Mexico president calls for probe into alleged government spying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Mexico president calls for probe into alleged government spying

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto asked the attorney general’s office on Thursday to investigate charges the government spied on private citizens, saying he wanted to get to the bottom of the accusations that he called “false.”

Activists, human rights lawyers and journalists in Mexico filed a criminal complaint on Monday following a report that their smartphones had been infected with spying software sold to the government to fight criminals and terrorists.

“Here and now I want to categorically state this is a democratic government, this is a government that respects and tolerates critical voices,” Pena Nieto said at a televised event.

The complaint presented to the attorney general’s office by nine people followed a New York Times report that some of them had been spied on with software known as Pegasus, which Israeli company NSO Group sold to Mexico’s government.

“All of the equipment and technology that the government … has acquired is used to uphold the country’s domestic security. It’s used to fight against organized crime,” said Pena Nieto.

He said there was no room for “illegal” spying on the private lives of citizens and that the investigation would focus on determining if the charges were backed by evidence and uncovering the source of the accusations.

During his speech, Pena Nieto appeared to suggest the probe would target both the allegations and the accusers, saying he would use the full force of the law “against those who have hurled these false accusations against the government.”

A presidential aide told Reuters that Pena Nieto misspoke and meant to say the charges would be investigated and that anybody found to have engaged in “illegal” spying would be prosecuted.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Jihadists cried out “God is great” every time they shot a follower of Jesus Christ

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

image: http://d.christianpost.com/full/112411/590-415/coptic-christians.jpg
(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany) Hanaa Youssef and Mina Habib, the widow and son of a man who was killed in a militant attack against Coptic Christians last month, hold the victim”s portrait in Minya, Egypt June 8, 2017. Picture taken June 8, 2017.

A 10-year-old Egyptian schoolboy who witnessed the brutal murder of his father by Islamic State militants in Minya, where 29 Christians were slaughtered in May, says the jihadists cried out “God is great” every time they shot a follower of Jesus Christ.

Mina Habib told Reuters in a piece published Tuesday that his father, one of the 29 believers massacred on May 26 when IS stopped three vehicles on their way to a monastery, was killed specifically for his Christian faith.

“We saw dead people, just dumped on the ground,” the boy, who is now receiving therapy at a local church, said of the attack.

“They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car,” he said of his father, Adel.

Mina said the 15 gunmen shot Christian children dead, but he and his older brother, Marco, were spared.

image: http://d.christianpost.com/full/110308/590-436/egypt.jpg
(Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany) Mourners react at the Sacred Family Church for the funeral of Coptic Christians who were killed on Friday in Minya, Egypt, May 26, 2017.

Three vehicles were attacked that day, with a bus and car transporting children and families being the fist targets.

The extremists reportedly shot out the windows, took the women’s jewelry, and asked victims whether they were Christians before killing them.

“They saw us in the back of the truck. They made us get down and a man wearing camouflage like the army pointed his gun at us, but another one in all black told him to let us go. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great,” the 10-year-old added.

He said the radicals had Egyptian accents, and most of them were wearing masks.

The killing of the 29 Christians was only the latest attack on Egypt’s minority Coptic community, which has been terrorized by Islamic radicals for years, with the attacks increasing with IS’ rise in the region.

The Copts have said that they “take pride” in dying for their faith, in defiance against IS.

“We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,” Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said in May.

Thousands of Copts mourned the victims of the bus shooting, and expressed their grief and rage at the funerals.

“With blood and soul, we will defend you, oh cross!” Copts yelled at the Church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous.

“We will avenge them or die like them,” they said. “There is no god but God and the Messiah is God!”

At the same time, however, they have pleaded with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to keep his promise to protect them, and to increase support for the families of victims.

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Seattle Police Fatally Shoot Pregnant Woman Armed With Knife: Had Tasers, Didn’t Use Them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

Seattle Police Fatally Shoot Pregnant Woman Armed With Knife

11:52 AM ET
Seattle police on Sunday fatally shot a woman who authorities say was armed with a knife. The 30-year-old woman, identified by relatives as Charleena Lyles, was killed after she confronted officers who were inside her home responding to a burglary call, authorities said.

Lyles’ relatives said she was pregnant and had mental health issues. Police had previously responded to an incident at her home in which she “presented an increased risk to officers.” Because of that history, two officers, instead of one, were dispatched in response to the burglary call on Sunday, authorities said.

