Republicans give Trump a rare rebuke over racist comments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Republicans give Trump a rare rebuke over racist comments

(CNN)For many Republicans in Congress, President Donald Trump’s call for some Democratic congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” was worthy of a rare rebuke.

As she entered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Monday evening, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said that Trump’s latest attacks were not only “not constructive” but racist.
“They’re American citizens,” she said.
On Sunday, Trump attacked unnamed “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen,” saying they “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”
Usually Trump’s attacks on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts are uniformly greeted with cheers by all Republicans (of these four first-term women members of Congress, only Omar, a Somalian refugee, was born outside the United States).
But for many Republicans, his racist comments on Sunday were, as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine put it, “way over the line.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the comments were “spiteful” and urged a “higher standard of decorum and decency.” Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called them “divisive, unnecessary and wrong.”
“We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“While we can vary on what policies we support, singling out people whose opinions differ from our own is bad for discourse and public civility,” added Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas.
Still, Ernst was in an unusual position in calling Trump’s racist remark racist. Trump’s strongest supporters said his comment was not while many of his begrudging bedfellows did not make that particular charge.
Many Republicans did not directly respond to questions regarding whether the President’s comments were “racist.” Instead, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, called the comments a “mistake,” and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, called them “unproductive.”
McConnell declined to comment Monday on Trump’s tweets. He said he’d be “happy” to respond later in the week at his regularly scheduled news conference.
For years, Trump has made racist and anti-immigrant comments. He questioned the birthplace of the first African American president, Barack Obama. He called Mexicans “rapists” in his campaign kickoff speech in 2015. He then called for a complete ban on Muslims.
He said a federal judge could not be impartial because of his race. He expressed a preference for immigrants coming from Norway rather than Haiti. He blamed “both sides” for the violence emanating from a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
But while Trump is historically unpopular at this point in his presidency, he still maintains a great deal of support within the Republican Party. Over the past two years, the small crew of Republicans in Congress who have criticized him has gotten smaller; some have retired, left the party or lost.
So it was no surprise that some Republicans still rallied to the President. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana tweeted that he “stood with” Trump, adding an American flag emoji.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “The President is not a racist.”
“I think this is really coming down to a battle about ideology,” he added. “It’s really kind of a socialist battle versus a thing that we believe within America.”
Trump himself denied that what he said was racist.
When asked if he was concerned that many did, Trump replied, “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”
Democrats roundly denounced the President. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s comments “drip with racism.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber would vote on a resolution to condemn the President’s “xenophobic” comments. Rep. Al Green of Texas said he would bring an impeachment resolution to the floor in July, tweeting the hashtag #RacistPresident.
At a news conference with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib, Pressley referred to Trump’s Twitter attacks on the four progressive Democratic congresswomen as a “disruptive distraction” and said that she would encourage the American people “to not take the bait.”
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration all the way down,” she said.

India: US Congress to vote on bill to remove country-cap on Green Card

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

US Congress to vote on bill to remove country-cap on Green Card

The US lawmakers will on Tuesday decide on lifting the country-cap on issuing Green Cards through voting in Congress, a move which may benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

WORLD Updated: Jul 09, 2019 13:02 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Washington
Green card,India news,US Congress
Being supported by more than 310 lawmakers from both the Republican and the Democratic Party, the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’ is all set to sail through the 435-member US House of Representatives.(AFP file photo for representation)

The US lawmakers will on Tuesday decide on lifting the country-cap on issuing Green Cards through voting in Congress, a move which may benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

Having a Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US.

Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Cards or permanent legal residency.

Being supported by more than 310 lawmakers from both the Republican and the Democratic Party, the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’ is all set to sail through the 435-member US House of Representatives.

Buoyed by the fact of 203 Democrats and 108 Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill, the proponents of the legislation are using a fast-track process which requires 290 votes to pass a bill without hearing and amendments.

Lifting the per-country cap would mainly benefit professionals from countries like India, for whom the wait for Green Card is more than a decade. Some of the recent studies have said the waiting period for Indian IT professionals on H-1B visas is more than 70 years.

The Library of Congress said the act, also known as HR 1044, is the most viewed bill in the week beginning July 7.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), this bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from seven per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 per cent and eliminates the seven per cent cap for employment-based immigrant visas.

It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.

The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas.

“Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85 per cent shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country,” the CRS said.

The bill, however, has to be passed by the Senate, wherein the Republicans enjoy a majority, before it can be signed into law by the US president.

A similar bill being supported by a bipartisan group of senators including Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris is slated to come up for consideration soon. Both the identical bills in the Senate and the House were introduced in February.

In the House, it was introduced by Congressman Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat who represents portions of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, and Republican Ken Buck from Colorado, while in the Senate it was introduced by Harris and Mike Lee from Utah.

In a news report, Breitbart news described it as a giveaway legislation to 300,000 Indian H-1B visa workers.

This will incentivize “more low wage Indian graduates” to take US jobs from middle class American graduates, it said and urged Republican lawmakers supporting the bill to withdraw their co-sponsorship.

Democrats, Breitbart alleged, “have kept the legislation secret — the bill has had no hearing or committee votes — and it is being backed by the immigration lawyer who helped Democratic Sen Chuck Schumer write the disastrous ‘Gang of Eight’ amnesty in 2013”.

Joining Breitbart, the Center For Immigration Studies said the bill would reward the employers who literally replaced American workers with hundreds of thousands of low cost and less skilled contract workers who entered on temporary visas (mainly H-1Bs), often working in the tech sector.

These employers are mainly big tech and foreign outsourcing companies.

“Under current rules, citizens of India are getting about 25 per cent of all the professional employment Green Cards each year. If this bill becomes law, citizens of India will get more than 90 per cent of the professional employment Green Cards, according to the USCIS, for at least the next 10 years.

“Green cards would be unavailable to applicants from all other parts of the world (and many other occupations) for at least a decade,” alleged the Centre for Immigration Studies.

It argued that a bill with “such sweeping implications” for the US workers should not be passed without a hearing and without opportunity for members to offer amendments.

“Adopting a different Green Card selection system that chooses the most highly educated and skilled workers would eliminate the need for a per-country cap system, and would not reward the exploitative employers who thrive on the existing system,” it said.

Congressman Paul Gosar said this is another gift for big-tech companies at the expense of American workers and students.

“We should not allow” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the bill without following the rules, he said, adding the bill has not had a hearing or markup.

First Published: Jul 09, 2019 12:08 IST

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(CNN)Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump.

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees announced Tuesday that Mueller had agreed to testify after they issued subpoenas for his testimony, and Mueller would appear in public before the two panels next month.
“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement.
Schiff said Tuesday that the committees would be questioning Mueller separately the same day, and that his committee would question Mueller’s staff in closed session following the public hearing so they can discuss the counterintelligence portions of the investigation.
Mueller’s testimony is poised to be the most-anticipated congressional hearing in years, and represents a huge moment for House Democrats who have wrestled with whether to dive into a politically divisive impeachment process following the Mueller investigation and White House stonewalling of congressional probes.
The subpoenas to Mueller come after weeks of negotiations between Democrats, the special counsel’s team and the Justice Department. Democrats are proceeding with subpoenas to Mueller after he spoke publicly last month and said he did not wish to testify publicly about the investigation, and that his testimony would not go beyond what was written in the special counsel’s 448-page report.
In a letter to Mueller, the Democratic chairmen said that they understood Mueller’s concerns about ongoing investigations referred by the special counsel, but still felt it was necessary for him to testify.
“We will work with you to address legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity of your work, but we expect that you will appear before our Committees as scheduled,” Nadler and Schiff wrote.
Democrats have been talking about bringing Mueller in to testify since his investigation wrapped in March, and their decision to issue subpoenas comes more than a month after the initial date that Nadler had floated for Mueller to appear.
Since then, Democrats have continued to negotiate with Mueller, holding out hope he would agree to testify voluntarily. While Mueller stated he did not wish appear before Congress, Democrats — and some Republicans — have said they still believe Mueller should testify. Democrats have argued that the American people can hear directly from the special counsel in a public setting, and lawmakers in both parties have said they want to ask him about some of the decisions made during the investigation.
Mueller’s report was written in two parts: a volume on Russian election meddling and one on obstruction.
In the first volume, the special counsel did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but it did detail numerous contacts between Russians and members of Trump’s team that Democrats charge are troubling, even if they aren’t criminal. In the second volume, Mueller documented nearly a dozen episodes of possible obstruction of justice. The special counsel wrote that DOJ guidelines did not allow a sitting president to be indicted, and that the investigation could not exonerate Trump.
Mueller’s public statement last month — in which he emphasized that the investigation did not exonerate the President and that his team followed the DOJ guidelines — sparked a wave of House Democrats to call for the opening of an impeachment inquiry.
Their numbers have grown amid White House stonewalling of testimony and documents to congressional investigations, and now more than 75 have come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to resist the move, arguing that Democrats are winning their court fights with the Trump administration and impeachment should only be pursued if the public is on board.
Schiff and Nadler have both publicly refrained from calling for the opening of an impeachment inquiry. Behind the scenes, Nadler has lobbied Pelosi to do so, while Schiff has argued against it.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

