to drive the transformations that it has already wrought on America to quantitative and qualitative levels that not even its members can imagine. We can be sure of that because what it has done and is doing is rooted in a logic that has animated the ruling class for a century, and because that logic has shaped the minds and hearts of millions of this class’s members, supporters, and wannabes.

That logic’s essence, expressed variously by Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson, FDR’s brains trust, intellectuals of both the old and the new Left, choked back and blurted out by progressive politicians, is this: America’s constitutional republic had given the American people too much latitude to be who they are, that is: religiously and socially reactionary, ignorant, even pathological, barriers to Progress. Thankfully, an enlightened minority exists with the expertise and the duty to disperse the religious obscurantism, the hypocritical talk of piety, freedom, and equality, which excuses Americans’ racism, sexism, greed, and rape of the environment. As we progressives take up our proper responsibilities, Americans will no longer live politically according to their prejudices; they will be ruled administratively according to scientific knowledge.

Progressivism’s programs have changed over time. But its disdain for how other Americans live and think has remained fundamental. More than any commitment to principles, programs, or way of life, this is its paramount feature. The media reacted to Hillary Clinton’s remark that “half of Trump’s supporters could be put into a ‘basket of deplorables’” as if these sentiments were novel and peculiar to her. In fact, these are unremarkable restatements of our ruling class’s perennial creed.

The pseudo-intellectual argument for why these “deplorables” have no right to their opinions is that giving equal consideration to people and positions that stand in the way of Progress is “false equivalence,” as President Obama has put it. But the same idea has been expressed most recently and fully by New York TimesCEO Mark Thompson, as well as Times columnists Jim Rutenberg, Timothy Egan, and William Davies. In short, devotion to truth means not reporting on Donald Trump and people like him as if they or anything they say might be of value.

If trying to persuade irredeemable socio-political inferiors is no more appropriate than arguing with animals, why not just write them off by sticking dismissive names on them? Doing so is less challenging, and makes you feel superior. Why wrestle with the statistical questions implicit in Darwin when you can just dismiss Christians as Bible-thumpers? Why bother arguing for Progressivism’s superiority when you can construct “scientific” studies like Theodor Adorno’s, proving that your opponents suffer from degrees of “fascism” and other pathologies? This is a well-trod path. Why, to take an older example, should General Omar Bradley have bothered trying to refute Douglas MacArthur’s statement that in war there is no substitute for victory when calling MacArthur and his supporters “primitives” did the trick? Why wrestle with our climate’s complexities when you can make up your own “models,” being sure that your class will treat them as truth?

What priorities will the ruling class’s notion of scientific truth dictate to the next Democratic administration? Because rejecting that true and false, right and wrong are objectively ascertainable is part of this class’s DNA, no corpus of fact or canon of reason restrains it or defines its end-point. Its definition of “science” is neither more nor less than what “scientists say” at any given time. In practice, that means “Science R-Us,” now and always, exclusively. Thus has come to pass what President Dwight Eisenhower warned against in his 1960 Farewell address: “A steadily increasing share [of science] is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.… [T]he free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution…a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” Hence, said Ike, “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded.” The result has been that academics rise through government grants while the government exercises power by claiming to act on science’s behalf. If you don’t bow to the authority of the power that says what is and is not so, you are an obscurantist or worse.

Under our ruling class, “truth” has morphed from the reflection of objective reality to whatever has “normative pull”—i.e., to what furthers the ruling class’s agenda, whatever that might be at any given time. That is the meaning of the term “political correctness,” as opposed to factual correctness.

It’s the Contempt, Stupid!

Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

How far will our rulers go? Because their network is mutually supporting, they will go as far as they want. Already, there is pressure from ruling class constituencies, as well as academic arguments, for morphing the concept of “hate crime” into the criminalization of “hate speech”—which means whatever these loving folks hate. Of course this is contrary to the First Amendment, and a wholesale negation of freedom. But it is no more so than the negation of freedom of association that is already eclipsing religious freedom in the name of anti-discrimination. It is difficult to imagine a Democratic president, Congress, and Supreme Court standing in the way.

Above all, these inflictions, as well as the ruling class’s acceptance of its own members’ misbehavior, came about because millions of its supporters were happy, or happy enough, to support them in the interest of maintaining their own status in a ruling coalition while discomfiting their socio-political opponents. Consider, for example, how republic-killing an event was the ruling class’s support of President Bill Clinton in the wake of his nationally televised perjury. Subsequently, as constituencies of supporters have effectively condoned officials’ abusive, self-serving, and even outright illegal behavior, they have encouraged more and more of it while inuring themselves to it. That is how republics turn into empires from the roots up.

But it is also true, as Mao Tse-Tung used to say, “a fish begins to rot at the head.” If you want to understand why any and all future Democratic Party administrations can only be empires dedicated to injuring and insulting their subjects, look first at their intellectual leaders’ rejection of the American republic’s most fundamental principles.

The Declaration of Independence says that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights—codified in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights—are not civil rights that governments may define. The free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, keeping and bearing arms, freedom from warrantless searches, protection against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, trial by jury of one’s peers, etc., are natural rights that pertain to human beings as such. Securing them for Americans is what the United States is all about. But today’s U.S. Civil Rights Commission advocates truncating the foremost of these rights because, as it stated in a recent report, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon those civil rights.” The report explains why the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights should not be permissible: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack on Trump supporters merely matched the ruling class’s current common sense. Why should government workers and all who wield the administrative state’s unaccountable powers not follow their leaders’ judgment, backed by the prestige press, about who are to be treated as citizens and who is to be handled as deplorable refuse? Hillary Clinton underlined once again how the ruling class regards us, and about what it has in store for us.

Electing Donald Trump would result in an administration far less predictable than any Democratic one. In fact, what Trump would or would not do, could or could not do, pales into insignificance next to the certainty of what any Democrat would do. That is what might elect Trump.

The character of an eventual Trump Administration is unpredictable because speculating about Trump’s mind is futile. It is equally futile to guess how he might react to the mixture of flattery and threats sure to be leveled against him. The entire ruling class—Democrats and Republicans, the bulk of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the press—would do everything possible to thwart him; and the constituencies that chose him as their candidate, and that might elect him, are surely not united and are by no means clear about the demands they would press. Moreover, it is anyone’s guess whom he would appoint and how he would balance his constituencies’ pressures against those of the ruling class.

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

Yet the persons who express such revolutionary sentiments are not a majority ready to support a coherent imperial program to reverse the course of America’s past half-century. Temperamentally conservative, these constituencies had been most attached to the Constitution and been counted as the bedrock of stability. They are not yet wholly convinced that there is little left to conserve. What they want, beyond an end to the ruling class’s outrages, has never been clear. This is not surprising, given that the candidates who appeal to their concerns do so with mere sound bites. Hence they chose as the presidential candidate of the nominal opposition party the man who combined the most provocative anti-establishment sounds with reassurance that it won’t take much to bring back good old America: Donald Trump. But bringing back good old America would take an awful lot. What could he do to satisfy them?

Trump’s propensity for treating pronouncements on policy as flags to be run up and down the flagpole as he measures the volume of the applause does not deprive them of all significance—especially the ones that confirm his anti-establishment bona fides. These few policy items happen to be the ones by which he gained his anti-establishment reputation in the first place: 1) opposition to illegal immigration, especially the importation of Muslims whom Americans reasonably perceive as hostile to us; 2) law and order: stop excusing rioters and coddling criminals; 3) build a wall, throw out the illegals, let in only people who are vetted and certified as supporters of our way of life (that’s the way it was when I got my immigrant visa in 1955), and keep out anybody we can’t be sure isn’t a terrorist. Trump’s tentative, partial retreat from a bit of the latter nearly caused his political standing to implode, prompting the observation that doing something similar regarding abortion would end his political career. That is noteworthy because, although Trump’s support of the pro-life cause is lukewarm at best, it is the defining commitment for much of his constituency. The point here is that, regardless of his own sentiments, Trump cannot wholly discount his constituencies’ demands for a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction.

Trump’s slogan—“make America great again”—is the broadest, most unspecific, common denominator of non-ruling-class Americans’ diverse dissatisfaction with what has happened to the country. He talks about reasserting America’s identity, at least by controlling the borders; governing in America’s own interest rather than in pursuit of objectives of which the American people have not approved; stopping the export of jobs and removing barriers to business; and banishing political correctness’s insults and injuries. But all that together does not amount to making America great again. Nor does Trump begin to explain what it was that had made this country great to millions who have known only an America much diminished.

In fact, the United States of America was great because of a whole bunch of things that now are gone. Yes, the ruling class led the way in personal corruption, cheating on tests, lowering of professional standards, abandoning churches and synagogues for the Playboy Philosophy and lifestyle, disregarding law, basing economic life on gaming the administrative state, basing politics on conflicting identities, and much more. But much of the rest of the country followed. What would it take to make America great again—or indeed to make any of the changes that Trump’s voters demand? Replacing the current ruling class would be only the beginning.

Because it is difficult to imagine a Trump presidency even thinking about something so monumental as replacing an entire ruling elite, much less leading his constituency to accomplishing it, electing Trump is unlikely to result in a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction. Continuing pretty much on the current trajectory under the same class will further fuel revolutionary sentiments in the land all by itself. Inevitable disappointment with Trump is sure to add to them.

We have stepped over the threshold of a revolution. It is difficult to imagine how we might step back, and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about. Donald Trump did not cause it and is by no means its ultimate manifestation. Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation.

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/after-the-republic/

Senior Executive Service (United States)

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Senior Executive Service
SES Emblem.svg

Seal of the U.S. Senior Executive Service
Flag of the United States Senior Executive Service.svg

Flag of the U.S. Senior Executive Service

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a position classification in the civil service of the United States federal government, somewhat analogous to general officer or flag officer ranks in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was created in 1979 when the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 went into effect under President Jimmy Carter.

Origin and attributes

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the SES was designed to be a corps of executives selected for their leadership qualifications, serving in key positions just below the top Presidential appointees as a link between them and the rest of the Federal (civil service) workforce. SES positions are considered to be above the GS-15 level of the General Schedule, and below Level III of the Executive Schedule. Career members of the SES ranks are eligible for the Presidential Rank Awards program.

Up to 10% of SES positions can be filled as political appointments rather than by career employees.[1] About half of the SES is designated “Career Reserved”, which can only be filled by career employees. The other half is designated “General”, which can be filled by either career employees or political appointments as desired by the administration. Due to the 10% limitation, most General positions are still filled by career appointees.[2]

Senior level employees of several agencies are exempt from the SES but have their own senior executive positions; these include the Federal Bureau of InvestigationCentral Intelligence AgencyDefense Intelligence AgencyNational Security AgencyTransportation Security AdministrationFederal Aviation AdministrationGovernment Accountability OfficeMembers of the Foreign Service, and government corporations.

Pay rates

(Effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2015)[3]
Minimum Maximum
Agencies with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System $121,956 $183,300
Agencies without a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System $121,956 $168,700

Unlike the General Schedule (GS) grades, SES pay is determined at agency discretion within certain parameters, and there is no locality pay adjustment.

The minimum pay level for the SES is set at 120 percent of the basic pay for GS-15 Step 1 employees ($121,956 for 2015). The maximum pay level depends on whether or not the employing agency has a “certified” SES performance appraisal system:[4]

  • If the agency has a certified system, the maximum pay is set at Level II of the Executive Schedule ($183,300 for 2015).
  • If the agency does not have a certified system, the maximum pay is set at Level III of the Executive Schedule ($168,700 for 2015).

Total aggregate pay is limited to the salary of the Vice President of the United States ($230,700 for 2015).

Prior to 2004, the SES used a six-level system. It was replaced with the current open band system on January 1, 2014.[5]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Piaker, Zach (2016-03-16). “Help Wanted: 4,000 Presidential Appointees”Partnership for Public Service Center for Presidential Transition. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  2. Jump up^ “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions (The Plum Book)” (PDF). U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 2012-12-01. p. 201. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  3. Jump up^ Obama, Barack (2014-12-19). “ADJUSTMENTS OF CERTAIN RATES OF PAY” (PDF). EXECUTIVE ORDER 13686. The White House. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  4. Jump up^ “Performance & Compensation – Salary”U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
  5. Jump up^ “Senior Executive Service Pay and Performance Awards”U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 2004. Retrieved 2018-03-31.

External links

House conservatives introduce resolution calling for second special counsel

House conservatives introduce resolution calling for second special counsel
© Greg Nash

House conservatives introduced a resolution on Tuesday calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate possible misconduct by the Department of Justice and the FBI during the 2016 presidential race. 

“The Justice Department cannot be expected to investigate itself,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), flanked by 11 other Republican lawmakers, said at a press conference announcing the measure. 

The Republicans also want a probe to look into the government’s decision to end the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server and the reasoning behind the government’s decision to launch a probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) and Jody Hice (Ga.) were among the Republicans at the press conference.

The press conference came a day after an unusual meeting at the White House between President Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

Rosenstein has agreed to have the Department of Justice inspector general review whether the FBI has done anything inappropriate in its investigation of the Trump campaign, which predated Mueller’s probe. Trump demanded action after reports that an FBI informant talked to three members of the Trump campaign team.

Sessions has declined requests for an additional special counsel but did tap John Huber, a federal prosecutor in Utah, to look into allegations last month.

The 12-page resolution lists a series of points that the lawmakers say warrant an investigation.

The document questions whether top FBI and Justice Department officials acted in a politically motivated way during the election, including how “insufficient intelligence and biased motivations” may have launched the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference.

The resolution alleges that “deeply flawed and questionable” Foreign Surveillance Act warrant applications were obtained during the election by government officials to surveil Trump campaign aides. It says the warrants were obtained on the basis of “illicit sources and politically biased intelligence.”

Democrats have blasted the GOP calls for a second special counsel as an attempt to distract or even undermine Mueller’s investigation in order to shield Trump.

The lawmakers attending the press conference, when asked, said the president has not encouraged them to pursue this resolution.

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/388798-house-conservatives-introduce-resolution-calling-for-second-special

Demand Grows for Second Special Counsel from Senate

IG does not have the tools of a prosecutor, Senators say

 Sara Carter    March 17, 2018

Ranking Republican senators are calling on the Department of Justice to appoint a second special counsel to investigate potential abuses by FBI and Justice Department employees connected to their role in the investigation into President Trump.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Sen. Thom Tillis, R- N.C. officially joined other Congressional members in their call for a special counsel to work alongside DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Horowitz has been conducting an investigation into the matter for more than a year. Graham and Grassley joined Fox News Bret Baier on Thursday’s Special Report and stressed the urgency of getting a special counsel to investigate along side the Inspector General.

Graham told this reporter on Thursday that he believes a special counsel will be appointed to work along side Horowitz.

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” the criminal referral states.

In the document, Grassley and Graham noted that “there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.”

The pair of lawmakers also allege that Steele was compiling information on Trump and his campaign before being hired by now embattled research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign for his work.

“Pursuant to that business arrangement, Mr. Steele prepared a series of documents styled as intelligence reports, some of which were later compiled into a ‘dossier’ and published by Buzzfeed in January 2017,” the referral states. “On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia.”

The two senators had written to the Inspector General’s office in February, “requesting a broad review of more than 30 classified and unclassified questions related to the Trump-Russia probe” but were not able to obtain the information.

“…because the Inspector General lacks access to grand jury process and other prosecutorial tools, a special counsel with such authority may be necessary to compel the production of testimony and information that would otherwise be unobtainable,” a press release from Grassley and Graham issued Thursday stated.

The letter to Sessions and Rosenstein outlines the importance of appointing a special counsel to support Horowitz’s independent investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

The senators state that the appointment “should occur under the specific Justice Department regulations that govern special counsels and limit the scope of their authority. The senators further request that if the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General determines a special counsel is not appropriate or necessary, then the Department designate a U.S. Attorney’s office or another prosecutor with no real or apparent conflict to work” with Horowitz on the case.

READ: The Case For and Against a Special Counsel Investigation

Earlier this month House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-SC, sent a letter to Rosenstein and Sessions also urging them to appoint a special counsel to investigate the accumulation of evidence uncovered by the congressional committees and Inspector General.

Goodlatte and Gowdy sent a letter addressing evidence uncovered by the House Intelligence Committee that accused the FBI and Justice Department of failing to disclose to the secret FISA court that the Hillary Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee financed the dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele at the behest of embattled security firm Fusion GPS

https://saraacarter.com/demand-grows-for-second-special-counsel-from-senate/

The Case For and Against a Special Counsel Investigation of DOJ and FBI

Increasingly more Republicans are calling for special counsel, while DOJ argues for IG investigation

 March 6, 2018

Arguments Against a Special Counsel per DOJ:

  • Like a federal prosecutor, a special counsel in the Department of Justice can’t bring a case before a court unless its investigators find evidence of a crime.
  • Special counsel investigators are usually FBI.  If the special counsel agrees that there is a conflict of interest in bringing FBI investigators into the fold it would have to select a different team of investigators to aide in the case.
  • The special counsel could use the Post Master General or the DEA but those investigators would be far behind the DOJ’s Inspector General investigators, who have already been working on the cases.
  • Federal prosecutors, special counsels, and those attorneys working with them do not “conduct” investigations. DOJ officials told me that the process is much like the TV show law and order where law enforcement brings evidence of a crime and then the prosecutor puts together a case to be brought before the court.
  • The DOJ Inspector General is an independent office that investigates possible violations of criminal and civil law by employees of the FBI and its own department.
  • The Inspector General reports to the Attorney General and to Congress.
  • The IG’s Investigations Division Special Agents develop cases for criminal prosecution, civil or administrative action.
  • Inspector General’s office acts similar to the FBI in that it has the authority to investigate wrongdoing and collect evidence.
  • The Inspector General has the power to subpoena and present cases for criminal prosecution to the Attorney General.

Arguments For a Special Counsel, per Congressional Members:

  • An independent arbiter because the FBI and DOJ cannot investigate themselves.
  • Any criminal referral from the Inspector General will go to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for prosecution and he has not made clear the scope of his involvement in the cases.
  •  Republicans and some senior government officials say there is no rational argument for letting current Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was the former head of the FBI, expand his special counsel investigation. It won’t work because of Mueller, as the former director of the FBI, is conflicted out.
  • Robert Mueller’s investigation crosses into the territory of the unsubstantiated and salacious dossier, he is after all supposed to be investigating alleged collusion between Russia and President Trump. And he’s reportedly using the unverified dossier crafted by former British spy Christopher Steele in his investigation. A dossier, which Steele, told the British courts is not verified.
  • Mueller has close previous working relationships with many of the same players he would be investigating. For example, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Director James Comey, to name two.
  • The American public won’t buy into an investigation by Mueller, the DOJ or FBI.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions has never clearly stated where his recusal begins and ends.
  • A second special counsel needs to come from outside Washington D.C. with its own team of impartial, hand selected investigators.

Asecond special counsel might investigate any or all of the following: possible criminal violations by senior FBI and DOJ officials in obtaining a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign volunteer, the bureau’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to send classified information and whether senior Obama administration officials, including the president, were aware of the use of the unverified dossier to open an investigation into the Trump campaign and possible Russian collusion.

“You need an independent arbiter, and the Department of Justice cannot investigate itself”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)

 

The investigations could also be conducted by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is expected to conclude his much-anticipated report into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton server investigation in the next several weeks and who Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked to investigate possible FISA warrant abuse against Carter Page, who briefly volunteered for the Trump campaign in 2016.

Republicans, however, are not satisfied and are now pushing Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, to appoint a special counsel. DOJ officials are arguing against it, telling this reporter that Horowitz and his team can conduct the unbiased investigation and refer potential people to the DOJ for criminal prosecution.

The situation can be confusing to anyone outside Washington D.C. One Republican congressional member, who spoke on background, questioned, “how long will it take for Horowitz to investigate and if he does make a criminal referral for prosecution, it will have to go back to Sessions, who apparently has recused himself from all matters Russia and apparently everything else. I don’t see how we have any choice but to get a second special counsel.”
AG Jeff Sessions

Rep. Jim Jordan, R- Ohio, who has proposed the idea for a special counsel since last year, said although he “wishes there was another way around it, there appears to be no other course of action.”

“I think Sessions needs to appoint a second special counsel and they need to be somebody from outside the swamp, like a retired judge, someone that can select his or her own team of investigators,” said Jordan. “I don’t see any other course of action that would be acceptable to anybody involved, including Republicans, Democrats and the American people.”

Five days ago, President Trump called out Sessions for his decision to turn over the investigation into possible abuse by the FBI when it sought a warrant to spy on Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the most secretive court in the United States with the authority to grant warrants to surveil Americans.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

Sessions stated in a response to Trump, “we have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary. As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.

And it may be that there are already investigations ongoing inside the DOJ that the public is unaware of. Several

“The IG can only really investigate the people who are there (under his authority) but not the people who have left”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

government officials who have defended Sessions said that any ongoing investigations requested by Congress if they exist, would not be leaked or discussed publicly.

However, there may be clues. In a Nov. 13, 2017 letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told congressional members that the DOJ had appointed senior prosecutors who would report “directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation, require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

DOJ officials could not comment on whether or not these prosecutors assigned by Sessions last year have uncovered any wrongdoing or what specifically the prosecutors were currently investigating. Boyd’s letter did stress that all congressional requests from the approval to grant Russia the sale of the Canadian firm Uranium One, which at the time had access to 20 percent of American mining rights, and requests for investigations into FISA abuse were being looked into.

Trey Gowdy

But for Jordan and many other Republicans, the deafening silence out of DOJ is difficult to understand. And now many lawmakers are asking Sessions to do what he is apparently fighting against and appoint a new special counsel.

For the first time, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, told Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria  Bartiromo, “you need an independent arbiter, and the Department of Justice cannot investigate itself.”

 “Horowitz is a fair guy, but when there are two dozen witnesses that have left the department or worked for another agency, someone else has to do it and I am reluctant to call for special counsel, but I think it may be unavoidable in this fact pattern,” Gowdy said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, is also calling for a second special counsel and echoed Gowdy in a call with this reporter Monday, saying “the IG can only really investigate the people who are there (under his authority) but not the people who have left.”