Audio released Monday by the Seattle Police Department depicts an encounter that quickly escalated into violence. Two police officers can be heard having a calm exchange with Lyles, who details how someone broke into her home and stole some items, including a video game console. About two minutes into the exchange, at least one of the officers shouts, “Get back! Get back!”

“We need help,” an officer says.

A female voice in the background utters an expletive as the officers repeatedly warn her to back away. Multiple shots are then fired.

Police said both officers opened fire when the woman, whom they have not formally identified, confronted them “armed with a knife.” It’s unclear what prompted her to pick up the weapon.

Lyles’ family said at a Sunday night vigil that the officers did not need to shoot. Lyles was several months pregnant and had been battling “mental health problems” for at least the last year, according to the Seattle Times.

Her sister, Monika Williams, told the newspaper Lyles was petite and that the officers could have found a different way to respond to a threat. “Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down,” Williams said, overcome with emotion.

“There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies,” Williams shouted. “The Seattle police shot the wrong one today.”

There were several young children inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, shortly before 10 a.m., police said. None of them was injured.

Seattle police said both officers were equipped with less lethal force options. The incident is under investigation. The two officers involved, whom police have not named, will be placed on paid administrative leave, Seattle police said.

One officer is an 11-year veteran of the police force while the other is newer to the department, Seattle Police Department North Precinct captain Sean O’Donnell told the Times.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the incident a “tragedy for all involved.”

A 17-Year-Old Muslim Girl Was Murdered While Walking Home From Her Mosque in Virginia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON POST)

A 17-Year-Old Muslim Girl Was Murdered While Walking Home From Her Mosque in Virginia

Updated: 9:16 AM ET | Originally published: 6:05 AM ET

A 17-year-old Muslim girl was assaulted and killed as she made her way home after prayers at a Virginia Mosque.

The Washington Post reports that the body of Nabra Hassanen was identified by relatives after being discovered in pond in Sterling, northern Virginia. Fairfax county police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with her murder. The Post reports that authorities are not investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

A police statement cited by the Guardian said an investigation concluded that Hassanen “was walking outside [the mosque] with a group of friends when they got into a dispute with a man in a car.” The man then “got out of his car and assaulted the victim.” Her friends, unable to find her after the incident, called the police.

An officer had “seen a car driving suspiciously in the area,” and the driver, Martinez Torres, was taken into custody as a suspect, according to the police statement.

“People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,”Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights lawyer who attended the same Sunday evening service as Hassanen, told the Post.

[Washington Post]

Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

  • 25 minutes ago
  • From the section Europe
L-R Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi (file pics)Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAll three players: (L-R) Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi

Spain has attracted arguably the three brightest lights of world football, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Neymar all plying their skills in La Liga.

Over the past year, football fans have become used to seeing the trio caught up in accusations of tax fraud and other financial crimes by the Spanish courts.

And they are not the only players in the crosshairs of the Spanish judiciary. In 2016, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Barcelona team-mate, Javier Mascherano, received a one-year suspended prison sentence for tax fraud.

Three players, three trials

Lionel Messi and father Jorge were last year convicted of defrauding the Spanish state of €4.1m (£3.6m; $4.6m) in unpaid taxes on the striker’s image rights, controlled by offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair were both handed 21-month jail terms in a ruling recently confirmed by Spain’s supreme court.

Barcelona's Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (L) in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona (June 2016)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMessi and his father Jorge were convicted of tax fraud in 2016

Now the original Barcelona trial court must decide whether the sentences should be suspended in accordance with Spanish custom for first-time offenders whose prison terms do not exceed two years.

Prosecutors have asked for a two-year sentence and a €10m fine for Neymar, who was cleared of fraud but ordered to stand trial over alleged corruption in his 2013 move from Brazilian club Santos to Barcelona.

Now Ronaldo has become the third and final member of the elite La Liga trio to face criminal accusations, after prosecutors announced they were pursuing the 32-year-old former Manchester United man on four counts of tax fraud.

A source close to Ronaldo told the BBC that “he’s very sad and really upset” about the allegations. “He doesn’t want to stay in Spain. At this moment, he wants to leave,” the source said.

Why has footballers’ paradise turned sour?