US move to scrap preferential trade status unfortunate: Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

US move to scrap preferential trade status unfortunate: Government

Congress attacks Centre, says the decision will have grave trade and economic implications

INDIA Updated: Jun 01, 2019 23:56 IST

Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
preferential trade status,US India trade,US India ties
M Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump during a meeting in Manila in November 2017.(Reuters File Photo)

The United States on Friday formally terminated India’s eligibility for a duty-free import scheme for developing countries, effective June 5, saying it has not given assurances it “will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets” to US companies as required under relevant American trade laws.

The move was downplayed by India’s commerce ministry, which said on Saturday that India will continue to seek to build strong economic ties with the United States and that it was “unfortunate” that attempts to resolve significant US requests had not been accepted.

Officials had previously raised the prospect of higher import duties on more than 20 US goods if Trump dropped India from the programme, but there was no mention of that in the response.

“India, like the US and other nations shall always uphold its national interest in these matters,” the government said in a statement issued through the trade ministry.

The impending American termination was previewed on Thursday by a senior administration official, who described it as a “done deal” and said it was time for the two countries to move on, and try to resolve other trade irritants. The official had, however, left open the possibility of restoring these benefits if and when India complied with American demands for greater market access to its dairy products and medical devices sectors.

“I have determined that India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets,” US President Donald Trump said in a proclamation issued on Friday. “Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019.”

The presidential proclamation did not mention it, but the senior administration official who had previewed the coming termination had left the door open for putting India back on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme and restore its duty-free benefits if India was able to “achieve the reforms in market access that we need under this programme”.

President Trump had conveyed his intention to terminate India’s eligibility for the programme to the US congress on March 4. And the formal termination became due on May 4, after the mandatory 60-day notice period.

But the administration held off on the proclamation as India was in the middle of elections and there was pressure from US lawmakers, from both parties, to delay the termination to allow more time for negotiations. There was an expectation that India could avert the termination if it agreed to US demands for more market access.

But the Trump administration had concluded much before, according to people close to the developments, that India would not be able to deliver no matter how much additional time it was given. But it agreed to wait for the elections to get over, and announced the termination just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his second term. No talks were underway at the time contrary to public assurances by Indian officials.

This US action presents the first major challenge for the new Modi government on relations with the United States, as there is talk the Trump administration might not stop at this and could be considering even more precipitate actions in line with the President’s tough posture on trade.

India has been the biggest beneficiary of the GSP programme, which allows certain imports from 120 countries to enter the United States at zero tariff. US imports from India under GSP were an estimated $6.3 billion worth of goods in 2018 , according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan source of research for US lawmakers.

Withdrawal of zero-tariff benefits would subject these products, presuming their volumes remain unaffected, to $190 million, according to official Indian estimates. But people familiar with these discussions have said there are fears that the new tariffs could make these products costlier for US importers, who could then switch to other cheaper alternatives to keep down their prices.

(with HTC inputs from New Delhi)

First Published: Jun 01, 2019 23:44 IST

It just got more difficult for the Congress To Not Impeach Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Robert Mueller ended his two-year stint as special counsel with a bang disguised as a whimper: In a 10-minute statement announcing his resignation and the closure of the special counsel’s office, the former FBI director sent a very clear message to anyone listening: I didn’t charge Donald Trump with obstruction because I couldn’t.