So far, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-CA, has not weighed in on whether or not he believes the appointment of a special counsel is necessary to investigate many of the same issues his committee is looking into. Some congressional members, who spoke to this reporter, say it’s only a matter of time before Nunes joins the chorus of Republicans demanding the investigation.

https://saraacarter.com/the-case-for-and-against-a-special-counsel-investigation-of-doj-and-fbi/

 

Story 3: Happy 72nd Birthday President Trump — Videos

Jordan Peterson – How Alpha Males Present Themselves

4. What’s Wrong with America’s Men

Jordan Peterson on the meaning of life for men. MUST WATCH

Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child

Jordan Peterson on Trump’s Intelligence

Jordan Peterson “I’d Vote Donald Trump and Here’s Why”

One Big Reason Trump Won – Jordan peterson, Jon Haidt

Why the European State is Doomed (but Not the US) – Prof. Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson: Why Globalism Fails and Nationalism is Relatable

Victor Davis Hanson; Imagine How Successful Trump’s Admin Could Be If Dem’s Stopped Obstructing

People at center of Clinton investigation tried to ‘save country’ from Trump?

Happy 72nd Birthday To Our President Donald Trump

It’s President Donald Trump’s 72nd birthday

All The Unpresidential Ways Trump Celebrated His Birthday Before Becoming President (HBO)

Gen. Michael Flynn weighs in on FBI’s Clinton investigation

 

‘I love you very much!’ Ivanka and Eric lead tributes to their father Trump on his 72nd birthday with throwback photos from their childhood

  • Ivanka and Eric lead the 72nd birthday tributes for Donald Trump on Thursday
  • President’s eldest daughter Ivanka posted a series of photos of her and Trump when she was young, saying: ‘Wishing you your best year yet’
  • Trump’s son Eric also shared two childhood photos with his father, adding: ‘It is amazing how far we have all come!’ 
  • Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, also took to social media posting a screenshot of a Drudge Report headline declaring, ‘TRUMP’S BEST BIRTHDAY!’

Ivanka and Eric Trump have lead the tributes to President Donald Trump on his 72nd birthday by posting throwback photos from their childhood.

The President’s eldest daughter and senior adviser Ivanka took to social media on Thursday, saying ‘I love you very much. Wishing you your best year yet!!!’

Her birthday message included a series of photos of her as a small girl smiling with her father.

The President's eldest daughter and senior adviser Ivanka took to social media on Thursday, saying 'I love you very much' alongside a photo of her as a small girl

The President’s eldest daughter and senior adviser Ivanka took to social media on Thursday, saying ‘I love you very much’ alongside a photo of her as a small girl

Trump's son Eric also shared this childhood photo with his father, saying 'it is amazing how far we have all come!'
Trump’s son Eric also shared this childhood photo with his father, saying ‘it is amazing how far we have all come!’

Trump’s son Eric also shared two childhood photos with his father, as well as one of him walking at the White House and another of the President posing with his newest grandson Luke.

‘Happy Birthday Dad! It is amazing how far we have all come! We are very proud of you and everything you have accomplished!’ Eric posted alongside the photos.

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, also celebrated the occasion on social media.

On Instagram, he posted a screenshot of a Drudge Report headline declaring, ‘TRUMP’S BEST BIRTHDAY!’ and citing the economy, North Korea, the World Cup and the jobless rate.

Ivanka's birthday message included a series of photos of her as a small girl smiling with her father

Ivanka’s birthday message included a series of photos of her as a small girl smiling with her father

Ivanka also posted this photo of her and her brothers Eric and Don Jr posing with their father

Ivanka also posted this photo of her and her brothers Eric and Don Jr posing with their father

'It is amazing how far we have all come!': Eric Trump praised his father's accomplishments in his birthday message that included a photo with Ivanka

‘It is amazing how far we have all come!’: Eric Trump praised his father’s accomplishments in his birthday message that included a photo with Ivanka

His daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is married to Eric, also shared photos on social media of the President holding the couple’s baby.

‘Happy Birthday Mr. President/Grandpa! We love you and are so proud of you!’ she wrote.

First Lady Melania and Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany are yet to post anything publicly for his birthday.

Trump is the oldest President to be sworn in for a first term. Prior to Trump, Ronald Reagan was the oldest to become Commander in Chief at age 69.

Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, also celebrated the occasion on social media

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, also celebrated the occasion on social media

His daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is married to Eric, also shared photos on social media of the President holding the couple's baby

His daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is married to Eric, also shared photos on social media of the President holding the couple’s baby.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5845629/Ivanka-Eric-lead-tributes-Donald-Trump-72nd-birthday.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 1090, June 11, 2018: Story 1: G-7 Summit with Trump Confronted European Leaders For Unfair Trade Practices and Agreed With G-7 Communique and Then Trudeau Betrays, Double Crosses and Stabs In Back The G-7 and Trump and Blows Deal — Videos — Story 2: Trump’s Great Trade Deal –Fair and Free Trade with No Tariffs, No Barriers, No Subsidies, — Reciprocal Two Way Deals — Cheating Countries Complain — Videos

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Story 1: G-7 Summit with Trump Confronted European Leaders For Unfair Trade Practices and Agreed With G-7 Communique and Then Trudeau Betrays, Double Crosses and Stabs In Back The G-7 and Trump and Blows Deal — Videos — See the source imageSee the source image

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White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow suffers heart attack, Trump tweets

  • Trump tweeted the news on Monday evening ET, literally only minutes before a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Kudlow, a former CNBC contributor and Wall Street economist, has played a leading role in ongoing talks between the United States and its major trade partners, including China.

Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, speaks to reporters outside the White House April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Getty Images
Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, speaks to reporters outside the White House April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow suffered a heart attack and is at Walter Reed Medical Center, according to a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump tweeted the news on Monday evening ET, literally only minutes before a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Our Great Larry Kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy, has just suffered a heart attack. He is now in Walter Reed Medical Center.

Further word on Kudlow’s condition was not immediately available.

Very important role in trade talks

Kudlow, a former CNBC contributor and Wall Street economist, has played a leading role in ongoing talks between the United States and its major trade partners, including China.

Just last weekend, Kudlow accused Canada of directing “polarizing” comments toward the United States following a fractious G-7 meeting of advanced economies.

“Here’s the thing,” he told CNN, speaking of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “He really kind of stabbed us in the back.”

“You do not want to give Jeff Bezos a seven-year head start.”
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In March, Kudlow replaced Gary Cohn in the post of National Economic Council director.

Kudlow, 70, took the job after Cohn resigned following a fight against tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Prior to his appointment, Kudlow had advocated for free trade and generally opposed tariffs, but he has proven a vocal proponent of Trump hard line on trade.

“This president’s got some backbone, others didn’t, and he’s raising the issue in full public view, setting up a process that may include tariffs,” Kudlow told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” in April.

“Somebody’s got to do it,” Kudlow continued at the time. “Somebody’s got to say to China, ‘You are no longer a Third World country. You are a First World country and you have to act like it. The president’s got to stick up for himself and the United States.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/11/white-house-economic-advisor-larry-kudlow-suffers-heart-attack-trump-tweets.html

 

Trump BACKS OUT of G7 agreement: President stuns leaders by leaving summit and then announcing on Twitter that America WILL NOT ‘endorse the Communique’ – before slamming ‘dishonest and weak’ Trudeau

  • Trump slammed Trudeau as ‘dishonest and weak’ on Twitter Saturday after leaving the G7 summit in Quebec 
  • Stunned world leaders by pulling his endorsement for joint communique that traditionally follows every G7 
  • Opened new front on trade dispute with Trudeau after White House said two leaders were ‘close to a deal’
  • French presidential official says Trump delivered ‘a long, frank rant’ on trade in G7 session with world leaders
  • Now Trump is en route to Singapore for historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12

President Donald Trump has stunned world leaders by rejecting a joint statement that traditionally follows the G7, and has escalated his feud with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by calling him ‘dishonest and weak’.

Trump said in a Twitter tirade on Saturday night that he has ‘instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique’, just hours after all the members came to a consensus in Quebec and signed the summit’s ‘joint communique’.

The joint communique is a statement of broad goals and principles endorsed by the G7 leaders, and Trump’s refusal means that this will be the first year that the annual summit fails to issue one.

Instead, Canada will likely issue a chair’s summary of the meeting listing the major topics of discussion.

Trump also slammed Trudeau for ‘making false statements’ and accused him of being ‘meek and mild’ in their one-on-one meeting on Friday before the Canadian leader came out swinging against the US in a press conference on Saturday.

After the White House on Friday said that Trump’s meeting with Trudeau was ‘great’ and the leaders were ‘close to a deal’ on trade, Trump’s latest counter-punch cast doubt on any hopes for a quick resolution of his mounting tariff disputes with Canada and the European Union, and signaled that Trump is far from backing down.

President Donald Trump slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as 'dishonest and weak' on Saturday following what the White House called a 'great meeting' between the two leaders on Friday (seen above)

President Donald Trump slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as ‘dishonest and weak’ on Saturday following what the White House called a ‘great meeting’ between the two leaders on Friday (seen above)

Trump stunned the G7 by refusing to endorse the summit's traditional joint communique after Trudeau gave a press conference (above) at the end of the talks and criticized Trump's position on trade

Trump stunned the G7 by refusing to endorse the summit’s traditional joint communique after Trudeau gave a press conference (above) at the end of the talks and criticized Trump’s position on trade

Trudeau toned down his normally whimsical socks on Saturday as he played host to world leaders for the G7

Trudeau toned down his normally whimsical socks on Saturday as he played host to world leaders for the G7

After boarding a flight for Singapore, where he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump tweeted: ‘PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.”

‘Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!’

Trump then tweeted: ‘Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!’

Trump was reacting to comments made by Trudeau at a press conference on Saturday in which he threatened to torpedo negotiations on a new NAFTA deal if the Americans did not remove tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Trudeau said he told Trump directly that Canada ‘particularly did not take lightly the fact that [the tariffs were] based on a national security reason.’ The prime minister said in comments reported by CTV: ‘Canadians are polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.’

The Canadian leader’s office defended him against Trump’s tweets on Saturday, saying that Trudeau said nothing in his G7 news conference that he has not said before directly to Trump

‘The prime minister said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the president,’ Trudeau’s office said in a statement released on Twitter, which added Trudeau remained focused on what was accomplished at the two-day summit in Quebec.

Leaving his allies in perplexed disarray, Trump was on Saturday night jetting around the world to meet a longtime adversary, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, for talks on denulcearizing the isolated nation.

Air Force One was spotted early on Sunday refueling at a US military facility on the Greek island of Crete.

Journalists and White House staff stand under Air Force One, as it is stopped on Sunday for a refuel in Chania, Greece while carrying Trump from Canada to Singapore for an anticipated summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un

Journalists and White House staff stand under Air Force One, as it is stopped on Sunday for a refuel in Chania, Greece while carrying Trump from Canada to Singapore for an anticipated summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un

Air Force One stopped over at the US military facility on Crete, giving journalists and staffers a chance to stretch their legs

Air Force One stopped over at the US military facility on Crete, giving journalists and staffers a chance to stretch their legs

Journalists (above) have begun staging at at the Formula One racetrack in Singapore ahead of the Trump-Kim summit

Journalists (above) have begun staging at at the Formula One racetrack in Singapore ahead of the Trump-Kim summit

A North Korean reporter is chased by a group of Western reporters as he appears at the media center at the Formula One racing track in Marina Bay, Singapore on Sunday ahead of Trump's summit with Kim on June 12

A North Korean reporter is chased by a group of Western reporters as he appears at the media center at the Formula One racing track in Marina Bay, Singapore on Sunday ahead of Trump’s summit with Kim on June 12

Kim Jong-un meets with officials in Singapore ahead of Trump meet

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will meet separately with Kim and Trump on Sunday and Monday, respectively, before the US and North Korean leaders are set for their summit on Tuesday.

Trump is even open to accepting a North Korean embassy in the US in exchange for verifiable steps to denuclearize, according to a source close to the White House cited by Axios.

‘His view is: “We can discuss that: It’s on the table. Let’s see.” Of course we would consider it. There’s almost nothing he’ll take off the table going in,’ the source said.

In Singapore, a media hurricane was already brewing, as journalists began staging at a media center at the Formula One racetrack not far from the Capella Hotel, where the talks will be held.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, the leaders had initially agreed on the need for ‘free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade’ and the importance of fighting protectionism in the G7 communique Trump withdrew his support for.

The document also acknowledged the need to fight dumping and excess capacity in steel and aluminum, a key Trump concern about China.

‘We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,’ the leaders said in the communique after a meeting that focused heavily on trade fights between the United States and its allies.

In this photo made available by the German Federal Government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, seated at right, during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec

In this photo made available by the German Federal Government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, seated at right, during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec

Trump threatens to stop trade with allies if practices don’t change
In one behind-the-scenes account from the G7, a French presidential official described an ‘extraordinary’ session in which leaders surrounded Trump and showered him with data one after the other in an attempt to sway him to drop US tariffs.

Trump gave ‘a long, frank rant’, the official said, repeating his position that the US had suffered at the hands of its trading partners, as French President Emmanuel Macron tried to push back.

It was a ‘a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly,’ said the French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘It was a difficult time, rough, very frank.’

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the characterizations by the official of Trump’s remarks.

Trump himself told reporters on Saturday that the summit was not contentious and called his relationship with G7 allies a ’10’.

The trade dispute was launched after Trump last week removed exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico and the EU.

Canada responded by slapping tariffs on $12.8billion worth of US exports, including metals, toilet paper, ball point pens and pizza.

‘We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,’ Trump said at a press conference as he departed the two-day meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec on Saturday.

‘This isn’t just G7. I mean, we have India, where some of the tariffs are 100 percent … And we charge nothing,’ Trump said. ‘And it’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them.’

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde chats with Trump on Saturday morning at a Gender Equality breakfast meeting

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde chats with Trump on Saturday morning at a Gender Equality breakfast meeting

Left to right: European Union Council President Donald Tusk, Dayle Haddon, Christine Lagarde, US President Donald Trump, Christine Whitecross and Winnie Byanyima during the Gender Equality Advisory Council working breakfast on Saturday

Left to right: European Union Council President Donald Tusk, Dayle Haddon, Christine Lagarde, US President Donald Trump, Christine Whitecross and Winnie Byanyima during the Gender Equality Advisory Council working breakfast on Saturday

Lagarde reacts as Trump takes his seat after arriving late to the Gender Equality working breakfast on Saturday morning

French President Emmanuel Macron looks across at Trump during the breakfast on Saturday

Trump and French President Macron meet at at the G7 Summit
Trudeau on Saturday rejected a US demand for a sunset clause in NAFTA but said he was prepared to compromise on the issue, which is holding up talks to update the 1990s-era pact.

Trump – who regularly threatens to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement – insists that Canada and Mexico agree to a sunset clause that would allow a member nation to withdraw after five years.

Although Canada and Mexico say the idea is unworkable, Trump told reporters earlier on Saturday that the new deal would contain such a provision. Trudeau rejected the idea.

‘There will not be a sunset clause … we will not, cannot sign a trade deal that expires automatically every five years,’ he told a news conference at the end of a Group of Seven summit in Quebec.

‘I think there are various discussions about alternatives that would not be that, and that would not be entirely destabilizing for a trade deal, and I think we are open to creativity,’ he said.

This, he suggested, could involve ‘a check in and a renewal.’

Trudeau (right) greeted other national leaders such as Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness after Trump left the summit

Trudeau (right) greeted other national leaders such as Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness after Trump left the summit

Canadian riot police line an anti-G7 demonstration in Quebec City on Saturday

Residents watch fireworks explode over La Malbaie, Quebec, at the conclusion of the G7 leaders summit on Saturday

Officials say Canada and Mexico have proposed member nations gather every five years to review the treaty.

Talks to modernize NAFTA, which started last August, have effectively stalled as Canada and Mexico resist U.S. demands for major changes such as the sunset clause and boosting the North American content of autos made in the three nations.

Trudeau said he had told Trump that the talks had been made more complicated by a U.S. decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, ostensibly for national security reasons. Canada has promised retaliatory measures on July 1.

‘I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs,’ said Trudeau.

THE CHARLEVOIX G7 SUMMIT COMMUNIQUE

1. We, the Leaders of the G7, have come together in Charlevoix, Quebec on June 8–9, 2018, guided by our shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and our commitment to promote a rules-based international order.

As advanced economies and leading democracies, we share a fundamental commitment to investing in our citizens and meeting their needs and to responding to global challenges.

We collectively affirm our strong determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air, and clean water.

We are resolved to work together in creating a healthy, prosperous, sustainable and fair future for all.

Investing in Growth that Works for Everyone

2. We share the responsibility of working together to stimulate sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone and in particular those most at risk of being left behind.

We welcome the contribution of technological change and global integration to global economic recovery and increased job creation.

The global economic outlook continues to improve, but too few citizens have benefited from that economic growth.

While resilience against risk has improved among emerging market economies, recent market movements remind us of potential vulnerabilities.

We will continue monitoring market developments and using all policy tools to support strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth that generates widespread prosperity.

We reaffirm our existing exchange rate commitments.

We commit to promoting smart, sustainable and high-quality investments – such as in infrastructure – to boost growth and productivity and create quality jobs.

Economic Growth is fundamental to raising living standards.

We also recognize that economic output alone is insufficient for measuring success and acknowledge the importance of monitoring other societal and economic indicators that measure prosperity and well-being.

We are committed to removing the barriers that keep our citizens, including women and marginalized individuals, from participating fully in the global economy.

We endorse the Charlevoix Commitment on Equality and Economic Growth which reinforces our commitment to eradicate poverty, advance gender equality, foster income equality, ensure better access to financial resources and create decent work and quality of life for all.

3. In order to ensure that everyone pays their fair share, we will exchange approaches and support international efforts to deliver fair, progressive, effective and efficient tax systems.

We will continue to fight tax evasion and avoidance by promoting the global implementation of international standards and addressing base erosion and profit shifting.

The impacts of the digitalization of the economy on the international tax system remain key outstanding issues.

We welcome the OECD interim report analyzing the impact of digitalization of the economy on the international tax system.

We are committed to work together to seek a consensus based solution by 2020.

4. We acknowledge that free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade and investment, while creating reciprocal benefits, are key engines for growth and job creation.

We recommit to the conclusions on trade of the Hamburg G20 Summit, in particular, we underline the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system and continue to fight protectionism.

We note the importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements being open, transparent, inclusive and WTO-consistent, and commit to working to ensure they complement the multilateral trade agreements.

We commit to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible. We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies.

5. We will work together to enforce existing international rules and develop new rules where needed, to foster a truly level playing field, addressing in particular non-market oriented policies and practices, and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights such as forced technology transfer or cyber enabled theft.

We call for the start of negotiations – this year – to develop stronger, international rules on market-distorting industrial subsidies and trade distorting actions by state-owned enterprises.

We also call on all members of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity to fully and promptly implement its recommendations.

We stress the urgent need to avoid excess capacity in other sectors such as aluminum and high technology.

We call on the International Working Group on Export Credits to develop a new set of guidelines for government supported export credits, as soon as possible in 2019.

6. To support growth and equal participation that benefits everyone, and ensure our citizens lead healthy and productive lives, we commit to supporting strong, sustainable health systems that promote access to quality and affordable healthcare and to bringing greater attention to mental health.

We support efforts to promote and protect women’s and adolescents’ health and well-being through evidence based healthcare and health information.

We recognize the World Health Organization’s vital role in health emergencies, including through the Contingency Fund for Emergencies and the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, and emphasize their need for further development and continued and sustainable financing.

We recommit to support our 76 partners to strengthen their implementation of the International Health Regulations, including through their development of costed national action plans and the use of diverse sources of financing and multi-stakeholder resources.

We will prioritize and coordinate our global efforts to fight against antimicrobial resistance, in a ‘one health’ approach.

We will accelerate our efforts to end tuberculosis, and its resistant forms. We reconfirm our resolve to work with partners to eradicate polio and effectively manage the post-polio transition.

We affirm our support for a successful replenishment of the Global Fund in 2019.

7. Public finance, including official development assistance and domestic resource mobilization, is necessary to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, but alone is insufficient to support the economic growth and sustainable development necessary to lift all populations from poverty.

As a result, we have committed to the Charlevoix Commitment on Innovative Financing for Development to promote economic growth in developing economies and foster greater equality of opportunity within and between countries.

We will continue to invest in quality infrastructure with open access.

Given rising debt levels in Low Income Countries and the importance of debt sustainability, we call for greater debt transparency not only from Low Income Debtor countries, but also emerging sovereign lenders and private creditors.

We support the ongoing work of the Paris Club, as the principal international forum for restructuring official bilateral debt, towards the broader inclusion of emerging creditors.

We recognize the value in development and humanitarian assistance that promotes greater equality of opportunity, and gender equality, and prioritizes the most vulnerable, and will continue to work to develop innovative financing models to ensure that no one is left behind.

Preparing for Jobs of the Future

8. We are resolved to ensure that all workers have access to the skills and education necessary to adapt and prosper in the new world of work brought by innovation through emerging technologies.

We will promote innovation through a culture of lifelong learning among current and future generations of workers.

We will expand market-driven training and education, particularly for girls and women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

We recognize the need to remove barriers to women’s leadership and equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of the labor market, including by eliminating violence, discrimination and harassment within and beyond the workplace.

We will explore innovative new approaches to apprenticeship and vocational learning, as well as opportunities to engage employers and improve access to workplace training.

9. We highlight the importance of working towards making social protection more effective and efficient and creating quality work environments for workers, including those in non-standard forms of work.

Expanding communication and collaboration between governments and businesses, social partners, educational institutions and other relevant stakeholders will be essential for preparing workers to adapt and thrive in the new world of work.

To realize the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI), we endorse the Charlevoix Common Vision for the Future of Artificial Intelligence.

We recognize that a human-centric approach to AI has the potential to introduce new sources of economic growth, bring significant benefits to our societies and help address some of our most pressing challenges.

Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

10. We recognize that gender equality is fundamental for the fulfillment of human rights and is a social and economic imperative.

However, gender inequality persists despite decades of international commitments to eliminate these differences.

We will continue to work to remove barriers to women’s participation and decision-making in social, economic and political spheres as well as increase the opportunities for all to participate equally in all aspects of the labor market.

Our path forward will promote women’s full economic participation through working to reduce the gender wage gap, supporting women business leaders and entrepreneurs and recognizing the value of unpaid care work.

11. Equal access to quality education is vital to achieve the empowerment and equal opportunity of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict.