Soon after David Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003, he was able to enjoy a new tax-exemption scheme aimed at attracting foreign talent to Spain across all sectors. That scheme became known as the Beckham Law, when he became one of the first players to sign up to a six-year-long tax ceiling of 24%, roughly half what Spaniards paid on six-figure-plus incomes.

File pic 2006 of David Beckham and Zinedine ZidaneImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionReal Madrid’s top players, such as a Beckham and Zidane became known as the “galacticos”

Spain was in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom, a perfect playground for “galacticos” of the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, before the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the emergence of Barcelona prodigy Lionel Messi.

But in 2010 the Beckham Law was scrapped for salaries of more than €600,000, and since then tax inspectors have begun to wise up to the use of complex financial operations using offshore shell companies to get around tax laws.

“The line between avoidance and evasion is very fine in these cases. In the past few years Spain’s tax agency has intensified its control over footballers and their companies, checking to see if they are mere fronts or whether they are really active economically,” explains Carlos Cruzado, president of tax inspectors’ union Gestha.

Case against big three

Neymar is the odd one out. His case involves alleged wrongdoing towards a contractual party regarding his transfer fee, but the forward has been found guilty in his native Brazil for tax fraud on money earned while playing for Santos.

La Liga rich list

Who earned what?

$93m

Cristiano Ronaldo: $58m salary, $35m endorsements

  • $80m Lionel Messi: $53m salary, $27m endorsements
  • $37m Neymar: $15m salary, $22m endorsements
Getty Images

The Messi and Ronaldo cases are similar. Both are accused of avoiding tax on sale of image rights by using offshore companies. However, the Portuguese was registered as a non-resident taxpayer under the Beckham Law, while the Argentine has spent his entire adult life registered in Spain.

Prosecutors accuse the Real Madrid star of evading tax of €14.7m between 2011 and 2014 via an alleged shell company called Tollin Associates, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Spanish investigators say the company, owned by Ronaldo, is a “screen” and has no economic activity apart from having bought and then ceded the player’s image rights to a firm based in Ireland that “genuinely manages [his] rights sales”.

Prosecutors also claim that money earned from image rights was incorrectly described as capital gains, to benefit from a lower tax rate.

What is their defence?

Lionel Messi was informed by the judge in his case it was no defence to plead ignorance and argue that his father was the only person who knew how his money was being managed.

Neymar of FC Barcelona leaves the National Court on February 2, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionNeymar spent 90 minutes before a judge in Madrid in February 2016

Neymar has denied any wrongdoing and told the court investigating his case that his father and associates dealt with off-field business matters.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s representatives and legal team say the only dispute can be about quantity and that there has been no intention to commit fraud. “There is no tax evasion scheme… There has never been any hiding nor any intention to hide anything,” they say.

They argue he has paid tax to the Spanish treasury on 20% of his total image rights when, in fact, more than 90% of these are generated outside Spain as he is such a global name.

“The tax agency clearly thinks that if he is being paid for wearing certain boots, shirts or caps in Spain, then he cannot claim this money is being earned abroad,” explains Mr Cruzado.

Will any of them go to jail?

Neymar and Lionel Messi look set to be spared prison due to Spain’s unwritten two-year-sentence rule, even if Neymar is eventually found guilty.

Cristiano Ronaldo may be a different matter. Three of the four accusations of tax fraud are considered by prosecutors to be “aggravated”, so they carry a minimum sentence of two years each. Four guilty verdicts and he could face as many as seven years.

However, an investigating judge needs to ratify the prosecutors’ accusations, and that could take many months or even years.

Even if the investigating magistrate does take up the case, the Portuguese will have several options and a guilty verdict would not necessarily mean jail.

He could admit guilt, pay taxes and fines in advance and reduce any eventual jail term to a half or quarter of the statutory minimum. That way he would slip under the standard two-year bar for first-time offenders and see his sentence suspended.