 “The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy,” said Mueller, referencing an Office of Legal Counsel ruling that a siting president cannot be indicted. “Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
And just in case you missed what Mueller was driving at with that quote, he was even more explicit later in his remarks. “The [OLC] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller added.
So, to summarize:
  1. Mueller says the special counsel’s hands were tied by the OLC opinion when it came to charging Trump with obstructing the Russia probe.
  2. Mueller notes that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Oh, whatever could he mean????
To date, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off the increasing number of voices within the House Democratic caucus calling for impeachment, insisting that Trump wants to be impeached because it will turn him into a victim and allow him to make the election about alleged Democratic overreach rather than about health care, immigration and so on.
It’s a sound political stance — one reinforced by CNN polling that shows that almost 6 in 10 Americans don’t want to see Trump impeached and more than 4 in 10 who think Democrats have already done too much investigating of the President.

 

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But polling doesn’t stand in for principle or political pressure. And Pelosi is going to be strongly pushed on both of those fronts now that Mueller said what he said. The question is whether — and how — she can withstand this increased pressure.
In a statement soon after what may be Mueller’s final appearance on the national stage, Pelosi stood her ground, emphasizing that it’s just a fraction of the total number of House Democrats calling for impeachment. “I think it’s like 35 of them out of 238, maybe it’s 38 of them out of 238 who have said they wanted to be outspoken on impeachment,” she said.
“Nothing is off the table,” Pelosi added. But “we are investigating and we are litigating and we are going to, as we go down the path, make a decision based on the strongest possible case to get the best results for the American people.”
The Point: Pelosi is holding strong — for now. But how long can she keep it up in the wake of the Mueller statement?

Barr contradicted and struggled with key findings of Muller report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Barr contradicted and struggled with key findings of Mueller report

PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr responds as he is asked a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019.Susan Walsh/AP
WATCHAttorney General William Barr defends himself in Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

During his four-hour back and forth with senators on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr questioned, and at times seemed to contradict, key findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

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Time and again, faced with questions from probing Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats about the report’s contents, Barr also seemed unfamiliar with some of the report’s significant details.

When Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., brought up how then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort shared polling data in August 2016 with his former business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik — identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence — Barr struggled.

“What information was shared?” Barr asked, prompting Booker to reply, “Polling data was shared, sir. It’s in the report.”

“With who?” Barr followed up.

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Barr testified on the Justice Departments investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.Win Mcnamee/Getty Images
U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Barr testified on the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.more +

The special counsel’s team had concluded there weren’t sufficient grounds to prosecute Manafort’s actions as a crime of conspiracy, but a top prosecutor in Mueller’s office previously described Manafort’s interactions with Kilimnik as being at the “heart” of the probe about whether Trump’s campaign had coordinated with the Russian government.

In another instance, when Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., quoted the Mueller report about “multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government” and that in some instances “the campaign was receptive to the offer whereas others they were not,” Barr indicated that he did not understand “what communications that referred to.”

Leahy said, “You have the report. I just gave you the page from the report.”

At another point Leahy questioned if Trump had “fully cooperated” with Mueller, as Barr wrote, “by instructing a former aide to tell the attorney general to un-recuse himself, shut down the investigation and declare the president did nothing wrong.”

“Where is that in the report?” Barr asked. When Leahy pointed to the page number, Barr muttered, “Right.”

At other times, the attorney general appeared to directly contradict key findings in the Mueller report, including when giving his view of the interactions between Trump and then-White House Counsel Don McGahn about the president’s attempts to get rid of Mueller.

During questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Barr stated that Trump had attempted to remove Mueller because of “conflict of interest” and not to terminate the investigation. He said the president had directed McGahn to correct a New York Times article that reported on what Trump had told McGahn only because he deemed it inaccurate.

According to the Mueller report, however, evidence showed that “the President was not just seeking an examination of whether conflicts existed but instead was looking to use asserted conflicts as a way to terminate the special counsel.” The Mueller report also stated, “There is also evidence that the President knew that he should not have made those calls to McGahn.”

“The report is over 400 pages,” a Justice Department official told ABC News. “It would be impossible for anyone to remember every detail of the report off-hand.”

Asked whether Barr’s testimony contradicted Mueller’s findings, the Justice Department official answered, “No.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Cory Booker, left, and Sen. Kamala Harris, right, listen as Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2019.Andrew Harnik/AP
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Cory Booker, left, and Sen. Kamala Harris, right, listen as Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2019.more +

Maybe one of the most contentious moments came when Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris asked Barr if he, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or anyone in his executive office had questioned or reviewed the underlying evidence supporting the report’s findings, and Barr replied, “No.”