Through the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries, we demonstrate our commitment to increase opportunities for at least 12 years of safe and quality education for all and to dismantle the barriers to girls’ and women’s quality education, particularly in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states.

We recognize that marginalized girls, such as those with a disability, face additional barriers in attaining access to education.

12. Advancing gender equality and ending violence against girls and women benefits all and is a shared responsibility in which everyone, including men and boys, has a critical role to play.

We endorse the Charlevoix Commitment to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Abuse and Harassment in Digital Contexts, and are resolved to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

We strive for a future where individuals’ human rights are equally protected both offline and online; and where everyone has equal opportunity to participate in political, social, economic and cultural endeavors.

Building a More Peaceful and Secure World

13. We share a responsibility to build a more peaceful and secure world, recognizing that respect for human rights, the rule of law, and equality of opportunity are necessary for lasting security and to enable economic growth that works for everyone.

The global security threats we face are complex and evolving and we commit to working together to counter terrorism.

We welcome the outcome of the international conference on the fight against terrorist financing held in Paris April 25-26, 2018.

Foreign terrorist fighters must be held accountable for their actions.

We are committed to addressing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes, including as a tool for recruitment, training, propaganda and financing, and by working with partners such as the Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism.

We underscore the importance of taking concrete measures to eradicate trafficking in persons, forced labor, child labor and all forms of slavery, including modern slavery.

14. Recognizing that countries that are more equal are also more stable, more peaceful and more democratic, we are resolved to strengthen the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

Gender-sensitive measures that include women’s participation and perspectives to prevent and eradicate terrorism are vital to effective and sustainable results, protection from sexual and gender-based violence, and preventing other human rights abuses and violations.

15. We commit to take concerted action in responding to foreign actors who seek to undermine our democratic societies and institutions, our electoral processes, our sovereignty and our security as outlined in the Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats.

We recognize that such threats, particularly those originating from state actors, are not just threats to G7 nations, but to international peace and security and the rules-based international order.

We call on others to join us in addressing these growing threats by increasing the resilience and security of our institutions, economies and societies, and by taking concerted action to identify and hold to account those who would do us harm.

16. We continue to call on North Korea to completely, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles as well as its related programs and facilities.

We acknowledge recent developments, including North Korea’s announcement of a moratorium on nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, a commitment to denuclearization made in the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration – assuming full implementation – and the apparent closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site on May 24 but reiterate the importance of full denuclearization.

The dismantlement of all of its WMD and ballistic missiles will lead to a more positive future for all people on the Korean Peninsula and a chance of prosperity for the people of North Korea, who have suffered for too long.

However, more must be done and we call on all states to maintain strong pressure, including through full implementation of relevant UNSCRs, to urge North Korea to change its course and take decisive and irreversible steps. In this context, we once again call upon North Korea to respect the human rights of its people and resolve the abductions issue immediately.

17. We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behavior, to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime.

We condemn the attack using a military grade nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom.

We share and agree with the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation.

We urge Russia to live up to its international obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to uphold international peace and security.

Notwithstanding, we will continue to engage with Russia on addressing regional crises and global challenges, where it is in our interests.

We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and reaffirm our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

We maintain our commitment to assisting Ukraine in implementing its ambitious and necessary reform agenda.

We recall that the continuation of sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s failure to demonstrate complete implementation of its commitments in the Minsk Agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and we fully support the efforts within the Normandy Format and of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Should its actions so require, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia.

We remain committed to support Russian civil society and to engage and invest in people-to-people contact.

18. We strongly condemn the murderous brutality of Daesh and its oppression of civilian populations under its control.

As an international community, we remain committed to the eradication of Daesh and its hateful ideology.

In Syria we also condemn the repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and by Daesh.

We call on the supporters of the regime to ensure compliance with its obligation to declare and dismantle remaining chemical weapons.

We deplore the fact that Syria assumed the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in May, given its consistent and flagrant disregard of international non-proliferation norms and agreements.

We reaffirm our collective commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and call on all States to support the upcoming Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) special Conference of States Parties and to work together to strengthen the ability of the OPCW to promote the implementation of the Convention.

We call upon those who have yet to do so to join the International Partnership Against the Use of Chemical Weapons.

We call for credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance in Syria, facilitated by free and fair elections held to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.

19. We remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order.

We urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features. We are committed to taking a strong stance against human rights abuse, human trafficking, and corruption across the globe, especially as it impacts vulnerable populations and we call upon the international community to take strong action against these abuses all over the world.

We welcome the recent commitments made by Myanmar and we pledge to coordinate efforts to build lasting peace and support democratic transition in Myanmar, particularly in the context of the ongoing Rohingya crisis, to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access and the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of refugees and displaced people.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of respect for human rights and basic democratic principles in Venezuela, as well as the spiraling economic crisis and its humanitarian repercussions.

We express our concern at the continuous deterioration of the situation in Yemen and renew our call for all parties to fully comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

20. Recognizing the threat Iran’s ballistic missile program poses to international peace and security, we call upon Iran to refrain from launches of ballistic missiles and all other activities which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 – including all annexes – and destabilizing for the region, and cease proliferation of missile technology.

We are committed to permanently ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful, in line with its international obligations and commitments to never seek, develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.

We condemn all financial support of terrorism including terrorist groups sponsored by Iran.

We also call upon Iran to play a constructive role by contributing to efforts to counter terrorism and achieve political solutions, reconciliation and peace in the region.

21. We remain concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in the light of recent events.

We support the resumption without delay of substantive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a negotiated solution that ensures the peace and security for both parties.

We stress the importance of addressing as soon as possible the dire and deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza strip.

22. Africa’s security, stability, and sustainable development are high priorities for us, and we reiterate our support for African-led initiatives, including at a regional level.

We reiterate our commitment to work in partnership with the African continent, supporting the African Union Agenda 2063, to realize Africa’s potential.

We will promote African capabilities to better prevent, respond to, and manage crisis and conflicts and to strengthen democratic institutions.

We reiterate our commitment to the stabilization, unity and democracy of Libya, which is key for the stability of the Mediterranean region and of Europe.

We support the efforts of the Special Representative of the UNSG Salamé in pursuing an inclusive political process founded on his Action Plan and we encourage all Libyan and regional actors to uphold their constructive engagement as outlined in the June 2018 UNSC Presidential statement. We support the efforts of the Presidency Council and the GNA to consolidate State institutions.

Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy

23. A healthy planet and sustainable economic growth are mutually beneficial, and therefore, we are pursuing global efforts towards a sustainable and resilient future that creates jobs for our citizens.

We firmly support the broad participation and leadership of young people, girls and women in promoting sustainable development.

We collectively affirm our strong determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air, clean water and healthy soil.

We commit to ongoing action to strengthen our collective energy security and demonstrate leadership in ensuring that our energy systems continue to drive sustainable economic growth.

We recognize that each country may chart its own path to achieving a low-emission future. We look forward to adopting a common set of guidelines at UNFCCC COP 24.

24. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union reaffirm their strong commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, through ambitious climate action, in particular through reducing emissions while stimulating innovation, enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening and financing resilience and reducing vulnerability, as well as ensuring a just transition, including increasing efforts to mobilize climate finance from a wide variety of sources.

We discussed the key role of energy transitions through the development of market based clean energy technologies and the importance of carbon pricing, technology collaboration and innovation to continue advancing economic growth and protect the environment as part of sustainable, resilient and low-carbon energy systems, as well as financing adaptive capacity.

We reaffirm the commitment that we have made to our citizens to reduce air and water pollution and our greenhouse gas emissions to reach a global carbon-neutral economy over the course of the second half of the century.

We welcome the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution titled ‘Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’ and look forward to the presentation of a report by the Secretary-General in the next General Assembly.

25. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union will promote the fight against climate change through collaborative partnerships and work with all relevant partners, in particular all levels of government; local, Indigenous, remote coastal and small island communities; as well as with the private sector, international organizations and civil society to identify and assess policy gaps, needs and best practices.

We recognize the contribution of the One Planet conferences to this collective effort.

26. The United States believes sustainable economic growth and development depends on universal access to affordable and reliable energy resources. It commits to ongoing action to strengthen the worlds’ collective energy security, including through policies that facilitates open, diverse, transparent, liquid and secure global markets for all energy sources.

The United States will continue to promote energy security and economic growth in a manner that improves the health of the world’s oceans and environment, while increasing public-private investments in energy infrastructure and technology that advances the ability of countries to produce, transport, and use all available energy sources based on each country’s national circumstances.

The United States will endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their Nationally Determined Contributions.

The United States believes in the key role of energy transitions through the development of market-based clean energy technologies and the importance of technology collaboration and innovation to continue advancing economic growth and protect the environment as part of sustainable, resilient, and clean energy systems.

The United States reiterates its commitment to advancing sustainable economic growth, and underscores the importance of continued action to reduce air and water pollution.

27. Recognizing that healthy oceans and seas directly support the livelihoods, food security and economic prosperity of billions of people, we met with the heads of state or government of the Argentina, Bangladesh, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Norway, Rwanda (Chair of the African Union), Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Vietnam, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to discuss concrete actions to protect the health of marine environments and ensure a sustainable use of marine resources as part of a renewed agenda to increase global biodiversity protection.

We endorse the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities, and will improve oceans knowledge, promote sustainable oceans and fisheries, support resilient coasts and coastal communities and address ocean plastic waste and marine litter.

Recognizing that plastics play an important role in our economy and daily lives but that the current approach to producing, using, managing and disposing of plastics and poses a significant threat to the marine environment, to livelihoods and potentially to human health, we the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the European Union endorse the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter.

Conclusion

28. We share the responsibility of working together to stimulate sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone, and, in particular, those most at risk of being left behind.

We would like to thank our citizens, civil society, the Gender Equality Advisory Council, the Formal G7 Engagement Groups and other partners for their meaningful input to Canada’s presidency.

We welcome the offer of the President of France to host our next Summit in 2019 and his pledge to continue G7 leadership on our common agenda.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5825557/Trump-REFUSES-sign-communique-signed-G7-leaders-slams-meek-Justin-Trudeau.html

THE CHARLEVOIX G7 SUMMIT COMMUNIQUE

  1. We, the Leaders of the G7, have come together in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada on June 8–9, 2018, guided by our shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and our commitment to promote a rules-based international order. As advanced economies and leading democracies, we share a fundamental commitment to investing in our citizens and meeting their needs and to responding to global challenges. We collectively affirm our strong determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air and clean water. We are resolved to work together in creating a healthy, prosperous, sustainable and fair future for all.

Investing in Growth that Works for Everyone

  1. We share the responsibility of working together to stimulate sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone and, in particular, those most at risk of being left behind. We welcome the contribution of technological change and global integration to global economic recovery and increased job creation. The global economic outlook continues to improve, but too few citizens have benefited from that economic growth. While resilience against risk has improved among emerging market economies, recent market movements remind us of potential vulnerabilities. We will continue monitoring market developments and using all policy tools to support strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth that generates widespread prosperity. We reaffirm our existing exchange rate commitments. We commit to promoting smart, sustainable and high-quality investments, such as in infrastructure, to boost growth and productivity and create quality jobs. Economic growth is fundamental to raising living standards. We also recognize that economic output alone is insufficient for measuring success and acknowledge the importance of monitoring other societal and economic indicators that measure prosperity and well-being. We are committed to removing the barriers that keep our citizens, including women and marginalized individuals, from participating fully in the global economy. We endorse the Charlevoix Commitment on Equality and Economic Growth, which reinforces our commitment to eradicate poverty, advance gender equality, foster income equality, ensure better access to financial resources and create decent work and quality of life for all.
  2. In order to ensure that everyone pays their fair share, we will exchange approaches and support international efforts to deliver fair, progressive, effective and efficient tax systems. We will continue to fight tax evasion and avoidance by promoting the global implementation of international standards and addressing base erosion and profit shifting. The impacts of the digitalization of the economy on the international tax system remain key outstanding issues. We welcome the OECD interim report analyzing the impact of digitalization of the economy on the international tax system. We are committed to work together to seek a consensus-based solution by 2020.
  3. We acknowledge that free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment, while creating reciprocal benefits, are key engines for growth and job creation. We recommit to the conclusions on trade of the Hamburg G20 Summit, in particular, we underline the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system and continue to fight protectionism. We note the importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements being open, transparent, inclusive and WTO-consistent, and commit to working to ensure they complement the multilateral trade agreements. We commit to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible. We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies.
  4. We will work together to enforce existing international rules and develop new rules where needed to foster a truly level playing field, addressing in particular non-market oriented policies and practices, and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, such as forced technology transfer or cyber-enabled theft. We call for the start of negotiations – this year – to develop stronger international rules on market-distorting industrial subsidies and trade-distorting actions by state-owned enterprises. We also call on all members of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity to fully and promptly implement its recommendations. We stress the urgent need to avoid excess capacity in other sectors such as aluminum and high technology. We call on the International Working Group on Export Credits to develop a new set of guidelines for government-supported export credits, as soon as possible in 2019.
  5. To support growth and equal participation that benefits everyone, and ensure our citizens lead healthy and productive lives, we commit to supporting strong, sustainable health systems that promote access to quality and affordable healthcare and to bringing greater attention to mental health. We support efforts to promote and protect women’s and adolescents’ health and well-being through evidence-based healthcare and health information. We recognize the World Health Organization’s vital role in health emergencies, including through the Contingency Fund for Emergencies and the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, and emphasize their need for further development and continued and sustainable financing. We recommit to support our 76 partners to strengthen their implementation of the International Health Regulations, including through their development of costed national action plans and the use of diverse sources of financing and multi-stakeholder resources. We will prioritize and coordinate our global efforts to fight against antimicrobial resistance, in a “one health” approach. We will accelerate our efforts to end tuberculosis, and its resistant forms. We reconfirm our resolve to work with partners to eradicate polio and effectively manage the post-polio transition. We affirm our support for a successful replenishment of the Global Fund in 2019.
  6. Public finance, including official development assistance and domestic resource mobilization, is necessary to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, but alone is insufficient to support the economic growth and sustainable development necessary to lift all populations from poverty. As a result, we have committed to the Charlevoix Commitment on Innovative Financing for Development to promote economic growth in developing economies and foster greater equality of opportunity within and between countries. We will continue to invest in quality infrastructure with open access. Given rising debt levels in low income countries and the importance of debt sustainability, we call for greater debt transparency not only from low income debtor countries, but also emerging sovereign lenders and private creditors. We support the ongoing work of the Paris Club, as the principal international forum for restructuring official bilateral debt, towards the broader inclusion of emerging creditors. We recognize the value in development and humanitarian assistance that promotes greater equality of opportunity, and gender equality, and prioritizes the most vulnerable, and will continue to work to develop innovative financing models to ensure that no one is left behind.

Preparing for Jobs of the Future

  1. We are resolved to ensure that all workers have access to the skills and education necessary to adapt and prosper in the new world of work brought by innovation through emerging technologies. We will promote innovation through a culture of lifelong learning among current and future generations of workers. We will expand market-driven training and education, particularly for girls and women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. We recognize the need to remove barriers to women’s leadership and equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of the labour market, including by eliminating violence, discrimination and harassment within and beyond the workplace. We will explore innovative new approaches to apprenticeship and vocational learning, as well as opportunities to engage employers and improve access to workplace training.
  2. We highlight the importance of working towards making social protection more effective and efficient and creating quality work environments for workers, including those in non-standard forms of work. Expanding communication and collaboration between governments and businesses, social partners, educational institutions and other relevant stakeholders will be essential for preparing workers to adapt and thrive in the new world of work. To realize the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI), we endorse the Charlevoix Common Vision for the Future of Artificial Intelligence. We recognize that a human-centric approach to AI has the potential to introduce new sources of economic growth, bring significant benefits to our societies and help address some of our most pressing challenges.

Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

  1. We recognize that gender equality is fundamental for the fulfillment of human rights and is a social and economic imperative. However, gender inequality persists despite decades of international commitments to eliminate these differences. We will continue to work to remove barriers to women’s participation and decision-making in social, economic and political spheres as well as increase the opportunities for all to participate equally in all aspects of the labour market. Our path forward will promote women’s full economic participation through working to reduce the gender wage gap, supporting women business leaders and entrepreneurs and recognizing the value of unpaid care work.
  2. Equal access to quality education is vital to achieve the empowerment and equal opportunity of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict. Through the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries, we demonstrate our commitment to increase opportunities for at least 12 years of safe and quality education for all and to dismantle the barriers to girls’ and women’s quality education, particularly in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states. We recognize that marginalized girls, such as those with a disability, face additional barriers in attaining access to education.
  3. Advancing gender equality and ending violence against girls and women benefits all and is a shared responsibility in which everyone, including men and boys, has a critical role to play. We endorse the Charlevoix Commitment to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Abuse and Harassment in Digital Contextsand are resolved to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We strive for a future where individuals’ human rights are equally protected both offline and online; and where everyone has equal opportunity to participate in political, social, economic and cultural endeavors.

Building a More Peaceful and Secure World

  1. We share a responsibility to build a more peaceful and secure world, recognizing that respect for human rights, the rule of law and equality of opportunity are necessary for lasting security and to enable economic growth that works for everyone. The global security threats we face are complex and evolving and we commit to working together to counter terrorism. We welcome the outcome of the international conference on the fight against terrorist financing, held in Paris April 25-26, 2018. Foreign terrorist fighters must be held accountable for their actions. We are committed to addressing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes, including as a tool for recruitment, training, propaganda and financing, and by working with partners such as the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. We underscore the importance of taking concrete measures to eradicate trafficking in persons, forced labour, child labour and all forms of slavery, including modern slavery.
  2. Recognizing that countries that are more equal are also more stable, more peaceful and more democratic, we are resolved to strengthen the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Gender-sensitive measures that include women’s participation and perspectives to prevent and eradicate terrorism are vital to effective and sustainable results, protection from sexual and gender-based violence, and preventing other human rights abuses and violations.
  3. We commit to take concerted action in responding to foreign actors who seek to undermine our democratic societies and institutions, our electoral processes, our sovereignty and our security as outlined in the Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats. We recognize that such threats, particularly those originating from state actors, are not just threats to G7 nations, but to international peace and security and the rules-based international order. We call on others to join us in addressing these growing threats by increasing the resilience and security of our institutions, economies and societies, and by taking concerted action to identify and hold to account those who would do us harm.
  4. We continue to call on North Korea to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles as well as its related programs and facilities. We acknowledge recent developments, including North Korea’s announcement of a moratorium on nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, a commitment to denuclearization made in the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration – assuming full implementation – and the apparent closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site on May 24; but we reiterate the importance of full denuclearization. The dismantlement of all of its WMD and ballistic missiles will lead to a more positive future for all people on the Korean Peninsula and a chance of prosperity for the people of North Korea, who have suffered for too long. However, more must be done and we call on all states to maintain strong pressure, including through the full implementation of relevant UNSCRs, to urge North Korea to change its course and take decisive and irreversible steps. In this context, we once again call upon North Korea to respect the human rights of its people and resolve the abductions issue immediately
  5. We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behaviour to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime. We condemn the attack using a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom. We share and agree with the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We urge Russia to live up to its international obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to uphold international peace and security. Notwithstanding, we will continue to engage with Russia on addressing regional crises and global challenges, where it is in our interests. We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and reaffirm our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We maintain our commitment to assisting Ukraine in implementing its ambitious and necessary reform agenda. We recall that the continuation of sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s failure to demonstrate complete implementation of its commitments in the Minsk Agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and we fully support the efforts within the Normandy Format and of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Should its actions so require, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia. We remain committed to support Russian civil society and to engage and invest in people-to-people contact.
  6. We strongly condemn the murderous brutality of Daesh and its oppression of civilian populations under its control. As an international community, we remain committed to the eradication of Daesh and its hateful ideology. In Syria, we also condemn the repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and by Daesh. We call on the supporters of the regime to ensure compliance with its obligation to declare and dismantle remaining chemical weapons. We deplore the fact that Syria assumed the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in May, given its consistent and flagrant disregard of international non-proliferation norms and agreements. We reaffirm our collective commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and call on all states to support the upcoming Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Special Conference of States Parties and to work together to strengthen the ability of the OPCW to promote the implementation of the Convention. We call upon those who have yet to do so to join the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. We call for credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance in Syria, facilitated by free and fair elections held to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.
  7. We remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order. We urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features. We are committed to taking a strong stance against human rights abuse, human trafficking and corruption across the globe, especially as it impacts vulnerable populations, and we call upon the international community to take strong action against these abuses all over the world. We welcome the recent commitments made by Myanmar and we pledge to coordinate efforts to build lasting peace and support democratic transition in Myanmar, particularly in the context of the ongoing Rohingya crisis, to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access and the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and displaced people. We are deeply concerned about the lack of respect for human rights and basic democratic principles in Venezuela, as well as the spiraling economic crisis and its humanitarian repercussions. We express our concern at the continuous deterioration of the situation in Yemen and renew our call for all parties to fully comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law.
  8. Recognizing the threat Iran’s ballistic missile program poses to international peace and security, we call upon Iran to refrain from launches of ballistic missiles and all other activities which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 – including all annexes – and destabilizing for the region, and cease proliferation of missile technology. We are committed to permanently ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful, in line with its international obligations and commitments to never seek, develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. We condemn all financial support of terrorism including terrorist groups sponsored by Iran. We also call upon Iran to play a constructive role by contributing to efforts to counter terrorism and achieve political solutions, reconciliation and peace in the region.
  9. We remain concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in the light of recent events. We support the resumption without delay of substantive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a negotiated solution that ensures the peace and security for both parties. We stress the importance of addressing as soon as possible the dire and deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza strip.
  10. Africa’s security, stability, and sustainable development are high priorities for us, and we reiterate our support for African-led initiatives, including at a regional level. We reiterate our commitment to work in partnership with the African continent, supporting the African Union Agenda 2063 in order to realize Africa’s potential. We will promote African capabilities to better prevent, respond to, and manage crisis and conflicts; and to strengthen democratic institutions. We reiterate our commitment to the stabilization, unity and democracy of Libya, which is key for the stability of the Mediterranean region and of Europe. We support the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Salamé in pursuing an inclusive political process founded on his Action Plan and we encourage all Libyan and regional actors to uphold their constructive engagement as outlined in the June 6, 2018 statement of the President of the Security Council on Libya. We support the efforts of the Presidency Council for Libya and the Libyan Government of National Accord to consolidate State institutions.

Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy

  1. A healthy planet and sustainable economic growth are mutually beneficial, and therefore, we are pursuing global efforts towards a sustainable and resilient future that creates jobs for our citizens. We firmly support the broad participation and leadership of young people, girls and women in promoting sustainable development. We collectively affirm our strong determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air, clean water and healthy soil. We commit to ongoing action to strengthen our collective energy security and demonstrate leadership in ensuring that our energy systems continue to drive sustainable economic growth. We recognise that each country may chart its own path to achieving a low-emission future. We look forward to adopting a common set of guidelines at UNFCCC COP 24.
  2. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union reaffirm their strong commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, through ambitious climate action; in particular through reducing emissions while stimulating innovation, enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening and financing resilience and reducing vulnerability; as well as ensuring a just transition, including increasing efforts to mobilize climate finance from a wide variety of sources. We discussed the key role of energy transitions through the development of market based clean energy technologies and the importance of carbon pricing, technology collaboration and innovation to continue advancing economic growth and protect the environment as part of sustainable, resilient and low-carbon energy systems; as well as financing adaptive capacity. We reaffirm the commitment that we have made to our citizens to reduce air and water pollution and our greenhouse gas emissions to reach a global carbon-neutral economy over the course of the second half of the century. We welcome the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution titled Towards a Global Pact for the Environment and look forward to the presentation of a report by the Secretary General in the next General Assembly.
  3. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union will promote the fight against climate change through collaborative partnerships and work with all relevant partners, in particular all levels of government; local, Indigenous, remote coastal and small island communities; as well as with the private sector, international organizations and civil society to identify and assess policy gaps, needs and best practices. We recognize the contribution of the One Planet conferences to this collective effort.
  4. The United States believes sustainable economic growth and development depends on universal access to affordable and reliable energy resources. It commits to ongoing action to strengthen the world’s collective energy security, including through policies that facilitates open, diverse, transparent, liquid and secure global markets for all energy sources. The United States will continue to promote energy security and economic growth in a manner that improves the health of the world’s oceans and environment, while increasing public-private investments in energy infrastructure and technology that advances the ability of countries to produce, transport, and use all available energy sources based on each country’s national circumstances. The United States will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their Nationally Determined Contributions. The United States believes in the key role of energy transitions through the development of market-based clean energy technologies and the importance of technology collaboration and innovation to continue advancing economic growth and protect the environment as part of sustainable, resilient, and clean energy systems. The United States reiterates its commitment to advancing sustainable economic growth, and underscores the importance of continued action to reduce air and water pollution.
  5. Recognizing that healthy oceans and seas directly support the livelihoods, food security and economic prosperity of billions of people, we met with the heads of state or government of the Argentina, Bangladesh, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Norway, Rwanda (Chair of the African Union), Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Vietnam, and the heads of the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD, to discuss concrete actions to protect the health of marine environments and ensure a sustainable use of marine resources as part of a renewed agenda to increase global biodiversity protection. We endorse the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities, and will improve oceans knowledge, promote sustainable oceans and fisheries, support resilient coasts and coastal communities and address ocean plastic waste and marine litter. Recognizing that plastics play an important role in our economy and daily lives but that the current approach to producing, using, managing and disposing of plastics and poses a significant threat to the marine environment, to livelihoods and potentially to human health, we the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union endorse the Ocean Plastics Charter.

Conclusion

  1. We share the responsibility of working together to stimulate sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone, in particular, those most at risk of being left behind. We would like to thank our citizens, civil society, the Gender Equality Advisory Council, the Formal G7 Engagement Groups and other partners for their meaningful input to Canada’s presidency. We welcome the offer of the President of France to host our next Summit in 2019 and his pledge to continue G7 leadership on our common agenda.

https://g7.gc.ca/en/official-documents/charlevoix-g7-summit-communique/

Trump holds solo news conference, defends bashing press

CATHERINE LUCEY and DARLENE SUPERVILLE

,

Associated Press

See the source image

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the G-7 summit, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the G-7 summit, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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LA MALBAIE, Quebec (AP) — President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-holds-solo-news-conference-defends-bashing-press-190705939–politics.html

One ‘rant,’ rough talks sour G7 mood in confrontations with Trump

by Reuters
Saturday, 9 June 2018 22:10 GMT

By Jan Strupczewski and Jean-Baptiste Vey

LA MALBAIE, Quebec June 9 (Reuters) – The Group of Seven leaders came to their summit in Canada braced for battle, and while everyone had smiles ready for the cameras, behind the scenes U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a “rant” and recriminations on trade to U.S. allies, leaving the once united club deeply divided.

Trade dominated the two-day summit that began on Friday with leaders of Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Britain and Italy returning to the topic repeatedly in meetings, at a lavish dinner and by a fireside pit late into the evening.

A photo tweeted by the German government spokesman, @RegSprecher, captured the mood, showing a seated Trump, arms crossed, surrounded by other leaders standing over him.

At what a French presidential official described as one “extraordinary” session on Friday, leaders who had vowed to confront Trump over his decision to impose tariffs on U.S. allies last week as part of his “America First” agenda, showered Trump with data one after the other.

Trump gave “a long, frank rant”, the official said, repeating a position he carried through the 2016 U.S. election campaign into the White House that the United States had suffered at the hands of its trading partners, with French President Emmanuel Macron pushing back on the assertion and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chiming in.

It was a “a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly,” said the French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It was a difficult time, rough, very frank.”

The U.S. president did not appear to be listening during some of the trade presentations, another G7 official familiar with the meeting said.

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the characterisations by these officials of Trump’s remarks or attention to the presentations.

Trump himself told reporters on Saturday that the summit was not contentious and called his relationship with G7 allies a “10”.

Despite smiles and jokes for the cameras, the tension among the leaders was clear. At one point, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen having a brief, intense one-sided conversation with a stony-faced Trump on Friday.

On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sniped about “stragglers” after Trump was late to a breakfast session on gender equality. Trump left the summit early for Singapore, where he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week.

One scene at the very beginning of the gathering of presidents and prime ministers of the biggest industrialized nations set the mood for facing the brash Trump.

He arrived at La Malbaie, the scenic luxury resort on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, as the four European leaders and the two EU heads were huddled together in a room to coordinate their strategy. The noise of Trump’s helicopter landing was so loud they had to stop talking for a while, in a scene one official compared to the opening from the U.S. television series M.A.S.H.

“The EU understands that the only way with Trump is strength,” said one European official. “If you give in now, he will come back tomorrow for more.”

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Jean-Baptiste Vey; additional reporting by William James, David Ljunggren, Giselda Vagnoni and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Amran Abocar; editing by Grant McCool)

http://news.trust.org/item/20180609194409-l5tmi

 

 

Trump’s awkward arrival at G7 summit: President poses with world leaders after saying Putin should have been with them, then keeps talking while Trudeau tries to end a photo-op after flaming Macron and Canada over trade barriers

  • The G7 summit is under way in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada – with a rocky start including President Trump calling for Russia to be there
  • The group suspended Russia’s membership from the then-G8 after its annexation of Crimea   
  • ‘They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,’ Trump said before boarding Marine One
  • He had already lobbed a Twitter attack at the leaders of France and Canada saying both nations were charging ‘massive tariffs’ on U.S. products
  • He nevertheless got a warm welcome from Canadian  Prime Minister Trudeau although French President Emanuel Macron earlier took a shot at Trump and scratched a meeting
  • ‘Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six’
  • Trump is now planning to leave the summit early – skipping climate discussions to head for Singapore for his summit with Kim Jong-Un
  • Trump acknowledged with French President Macron the U.S. and Europe have faced ‘a little test every once in a while’ on trade 

President Donald Trump arrived at the G-7 summit in Canada after throwing another bomb on his way there – saying Russia should be allowed back into the group of industrial nations for talks, then talked over the Canadian prime minister to say there would be a ‘joint statement.

Trump posed for a brief photo-op with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday afternoon.

‘Thank you very much,’ Trump said – is what is often really an invitation for reporters to ask him a question.

When a reporter tried to ask whether Trump and Trudeau – who have been feuding over trade – would issue a joint statement, Trudeau tried to put a quick end the event.

‘We’ll see you guys,’ he said.

But Trump immediately answered the question anyway. ‘I think we’ll have a joint statement.’

Then Trudeau shut down any potential press conference after Trump threw barbs at a long morning impromptu event in Washington. ‘Merci tout le monde,’ he said, repeating the salutation twice as he thanked the group.

Trump’s unexpected announcement on Russia came after he and allies France and Canada have been engaged in an escalating trade war and rhetorical back-and-forth – and as a special counsel continues to probe Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election.

Although he got a warm welcome from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a scheduled meeting with French President Emanuel Macron got scratched at the outset.

Aides were able to cobble together a meeting for later on Monday.

‘We’ve had really a very good relationship, very special,’ Trump said at first. ‘A lot of people wrote a couple of things that weren’t quite true – a little bit accurate, perhaps – we’ve had a little test every once in a while when it comes to trade,’ the president then acknowledged.

Then Trump both complained about EU trade and complimented his counterpart.

‘The United States has had a very big trade deficit for many years with the European Union and we are working it out and Emmanuel’s been very helpful in that regard,’ Trump said. And something’s going to happen. I think it will be very positive.’

But a family photo saw Trump greet other leaders apparently warmly – although the start of official business at a round table session saw Trump photographed looking less than happy.

Trump arrived in Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec, late, having given reporters an extended unscheduled briefing on the South Lawn of the White House.

In contrast to most of the leaders, Trump went solo, saying that the First Lady, Melania Trump, has been told by doctors not to fly after a ‘four-hour operation’, which was far more serious than had earlier been said.

The world leaders had a lunch of locally-sourced food, a far cry from Trump’s preferred burgers, and posed for a ‘family photo’ overlooking the St Lawrence River.

Russia continues to remain under U.S. and European sanctions for its annexation and incursion into part of Ukraine. Russia got kicked out of the group after it annexed Crimea.

‘They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,’ Trump said before boarding Marine One.

Family time: European Council President Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose at the start of the G7 in La Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec

Family time: European Council President Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose at the start of the G7 in La Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec

Time for business: Trump sits beside Justin Trudeau at the start of the first formal G7 session. The Canadian prime minister is hosting and therefore chairing the summit

Time for business: Trump sits beside Justin Trudeau at the start of the first formal G7 session. The Canadian prime minister is hosting and therefore chairing the summit

Trade: Trump is making his push against what he says are unfair barriers to U.S. trade the center of his summit strategy

Trade: Trump is making his push against what he says are unfair barriers to U.S. trade the center of his summit strategy

Complaint: Trump had been said to be tired of British minister Theresa May's tone and did not appear to be offering her warm looks

Working together: Trump and Merkle had a rare moment of synchronicity as they both reached under the table

Frank exchanges: Trump suggested that the would use the G7 to press his case that trade is structurally unfair to the U.S.

Cheering up: Trump is spending just 24 hours at the summit, leaving early before sessions on climate change and the environment to head for his nuclear summit with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore

Finger-pointing: Trump came to the summit promising he would talk about 'the long time unfair trade practiced against the United States'. He gestured at Japan's Shinzo Abe as the formal business of the summit began

Host: Justin Trudeau is chairing the summit, which moves from country to country. The meeting is taking place in La Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec

Get-together: Emmanuel Macron put his arm on Trump after the family photo - but he had scratched a one-on-one meeting with the U.S. president after a Twitter outburst

Get-together: Emmanuel Macron put his arm on Trump after the family photo – but he had scratched a one-on-one meeting with the U.S. president after a Twitter outburst

Encounter: Angela Merkel had brief one-on-one discussions with Trump after the family photo was taken

Down to work: Seated clockwise from top center: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; US President Donald Trump; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; French President Emmanuel Macron; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker; President of the European Council Donald Tusk; and British Prime Minister Theresa May

Scenic: Canada is using the G7 as a chance to promote the beauty of Quebec, with the summit being held at a hotel overlooking the St Lawrence River in Quebec

G6 plus one: Other leaders spoke before the summit about how the other members - Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Japan and the European Union, were in accord on trade and it was Trump who was out of step

G6 plus one: Other leaders spoke before the summit about how the other members – Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Japan and the European Union, were in accord on trade and it was Trump who was out of step

‘Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?’ Trump asked.

‘They threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in.’

His unexpected gesture toward Moscow came in an extended extemporaneous press event under the roar of Marine One’s engines, where the president also:

  • Said he was considering pardoning boxing legend Muhammad Ali, although the Supreme Court already overturned his draft-dodging conviction
  • Blasted fired FBI Director James Comey and his ‘band of thieves’
  • Announced that First Lady Melania Trump was on doctors’ orders not to fly following her four-hour ‘operation’ and says she wanted to join him on his trip
  • Defended embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who is under fire for having an aide try to hunt down a used Trump Tower mattress as well moisturizing lotion and using pull to get his wife a chicken franchise, but said he wasn’t ‘blameless’  
  • Said he was considering granting 3,000 pardons
  • Said further that he wanted protesting NFL players to recommend people who had suffered unfairness in the justice system for potential pardons
  • Proclaimed he wouldn’t need to pardon himself from the ‘made up fantasy’ of the Russia probe
  • Blasted NAFTA 
  • Commented on the ‘very important leaker’ who was indicted Thursday and is charged with passing Senate Intelligence panel information to a reporter he dated who had her phones and records seized
  • Reassured Canadian and European leaders furious over U.S. tariffs that ‘when it all straightens out, we’ll all be in love again’
  • Offered ‘heartfelt condolences’ for chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who committed suicide 
  • Called Dennis Rodman, who is traveling to Seoul due to his bizarre friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, a ‘great rebounder.’ 

Trump described himself as ‘Russia’s worst nightmare,’ even as he made the pitch for their inclusion.

The country was removed from what had been the G-8 over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

‘Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?’ he asked.

Trump’s planned bilateral meeting with French President Emanuel Macron was already expected to be a source for fireworks, after Trump slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on European allies, and Macron said the G7 could work without the U.S. if it must.

SORRY DONALD, THE BURGER IS OFF

Justin Trudeau offered no concessions to Trump’s well-known taste for burgers, meatloaf and ice cream. Here is the menu from the G7’s opening lunch.

Arctic char escabeche perfumed with Labrador tea

Buckwheat salad with red apple, rhubarb, and balsam fir spiral

Veal

Dessert of haskap berry and cedar snowball with northern saffron creme anglaise

The White House told reporters it was working to reschedule the Macron meeting after it suddenly fell off the schedule.

Instead, Trump only briefly greeted Macron and the French first lady on a terrace at the summit.

Trump cast his opinion on Russia in pragmatic terms, though he said it was up to the group.

‘I would recommend, and it’s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it,’ he said.

‘You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,’ Trump told reporters in extended remarks before his trip.

‘And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in,’ the president said.

It is just the latest in a series of times the president has sought to bolster ties with the Kremlin, including resisting a sanctions bill pushed by Congress that he ultimately signed, calling for warmer relations with Moscow, and restating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of election interference after a one-on-one meeting.

Video playing bottom right…

Get ready for my close-up: Justin Trudeau was at the center of the family group as the host and was waiting for Trump while (from left) Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Shinzo Abe prepared for the family photo

This is the new guy: Trump appeared to joke as he stood beside Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte, the newest world leader. The G7 is made up of the seven largest economies plus the European Union

Chance to make allies: Italy's Giuseppe Conte and Jean-Clause Juncker, president of the European Commission, flank Trump as they walk back from the family photo

Chance to make allies: Italy’s Giuseppe Conte and Jean-Clause Juncker, president of the European Commission, flank Trump as they walk back from the family photo

Not too warm: Trump flamed other world leaders on trade barriers before flying to Canada for the summit, including Emmanuel Macron, who brought his wife Brigitte

So much to say: Trump had used twitter before the G7 meeting to attack Justin Trudeau claiming that U.S. dairy farmers are unfairly treated

A handshake, or an embrace: Trump was effusive as he greeted Justin Trudeau who is hosting the G7, but it was Emmanuel Macron who was hugged by the Canadian. The French and Canadian leaders were both attacked by Trump on twitter

Traveling solo: Justin Trudeau was with his wife, Sophie Gregoire, as he greeted Trump, but the president said the First Lady has been told not to fly for four weeks

Happy family meal: Lunch, a distinctly non-Trumpian menu which included Arctic char perfumed with Labrador tea, saw him seated between Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's Theresa May. To the right of may is Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, French president Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau

Scenic outlook: The hotel where the summit is being held overlooks the St Lawrence bay

Scenic outlook: The hotel where the summit is being held overlooks the St Lawrence bay

Grand setting: The Canadians are hoping to showcase the beauty of Quebec with their hosting of the G7

WARM WELCOME: President Donald Trump is greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

WARM WELCOME: President Donald Trump is greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

President Donald Trump (L) speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

President Donald Trump (L) speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

He's here: Trump was a late arrival at La Malbaie, Charelvoix, Quebec, after leaving the White House via an impromptu briefing with reporters. He was driven in an armored Suburban - rather than The Beast - to the hotel where it is being held

'They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,' Trump said as he called for Russia to be put back in the G7, making it the G8

‘They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,’ Trump said as he called for Russia to be put back in the G7, making it the G8

Where is Russia? Trump said he wanted to see Vladimir Putin at the G-7 summit - after a series of attacks on other leaders there, including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron

Where is Russia? Trump said he wanted to see Vladimir Putin at the G-7 summit – after a series of attacks on other leaders there, including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron

Trump’s bold pronouncement came after he already has been engaged in angry back-and-forth with traditional allies France and Canada in a trade war. The Trump administration slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imported form the allies, citing a national security exception.

The Canadian prime minster blasted back mentioning Canada’s military contributions in Afghanistan, while French President Emanuel Macron said Thursday the remaining six G6 nations could operate without U.S. leadership.

Russia didn’t jump at the offer Trump extended in remarks to reporters.

‘Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7,’ Kremlin spokesman said, according to state-sponsored Sputnik media.

The U.S. and other leading industrial nations kicked Russia out of the G8 in 2014, after its invasion of Ukraine and seizing of Crimea.

‘International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force,” according to a joint statement at the time. “To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.’

The statement continued: ‘We also strongly condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations.’

Other leaders of the G7 are set to clash with Trump when they pressure him to lift sanctions on steel and aluminum they fear could lead to a trade war.

G7 leaders look to be civil when speaking with Trump at summit
Relationship: The call for Putin to be at the G-7 will only underline questions over the nature of the relationship between Trump and the Kremlin strongman

Relationship: The call for Putin to be at the G-7 will only underline questions over the nature of the relationship between Trump and the Kremlin strongman

I'm off: Trump's tweet shortly before he boarded Marine One which took aim at both the country's G-7 partners and the Mueller probe
Donald Trump is leaving the G7 summit early - skipping the climate discussions - amid increasing animosity with his fellow world leaders

I’m off: Trump’s tweet shortly before he boarded Marine One which took aim at both the country’s G-7 partners and the Mueller probe

President Trump sat the tone for his meeting with world leaders with a tweet on Thursday
Trump attacked French President Macron who fired back on Twitter that the summit did not need the US: 'The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be'

Trump attacked French President Macron who fired back on Twitter that the summit did not need the US: ‘The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be’

French President Macron and President Trump had a close relationship. Trump and the first lady hosted the French president and his wife for their first official state dinner.

French President Macron and President Trump had a close relationship. Trump and the first lady hosted the French president and his wife for their first official state dinner.

Trump is scheduled to leave early on Saturday for Singapore to prepare for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.  

Trump is planning to leave the G7 summit early – skipping the climate discussions – following a furious Twitterspat with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump also attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, labeling him as ‘indignant’ and accusing him of damaging US agriculture, while complaining that both he and President Macron ‘are charging the U.S. massive tariffs.’

Macron fired back on Twitter that the summit did not need the US.

‘The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,’ he wrote.

‘Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.’

Now Trump, who will meet with both Macron and Trudeau tomorrow, has announced he plans to leave the summit several hours early. The White House confirmed that he will depart mid-morning on Saturday, skipping the sessions on climate change and the environment.

A White House aide will take his place.

Trump reportedly even considered scrapping the visit to Canada entirely because he’d be outnumbered on issues like trade and climate change, sources told CNN.

The US president was also unhappy over Trudeau’s barbs about Canada’s better relationship with the US under Barack Obama.

‘Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things…but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!’ Trump tweeted Thursday.

The tweet followed another, where he wrote that: ‘The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out.’

He concluded his message by writing: ‘Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.’

The summit starts Friday in Canada.

Trump will come face-to-face at the gathering in Charlevoix, Quebec, with world leaders whose views do not line with his on a range of issues from trade to the environment as well as Iran and the construction of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

And his tweet sets a confrontational tone going into the gathering.

Macron has already arrived in Canada where he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Trump his actions had put his people’s ‘jobs on the line’.

The Canadian premier encouraged Trump to reconsider his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

‘American jobs are on the line because of his actions and because of his administration,’ Trudeau said on Parliament Hill in Ontario.

‘When we can underscore this, and we see that there’s a lot of pressure within the US, perhaps he will revise his position.’

Macron, who arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday evening for talks in advance of the summit, agreed.

‘A trade war doesn’t spare anyone,’ he said.

Macron and Trump have had a close relationship. Trump hosted the French president and his wife for his first official state dinner.

But relations have reportedly become tense since Trump made his decision to raise steel and aluminium tariffs on Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

Friday’s G7 meeting is expected to be tense as Trump takes one-on-one time with Macron, Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The president may find more success at his June 12 summit in Singapore with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un.

Its seems likely that the Trump will enjoy a warmer encounter with the autocrat from Pyongyang than with his Canadian hosts and European and Japanese allies.

Leaders like Trudeau and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel admit it will be difficult to even agree on a joint communique at the two-day meeting.

The flames have already been thrown.

And Tommy Vietor, who served as President Obama’s national security spokesperson, retweeted Trump’s throw down with these words: ‘There’s just no reason to be an insufferable prick to our closest allies.’

Trump fumed at Trudeau during a contentious phone call on the administration’s new tariff policy, attacking Canada for burning down the White House – a feat performed by British troops in the War of 1812.

Canada didn’t exist for another 55 years – until 1867 when the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia came together to form the nation. Yet, Trump reportedly quipped to Trudeau during a call, ‘Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?’

Trudeau had been pressing Trump on how he could justify the new steel and aluminium tariffs as a ‘national security’ issue, CNN reported.