Tensions are building inside the Justice Department

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Tensions are building inside the Justice Department as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein contemplates whether he will become a witness in the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

Rosenstein, in office for less than two months, is the top Justice official overseeing the probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
But Rosenstein could end up recusing himself, too, Justice officials say, in part because he played a role in President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. The Comey dismissal could become part of a widening investigation into whether the President tried to interfere with the ongoing Russia probe.
Officials familiar with the matter describe friction on the Justice Department’s fourth and fifth floors, home to the suite of offices belonging to the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, respectively, in part because of Rosenstein’s handling of the Russia matter.
Rosenstein was among those who advised Sessions to recuse himself, according to officials briefed on the matter. But then Rosenstein made the surprise move to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation, a development that people close to Sessions and Trump believe has worsened matters for everyone involved.
Sessions learned of the Mueller appointment at about the same time that the press was told, according to people briefed on the matter. The attorney general was at a White House meeting when the notification came from Rosenstein, prompting the enraged President to scold the attorney general for the turn of events. Trump had viewed Sessions’ recusal as unnecessary, even though Justice Department regulations made it almost impossible to avoid.
The focus on Rosenstein sharpened Friday because the President attacked the deputy attorney general in a tweet, blaming him for what he terms a “witch hunt.”
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the President tweeted.
The President’s tweet — seeming to confirm the probe based on news reports — came as a surprise to the President’s own legal team, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Mueller continues to hire a team of lawyers, and with FBI investigators is gathering information that is widely expected to lead to a formal investigation into whether President Trump attempted to interfere in the investigation. Comey’s firing likely will be part of that probe.

Special counsel members donated to Dems

Special counsel members donated to Dems 02:26
Rosenstein told the Associated Press earlier this month that when he hired Mueller he discussed the possibility of having recuse himself “if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation” and if recusal is necessary.
The strain on Rosenstein has increasingly become visible in recent weeks, according to Justice officials.
At a ceremony last month to welcome Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s third-ranking official, Rosenstein joked awkwardly about being at the center of criticism since taking office, according to people who were in the room.
If Rosenstein recuses himself, Brand, a Trump appointee, would become the top Justice official overseeing Mueller’s work.
On Thursday night, he issued a statement lashing out at news stories sourced to anonymous officials and that he believes are causing the President and Republicans to attack the Justice Department, the FBI and Mueller for alleged leaks.
Rosenstein’s unusual statement, which he issued over the objections of some advisers, said in part: “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials.'”
A Justice official said Rosenstein was motivated in part because of frustration that recent news stories have unfairly brought on a torrent of “leak” accusations against the FBI and Mueller’s team.

China: Explosion At Kindergarten, 8 Dead 65 Injured 9 In Serious Condition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

At least eight people were killed and 65 were injured, including children, in a blast Thursday near a kindergarten in eastern China, according to Chinese state media.

Two people died at the scene and six died at the hospital, the Xinhua news agency reported. Nine are in serious condition, according to CCTV.
No kindergarten students or teachers are among the dead, the Fengxian government said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter. Classes were underway when the incident happened, the government said.
The blast occurred in front of the gate of the Chuangxin Kindergarten at about 4:50 p.m., according to Fengxian police.
“The police and related departments rushed to the scene as soon as it was reported and conducted rescue and investigation work on the site,” police said on Weibo. “Currently, the investigation work is still underway.”
Authorities have not said what caused the explosion, but police were treating it as a criminal case and have targeted a suspect, according to Xinhua. The Fengxian communication department did not answer a phone call from CNN.
Graphic images purporting to show the chaotic aftermath of the blast have circulated on Twitter and Chinese social media.
A child with a bloodied face, stumbling back and forth in only her underwear, could be seen surrounded by children splayed out on the ground. Screams were heard in the background.
CNN has not been able to independently verify that the video is from this incident, but it’s been recirculated by various Chinese state media outlets.
Fengxian is in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, about 370 miles (595 kilometers) northwest of Shanghai.
It’s home to 1.2 million people, according to the government’s website.

Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer

June 15 at 9:39 PM
A heightened sense of unease gripped the White House on Thursday, as President Trump lashed out at reports that he’s under scrutiny over whether he obstructed justice, aides repeatedly deflected questions about the probe and Vice President Pence acknowledged hiring a private lawyer to handle fallout from investigations into Russian election meddling.Pence’s decision to hire Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based lawyer who previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, came less than a month after Trump hired his own private lawyer.

The hiring of Cullen, whom an aide said Pence was paying for himself, was made public a day after The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is widening his investigation to examine whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.

A defiant Trump at multiple points Thursday expressed his frustration with reports about that development, tweeting that he is the subject of “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” and one that he said is being led by “some very bad and conflicted people.”