“In the Department of Justice, we have cross memos every day coming up,” Barr said. “We don’t go and look at the underlying evidence. We take the characterization of the evidence as true.”

Harris shot back, questioning Barr’s decision to accept charging recommendations without reviewing underlying evidence when making a “critical decision” about “the person who holds the highest office in the land and whether or not that person committed a crime.”

“I think you’ve made it clear, sir, that you have not looked at the evidence and we can move on,” Harris said.

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

William Barr proved himself to be Donald Trump’s lawyer, Not America’s

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

(Yesterday the Attorney General William Barr Proved to the American people that he, Our Nation’s Top Cop is totally bought and paid for as well as proving himself to be an habitual liar, just like his boss. The DOJ needs to change its call letters to DONJ, STANDS FOR DEPARTMENT OF NO JUSTICE, but of course it could mean Donald, as in Teflon Don’s Justice) (oldpoet56)

William Barr proved himself to be Donald Trump’s lawyer, not America’s: Today’s talker

‘Barr was now fully invested in portraying Trump as its innocent victim,’ says Brian Dickerson.

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Attorney General William Barr was a no-show on Thursday, skipping a second congressional hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Barr writes his obituary — and it’s not flattering

By Brian Dickerson

Attorney General William Barr snookered me.

Back in January, testifying before senators considering whether to confirm him as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Barr was at pains to dispel suspicions that he would use his office to undercut the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, then nearing the conclusion of his investigation.

Senators who opposed Barr’s confirmation had ample reason to question his bona fides as an honest broker. Half a year before his nomination as attorney general, in a 19-page memo mailed to Department of Justice leaders, Barr had asserted that Mueller’s inquiry into the allegations that the president had broken the law by obstructing DOJ investigators was “fatally misconceived” because the president’s authority over the department was absolute.

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But at his confirmation hearing, Barr insisted the memo was merely a summary of his disinterested legal judgment, not a veiled pledge of unquestioning loyalty to the president who had nominated him. He had already served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, he reminded senators; he wanted to restore confidence in the DOJ, not use it as a shield for presidential misconduct.

The prospect that Barr had misled senators about his independence emerged on March 24, when he released a four-page summary of Mueller’s report that eerily echoed the language of the White House propaganda machine. Barr confirmed his critics’ worst suspicions on April 18, when he preempted the release of the redacted report with a news conference in which he portrayed White House efforts to derail the investigation as the reasonable reaction of a president “frustrated and angered” about the allegations against him.

Along with his assertion that the FBI had spied after obtaining a warrant to monitor the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian agents, Barr made it clear that contrary to his promise to defend Mueller’s investigation, he was now fully invested in portraying Trump as its innocent victim.

Mueller made plain his dismay at Barr’s metamorphosis from attorney general to chief defense counsel in a March 27 letter, made public just before the attorney general’s testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which the special counsel protested that Barr had distorted “the context, substance and nature” of his investigators’ work and threatened to undermine public confidence in their findings.

In his Senate testimony, Barr dismissed Mueller’s circumspect letter as “snitty,” brushed off previous sworn testimony in which the AG denied any inkling of the special counsel’s displeasure, and insisted, with the Trump White House’s characteristic disdain for candor, that he had meant to telegraph “no negative connotations” with his insinuations about FBI “spying.”

Yet it is impossible to imagine that Mueller, his investigators, or the FBI agents and DOJ lawyers working on the 14 criminal investigations Mueller’s team referred to other U.S. attorneys came away from Wednesday’s hearing with the confidence that Barr has their backs.

Contrast that with the almost reverent appreciation Justice Department officials expressed for Barr’s predecessors, the late Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, when they resigned rather than enlist in President Richard Nixon’s campaign to co-opt the Justice Department.

Barr won’t lose any sleep over my own disappointment, and he won’t be around to see how historians remember the cause for which he sacrificed, in a few short months, his reputation for integrity.

But he is quickly rewriting the obituary that might have appeared if he had demurred when Trump enlisted him as the White House’s principal propagandist. The updated version is unlikely to be one he or his children will take much pride in.

Brian Dickerson is the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, where the full version of this column first appeared. You can follow him on Twitter: @BRIANDDICKERSON.

What others are saying

James Comey, The New York Times: “Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. … More often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Attorney General William Barr and former acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive President Donald Trump, and that adds up to something they will never recover from.”