In response, Trump brought up the War of 1812 when British troops burned down the presidential residence on August 24, 1814. They also looted and set the U.S. Capitol building aflame.

Macron always tries to ‘convince Trump on climate, Iran and trade’
Obama official Tommy Vietor criticized the president

Trudeau rebuffed U.S. claims the tariff hike was a national security issue

Trudeau rebuffed U.S. claims the tariff hike was a national security issue

Trudeau has vocally slammed Trump’s reasoning for his new steel and aluminum tariff policies, saying it is ‘insulting and unacceptable’ to say Canada is a threat to the United States.

‘The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable,’ he said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday.

Trump last week allowed Canada and the European Union’s exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs he introduced this spring to expire, which resulted in the U.S. imposing tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Trump strummed the tune Wednesday that the U.S. has the ‘worst trade deals ever made’ that his administration is scrapping for ones that are ‘really fantastic.’

‘And we’re going to have now fair trade deals. We have made the worst deals ever made. NAFTA is a disaster,’ he said, referring to the existing deal between the U.S. Mexico and Canada. ‘World Trade Organization is a disaster. I could go deal after deal, and it’s been very unfair to our country, to our workers, to our companies, and to everybody else involved. And we’re changing them around rapidly.’

The U.S. has a $8.4 billion trade surplus in goods and services with Canada, according to a report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

But looking at trade in goods alone, Canada has a surplus of $17.5 billion last year, according to the same USTR report.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5821265/Trump-says-PUTIN-G7-summit-Canada.html

 

Story 2: Trump’s Great Trade Deal –Fair and Free Trade with No Tariffs, No Barriers, No Subsidies, — Reciprocal Two Way Deals — Cheating Countries Complain — Videos

See the source imageSee the source image

Trump plans to ‘deal with unfair trade practices’ at G7 Summit – Daily Mail

President Trump Says He Wants Free, but Fair Trade

Trump’s tariffs have provoked a crisis with the EU: David O’ Sullivan

Free Trade and Its Enemies | Jeffrey M. Herbener

Trump vs Friedman – Trade Policy Debate

Milton Friedman debates a protectionist

Murray Rothbard on Balance of Trade “Deficit”

Fake Economic News | Walter Block

Free Trade | Walter Block

The Case for Free Trade, Not Imperialism | Walter Block

Dr. Walter Block: Competition and Monopolies

The Curse of Economic Nationalism | Thomas J. DiLorenzo

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018, Story 1: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on U.S,/North Korea Upcoming Summit in Singapore — Videos — Story 2: ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal — Videos — Story 3: Trump Lawyers Demand Mueller Show Us Your Authorization Letter — American People vs. Political Elitist Establishment — No One Is Above The Law — Trump Waiting For Outcome of November 2018 Elections To Fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Accept Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resignation — Videos

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Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, 'Rudy doesn't speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues'Image result for ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal

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Story 1: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on U.S,/North Korea Upcoming Summit in Singapore — Videos —

 

Press Briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

 

‘Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration’: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chides Giuliani for claim that Kim Jong-un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for a nuclear summit

  • Giuliani praised Trump’s threat to cancel the nuclear summit with North Korea
  • President’s lawyer said Kim Jong Un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for the summit to go ahead, which is ‘exactly where you want him’
  • Giuliani said the move proves that Trump is ‘stronger’ and that Kim accepts it
  • North Korea previously threatened to walk away from talks if the US attempted to ‘drive us into a corner’ and force the country to give up its nukes

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea’s supreme leader.

Giuliani said Kim Jong-un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for the summit with President Trump to go ahead after the U.S. leader cancelled it.

The decision to call the summit off – before putting it back on – humbled Kim, the president’s lawyer said. He added: ‘That is exactly where you want him.’

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, ‘We’re moving forward. We’re focused on the important things. I know Rudy. Uh, but Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues.’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea's supreme leader 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea’s supreme leader

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, 'Rudy doesn't speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues'

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, ‘Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues’

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula

Giuliani made the comments while at a conference in Israel, and later stood by them when questioned by the Associated Press.

However, he did add that he was sharing a personal opinion and is not part of Trump’s foreign policy team.

Giulani had said the episode proves Trump ‘is the stronger figure… and you’re not going to have useful negotiations unless [Kim] accepts that’ in his original remarks.

Pompeo took a slap at Giuliani for the remark but also said: ‘I took it as it being a small room and and not being serious about the comments.

‘I think it was a bit in jest,’ said the secretary of state and former Member of Congress.

In response to another question from a reporter, Pompeo refused to say which leader has the ‘upper hand’ heading into the summit.

‘We know this has been a long, intractable challenge. It’s gone on for decades. The president has said repeatedly: Previous administrations weren’t prepared to do what we’ve done already.

‘It’s not about who has the upper hand,’ he stated. ‘It’s about trying to find a way where the two sides can come to an understanding, where we can get concrete steps, not just words, that resolve this challenge.’

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.

The president surprised allies and enemies alike when he called off the summit two weeks ago, saying he could not tolerate North Korea’s ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ towards his administration.

North Korea had previously blasted National Security Adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence for suggesting the country follow the ‘Libya model’ of disarmament.

Following Trump’s announcement, the Kim regime said it was still willing ‘to sit down face-to-face with the U.S. and resolve issues anytime and in any format.’

Trump officially said last Friday that it would go ahead as planned.

Giuliani’s statement threatened to derail talks once again, as the North Korean regime is not known for taking insults to its ‘supreme leader’ lightly.

Before threatening to walk away from talks the first time, North Korea had bemoaned American attempts to ‘drive us into a corner’ and force disarmament.

As of Thursday afternoon, however, talks were a go, with a caveat from President Trump that they could always be called off.

‘Things are moving along well. It looks like the meeting is set. The summit is all ready to go, subject always to change. You never know in this world. Subject to change. But the summit is all ready to go,’ the president said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5818765/Pompeo-says-Giuliani-doesnt-speak-administration-Kim-got-hands-knees.html

 

Story 2: ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal — Trump Bad Deal For Security Reasons — Videos —

Trump admin. reaches deal with ZTE Corp.

US and China’s ZTE reach a deal

Trump administration reaches deal with China’s ZTE

ZTE to Pay $1 Billion Fine Over Iran, North Korea Sanctions

ZTE has been a criminial company for many years: Gasparino

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US, China reach $1.4 bn ZTE deal amid signs of progress on trade

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced a deal to ease sanctions on Chinese firm ZTE, denies any link between that deal and wider trade talks

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced a deal to ease sanctions on Chinese firm ZTE, denies any link between that deal and wider trade talks

Washington and Beijing have reached a deal to ease sanctions that brought Chinese smartphone maker ZTE to the brink of collapse, the US said Thursday — a possible indication of progress in fraught trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced the deal, reiterated a denial that there was any connection between the two.

But the ZTE settlement comes just days after Beijing reportedly offered to ramp up purchases of American goods to help cut the yawning trade imbalance with the United States — moving part-way towards meeting a major demand of US President Donald Trump.

The defusing of tensions with Beijing is good news for Trump, who is preparing to face outraged allies at this week’s Group of Seven summit in Canada, where Europe and Canada will voice their strenuous objections to US steel and metal tariffs.

Not all was rosy — US lawmakers threatened legal action against the ZTE deal, saying the telecoms firm posed an “espionage risk” to the United States in addition to having violated its sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Ross told CNBC on Thursday the deal was tough and would keep ZTE on a short leash.

“This is a pretty strict settlement — the strictest and largest settlement fine that has ever been brought by the Commerce Department against any violator of export controls,” he said.

In April, Washington banned the sale of crucial US components to the company after finding it had repeatedly lied and failed to take action against workers responsible for the sanctions violations.

The company was fined $1.2 billion last year. But under the deal announced Thursday, ZTE will pay an additional $1 billion penalty and put another $400 million in escrow to cover possible future violations.

ZTE will also be required to change its entire board of directors and hire outside legal compliance specialists who will report to the Commerce Department for 10 years.

In return, Washington will strike the company from a sanctions list.

– Another shoe to drop? –

The deal with ZTE, whose logo is shown on a building in Beijing, comes as the US and China engage in separate and fraught trade talks

The deal with ZTE, whose logo is shown on a building in Beijing, comes as the US and China engage in separate and fraught trade talks

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers threatened to take congressional action that could block or alter the deal, calling ZTE a threat to US national security.

“There is absolutely no good reason that ZTE should get a second chance and this decision marks a 180-degree turn away from the president’s promise to be tough on China,” Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

“It’s up to Congress now to act to reverse the deal.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said: “After today’s decision to give #ZTE a pass, we have introduced a bipartisan amendment to restore penalties on ZTE.”

The clash raised the prospect that Trump’s own Republican party could work to undermine key planks of his trade agenda.

Despite the settlement, there was no sign Trump had veered from plans this month to impose as much as $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of American technology and know-how.

Washington and Beijing have pursued a halting series of trade talks, with Trump demanding a $200 billion reduction in its trade deficit with China.

Ross insisted the ZTE deal was an enforcement matter unrelated to the trade talks, which he has led.

“It happens that I have been involved with the other negotiations with China. But that’s quite separate,” he told CNBC.

But Ross’s denial appeared to conflict with Trump’s own public statements.

In a tweet posted May 14, Trump said the new ZTE deal was “reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China.”

US officials say China last weekend offered to buy an additional $70 billion in US goods to cut the trade deficit — on condition that Trump call off the planned tech-sector tariffs.

William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the ZTE offer suggested Beijing had made concessions to Trump on trade but it remained unclear whether these were of equal value.

Beijing’s reported offer to buy $70 billion in goods was “peanuts” compared to the $200 billion cut in the US trade deficit with China that Trump demanded, Reinsch told AFP.

“It’s hard to believe there’s no linkage but Ross clearly left Beijing without anything last weekend,” he said.

“I think there’s another shoe to drop.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5817823/US-China-reach-1-4-bn-ZTE-deal-signs-emerge-trade-talks-progres.html

 

US strikes ZTE deal, commerce secretary announces, but congressional critics object

The Trump administration has struck a “definitive” deal with Chinese tech giant ZTE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday, over strong congressional objections.

“At about 6:00 A.M. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE and that brings, that brings to a conclusion this phase of the developing with them,” Ross said in an interview with CNBC.

According to the Commerce Department, ZTE will be required to pay a $1 billion fine, is replacing its management, and will submit to oversight from the U.S. Commerce Department in order to be relieved of the crippling punishments that had been slapped on the company for its previous evasion of sanctions placed on North Korea and Iran.

“We are literally embedding a compliance department of our choosing into the company to monitor it going forward they will pay for those people but the people will report to the new chairman because we are also having them replace the entire management and the entire board,” Ross said.

Ross had been instructed to look into easing restrictions on ZTE by President Trump, who had received a personal request from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ross touted the deal as a victory, saying the administration’s previous strict actions accomplished its goal in that it “brought … a $17 billion company to its knees more or less put them out of business” and that the new agreement is “something I think even more effective.”

He also warned that if the company is caught not complying to the letter of the new agreement, strict punishment will snap into place.

“Now, if they do violate it again, in addition to the billion dollars they’re paying us right up front, we have them put $400 million in escrow so the total deal is a billion 400 million,” Ross said.

Many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats have strongly opposed how the president was handling the ZTE matter — and blasted the latest twist.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted the “deal with ZTE proves the president just shoots blanks.”

And a leading GOP critic, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted the the deal “will do nothing to keep us safe from coporate and national security espionage.”

 

Story 3: Trump Lawyers Demand Mueller Show Us Your Authorization Letter — American People vs. Political Elitist Establishment — No One Is Above The Law — Trump Waiting For Outcome of November Elections To Fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Accept Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resignation — Videos

 

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Special Counsel investigation (2017–present)

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The 2017–present Special Counsel investigation is an ongoing United States law enforcement investigation of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and any Russian (or other foreign) interference in the election, including exploring any possible links or coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, “and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” The scope of the investigation reportedly also includes potential obstruction of justice by President Trump and others.[1] Since May 2017, the investigation has been led by a United States Special CounselRobert Mueller, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Mueller’s investigation took over several FBI investigations including those involving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, both of which started before the 2016 presidential election.[2] Manafort has been indicted on various tax, financial, and bank fraud crimes in October 2017 and faces trial in September 2018.[3] Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and became a cooperating witness in December 2017.[4] Mueller further secured guilty pleas from Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan,[5] and Richard Pinedo,[6]all of who became cooperating witnesses to the probe. In February 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian entities, most notably the Internet Research Agency.[7]

While initially enjoying bipartisan support,[8] the special counsel investigation became subject to fierce criticism by President Trump and his surrogates in the conservative media within months, eventually peddling a “deep state” conspiracy theory.[9] Several allegations of investigators’ misconduct have been raised and were almost immediately debunked, including supposed unlawful wire-tapping of Trump Tower during the campaign,[10][11] unmasking of Trump associates on intelligence intercepts,[12] FISA court abuse against Carter Page detailed in the Nunes memo,[13][14] and the alleged installation of a spy in the Trump campaign.[15][16]

Origin and powers

A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that Russian leadership favored presidential candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin personally ordered an “influence campaign” to harm Clinton’s electoral chances and “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.”[17]:7 It is alleged that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to increase political instability in the United States and to damage Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign by bolstering the candidacies of Donald TrumpBernie Sanders and Jill Stein.[18][19]

The Deputy Attorney GeneralRod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, to serve as Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in May 2017. The reference for the investigation is to examine Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, including exploring any links or coordination between Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, “and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”,[20] and any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR 600.4 – Jurisdiction.[21]

The appointment followed a series of events that included President Donald Trump‘s firing of FBI director James Comey and Comey’s allegation that Trump asked him to drop an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.[22]

Rosenstein, in his role as Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has authority over the use of DOJ resources by Mueller and the investigation. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from supervision of Mueller if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of Comey.[23] If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, his duties in this matter would have been assumed by the Justice Department’s third-in-command, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who has since herself stepped down.[24] So long as no successor fills that office, Solicitor General Noel Francisco assumes the authorities of Associate Attorney General.[25]

As special counsel, Mueller has the power to issue subpoenas,[26] hire staff members, request funding, and prosecute federal crimes in connection with the election interference.[27] According to Rudy Giuliani, who is leading President Trump’s legal team, Mueller’s team told him that they cannot indict a sitting president; they can only write a report at the conclusion of the investigation. The decision aligns with Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted. Giuliani also added that he believes the Constitutionprevents indictment of a sitting president.[28] However, this remains an unsettled matter of Constitutional law.[29][30][31][32]

Grand juries

On August 3, 2017, Mueller empaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of his investigation. The grand jury has the power to subpoena documents, require witnesses to testify under oath, and issue indictments for targets of criminal charges if probable cause is found.

The Washington grand jury is separate from an earlier Virginia grand jury investigating Michael Flynn; the Flynn case has been absorbed into Mueller’s overall investigation.[33]

Grand jury testimony

The grand jury has issued subpoenas to those involved in the Trump campaign–Russian meeting held on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower, which was also the location of Trump’s presidential campaign headquarters.[34]

NBC News reported on August 25, 2017, that “in recent days” the grand jury subpoenaed witness testimony from the executives of six public relations firms, who worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on lobbying efforts in Ukraine.[41]

On January 16, 2018, The New York Times reported that Steve Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller to testify before the standing grand jury in Washington, DC.[42] Reuters and CNN reported the next day that Bannon had struck a deal with Mueller’s team to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury.[43][44] On February 15, 2018, multiple sources reported that those interviews had taken place over multiple days that week.[45][46][47]

Legal teams

Mueller and investigation team

Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller

Upon his appointment as special counsel, Mueller resigned his position at the Washington office of law firm WilmerHale, along with two colleagues, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III.[48][49] On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts announced they had declared Mueller ethically able to function as special counsel.[50]

Politico proposed that the “ideal team” would likely have six to eight prosecutors, along with administrative assistants and experts in areas such as money laundering or interpreting tax returns.[51] Mueller had hired 16 lawyers,[52] and had a total staff of over three dozen, including investigators and other non-attorneys by August 2017.[53] He also has an active role in managing the inquiry.[54]

Members of the team include:

Mueller has also added unidentified agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division to his team. “This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.”[76]

Mueller’s team is also working with the Attorney General of New York, on its investigation into Manafort’s financial transactions.[77]

Though Trump and others have criticized the fact that many members of Mueller’s team have had some affiliation with the Democratic Party, federal regulations prohibit Mueller from considering political affiliation in hiring decisions.[78] Republican members of the House of Representatives have accused the investigation of being manned by personnel with an “anti-Trump” bias who “let Clinton off easy last year”, in reference to the FBI’s investigation of Hilary Clinton’s email server.[79]

Between May and September 2017, the federal government spent $6.7 million on the investigation. Nearly half of that amount was spent by Mueller.[80]

Trump’s legal team

Members of President Trump’s legal team include:[81]

Representing the White House

Representing Trump personally

Former members include:

  • Michael Bowe: an attorney at Marc Kasowitz’s firm[49]
  • Mark Corallo, spokesman for Kasowitz and the White House defense; resigned on July 20, 2017.[91]
  • John M. Dowd, former leader of the team;[92][93] joined in June 2017; resigned on March 22, 2018.[94]
  • Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal attorney and the first member of the team; resigned on July 20, 2017.[95][91]
  • Ty Cobb: a white-collar crime lawyer;[91][92] was on White House staff representing the office of the presidency and was not on Trump’s personal legal team.[96] He joined in June 2017[81] and announced on May 2, 2018 that he would leave the team with the appointment of Emmet Flood to replace him.[82] Cobb’s last day was May 18, 2018.

Prominent lawyers and law firms that have declined offers to join Trump’s legal team:

In an article describing the “unique circumstance” of Rudy Giuliani‘s unpaid leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig while representing Trump, possibly because of “potential conflicts”, Christine Simmons referred to how some other law firms may have turned down representing Trump in the Russia case due to “public relations headaches or business and recruitment concerns”.[86] Trump has called such views a “Fake News narrative”,[97][98] but, according to Ryan Lovelace, “many Washington defense attorneys aren’t so sure”.[98]

A number of prominent lawyers and law firms are known to have declined offers to join Trump’s legal team,[99][100] including Robert S. Bennett of Hogan Lovells,[101] Paul Clement and Mark Filip, both with Kirkland & Ellis,[102][102] Robert Giuffra Jr. of Sullivan & Cromwell,[101] Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher,[103] and Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. of Williams & Connolly.[102] Other firms with attorneys who have declined to represent Trump include Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan,[104] Steptoe & Johnson,[104] and Winston & Strawn.[105] Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing were also briefly slated to join Trump’s legal team, but withdrew their services from Trump in March 2018, citing conflicts of interest.[106]

Others

James Comey, whose assertions regarding statements made by Trump are central to the investigation, has a legal team including former independent counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.[107]

Topics

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, serving as Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, authorized Mueller to investigate and prosecute “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR 600.4 – Jurisdiction.[21][108]

Russian election interference

Internet Research Agency indictment

In July 2016, the FBI began looking into Russian interference, as well as the question of whether members of the Trump campaign might have coordinated or cooperated with Russia’s activities.[109] Those investigations became part of the Special Counsel’s portfolio.[110]

U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 concluded “with high confidence” that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and forwarded their contents to WikiLeaks,[111][112][113] as well as by disseminating fake news promoted on social media,[114] and by penetrating, or trying to penetrate, the election systems and databases of multiple U.S. states.[115] NBC News reported on March 1, 2018, that Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking.[116]

Russia’s influence on U.S. voters through social media is a primary focus of the Mueller investigation.[117] Mueller used a search warrant to obtain detailed information about Russian ad purchases on Facebook. According to a former federal prosecutor, the warrant means that a judge was convinced that foreigners had illegally contributed to influencing a US election via Facebook ads.[118]

In a February 13, 2018, testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the heads of the top six American intelligence agencies unanimously reaffirmed Russian interference. Three sources familiar with Trump’s thinking told CNN he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered because it suggests he didn’t win the election solely on his own merits.[119]

Links between Trump associates and Russian officials

As early as spring 2015, US intelligence agencies started overhearing conversations in which Russian government officials, some within the Kremlin, discussed associates of Trump, then a presidential candidate.[120][121]

The New York Times reported on February 14, 2017, that phone records and communications intercepts showed that Trump associates—including members of the Trump campaign—had “repeated contacts” with senior Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 campaign. Paul Manafort was the only Trump associate who was specifically identified as participating in these communications.[122] In addition, some senior Trump associates, including Kushner, Trump Jr., Sessions, Flynn and Manafort, had direct contacts with Russian officials during 2016. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, after it was revealed that on December 29, 2016, the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia, Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak. Flynn had earlier acknowledged speaking to Kislyak but denied discussing the sanctions.[123][124] Also in December 2016, Flynn and presidential advisor Jared Kushner met with Kislyak hoping to set up a direct, secure line of communication with Russian officials that American intelligence agencies would be unaware of.[125][126] Jared Kushner also met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of the Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), which has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since July 2014.[127][128] Flynn and Kushner failed to report these meetings on their security clearance forms.[129][128]

The Trump Organization pursued a luxury hotel and condominium project in Moscow—dubbed the Trump World Tower Moscow—during the early months of the Trump presidential campaign. This project was facilitated by Michael Cohen, then an attorney for the Trump Organization and since January 2017 Trump’s personal attorney. Trump signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” dated October 13, 2015, to proceed with the project.[130] The letter, also signed by Russian investor Andrei Rozov, was forwarded to Cohen by Russian-American real estate developer Felix Sater, who had worked with The Trump Organization on prior deals, including Trump SoHo and Trump International Hotel & Residence. Sater has also been involved in criminal activities involving organized crime and has served as an informant to the FBI relating to those activities.[131] He boasted to Cohen about his connections to Vladimir Putin, saying in an email to Cohen on November 13, 2015, “Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins [sic] team to buy in on this. I will manage this process.” He also asserted that he had secured financing for the project through the Russian state-owned VTB Bank, which was under sanctions by the United States government. Cohen emailed Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in January 2016 to request assistance in advancing the project and later stated he didn’t recall receiving a response. The deal was abandoned that month. Buzzfeed reported on March 12, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators had questioned Sater[132] and on April 13, 2018, reported that a former Russian spy had helped secure financing for the project.[133] In 2010 Sater was provided business cards describing himself as “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump” with an email address at TrumpOrg.com.[134] In a 2013 sworn affidavit, Trump said “If [Sater] were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,”[135] and in 2015 he stated “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.”[136]

The Trump team issued multiple denials of any contacts between Trump associates and Russia, but many of those denials turned out to be false.[137][138] On December 4, 2017, prosecutors filed that Paul Manafort worked on an op-ed with a Russian intelligence official while out on bail, in a court filing requesting that the judge revoke Manafort’s bond agreement.[139]

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates in October/September 2016 frequently communicated with a man the FBI believes is a former agent of GRU, Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency, and who had maintained active links with Russian intelligence during these communications. This disclosure came in a court sentencing document for Alex van der Zwaan submitted by Robert Mueller. Identified in the document as “Person A,” The Times reported that the man matched the description of Konstantin Kilimnik who for years was Paul Manafort‘s “right-hand man” in Ukraine. Gates reportedly told an associate that he knew “Person A” was a former GRU agent, although Manafort told associates he was not aware of such a connection.[140]

Reuters reported on March 29, 2018, that the special counsel is examining an event at the 2016 Republican National Convention at which Jeff Sessions had conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Investigators are also looking into how and why language deemed hostile to Russia was removed from the Republican party’s platform document during the convention. Mueller’s office is also inquiring whether Sessions had private conversations with Kislyak at a Trump speech at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.[141] Some have noted that Kislyak was a familiar presence in Washington social circles, routinely meeting with members of Congress and making appearances at various conferences.