Trump, who only a day earlier had called for a more civil tone in Washington after a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., fired off several more tweets in the afternoon voicing disbelief that he was under scrutiny while his “crooked” Democratic opponent in last year’s election, Hillary Clinton, escaped prosecution in relation to her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials to determine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said. (Patrick Martin,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

Before the day ended, the White House was hit with the latest in a cascade of headlines relating to the Russian probe: a Post story reporting that Mueller is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-law and adviser.

“The legal jeopardy increases by the day,” said one informal Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss conversations with White House aides more freely. “If you’re a White House staffer, you’re trying to do your best to keep your head low and do your job.”

At the White House on Thursday, aides sought to portray a sense of normalcy, staging an elaborate event to promote a Trump job-training initiative, while simultaneously going into lockdown mode regarding Mueller’s probe.

At a previously scheduled off-camera briefing for reporters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy White House press secretary, was peppered with more than a dozen questions about ongoing investigations over about 20 minutes.

In keeping with a new practice, she referred one question after another to Trump’s personal lawyer.

Sanders, for example, was asked whether Trump still felt “vindicated” by the extraordinary congressional testimony last week by James B. Comey, the FBI director whose firing by Trump has contributed to questions about whether the president obstructed justice.

“I believe so,” Sanders said, before referring reporters to Marc E. Kasowitz, Trump’s private attorney.

As Trump’s No. 2 and as head of the transition team, Pence has increasingly found himself drawn into the widening Russia investigation.

Pence — along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Kushner, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House Counsel Donald McGahn — was one of the small group of senior advisers the president consulted as he mulled his decision to fire Comey, which is now a focus of Mueller’s investigation.

He also was entangled in the events leading up to the dismissal of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who originally misled Pence about his contact with Russian officials — incorrect claims that Pence himself then repeated publicly.

The vice president was kept in the dark for nearly two weeks about Flynn’s misstatements, before learning the truth in a Post report. Trump ultimately fired Flynn for misleading the vice president.

There were also news reports that Flynn’s attorneys had alerted Trump’s transition team, which Pence led, that Flynn was under federal investigation for his secret ties to the Turkish government as a paid lobbyist — a claim the White House disputes. And aides to Pence, who was running the transition team, said the vice president was never informed of Flynn’s overseas work with Turkey, either.

On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Russian election meddling and related issues were a prominent part of the agenda.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats spent more than three hours in a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee, just days after he refused to answer lawmakers’ questions in an open session about his conversations with Trump regarding the Russia investigation.

Several GOP lawmakers said they think Mueller should be able to do his job — including probing possible obstruction by Trump — but added that they were eager to put the probe behind them.

Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, said he retains confidence in Mueller and that he’s seen nothing so far that would amount to obstruction by Trump. His assessment, Cornyn said, includes the testimony last week by Comey, who said he presumed he was fired because of Trump’s concerns about the FBI’s handling of the Russian probe.

“I think based on what he said then, there doesn’t appear to be any there there,” Cornyn said. “Director Mueller’s got extensive staff and authorities to investigate further. But based on what we know now, I don’t see any basis.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said he didn’t find news that Mueller is exploring obstruction of justice particularly surprising given it’s clear he is “going to look at everything.”

“There has been a lot of time spent on the collusion issue — 11 months by the FBI and six months by Congress — and both sides agree they haven’t found anything there,” Thune said. “I hope at some point all this stuff will lead to an ultimate conclusion, and we’ll put this to rest.”

In the meantime, the Republican National Committee appears to be girding for a fight.

“Talking points” sent Wednesday night to Trump allies provided a road map for trying to undercut the significance of the latest revelation related to possible obstruction of justice.

“This apparent pivot by the investigative team shows that they have struck out on trying to prove collusion and are now trying to switch to another baseless charge,” the document said.

The RNC also encouraged Trump allies to decry the “inexcusable, outrageous and illegal” leaks on which it said the story was based and to argue that there is a double standard at work.

The document said there was “an obvious case” of obstruction that was never investigated against former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch related to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s email server.

In his afternoon tweets, Trump picked up on that argument. In one tweet, the president wrote: “Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?”

“Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?” Trump said in another.

Trump restricted his musing Thursday on Mueller’s investigation to social media, passing on opportunities to talk about it in public.

The president did not respond to shouted questions about whether he believes he is under investigation as he departed an event Thursday morning designed to highlight his administration’s support of apprenticeship programs.