The Wall Street Journal,  editorial: “This trashing of Bill Barr shows how frustrated and angry Democrats continue to be that the special counsel came up empty in his Russia collusion probe. He was supposed to be their fast track to impeachment. Now they’re left trying to gin up an obstruction tale, but the probe wasn’t obstructed and there was no underlying crime. So they’re shouting and pounding the table against Bill Barr for acting like a real attorney general.”

Dana Milbank, The Washington Post: “Barr continued undermining Mueller on Wednesday, calling Mueller’s letter to him ‘a bit snitty’ and saying Mueller should have ended the investigation if he didn’t think it in his purview to say whether Trump committed a crime. And Barr eagerly played Trump’s defense lawyer. … Repeatedly, Barr said it didn’t matter that Trump had deceived the public. ‘I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,’ he said. But now Barr, by misrepresenting his dealings with Mueller, has gotten himself into the business of lying to the American people.”

What our readers are saying

Attorney General William Barr is not America’s lawyer, he’s President Donald Trump’s private counsel hired to lie to Congress and Americans. Barr lied to Congress on Wednesday regarding former special counsel Robert Mueller’s letter and said it was probably written by a subordinate. He has no shame and will do anything to protect our “dictator.”

— Russell E. Glass

I’m glad Barr told them to stick it on a second congressional hearing. Barr was ready to testify until the House Judiciary Committee agreed to add an hour of questions by staff lawyers — a nonsensical demand. Democrats just wanted another day of theatrics.

— Gerd Eysser

So many people don’t understand the true danger in this administration and their lawlessness. It sets the dangerous precedent that money and power mean you are above the law, and their total disregard for the Constitution and our laws is deplorable and putting us all at risk.

— Eileen Carlson Sierra

The Mueller report is done. There was no collusion! Liberals need to get over themselves and quit spending all this money.

— Pamela Hyder Lewis

To join the conversations about topics on USA TODAY or provide feedback to this newsletter, email [email protected], comment on Facebook, or use #tellusatoday on Twitter.

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William Barr is in Deep Trouble

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

William Barr is in deep trouble

(CNN)Attorney General William Barr did two strange things between the time he received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and when he released it to Congress and the public.

The first came on March 24 when, two days after receiving the Mueller report, Barr released a four-page summary letter in which he made clear his conclusion that the report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and that Mueller hadn’t made any recommendation as to whether President Donald Trump should be charged with obstructing justice.
 

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The second came on the morning of April 18 when Barr, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by his side, held a press conference to reiterate those findings — in remarkably Trumpian language — 90 minutes before actually making a redacted version of the report public.
On Tuesday night, those two moves came into far sharper — and more troubling — focus when it was revealed that Mueller sent a letter to Barr on March 27 expressing concern about the ways in which Barr’s summary document described the evidence surrounding obstructive behavior. Mueller did not make issue with any of the factual statements in Barr’s four-page letter but rather the lack of nuance on obstruction — and the resultant media coverage, according to CNN’s Laura Jarrett’s reporting.
That revelation creates a series of problems for Barr — most notably that he appeared to be, at best, misleading in his answers about Mueller’s feelings about his summary of the report.
On April 9, in a House hearing, Barr seemed entirely unaware of Mueller’s issues with his summary report. Here’s the key exchange between Barr and Florida Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist:
CRIST: Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they are referencing with that?
BARR: No, I don’t.
In an April 10 appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, this exchange happened between Barr and Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen:
VAN HOLLEN: Did — did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
BARR: I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.
What Barr quite clearly knew at that point — and had known for the better part of two weeks — was that Mueller had issues with the way in which he presented the conclusions of the report in the four-page letter.
Now, you can argue that Barr technically didn’t lie there. He knew that Mueller wasn’t thrilled with the way he summarized the broader report but that didn’t mean that Mueller opposed the conclusions. Again, that is technically possible. But, in the real world, it sure as hell seems like Barr was purposely obfuscating when it came to Mueller’s view of the report so as to downplay any sense that a) he didn’t present a full picture of the report and b) there was any rift between the two men.
And, given all of what he knew about Mueller’s opinion of his summary letter, Barr’s decision to hold a press conference more than an hour before the release of the actual report is even more concerning.
At the time — even without the knowledge we now possess about the Mueller letter of March 27 — it seemed odd. The attorney general holding a press conference about a report that he had seen but no one in the media had been given — and wouldn’t be for another 90 minutes? It seemed, even before Barr began speaking, to be a relatively transparent attempt by the AG to frame the soon-arriving Mueller report — to set the terms of the conversation for both Congress and the American public.
Within minutes, it became clear that was exactly Barr’s intent. Here’s just a piece of what Barr said that day:
“So that is the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”
As I noted at the time, Barr’s language was strikingly similar to how Trump himself had long described the Mueller probe. But, that language from Barr seems far more damning for the attorney general in light of what he knew about both the repeated incidents of seemingly obstructive behavior in the Mueller report and also Mueller’s own concerns about the language Barr had used to describe the finding in his March 24 summary letter.
Barr is set to sit to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He’s got a lot to answer for.