The Steele dossier asserted that Trump attorney Michael Cohen in August 2016 had a clandestine meeting with Kremlin representatives in Prague. Cohen has stated he has never been to Prague, inviting investigators to examine his passport.[142] McClatchy reported on April 13, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have evidence that in August or early September 2016 Cohen traveled to Prague by way of Germany. Such a trip would not have required a passport as Germany and the Czech Republic are in the Schengen Area which has abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.[143] On April 14, 2018, Cohen again denied he had ever been to Prague.[144]

Alleged collusion between Trump campaign and Russian agents

Mueller is looking into the meeting on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower in New York City between three senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign—Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr.—and at least five other people, including Russian lawyer Natalia VeselnitskayaRinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist and former Soviet army officer who met senior Trump campaign aides, Ike Kaveladze, British publicist Rob Goldstone, and translator Anatoli Samochornov.[145][146] Goldstone had suggested the meeting to Trump Jr., and it was arranged in a series of emails later made public. In one email exchange of June 3, 2016, Goldstone wrote Trump Jr. that Aras Agalarov “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” adding that it was “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” that he could send to Donald Trump’s assistant Rhona Graff. Trump Jr. responded minutes later “Thanks Rob I appreciate that” and “if it’s what you say I love it.”[147] Trump Jr. initially told the press that the meeting was held to discuss adoptions of Russian children by Americans, but after contrary media reports he added that he agreed to the meeting with the understanding that he would receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton.[148] Mueller’s team is investigating the emails and the meeting,[145] and whether President Trump later tried to hide the meeting’s purpose.[149] On July 18, 2017, Kaveladze’s attorney said that Mueller’s investigators were seeking information about the Russian meeting in June 2016 from his client,[150] and on July 21, Mueller asked the White House to preserve all documents related to the Russian meeting.[151] It has been reported that Manafort had made notes during the Russian meeting.[152]

CNN reported on March 23, 2017 that the FBI was examining “human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings” indicating that Trump associates may have coordinated with “suspected Russian operatives” to release information damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign.[153]

By August 3, 2017, Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in the District of Columbia that issued subpoenas concerning the meeting.[154] The Financial Times reported on August 31 that Akhmetshin had given sworn testimony to Mueller’s grand jury.[155]

CNN reported on September 19, 2017 that Manafort had been a target of a FISA wiretap both before and after the 2016 election, extending into early 2017. Some of the intercepted communications caused concerns among investigators that Manafort had solicited assistance from Russians for the campaign, although the evidence was reportedly inconclusive. The wiretaps began sometime after Manafort became a subject of an FBI investigation into his business practices in 2014. The Mueller investigation was provided details of these intercepts.[156]

Mueller is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Republican activist Peter W. Smith, who stated that he tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, and that he was acting on behalf of Michael Flynn and other senior Trump campaign members. Trump campaign officials have denied that Smith was working with them.[157] In fall 2017, Mueller’s team interviewed former Government Communications Headquarters cybersecurity researcher Matt Tait, who had been approached by Smith to verify the authenticity of emails allegedly hacked from Clinton’s private email server.[158] Tait reportedly told House Intelligence Committee investigators in October 2017 that he believed Smith had ties to members of Trump’s inner circle—including Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway—and may have been helping build opposition research for the Trump campaign.[159] Smith committed suicide in May 2017, several days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his alleged efforts. Aged 81 and reportedly in failing health, he left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note.[160] An attorney for Smith’s estate said in October 2017 that some of Smith’s documents had been turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee.[161]

In December 2017, it was reported that the Mueller investigation was examining whether the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, who worked together on the digital arm of Trump’s campaign, provided assistance to Russian trolls attempting to influence voters.[162][163] Yahoo News reported that Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC–Trump campaign data operation—which was directed on Trump’s side by Brad Parscale and managed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.[164] Also that month, the Democratic ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees asked their respective Republican chairmen to subpoena two of the data firms hired by Trump’s campaign for documents related to Russia’s election interference, including the firm headed by Parscale.[165][166] On February 27, 2018, Trump selected Parscale to serve as campaign manager on his 2020 reelection campaign.[167] NBC News reported on February 28, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators are asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release. This is the first reported indication that Mueller’s investigation is specifically examining whether Trump was personally involved in collusive activities.[168] Mueller’s investigators have also asked about the relationship between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia. Stone, a longtime Republican “dirty trickster” and Trump confidant[169] has repeatedly discussed his backchannel communications with Assange and claimed knowledge of forthcoming leaks from Wikileaks.[170] He also exchanged Twitter private messages with Guccifer 2.0, which American intelligence has connected to two Russian intelligence groups that cybersecurity analysts have concluded hacked Democratic National Committee emails.[171] Reuters reported on May 16, 2018 that Mueller’s office had the prior week subpoenaed Stone’s social media strategist, Jason Sullivan, to testify before a grand jury on May 18 and to provide documents, objects and electronically stored information.[172] Reuters reported the next day that John Kakanis, Stone’s driver, accountant and operative, had also been subpoenaed.[173] Investigators have also focused on Trump’s public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. At a news conference on July 27, 2016, days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”[174]

After a “testy March 5 meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide the president’s lawyers with more specific information about the subjects that prosecutors wished to discuss with the president.” Then Jay Sekulow “compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked…. The New York Times first reported the existence of the list.”[175]

On April 30, 2018 The New York Times published a list of interview questions for Trump that the Mueller investigation had provided to the president’s attorneys. The list was provided to The Times by an individual outside Trump’s legal team. Among the questions was, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” Prior to this disclosure, there had been no publicly available information indicating any such outreach. The Times noted that the questions were not quoted verbatim and in some cases were condensed.[176]

The New York Times reported on May 15, 2018 that Trump campaign policy aide and later White House Deputy Cabinet Secretary John Mashburn testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2018 that he recalled receiving an email from George Papadopoulos in the first half of 2016 indicating that the Russian government had damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Prior to this report, there had been no publicly available information indicating that Papadopoulos had informed anyone on the Trump campaign about such matters. Despite an extensive search for the purported email by various investigators, it has not been located.[177] A court document[178] Mueller’s office filed in association with Papadopoulos’s guilty plea included verbatim quotes from various emails Papadopoulos had sent or received, but the Mashburn email was not referenced in that document.

Obstruction of justice

Early in Trump’s presidency, senior White House officials reportedly asked intelligence officials if they could intervene with the FBI to stop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Flynn.[179] In March, Trump reportedly discussed the FBI’s Russia investigation with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and asked if they could intervene with Comey to limit or stop it.[180] When he was asked at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the report, Coats said he would not discuss conversations he had with the president but “I have never felt pressured to intervene in the Russia investigation in any way.”[181] Prior to being appointed Director of National Intelligence by Trump, Coats had been an elected Republican politician since 1981, serving in both the House and Senate.[182]

In February 2017, it was reported that White House officials had asked the FBI to issue a statement that there had been no contact between Trump associates and Russian intelligence sources during the 2016 campaign.

Ex-FBI-Director James Comey memo

The FBI did not make the requested statement, and observers noted that the request violated established procedures about contact between the White House and the FBI regarding pending investigations.[183] After Comey revealed in March that the FBI was investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump phoned Coats and Director of National Security Admiral Michael S. Rogers and asked them to publicly state there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.[179][184][185] Both Coats and Rogers believed that the request was inappropriate, though not illegal, and did not make the requested statement. The two exchanged notes about the incident, and Rogers made a contemporary memo to document the request.[184][185] The White House effort to push back publicly on the Russia probe reportedly also included requests to senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Senator Richard Burr and Representative Devin Nunes, the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, respectively.[186]

In May 2017 it was reported that Comey took contemporaneous notes immediately after an Oval Office conversation with Trump on February 14, 2017, in which Trump is described as attempting to persuade Comey to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn.[187][188] The memo notes that Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey made no commitments to Trump on the subject. The White House denied the version of events in the memo, but an FBI agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.[189] In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, Comey gave a detailed report on the February 14 conversation, including Trump’s suggestion that he should “let go” the Flynn investigation. Comey said he “took it as a direction… I took it as, this is what he wants me to do.” He added that it was “a very disturbing thing, very concerning”, and that he discussed the incident with other FBI leaders.[190] Comey created similar memos about all nine conversations he had with the president.[191] Mueller’s office has the Comey memos, but on February 2, 2018, a federal judge denied multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to make the documents public, at least for now.[192]

The FBI launched an investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice a few days after the May 9 firing of Comey.[193] The special prosecutor’s office took over the obstruction of justice investigation and has reportedly interviewed Director of National Intelligence Coats, Director of the National Security Agency Rogers, and Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett.[193][194][195] ABC News reported in June that Mueller was gathering preliminary information about possible obstruction of justice, but a full-scale investigation had not been launched.[196] On June 16, Trump tweeted: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”[197] However, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said Trump’s tweet was referring to the June 14 Washington Post report that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice,[193] and that Trump has not actually been notified of any investigation.[198][199]

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times reported on September 20, 2017, that Mueller’s office had requested information from the White House regarding an Oval Office meeting President Trump had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on May 10, 2017, during which Trump reportedly said that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him.[200][201][202]

On January 23, 2018, The Washington Post reported that Robert Mueller sought to question President Donald Trump about the Flynn and Comey departures.[203]

The Washington Post also reported on January 23, 2018, that Mueller’s office is interested in a May 2017 Oval Office conversation between Trump and Andrew McCabe, days after McCabe had automatically become acting director of the FBI when Trump dismissed Comey, allegedly for not pledging loyalty to the president. During this conversation, Trump reportedly asked McCabe for whom he had voted in the 2016 presidential election. McCabe, a lifelong Republican,[204] replied that he had not voted in that election.[205] On January 24, 2018, Trump denied—or did not remember—asking McCabe about his vote.[206] Like Comey, McCabe also took contemporaneous notes of his conversations with Trump, which are reportedly now in the possession of Mueller’s office.[207]

The New York Times reported on January 23, 2018, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned the preceding week by Mueller’s investigators.[208] Trump previously expressed frustration that Sessions had recused himself from the investigation and not prevented a Special Counsel from being appointed, stating that he would not have appointed Sessions had he known that would happen.[209] Multiple episodes have been reported in which Trump has threatened to dismiss Sessions, or Sessions has tendered his resignation.[210][211] The Washington Post reported on February 28, 2018, that the Mueller investigation has been examining a period of time during the summer of 2017 when Trump seemed determined to drive Sessions from his job, to determine “whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.”[212] Sessions’ departure would allow Trump to appoint another attorney general who is not restrained by recusal. The New York Times reported on May 29, 2018 that the Mueller investigation is examining a previously unreported March 2017 episode when Trump attempted to persuade Sessions to reverse his recusal, suggesting that the investigation into possible obstruction of justice was broader than previously understood. The questions Mueller’s office had previously provided Trump’s attorneys for an interview with the president included, “What efforts did you make to try to get [Sessions] to change his mind [about recusal]?”[213][214]

USA Today and The New York Times reported on January 31, 2018, that Mueller’s office is expected to question Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for President Trump’s legal team, about his reported concerns that the president and his longtime aide Hope Hicks might have sought to obstruct justice. Corallo reportedly plans to tell investigators that Hicks told President Trump on a conference call that the Trump Jr. emails regarding his meeting with Russians “will never get out.” Hicks’ attorney denied the allegation.[215][216] Mueller’s investigators reportedly interviewed Hicks in early December 2017.[217] Corallo had resigned from the Trump team in July 2017, reportedly because he became concerned that the president had obstructed justice.[218]

Bloomberg News reported on March 12, 2018, that the obstruction of justice aspect of the investigation is near completion and that Mueller may set it aside to conclude other aspects, such as collusion and hacking.[219]

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that in 2017, as the Mueller investigation was building its cases against Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, former Trump attorney John M. Dowd broached the idea of presidential pardons of the men with their attorneys. The Times reported this might have indicated concerns by Trump’s legal team about what the men might reveal to investigators if they agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for leniency. Although legal opinions vary as to whether this discussion alone would constitute obstruction of justice, prosecutors might present it as part of a pattern of activity that points to a conspiracy to thwart the investigation.[220] CBS News reported on March 28, 2018, that Manafort is declining a plea deal and proceeding to trial because he is expecting a pardon from Trump, citing “legal sources with knowledge of his strategy.”[221]

Superseding indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates alleging tax evasion and bank fraud.

In a January 2018 letter to Mueller, Trump’s attorneys asserted that Trump cannot unlawfully obstruct justice because the Constitution grants him full authority over all federal investigations and he can “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”[222][223]

Financial investigations

The Special Counsel investigation has expanded to include Trump’s and his associates’ financial ties to Russia. The FBI is reviewing the financial records of Trump himself, The Trump Organization, Trump’s family members, and his campaign staff, including Trump’s real estate activities, which had been under federal scrutiny before the campaign. According to CNN, financial crimes may be easier for investigators to prove than any crimes stemming directly from collusion with Russia.[53] Campaign staff whose finances are under investigation include Manafort, Flynn, Carter Page, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. At a New York real estate conference in September 2008, Donald Trump Jr. stated: “And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”[224][225] McClatchy reported on April 6, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators that week arrived unannounced at the home of an unnamed business associate of the Trump Organization who had worked on foreign deals for the company in recent years. The investigators had warrants for electronic records and to compel sworn testimony, and were reported to be particularly interested in transactions involving Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.[226]

Transactions under investigation include Russian purchases of Trump apartments, a SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, transactions with the Bank of Cyprus, real estate financing organized by Kushner, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion for $30 million over its appraised value to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.[227][228] The special counsel team has contacted Deutsche Bank, which is the main banking institution doing business with The Trump Organization.[229] The Wall Street Journal reported on December 6, 2017, that Deutsche Bank received a subpoena from Mueller’s office earlier that fall concerning people or entities affiliated with President Trump.[230] The original Journal story incorrectly reported that Trump’s records had been subpoenaed, which The New York Times reported on April 10, 2018, prompted Trump to tell his advisers “in no uncertain terms” that the Mueller investigation must be shut down, before Mueller’s office advised his attorneys the report was inaccurate.[231]

Kushner Properties—from which Jared Kushner resigned as CEO in early 2017 to serve as a senior advisor in the Trump White House—purchased the office tower located at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 2007, just before Manhattan real estate prices fell in the Great Recession. The property has since experienced financial difficulties that the company has been attempting to resolve with new financing, without success, before the property’s $1.2 billion mortgage comes due in February 2019. This effort has reportedly been complicated by Trump’s election, which has caused potential lenders to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest.[232] The matter has raised the interest of investigators who are looking at Kushner’s December 2016 meeting with Sergei Gorkov, who said in a statement issued by his bank that he met with Kushner in his capacity as the then-chief executive of Kushner Properties,[233] while Kushner assured Congress in a July 24, 2017, statement that the meeting did not involve “any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind.”[232] CNN reported on February 20, 2018, that Mueller’s investigation has expanded beyond Kushner’s contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for Kushner Properties from other foreign investors during the presidential transition.[234]

Mueller took over an existing money laundering investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Manafort. On October 30, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements.[235] Manafort’s financial activities are also being investigated by the Senate and House intelligence committees, the New York Attorney General, and the Manhattan District Attorney.[236]

The Special Counsel will be able to access Trump’s tax returns, which has “especially disturbed” Trump according to The Washington Post. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, as presidential candidates normally do, has been politically controversial since his presidential campaign.[237]

The Special Counsel is also investigating whether the Central Bank of Russia’s deputy governor, Aleksandr Torshin, illegally funneled money through the National Rifle Association to benefit Trump’s campaign.[238] On May 16, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committeereleased a report[239] stating it had obtained “a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign” through Torshin and his assistant Maria Butina, and that “The Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.”[240] The NRA reported spending $30 million to support the Trump campaign—triple what they devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors. Torshin, a lifetime NRA member, reportedly sought to broker a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin in May 2016, but was rebuffed by Kushner. Torshin claims to have met with Trump at a Nashville NRA event in April 2015; he tweeted about the encounter in August, saying that Trump is “a proponent of traditional family values”.[241] Torshin spoke with Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the NRA’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, which Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan Futerfas characterized as “all gun-related small talk.” Spanish authorities have implicated Torshin in money laundering and have described him as a “godfather” in Taganskaya, a major Russian criminal organization.[238][242]

CNN reported on April 4, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have been examining whether Russian oligarchs directly or indirectly provided illegal cash donations to the Trump campaign and inauguration. At least one oligarch was detained and his electronic devices searched as he arrived at a New York area airport on his private jet; subsequent reporting by The New York Times appeared to identify the man as Viktor Vekselberg.[243] Another oligarch was also detained on a recent trip to the United States, but it is unclear if he was searched. Investigators reportedly have also asked a third oligarch who has not traveled to the United States to voluntarily provide documents and an interview. CNN reported that investigators are examining whether oligarchs invested in American companies or think tanks having political action committees connected to the campaign, as well as money funneled through American straw donors to the Trump campaign and inaugural fund.[244]

Prosecution’s statement of Michael Flynn‘s offense

The New York Times reported on April 9, 2018, that the Mueller investigation is examining a $150,000 donation Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance Trump made via video link to a conference in Kiev. This transaction came to light in documents the Trump Organization provided to investigators pursuant to a subpoena earlier in 2018. The donation, the largest the Foundation received in 2015 other than from Trump himself, was solicited by his attorney, Michael Cohen. The Times reported that the subpoena had demanded “documents, emails and other communications about several Russians, including some whose names have not been publicly tied to Mr. Trump.”[245]

Cohen raids

On April 9, 2018, based on a referral to United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) from the special counsel, the FBI raided the New York City office, residence, hotel suite, and safe-deposit boxes of Michael Cohen, seizing records related to several topics.[246] The FBI seized Cohen’s computers, phones, and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the no-knock raid on his office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.[247]CNN cited unnamed sources saying the search warrant was “very broad in terms of items sought” and that it included bank records.[248]

The warrant was personally approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and carried out by the public corruption unit of the SDNY. Geoffrey Berman, the interim head of the SDNY, was recused from the matter; a Trump appointee, he had worked as a volunteer attorney on the Trump campaign.[249] Further, due to the sensitive nature of the raid and the attorney–client privilege, a special “taint” team is required to review the documents to carefully separate out privileged and protected documents that may have been seized in the raid to ensure those inadmissible documents are not passed on to investigators.[246] Legal blogger and former federal prosecutor Ken White of Popehat published a New York Times op-ed giving some background on the DOJ procedures required to approve such a raid, saying the search “suggests that the prosecutors believe they can convince a judge that communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen fall under the crime-fraud exception” of attorney-client privilege. It called the raid “highly dangerous” for both Cohen and Trump.[250] White posted further analysis on Popehat,[251]citing section 9-13.320 [sic] [recte 9-13.420] of the United States Attorneys’ Manual, which sets the guidelines and regulations for searches of attorney premises.[252]

Lobbyists

In August 2017, Mueller’s team issued grand jury subpoenas to officials in six firms, including lobbying firm Podesta Group and Mercury LLC with regard to activities on behalf of a public-relations campaign for a pro-Russian Ukrainian organization called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The public relations effort was headed by Paul Manafort, and took place from 2012 to 2014.[253][254][255][256] Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is head of the Podesta Group. John Podesta is not employed by the company. Mercury LLC is headed by Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman.[257] Mueller is investigating whether the firms violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Podesta Group announced in November 2017 that it would be permanently closing, with many of its employees moving to Cogent Strategies, a new firm founded by Podesta Group CEO Kimberley Fritts.[258]

Trump as a subject of investigation

From the beginning of his presidency Trump has requested assurances that that he is not personally under investigation. FBI Director Comey told him so privately on three occasions but refused to make a public comment to that effect.[259] In his letter dismissing Comey, Trump thanked Comey for “informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”[259][260] Comey later confirmed that this was true.[261]

In March 2018, Mueller’s office reportedly informed Trump’s attorneys that the president is not a “criminal target” but remains a “subject” of the continuing investigation. Trump’s advisers were reported to be split in their interpretation of this, with some believing it was an indication that his legal exposure was low, while others expressed concern that Mueller was inducing him to agree to a personal interview, which his attorneys have discouraged him from doing for fear he might perjure himself and thus change his status from subject to target. The Post reported that Mueller also advised the attorneys that he is “preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.”[262] The Post referenced Justice Department guidelines,[263] which explain:

A “target” is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.
A “subject” of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.