That event was part of a schedule that suggested no outward signs of concern by Trump about his latest troubles.

He was joined at the apprenticeship event by several governors, lawmakers and other dignitaries. Before turning to the subject at hand, Trump provided an update on the condition of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot Wednesday during the attack on Republican lawmakers at an early-morning baseball practice.

Attempting to strike a unifying chord, Trump said: “Steve, in his own way, may have brought some unity to our long-divided country.”

Later in the afternoon, Trump and the first lady traveled to the Supreme Court for the investiture ceremony for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Among the questions Sanders deflected Thursday was to whom exactly Trump was referring as “bad and conflicted people” in one of his early morning tweets.

“Again, I would refer you to the president’s outside counsel on all questions relating to the investigation,” Sanders said.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the outside counsel, did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment on the questions Sanders referred to him.

Earlier this week, one of the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., highlighted on Twitter an op-ed in USA Today that argued that Mueller should recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he has a potential conflict of interest, given his longtime friendship with Comey, a crucial witness.

The piece, which Donald Trump Jr. retweeted, was written by William G. Otis, an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University who was a special counsel for President George H.W. Bush.

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Christopher Ruddy, a friend of Trump’s, made headlines this week when he said during a PBS interview that he believed Trump was considering firing Mueller.

The White House didn’t immediately deny that notion but made clear that Ruddy was not speaking for Trump. The following day, Sanders said Trump had no intention of trying to dislodge Mueller.

Sanders was asked again Thursday whether Trump still has confidence in Mueller.

“I believe so,” she said, later adding: “I haven’t had a specific conversation about that, but I think if he didn’t, he would probably have intentions to make a change, and he certainly doesn’t.

Ed O’Keefe, Karoun Demirjian and Abby Phillip contributed to this report.

FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs in custody after nearly a year on the lam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Bishop Lyle Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was living out of his car for two weeks before his arrest in Yankton, South Dakota, an FBI official said Thursday.

Jeffs, who had been on the run from authorities for almost a year, did not resist arrest late Wednesday and is being held in Minnehaha County Jail in South Dakota. He appeared in court Thursday afternoon and didn’t answer reporters’ questions as he was brought in.
“The long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you and bring you back to justice,” John Huber, the US Attorney for the District of Utah, said earlier. “Undoubtedly, the flight from prosecution and his fugitive status will play a part (in the upcoming court case).”
The FBI received a tip from a citizen Tuesday, which included a partial description of Jeff’s vehicle. The tip was instrumental to tracking down Jeffs, said Eric Barnhart, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City, Utah, bureau.
Jeffs, 57, is expected to be extradited to Utah in the next couple of days “now that he is back in the loving embrace of law enforcement,” Barnhart said.
Jeffs, younger brother of notorious FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, escaped house arrest last July after using olive oil to slip a GPS tracking bracelet off his ankle. At the time of his escape, the FBI warned the public that Lyle Jeffs was traveling with bodyguards and was considered dangerous.
Jeffs took over leadership of the polygamist Mormon sect after his older brother was arrested on child sex charges related to his underage wives.
According to the FBI’s wanted poster, Jeffs was on home confinement while awaiting trial over his alleged involvement in a food stamp fraud case when he escaped.
He had been charged with conspiracy to commit benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

FLDS Life After Warren Jeffs orig_00031327

Life after Warren Jeffs: FLDS town divided

Jeffs, another brother, Seth, and other conspirators were accused of defrauding the government of more than $12 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — more commonly known as food stamps.
Church members were urged to allow the conspirators to use their food stamp cards to buy food, according to court documents.
Families that qualified for federal assistance were allegedly told to turn over their food stamp debit cards and take what they needed from a warehouse of pooled resources called “the bishop’s storehouse.”
As a result, the federal government alleges, some families subsisted on beans, rice and toast, while high-ranking church members got meat, turkey and seafood.
The government also alleges that the Jeffs brothers and others laundered money by swiping food stamp debit cards and ringing up “ghost” purchases at church-friendly businesses. The laundered cash allegedly was used on big-ticket items such as a $30,000 pickup truck, a $14,000 tractor and $17,000 in paper products.

warren jeffs children FLDS lisa ling orig_00002624

 Children of Warren Jeffs accuse him of sexual abuse

An additional $250,000 was allegedly spent on printing costs for Warren Jeffs’ self-published book of jailhouse revelations, “Jesus Christ, Message to All Nations.”
A $50,000 reward had been issued for Lyle Jeffs’ arrest. The disbursement of the reward money has not yet been determined, Barnhart said.
The FLDS split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1930s after the Mormon establishment rejected polygamy.
Warren Jeffs took the reins of the sect in 2002 after the death of his father, the church’s founder. He is serving a life-plus-20-year term for sexual assault. Jeffs was convicted in August 2011 of the aggravated sexual assaults of a 12- and a 15-year-old girl who he claimed were his “spiritual wives.”
Last year, federal authorities expressed concern that Jeffs, now 61, was reorganizing his sect from prison.

Trump keeps creating his own personal hell—Because He Is To Ignorant And Stupid To Shut Up

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Trump keeps creating his own personal hell

June 15 
Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials to determine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said. (Patrick Martin,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

Last month President Trump apparently told the Russians he fired FBI director James B. Comey to relieve pressure on him. Except, in firing Comey, Trump has upped the pressure cooker he’s in by a factor of 10.

“I’m not under investigation,” Trump then told the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office, according to the New York Times.

Now, it appears he is.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, related to Comey’s testimony alleging that Trump tried to interfere in some of the FBI’s Russia investigations.

Until recently, the FBI’s investigation had focused on Russia meddling in the presidential campaign and whether Trump’s campaign helped. We knew the investigation was looking into Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, but we had no idea how much higher it would go. Now, that investigation has branched out into obstruction into its first investigation. And the spotlight on the obstruction case is entirely on the president himself.

This is the great irony for Trump, an irony he doesn’t seem to have comprehended: When he feels backed into a corner, he lashes out in politically inadvisable ways that often makes his life much more difficult. But he can’t seem to stop doing it.

As a candidate behind in the polls, Trump lurched at Hillary Clinton in a way that gave her supporters leverage to claim Trump wasn’t supportive of women. As a president who watched health-care legislation stall in the House of Representatives, he blamed conservatives in a way that fractured his delicate relationship with Congress. When he tweeted about an impending court decision on his travel ban, a federal court used that against him.

Some of that still worked out for him, some of it hasn’t.

But when Trump feels encroached by a serious and multipronged legal investigation, lashing out attracts a different set of consequences for the president: Legal ones that directly threaten him.

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!

 

Jacobovitz doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that, last week, a friend of the president said Trump was considering firing Mueller. (A consideration the White House didn’t deny: They later said Trump has “no intention” of firing Mueller.)

A few days later, sources with knowledge of the closed-door special counsel investigation leaked to The Post that Trump himself is under investigation. That’s a shocking development.

But making the scope public is like a buffer for Mueller’s job security — and it could act as a buffer to try to save the president from himself.

“Now it’s clear that he’s being investigated, it makes it even more difficult to fire Mueller,” Jacobovitz said, “because it looks like he’s trying to terminate an investigation against himself. … It would be political suicide.”

If Trump were to follow through on his natural instinct to lash out and fire Mueller, he would have little support. Pretty much everyone who’s anyone in Washington has made clear they think it’d be a terrible, terrible idea for Trump to sack Mueller.

“I think the best advice is to let Robert Mueller do his job,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Tuesday.

For how Trump could, feasibly, fire Mueller, here’s a flow chart by Washington Post’s Philip Bump, who explains the process in detail here:

That doesn’t mean Trump will keep his head down. Especially since things could get even worse for him on the legal front.

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Attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the president, alleging he’s violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by not fully separating himself from his business. (He retains an ownership stake in the business his sons run.) So has a government watchdog advocacy group. And nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress will soon file a similar lawsuit.

If any one of those gets traction in the courts (and Jacobovitz thinks one will), Trump could be investigated for his personal finances as well as his actions as president. Oh, and Mueller’s investigation is also reportedly looking into unexplained “broad financial crimes.”

Add it all up and you have a president who could soon be under attack on multiple legal fronts. Trump’s go-to move when he feels under attack is to respond in a way that exacerbates the situation. That’s why there’s an obstruction of justice investigation in the first place.

At this point, the president has boxed himself into a corner where following his instincts could make his life exponentially worse.

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oldpoet56

truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.

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