Trump told reporters on January 24, 2018, that he was “looking forward” to testifying under oath to the Mueller investigation, perhaps in “two or three weeks,” but added that it was “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”[264]The Wall Street Journal reported on February 25, 2018, that Trump’s lawyers are considering ways for him to testify, provided the questions he faces are limited in scope and do not test his recollections in ways that amount to a potential perjury trap. Among options they are considering are providing written answers to Mueller’s questions and having the president give limited face-to-face testimony.[265] The Washington Post reported on March 19, 2018, that Trump’s attorneys provided Mueller’s office “written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a presidential interview.”.[266] In May 2018, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Politico that Mueller’s team has rejected the proposal of providing a written testimony instead of an oral interview.[267]

Other topics

CNN reported on February 27, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have recently been asking witnesses about Trump’s activities in Russia prior to the campaign, including the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow; unsuccessful discussions to build a Trump Tower Moscow; and the possibility of compromising information that Russians may have or claim to have about Trump.[268]

The Intercept reported on March 2, 2018, that Jared Kushner and his father Charles Kushner made a proposal to Qatar‘s finance minister, Ali Sharif Al Emadi, in April 2017 to secure investment into 666 5th Avenue asset in his family’s company’s portfolio, when his request was not fulfilled, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Jared Kushner’s backing, initiated a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner specifically undermined the efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.[269]

The New York Times reported on March 3, 2018, that the Mueller investigation had been examining possible efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to buy political influence by directing money to the Trump campaign. Investigators have recently interviewed Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and other witnesses, about this matter. Nader was reportedly a frequent White House visitor during 2017 and investigators have inquired about any policymaking role he may have had.[270] The Federal Election Campaign Actprohibits foreign nationals from contributing to American elections.[271] The New York Times reported on March 6, 2018, that Nader is cooperating with the Mueller investigation and had testified before a grand jury during the preceding week. Investigators have examined a meeting around January 11, 2017, in the Seychelles that was convened by the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (known as “MBZ”), which Nader attended. Also present at that meeting were Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund, who is close to Vladimir Putin; and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a major Trump donor and an informal advisor to the Trump transition. UAE officials reportedly believed that Prince was representing the Trump transition and Dmitriev was representing Putin.[272] An aircraft owned by Andrei Skoch—a Russian billionaire subject to American sanctions—arrived in the Seychelles a day before Prince himself did.[273] The Washington Post had reported on April 3, 2017, that American, European and Arab officials said the Seychelles meeting was “part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.” Prince denied in November 30, 2017, House Intelligence Committee testimony that he had represented the Trump transition or that the meeting involved any back-channel.[274][275][276] The Washington Post reported on March 7, 2018, that Mueller has gathered evidence that contradicts Prince,[277] and ABC News reported on April 6, 2018, that Nader had met with Prince at a Manhattan hotel days before the Seychelles meeting and later provided him with biographical information about Dmitriev.[278] CNN reported on March 6, 2018, that Nader had been detained and questioned by the FBI at Dulles International Airport as he returned from a trip abroad on January 17, 2018. Agents with search warrants copied the contents of his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 19. CNN also reported that Nader had attended a December 2016 meeting in New York attended by MBZ; UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba; and at least three Trump senior associates: Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner.”[279] The Wall Street Journal reported on April 2, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have inquired about the work done by a private consulting company, Wikistrat, on behalf of the UAE. One of the firm’s co-founders, Joel Zamel, has reportedly been asked about his work with certain clients and his business relationship with George Nader. The Journal reported that, like Nader, Zamel had tried to forge a relationship with the new Trump administration.[280] The New York Times reported on April 4, 2018, that Nader has a history of dealings with Russia dating back to at least 2012, when he brokered a $4.2 billion arms deal between Russia and Iraq, and attended an invitation-only conference in Moscow organized by close associates of Vladimir Putin. Nader has reportedly traveled frequently to Russia on behalf of the UAE, accompanying MBZ on many of those trips, and has had his photo taken with Putin. Nader has reportedly received at least partial immunity for his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. The Times also reported that Joel Zamel had been stopped at Reagan International Airport in February 2018, had his electronic devices briefly seized, and later testified before the Mueller grand jury about his relationship with Nader.[281] The New York Times reported on May 19, 2018, that Trump Jr. met with Nader, Prince and Zamel in Trump Tower on August 3, 2016. Nader reportedly told Trump Jr. the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help his father win the election, and Zamel pitched a social media manipulation campaign. Trump Jr. reportedly responded favorably and Nader subsequently had frequent meetings with Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner.[282] The Times reported that Prince had arranged the August 2016 meeting; Prince had stated in his November 30, 2017, testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he had no formal communications or contact, nor any unofficial role, with the Trump campaign.[283]

Axios reported on March 4, 2018, that it has seen a grand jury subpoena that Mueller’s office sent to a witness in February 2018. Axios did not name the witness. The subpoena reportedly demands all communications, from November 1, 2015, to date, that the witness sent or received “regarding” Trump; Carter Page; Corey Lewandowski; Hope Hicks; Keith Schiller; Michael Cohen; Paul Manafort; Rick Gates; Roger Stone; and Steve Bannon.[284] A subsequent report by NBC News stated that the subpoena also encompasses “work papers, telephone logs, and other documents.”[285] On March 5, 2018, the witness was identified as Sam Nunberg, who served as a communications consultant on the Trump campaign until August 2, 2015, and later as an informal adviser. Nunberg stated that he had been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury on March 9, 2018, but he would refuse to appear or provide any of the subpoenaed documents.[286][287] After multiple defiant television appearances on March 5, 2018, Nunberg indicated the next day that he plans to comply with the subpoena.[288]

The New Yorker reported on March 5, 2018, that Christopher Steele spoke with Mueller’s investigators in September 2017. The magazine asserts that Steele discussed another document he had authored in November 2016—after the Steele dossier—that describes discussions “a senior Russian official” had heard inside the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: that the Kremlin had asked Trump “through unspecified channels” to not appoint Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.[289][290] As a presidential candidate in 2012, Romney described Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe.”[291] After publicly considering Romney as Secretary of State, Trump ultimately selected Rex Tillerson, who has a long history of business dealings in Russia and was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2013.[292]

The Washington Post reported on March 6, 2018, that Mueller’s office has requested documents and interviewed witnesses regarding activities of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer. Investigators are reported to be interested in at least two episodes relating to Russian interests, including the proposed construction of Trump Tower Moscow and “a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine that was delivered to Cohen by an Ukrainian lawmaker one week after Trump took office.”[293]

The New York Times reported on March 7, 2018, that the Mueller investigation is aware of conversations Trump had with two witnesses regarding their testimony with investigators. In one conversation, Trump asked White House counsel Don McGahn to issue a statement denying a story[294] The Times published in January 2018. That story reported that McGahn told investigators Trump had ordered him to direct the Justice Department to dismiss Mueller. McGahn never issued the statement and reportedly told Trump that the president had, in fact, told him to have Mueller dismissed. Trump also asked his former chief of staff Reince Priebus how his interview with investigators had gone and whether they were “nice.” The Times reported that although “legal experts” thought the conversations probably did not constitute witness tampering, witnesses and attorneys who became aware of the conversations reported them to Mueller.[295]

The New York Times reported on March 15, 2018, that the Mueller investigation had subpoenaed documents from The Trump Organization, including all documents related to Russia. Although the full scope of the subpoena was not clear, it was the first known time investigators demanded documents from Trump’s businesses.[296] The Los Angeles Times reported the same day that the special counsel’s office had also subpoenaed the Trump campaign for documents.[297]

The Daily Beast reported on March 22, 2018, that Mueller had taken over the probe into Guccifer 2.0 from the FBI.[298]

NBC News reported on March 30, 2018, that Ted Malloch, a professor and author who worked with the Trump campaign, had been detained and questioned by the FBI two days earlier as he arrived at Boston Logan Airport after a flight from London. He was served with a subpoena to appear for questioning by Mueller’s investigators on April 13, and presented with a warrant to have his phone seized and searched. Malloch told NBC in an email that FBI agents asked him a variety of questions, including about Roger Stone, author Jerome Corsi, and WikiLeaks.[299] CNN reported that Malloch has written a forthcoming book alleging a “deep state” within the United States government fabricated the Steele dossier to destroy Trump.[300]

Michael Caputo, a former communications adviser for the Trump campaign, was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators on May 2, 2018. Caputo was recruited to the Trump campaign by Paul Manafort and had previously worked with Russian politicians.[301][302] A long-time associate of Roger Stone, Caputo stated after his interview, “It’s clear they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”[303]

CNN reported on May 5, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators had interviewed Trump’s close friend and inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack in December 2017, asking him primarily about his relationship with Manafort and Gates, although The Associated Pressreported the interview was broader and included campaign finance matters.[304][305]

On May 9, 2018, CNBC reported that Mueller’s office had contacted telecommunications giant AT&T regarding payments totalling at least $200,000, but possibly as high as $600,000,[306] made to a company founded by Michael Cohen in order to gain “insights” into the incoming Trump administration.[307] An AT&T spokesperson said that they had provided all the information requested by the Special Counsel in November and December 2017.[308]

Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, that the FBI told Christopher Steele—and then Steele told Simpson—that the FBI had “a human source from inside the Trump organization” (and, more specifically, “an internal Trump campaign source”). Simpson did not indicate when Steele received this information or when he conveyed it to Simpson.[309] The Washington Post reported on May 8, 2018, that a longtime FBI and CIA informant had provided information about connections between Russia and the Trump campaign to FBI investigators early in their investigation.[310] This sparked speculation the FBI had planted a “mole” inside the Trump campaign, although it was not clear that the individual Simpson described is the same individual described by The PostThe Washington Post reported on May 9, 2018, that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes subpoenaed the Justice Department to provide him with all documents regarding the longtime informant; The Post quoted the subpoena as demanding “all documents referring or related to the individual referenced in Chairman Nunes’ April 24, 2018, classified letter to Attorney General Sessions,” although Nunes denied he had referred to any specific individual.[311] The Justice Department resisted on the grounds that revealing the information could endanger the life of a longtime top-secret informant for the FBI and CIA, and the Trump White House—with the president’s agreement—sided with the Justice Department.[310][312] The New York Times reported on May 16, 2018, that at least one government informant had met several times with Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopolous.[313] The next day, Trump tweeted “Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.””[314] The Washington Post noted on January 9, 2018, that the source Simpson referenced may not have necessarily been an informant willingly or directly, or during the campaign, but rather may have become an informant as a result of later becoming implicated in wrongdoing. Natasha Bertrand, then with Business Insider, reported on January 3, 2018, that a source told her Simpson had been referring to George Papadopolous, who had first been interviewed by the FBI seven days after Trump’s inauguration[178] and whose cooperation with the FBI—to “provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant”—began with his arrest on July 27, 2017, and was not publicly known until his indictment in October 2017.[315][316][317] Sara Carter, a frequent guest on Sean Hannity‘s Fox News program, confirmed Bertrand’s reporting on January 9, 2018, stating “according to people close to Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS he misspoke. That it isn’t true at all. That what [Simpson] was referring to was Papadopoulos actually in London.”[318] The New York Times reported on May 18, 2018, the FBI sent an informant to meet with George Papadopolous in late-summer 2016, and to meet repeatedly with Carter Page over ensuing months, after the FBI had acquired evidence the two men had suspicious contacts with Russians.[319] The Washington Post reported the same day the informant first approached Page at a symposium in Britain in July 2016, and in September 2016 invited Papadopolous to London to work on a research paper. Late that summer, the informant also met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis in Northern Virginia.[320] The informant was identified as an American academic who teaches in Britain, but both The Times and The Post declined to publish his name. NBC News identified him as Stefan Halper.[321]

Cambridge Analytica

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 15, 2017, that Mueller’s office had requested and received employee emails from Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign, earlier that year.[322][323] The Washington Post reported on March 20, 2018, that Christopher Wylie, an employee of Cambridge Analytica until late 2014, said that former Trump campaign CEO and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon oversaw a 2014 effort at the company (which he co-founded) to gather Facebook data on millions of Americans and test the effectiveness of anti-establishment messages such as “drain the swamp” and “deep state,” which became major Trump themes after Bannon joined the campaign in August 2016. Views of Russian President Vladimir Putin were also tested.[324] The Associated Press reported on March 22, 2018, that the special counsel is examining the connections between the company, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, particularly how voter data may have been used in battleground states.[325]

Several news agencies reported on April 4, 2018, that the private data of 87 million Facebook users had been misused, without their consent, by Cambridge Analytica to influence voters and help Trump win the 2016 election.[326][327][328] The New York Times reported on May 15, 2018 that the Justice Department and FBI were investigating Cambridge Analytica, although it was unclear if Mueller’s office was involved in the investigation.[329]

Criminal charges

Through April 2018, the Special Counsel has publicly initiated criminal proceedings against 19 people—five U.S. nationals, 13 Russian nationals, and one Dutch national—and three Russian organizations. The Special Counsel has used two different federal grand juries to issue indictments: one located in the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) and another located in the Eastern District of Virginia (E.D. Va.).

Accused Date charged Charge(s) Case status Jurisdiction Ind.
George Papadopoulos October 3, 2017 1 count: false statements Pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017[330] D.D.C. [331]
Rick Gates October 27, 2017[A] 2 counts: conspiracy against the United States and false statements Pleaded guilty on February 23, 2018[333] D.D.C. [334]
February 22, 2018 18 counts: filing false tax returns (×5), failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×4), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4) Charges dismissed without prejudice on February 27, 2018[335] E.D. Va. [336]
Paul Manafort October 27, 2017[B] 5 counts: conspiracy against the United Statesconspiracy to launder moneyunregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Pleaded not guilty on February 28, 2018[337] D.D.C. [338]
February 22, 2018 23 counts: assisting in the preparation of false tax returns (×5), subscribing to false tax returns (×5), filing a false amended return, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×3), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4) Pleaded not guilty on March 8, 2018[339] E.D. Va. [336]
Michael Flynn November 30, 2017 1 count: false statements Pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017[340] D.D.C. [341]
Richard Pinedo February 2, 2018 1 count: identity fraud Pleaded guilty on February 2, 2018[342] D.D.C. [343]
Alex van der Zwaan February 16, 2018 1 count: false statements Sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine on April 3, 2018[344] D.D.C. [345]
Dzheykhun Aslanov February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft(×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Anna Bogacheva February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Maria Bovda February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Robert Bovda February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Mikhail Burchik February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Mikhail Bystrov February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Concord Catering February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Concord Management and Consulting LLC February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Pleaded not guilty on May 9, 2018.[347] D.D.C. [346]
Internet Research Agency LLC February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft(×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Irina Kaverzina February 16, 2018 7 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and aggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Aleksandra Krylova February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Vadim Podkopaev February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Sergey Polozov February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Yevgeny Prigozhin February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Gleb Vasilchenko February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraudaggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Vladimir Venkov February 16, 2018 7 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and aggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Notes

  1. Jump up^ An 8-count indictment issued on October 27, 2017,[332] was superseded by the current indictment on February 23, 2018.
  2. Jump up^ A 9-count indictment issued on October 27, 2017,[332] was superseded by the current indictment on February 23, 2018.

George Papadopoulos

On October 30, 2017, it was revealed that Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty earlier in the month to making a false statement to FBI investigators, a felony.[348] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to cooperate with the government and “provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant.”[349] As of May 1, 2018, Papadopoulos had not been sentenced.[350] His status report to the court was due in late April 2018, but has been pushed back one month.[351]

On December 30, 2017, The New York Times reported that Papadopoulos had in May 2016 disclosed to the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer in Kensington Wine Rooms, a London wine bar, that the Russians possessed a large trove of stolen Hillary Clinton emails that could potentially damage her presidential campaign. Australia officials initially did not convey this information to the American counterparts but did so after WikiLeaks and DCLeaks released stolen Democratic National Committeeemails in June/July 2016, which American intelligence has concluded with “high confidence” originated from Russian hackers.[352] The hacking, and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign apparently had inside information about it, were driving factors that led the FBI in July 2016 to open an investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired. The Nunes memo confirmed that the Papadopolous matter triggered the investigation—and not the Steele dossier, which some Republicans had alleged to have been the trigger.[353][354]

Papadopoulos was recruited to the Trump campaign in early March 2016. In a court document[178] filed as part of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea, prosecutors asserted that later in March he met Joseph Mifsud, a London-based academic with contacts in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Italy. Mifsud showed little interest in Papadopoulos until Mifsud learned Papadopoulos was a member of the Trump campaign.[355] Several days later, Papadopoulos met in London with Mifsud and Olga Polonskaya, a Russian national whom Papadopoulos initially but falsely believed was Vladimir Putin’s niece. Papadopoulos then emailed his Trump campaign supervisor[356] Sam Clovis about his meetings, which he said included the Russian Ambassador, and which had been about a “meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” Clovis was non-committal but replied “Great work.”[357] In subsequent days Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and Polonskaya to arrange contacts between the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Trump campaign. In late April 2016 Papadopoulos emailed a unnamed Trump campaign “Senior Policy Advisor,” stating “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready.” At about the same time, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” which Papadopoulos then shared with Alexander Downer in a London bar days later. Mifsud dropped from sight after his name appeared in published reports in October 2017 and has not been heard from through May 2018.[358][359] Stephan Roh, a German national who is a close associate of Mifsud, asserts he was detained, questioned and surveilled by FBI agents after he arrived on a flight to New York in 2017.[360][361] The BBC reported on March 21, 2018 that Roh and another man named Ivan Timofeev were also involved in Papadopoulos’s efforts to contact Russian officials.[362]

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

Rick Gates felony information

Rick Gates’ Plea Agreement with Robert S. Mueller

Paul Manafort February 23, 2018, District Court superseding indictment by the District of Columbia Grand Jury

At Mueller’s direction, FBI agents raided Manafort’s home on July 26, 2017. The predawn raid used a federal search warrant, authorizing agents to look for tax documents and foreign banking records. A wide range of documents and other items were seized. Before the raid, Manafort had voluntarily provided some documents to congressional investigators, including the notes he took during the meeting with Veselnitskaya.[152][363]

On October 27, 2017, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury as part of Mueller’s investigation.[335][364] The twelve-count indictment charged them with conspiracy against the United Statesmaking false statementsmoney laundering, and failing to register as foreign agents for Ukraine as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[335] Manafort was charged with four counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts while Gates was charged with three.[332] The charges arise from Manafort‘s consulting work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and are unrelated to the Trump campaign.[365]

On October 30, 2017, Manafort and Gates surrendered to the FBI, and a judge placed them both under house arrest and were required to provide unsecured bonds.[366] On December 4, 2017, prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Manafort’s bond agreement, charging that Manafort violated the terms of his bail by working on an op-ed piece with Konstantin Kilimnik,[367] an associate with ties to Russian intelligence.[139]

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order on December 22, 2017, demanding that Gates explain why his comments in a brief, videotaped address to the fundraiser held in an Arlington Holiday Inn on December 19, did not amount to a violation of the gag order she issued in the case. Of particular concern to Jackson is Gates’ involvement with the Washington-area lobbyist who organized the event, Jack Burkman.[368]

On January 16, 2018, Judge Jackson denied the government’s proposal for a May 14 trial, indicating that the criminal trial appears likely to start in September or October.[369] Gates was released from home confinement, but not Manafort. A letter from Manafort’s physician had asked that he be permitted to attend a gym for health reasons, but Jackson said, “While he’s subject to home confinement, he’s not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise.”[369]

On February 1, 2018, three of Gates’ attorneys filed a motion to withdraw their representation of Gates.[370] Walter Mack, one of the attorneys, said in court the previous month that Mueller’s prosecutors had warned him of more impending charges against Gates.[371] Gates has reportedly added Tom Green, a prominent white-collar attorney, to his defense team, signaling a possible change to his legal approach; and attorneys from Green’s firm were seen entering the building where Mueller works.[372] On the hearing of the motion on February 8 before Judge Jackson, the attorneys cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ with their client. Gates’ new attorney has not filed a formal appearance in the case, which is the typical procedure when changing counsel.[373] The outcome of the hearing is still subject to a gag order.

On February 15, 2018, CNN reported that Gates was finalizing a plea deal with Mueller’s office, indicating he was poised to cooperate in the investigation. He had already undergone his “Queen for a Day” interview, in which Gates answered any and all questions from Mueller’s team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed or participated in.[374]

On February 22, 2018, both Manafort and Gates were further charged with additional crimes, involving a tax avoidance scheme and bank fraud, in Virginia.[336][375] The charges were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, rather than in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, as the tax fraud overt actions had occurred in Virginia and not in the District, forcing Mueller to bring the charges in Virginia, because one of the defendants did not agree to waive the issue of venue jurisdiction.[376] The new indictment alleges that Manafort, with assistance from Gates, laundered over $30 million through offshore bank accounts between approximately 2006 and 2015. Manafort allegedly used funds in these offshore accounts to purchase real estate in the United States, in addition to personal goods and services.

On February 23, 2018, Gates pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to investigators and engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States. Gates said he had previously intended to challenge the charges against him, but recently decided to plead guilty. He admitted that he had lied to investigators in February 2018, while he was under indictment and negotiating with prosecutors. Gates faces a possible prison sentence of nearly six years, but he agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation for a possible sentence reduction, possibly only probation, depending on the level of cooperation he provides to the government.[377][378] Through a spokesman, Manafort expressed disappointment in Gates’ decision to plead guilty and said he has no similar plans. “I continue to maintain my innocence,” he said.[379] On February 27, the special counsel moved to dismiss without prejudice 22 tax and bank fraud charges against Gates as part of their plea agreement.[380]

On February 28, 2018, Manafort entered a not guilty plea in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Jackson subsequently set a trial date of September 17, 2018, and reprimanded Manafort and his attorney for violating her gag order by issuing a statement the previous week after former co-defendant Gates pleaded guilty.[337] On March 8, 2018, Manafort also pleaded not guilty to bank fraud and tax charges in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia set his trial on those charges to begin on July 10, 2018.[381] CBS News reported on March 28, 2018, that Manafort is declining a plea deal and proceeding to trial because he is expecting a pardon from Trump.[221]

In response to Manafort’s court motions that charges against him be dismissed because Mueller exceeded his investigative authority,[382] Mueller’s office on April 2, 2018, released in a court filing a partially-redacted memorandum of August 2, 2017, in which Rod Rosenstein specifically authorized Mueller to investigate whether Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for president of the United States, in violation of United States law,” as well as whether he “committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”[383] In a court hearing on April 19, 2018, the Justice Department for the first time specifically noted the Mueller investigation’s interest in whether Manafort provided a backchannel between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, adding that following the money trail of Manafort’s consulting business was a natural necessity of investigating such a backchannel.[384] Manafort’s suit claiming that the Mueller investigation exceeded its investigative authority was dismissed on April 27, 2018.[385]

On June 4, 2018, Mueller accused Manafort of witness tampering by contacting witnesses by phone and encrypted messaging “in an effort to secure materially false testimony,” asking a federal judge to revise or revoke the release agreement that had kept Manafort out of jail pending trial.[386][387]

Michael Flynn

As part of the investigation, Mueller assumed control of a Virginia-based grand jury criminal probe into the relationship between Flynn and Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin.[388] Flynn Intel Group, an intelligence consultancy, was paid $530,000 by Alptekin’s company Inovo BV to produce a documentary and conduct research on Fethullah Gülen, an exiled Turkish cleric who lives in the United States.[388] The special prosecutor is investigating whether the money came from the Turkish government, and whether Flynn kicked funds back to a middleman to conceal the payment’s original source. Investigators are also looking at Flynn’s finances more generally, including possible payments from Russian companies and from the Japanese government. White House documents relating to Flynn have been requested as evidence.[389] The lead person within Mueller’s team for this investigation is Brandon Van Grack.[390] Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, is also a subject of the investigation. Michael G. Flynn worked closely with his father’s lobbying company, the Flynn Intel Group, and accompanied his father on his 2015 visit to Moscow.[391]

On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported that Mueller had enough evidence for charges against Flynn and his son.[392] NBC News reported on November 22, 2017, that former Flynn business partner Bijan Kian is a subject of the Mueller investigation.[393] In late November 2017, Flynn’s defense team stopped sharing information with Trump’s team of lawyers,[394] which was interpreted as a sign that Flynn was cooperating and negotiating a plea bargain with the special counsel team.[394][395][396] On December 1, 2017, Michael Flynn agreed to a plea bargain with Mueller. He appeared in federal court to plead guilty to a single felony count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI and to confirm his intention to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, including “participating in covert law enforcement activities.”[397][398] As part of Flynn’s plea bargain, his son Michael G. Flynn is not expected to be charged.[399][400] On January 31, 2018, the Mueller team advised a federal court that they will not be ready to request sentencing of Flynn until at least May 1, 2018;[401] and on that day, the special counsel requested an extension to June 29, 2018.[351]

Richard Pinedo

On February 16, 2018, Mueller’s office unsealed an indictment which revealed that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, California, accepted a plea agreement on February 2, in which he pleaded guilty to identity fraud, and using the identity of other persons for “unlawful activity”, both felonies.[342] Pinedo also agreed to cooperate with the investigation, but faces up to fifteen years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.[342] Pinedo had operated Auction Essistance, a web-based business that brokered bank account numbers, enabling people who had been barred from websites like eBay and PayPal to return to those websites under a different identity.[342]

Alex van der Zwaan

On February 16, 2018, Mueller charged attorney Alex van der Zwaan with one count of making false statements to the FBI with respect to Van der Zwaan’s communications with Gates and another individual identified as “Person A”, believed to be Konstantin Kilimnik, in addition to deleting email sought by investigators.[5][402][345] Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of German Khan, who owns Russia’s Alfa-Bank along with Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, the three of whom are named in the Trump–Russia dossier.[402]

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty on February 20, 2018;[403][404][402] the guilty plea did not include an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.[405] On March 27, 2018, Mueller’s office asked a judge to consider jail time for Van der Zwaan.[406] His sentencing hearing was held on April 3, 2018, and he was sentenced to 30 days in prison followed by two months of supervised release, and fined $20,000.[344][407] Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that Van der Zwaan, whose pregnant wife is due to give birth in August, can have his passport back after his 30-day sentence, at which point he can self-deport back to Europe if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement allows.[408][409] His sentence could have been as long as five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.[410]

In June, after van der Zwaan was released from prison, he was deported from the United States.[411]

Internet Research Agency, et al.

File:Grand Jury Indicts Thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies for Scheme to Interfere.webm

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces Indictments of thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies.

On February 16, 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced it had filed an indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations.[412][413] The indictment alleges that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,[414] funneled significant funds to Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked company headquartered in Saint Petersburg and described as a “troll factory”,[415] for the purposes of carrying out a secret operation to influence the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election while obstructing the enforcement of federal elections laws.[346][416] The indictment alleges that members of the conspiracy traveled to the United States to conduct research; created social media accounts impersonating Americans; opened financial accounts with the stolen identities of Americans; bought advertisements on social media platforms; organized and financed political rallies; and posted and promoted material favorable to Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Bernie Sanders, while disparaging candidates like Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. The indictment cites one case in which the defendants and their co-conspirators paid a U.S. person to build a cage on a flatbed truck and paid another U.S. person to wear a costume portraying Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform for a pro-Trump political rally in Florida.[346][416][413] Reporters have since contacted some of those “unwitting” Americans. The man who built the cage says he often spoke on the phone with the group that paid him for it, and he never suspected he was dealing with Russians until the FBI contacted him months later.[417]

The indictment’s allegations that Russians were actively interfering in the 2016 election process refute President Trump’s repeated assertions that Russian interference was a “hoax” devised by Democrats or perpetrated by others, such as China.[418][419]

Reactions[

Initial bipartisan support

Mueller’s appointment to oversee the investigation immediately garnered widespread support from Democrats and from some Republicans in Congress.[420][421] Senator Charles Schumer (DNY) said, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) stated, “Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function.” She added, “He is respected, he is talented and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUT) tweeted that “Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.”[420] Much Republican support in Congress was lukewarm: Rep. Peter T. King (RNY) said “It’s fine. I just don’t think there is any need for it.”[422] Republican former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tweeted that Mueller is a “superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity,”[423] but less than a month later he tweeted “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.”[424]

Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara wrote of the team that “Bob Mueller is recruiting the smartest and most seasoned professionals who have a long track record of independence and excellence”.[49] Former special prosecutor Ken Starr, who had investigated Bill Clinton during the Clinton administration, said that the team was “a great, great team of complete professionals”.[52]

Conservative opposition

Some conservatives, including political commentators Laura IngrahamAnn Coulter, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, stated that Mueller should be dismissed and the investigation closed.[425][426][427] Christopher Ruddy, the founder of the right-leaning Newsmax, and a friend of Trump, stated that the president has considered firing Mueller.[428]

On June 23, 2017, Trump stated that members of Mueller’s team were “all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.” PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim “Mostly False”, noting that only three had made campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton and one had defended the Clinton Foundation in court. One member of the team had made contributions to Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Republican Senator George Allen.[429][55] In an interview with The New York Times published on July 19, 2017, Trump stated that he would have not appointed Sessions as Attorney General had he known that he was going to recuse himself from the investigation. Furthermore, Trump confirmed that he would view it as a violation if Mueller investigated his and his family’s finances, unrelated to Russia.[430]

On June 25, 2017, it was reported that a pro-Trump group had launched an ad called “Witch Hunt,” featuring conservative Tomi Lahren, which attacked Mueller and the investigation.[431]

On July 21, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump asked his advisors about his power to pardon those under investigation. Trump and his legal team discussed the possibility of Trump pardoning aides, family members, and himself. No president has ever pardoned himself, so there is no case law on whether it would be legal. Trump attorneys also reportedly created a list of Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest. Trump lawyer John Dowd said the story was “nonsense”.[237]

On August 3, 2017, at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia, Trump continued to deny any Russian involvement in his campaign or win: “The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics, that’s all it is.” This occurred on the same day as the announcement that another grand jury had been impaneled.[432]

On August 12, 2017, The New York Times published an interview of Republican Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he said he was hopeful that the investigation would be complete by the end of the year.[433]

Sean Hannity, a strong supporter of Trump, has been a vocal and persistent critic of the Mueller investigation on his Fox News television show, Hannity, and syndicated radio program, The Sean Hannity Show. He has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and described Mueller as “corrupt, abusively biased and political.”[434][435] Hannity has asserted that the investigation arose from an elaborate, corrupt scheme involving Hillary Clinton;[436] the Steele dossier, which he asserts is completely false although parts of it have been reported as verified;[437] former Justice Department officials James Comey, Andrew McCabeBruce Ohr, and others; and a wiretap on former Trump aide Carter Page that Hannity asserts was obtained by misrepresentations to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, characterizing the wiretap as an abuse of power that is “far bigger than Watergate” and “the weaponizing of those powerful tools of intelligence and the shredding of our Fourth Amendment, constitutional rights.”[434][436]

Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County district attorney and currently host of a weekly Fox News program Justice with Judge Jeanine, has been friends with President Trump for decades.[438] On her program, Pirro described Mueller, FBI Director Christopher Wray (a Trump appointee), former FBI Director James Comey and other current/former FBI officials as a “criminal cabal,”[439] saying “There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice—it needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in cuffs.”[440]

Tucker Carlson, host of the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight, said on March 2, 2018, “We’ve been hearing about Russia non-stop, literally non-stop, for more than a year. Almost no information has come out to justify the obsession, none has come out to justify the claim that there was collusion, and most Americans are no longer interested, if they ever were.”[441]

Opposition to the investigation

Throughout 2017 and 2018, Trump and his allies in Congress and the media have promulgated a series of narratives to assert that the FBI, Justice Department and Mueller investigation have been engaged in an elaborate, corrupt conspiracy against Trump. Among other things, Trump has characterized the Mueller investigation as a “rigged Russia witch hunt,” while prominent Trump supporter Sean Hannity has described it as “the biggest corruption scandal in American history.”[442] On May 29, 2018, Trump went so far as to assert that the Mueller investigation intended to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections,[443] an accusation Hannity reinforced on his Fox News show that night, saying Mueller “wants to derail many pro-Trump Republicans in the midterms.”[442] In a two-minute monologue that same day, Fox News anchorman Shepard Smith flatly debunked that assertion and a number of other Trump narratives, saying “you laugh at them because there’s almost nothing else you can do.”[444]

Amid concerns that Trump might attempt to halt the investigation by having Mueller dismissed, some members of Congress have supported a bipartisan bill designed to protect Mueller. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on April 17, 2018, that such a bill was not necessary and he would not allow it to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Nevertheless, the chairman of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley announced on April 19, 2018, that his committee would vote on the measure the following week.[445][446]

By the President

Trump reportedly asked White House Counsel Donald McGahn in April 2017 to call acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente—who was supervising the Russia probe at the time, prior to Mueller’s appointment—and get him to persuade Comey to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation. McGahn made the call but failed to convince Boente that Comey should make the statement.[447]

In June 2017, Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller, according to several independent accounts published in January 2018. The reports said that Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller; that McGahn refused, saying that to do so would have a catastrophic effect on Trump’s presidency; and that Trump then backed off. The New York Times reported that McGahn said he would resign rather than carry out the order, while CNN said McGahn did not directly threaten to resign, and Fox News said Trump was persuaded not to carry out the action by McGahn and other aides.[294][448][449] The New York Times report said that Trump cited three conflicts of interest on Mueller’s part to justify the dismissal: a years-old dispute over fees at Trump National Golf Club; the fact that Mueller had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and the fact that Mueller had been interviewed to return as FBI Director the day before he was appointed special counsel.[294] According to CNN, another reason Trump wanted to fire Mueller was Trump’s perception that Mueller was close friends with Comey, although others have described them as professional acquaintances from having simultaneously worked in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush presidency.[450] In August 2017, Trump said he had never thought about firing Mueller, and by December 2017 he had denied it twice more; in that time period his lawyers and advisers also issued five similar denials. By January 2017, Trump and his surrogates had denied that he had considered firing Mueller a total of eight times.[451] Trump dismissed the January 2018 The New York Times story as “fake news”.[448] McGahn was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators on November 30, 2017.[452]

Also in June 2017, Trump reportedly instructed his aides to start a campaign for his administration and his Republican allies to discredit potential witnesses in the investigation, including FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Jim Rybicki, and James Baker. The three men had been identified by Comey as his confidants. The instruction was reported in January 2018 by Foreign Policy. Trump’s lead attorney John Dowd disputed the accuracy of the report.[453]

In early December 2017 Trump sought to fire Mueller, according to an April 2018 report in The New York Times, but stopped after learning the news reports he based his decision on were incorrect.[454]

On December 16, 2017, Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for Trump for America, sent a letter to Congress alleging that Mueller’s team had unlawfully acquired, via the GSA, tens of thousands of emails sent and received by thirteen senior members of the Trump transition team. The communications derived from the official governmental presidential transition team domain, “ptt.gov”.[455][456][457] On the following day, GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt stated that Trump’s transition team had been explicitly advised at the time of the transition that all material passing through government equipment would be subject to monitoring and auditing, and would not be held back from law enforcement officers.[458][459] A spokesman for Mueller’s investigation, Peter Carr, also rejected Langhofer’s claims, stating that the Trump transition emails were acquired appropriately through the criminal investigation process.[460]

In January 2018, CNN reported that Trump was unhappy with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation. Trump reportedly talked about wanting to fire Rosenstein and proposed firing him, before being persuaded otherwise by his advisers.[461]

On March 17, 2018, Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, urged Rod Rosenstein to follow the “courageous example” of Sessions in dismissing Andrew McCabe and “bring an end” to the Mueller investigation. Dowd originally told the Daily Beast that he was speaking on behalf of the president, but later told CNN he was speaking only for himself. A source told CNN that Trump had not authorized the statement,[462] but two sources told The New York Times that Dowd was speaking at Trump’s urging.[463] Beginning that same day, Trump appeared to abandon his attorneys’ advice to avoid directly criticizing the Mueller investigation, tweeting that the “Mueller probe should never have been started” and that it was a “WITCH HUNT!” He also claimed that “there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.”[464] The next day, he questioned how “fair” it was that “the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans”. Trump did not note that Mueller himself is a Republican, as is the man who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein—who was appointed by Trump.[465] This was the first time he had criticized Mueller by name, alarming many prominent Republicans, who cautioned Trump not to criticize Mueller or give any appearance that he was contemplating having Mueller dismissed; they warned of dire repercussions if he did. Presidential lawyer Ty Cobb later stated that the president “is not considering or discussing” firing Mueller.[466]

During the week of March 19, 2018, Trump hired the law firm diGenova & Toensing, headed by Joseph diGenova and his wife and law partner Victoria Toensing. Both are longtime Republican activists, having appeared on Fox News on numerous occasions to criticize Democrats, most notably Bill and Hillary Clinton. In recent weeks diGenova has advanced the narrative that a “deep state” conspiracy is attempting to subvert Trump. In January 2018, diGenova said on Fox News, “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime. Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.” Fox News reported that Toensing had recently represented Trump associates Mark CoralloSam Clovis, and Erik Prince, and that Corallo, Clovis, and Trump signed waivers of any potential conflicts of interest.[467][468] The White House announced later that week that diGenova and Toensing would not be hired as part of the special counsel legal team, but might assist Trump in other legal matters. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow cited conflicts of interest, while two sources told The New York Times that Trump hadn’t established personal rapport with diGenova and Toensing.[106]

In April 2018, following an FBI raid on the office and home of Trump’s private attorney Michael Cohen, Trump for the first time spoke openly about firing Mueller, saying that “many people” had advised him to do so and “We’ll see what happens.”[469] Under Department of Justice regulations, that authority can only be exercised by Rosenstein, the DOJ official in charge of the special counsel investigation, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump believes he has the power to do it directly, although he is not currently acting to do so.[470] Trump also said that the “witch hunt” that began “right after I won the nomination” is “an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”[471] In May 2018, Trump tweeted that the special counsel probe, led by “13 Angry Democrats”, was investigating him on “obstruction for a made up, phony crime”. He declared that there was no obstruction, only him “fighting back”.[472]

Following the May 2018 disclosure that FBI informant Stefan Halper had spoken with Trump campaign aides Carter Page, George Papadopolous and Sam Clovis, Trump and his allies advanced a narrative that the FBI had embedded a spy inside the Trump campaign—which Trump dubbed #SpyGate. This prompted the Justice Department to provide a May 24 special classified briefing regarding Halper and related topics, attended by—among others—Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee. On May 29, 2018, Gowdy—a former federal prosecutor—told Fox News, “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump…President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did. I think when the President finds out what happened, he is going to be not just fine, he is going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard. He was never the target. Russia was the target.”[473][474] Andrew Napolitano, a Trump friend and senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said much the same thing on Fox News that same day: “The allegations from Mayor Giuliani over the weekend, which would lead us to believe that the Trump people think the FBI had an undercover agent who inveigled his way into Trump’s campaign and was there as a spy on the campaign, seem to be baseless—there is no evidence for that whatsoever…But the other allegation about this professor, whose name we’re not supposed to mention, talking to people on the periphery of the campaign, that is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal Investigations.”[475]

By Congress

On July 26, 2017, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz introduced a congressional resolution calling for a special counsel investigation into the handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy by James Comey, undue interference of Attorney General Loretta Lynch in that investigation, and the acquisition of Uranium One by the Russian state corporation Rosatom during Mueller’s time as FBI director.[476][477] Gaetz stated that he did not trust Mueller to lead the investigation because of his alleged involvement in approval of the Uranium One deal and his allegedly close relationship with Comey, a probable person of interest in the proposed investigation.[477] The resolution was referred to two House committees where it has remained as of February 21, 2018.[478]

On August 24, 2017, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would block funding from being used “for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015” (the month Trump announced he was running for president) immediately and terminated funding for the special counsel investigation 180 days after passage of the bill.[479] Rep. DeSantis said that the DOJ order of May 17, 2017, “didn’t identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition.”[480] House Republican leaders did not allow the amendment to proceed to the floor for a vote.[481]

On November 3, 2017, Gaetz introduced another resolution demanding Mueller’s resignation as special counsel due to conflicts of interest, this resolution was co-sponsored by U.S. Representative from Arizona Andy Biggs and U.S. Representative from Texas Louie Gohmert; Arizona Representative Trent Franks co-sponsored the resolution on November 8, 2017.[482][483] The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it has remained as of February 21, 2018.[484] As a “sense of the House” resolution, its approval would not be legally binding upon Mueller.[485]

On February 2, 2018, the House Intelligence Committee with Trump’s authorization released a memo written by committee chair Devin Nunes and staff. The Nunes memo,[486] based on classified information, alleged that the FBI and Department of Justice “may have relied on politically motivated or questionable sources” in October 2016 in seeking authorization for a wiretap on Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.[487] Prior to the memo’s release, Trump told associates that it would discredit the investigation,[488] and after its release, Trump claimed in a tweet that the memo “totally vindicates” him.[489] On February 24, 2018, the House Intelligence Committee with Trump’s authorization released a redacted version of a memo from Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member of the committee, as a response to the Nunes memo. The response contended the wiretaps were properly obtained and were warranted because Page had been assessed by intelligence agencies as “an agent of the Russian government,” adding that “Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.”[490][486]

By others

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that the Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz would investigate accusations of wrongdoing surrounding the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, “amid a stream of attacks in recent months from the White House and Republican lawmakers seeking to undermine the special counsel’s investigation.”[491] The announcement fell short of the demands of several Republican politicians and prominent Trump supporters such as Sean Hannity for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate.[492][493] CNN reported on March 29, 2018, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had appointed John W. Huber, the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, to investigate this and other matters. In a letter to three Republican Congressional committee chairmen, Sessions said he would rely on Huber’s findings to decide if a special counsel needed to be appointed. Huber had been investigating the matter for a time, but his involvement had not previously been disclosed. CNN reported that Huber is investigating “a cluster of Republican-driven accusations against the FBI,” which includes allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately in two matters involving Hillary Clinton, including her emails and the sale of Uranium One to a Russian-owned company.[494]

On April 11, 2018, Trump tweeted “Big show tonight on @seanhannity! 9:00 P.M. on @FoxNews”, twelve minutes before the program aired.[495] During the program, Hannity discussed a purported “Mueller crime family”, while his guest Newt Gingrich compared FBI activity under the Mueller investigation to that of the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, and guest Joseph diGenova asserted that Mueller “has surrounded himself with literally a bunch of legal terrorists.” Hannity also discussed purported “crime families” headed by Hillary Clinton and James Comey.[496]

Alan DershowitzSean HannityRush Limbaugh and others have asserted that Mueller was responsible for the improper imprisonment of four men when he was a federal prosecutor in Boston during the 1980s. In an opinion piece on April 18, 2018, entitled Smearing Robert MuellerNancy Gertner, a retired federal judge who presided over the matter, wrote “The record simply doesn’t support these assertions.”[497]

Polling

A May 2017 Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that 81% of U.S. voters supported the special prosecutor’s investigation.[498] A June 2017 Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll asked U.S. adults whether the special counsel investigation could be fair and impartial: 26% were “extremely confident” or “very confident”; 36% were “moderately confident” and 36% were “not very confident” or “not at all confident.”[499] The poll indicated that 68% of Americans were at least “moderately concerned” about inappropriate connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians.[500]

A poll published in November 2017 by ABC News and The Washington Post found that 58% of Americans approved of Mueller’s handling of his investigation, while 28% disapproved. It also indicated that half of Americans believed that President Trump was not co-operating with the investigation.[501] A Quinnipiac poll published on November 15, 2017, suggested that 60% of Americans believed that Mueller’s investigation was proceeding fairly, with 27% believing that it was not. The poll also found that 47% of respondents said that President Trump ought to be impeached if he were to dismiss Mueller.[502]

A December poll by Associated Press–NORC indicated that four out of ten Americans believed that Trump had committed a crime in connection with Russia, with an additional three out of ten beyond that believing that he had acted unethically. It found that 62% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans believe that Trump acted illegally. It found that 68% of Americans believed that Trump was obstructing the investigation. 57% of respondents said that they were “extremely confident” or “moderately confident” that Mueller’s investigation is fair.[503]

In another December poll from The Hill, 54% of respondents believe Mueller has a conflict of interest due to his relationship with James Comey. The poll also found 36% agreed Trump and his allies are getting harsher treatment from the special counsel than Clinton and her allies did during the FBI investigation into her handling of classified material.”[504] The same poll found that 60 percent of voters say that “a comment to the FBI director that he should consider letting Flynn off the hook” is not enough to constitute obstruction of justice.

USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on February 26, 2018, showed that a 58% majority of registered voters say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller’s investigation, while a 57% majority say they have little or no trust in Trump’s denials. Further, 75% say they take the charges filed by Mueller seriously; most of them say they take them “very” seriously. That represents some shift in views over the past year. In a USA Today/Suffolk Poll in March 2017, 63% called it very or somewhat serious.[505]

A CBS poll released in May 2018 found that a majority of Americans, 53%, believe the investigation is politically motivated, although most agreed it should continue.[506] Republican supporters believe their Congress members should take steps to end the investigation, while most independents and nearly all Democrat supporters feel the investigation should be allowed to continue.[507]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Counsel_investigation_(2017%E2%80%93present)