Are You An American Citizen?—If So, Then You Don’t Matter!

Are You An American Citizen?–If So, Then You Don’t Matter!

 

Good evening everyone, I have been thinking of this article and of how I would write it ever since the Robert Mueller Report came out. This letter to you tonight is my thoughts on that Report and all of the Politicians, especially in Washington D.C.. If you are a citizen of this country, are you upset, are you mad? I am not speaking of whether you think our President is even more of a crook than Richard Nixon or that he is a traitor or not. What I am speaking of is how we the people and even the Congress itself are being kept ignorant to all the things that are written in that report.  Mr. Barr (the Attorney General, the Nation’s Top Cop) played politics to get the job then has done nothing but lie and shield the President since he got his current job. Folks, it is not the job of the Attorney General to protect the President, it is his job to protect the rule of law.

 

This report by Mr. Mueller and his staff that cost the U.S. taxpayers several million dollars and almost two years in its making is the property of the people of this country. This is the single most important document to have been paid for by our money since well before Nixon lied to us all on T.V. back in 1974. The reason for the title that I chose about how we the people of this country do not matter in Washington D.C. or in the 50 State Capitals is simple, it is the truth. I live in the state of Kentucky and the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is from this state and personally, he sickens me.

 

What has been (once again) proven is that the only thing that actually matters in U.S. politics is whether you ‘as President’ are a Republican or a Democrat. Do not get me wrong, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am a registered voting Independent, I can’t stand either ‘Party’, in my belief they are as evil as can be. With all of this Report the only thing that matters to the Republicans is that this Republican President stays in the White House. If Hillary Clinton had won (and I think she probably did) do you not think the Democratic Scum would through treason against the American People would be protecting Her in the same manners that the Republican Scum are protecting Trump? This report is Our Report, we paid for it, it is ours! The people of this Country deserve the unedited truth so that we can make up our own minds if we have crooks and traitors in the White House and for that matter, traitors and crooks in the House and the Senate.!

‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan’s attitude towards India and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change and terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 11, 2019 21:27 IST

Avijit Biswas
Avijit Biswas
Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur
Lok Sabha Elections 2019,Election Rally,Election news
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience during an election rally, in Bhagalpur on Thursday.(Santosh Kumar /HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that in order to talk of peace it is essential to be strong as he came down heavily on the opposition, particularly Congress, over national security.

At an election rally in Bhagalpur, Modi said that the country has emerged stronger after retaliatory action against Pakistan following the Pulwama terror strike. He said the air strike was carried out to address “the restlessness of 130 crore people of country for a firm and definite action against Pakistan”.

“Pakistan’s attitude towards India today and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change,” the PM said. “Terrorists as well as well as their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.”

He attacked the opposition alliance for “speaking the language that supports terrorism”. He stressed that the opposition alliance should clarify whether they are with terrorists or with armed forces.

Modi who was campaigning for JD (U) nominees contesting as NDA candidates from Munger, Banka and Bhagalpur parliamentary seats, said the NDA has a clear policy of giving free hand to armed forces in the fight against terrorism and extremism. While he did not mention the Congress manifesto, he asked the people whether they approve curtailing power of the armed forces. The Congress manifesto promises to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gives the forces in disturbed areas sweeping powers of search and arrest and provides immunity from prosecution in civil courts.

He said as chowkidar of the people he has done what was expected from his government for social security and national security. He referred to works undertaken in social security front under various centrally sponsored schemes including Ayushman Bharat.

He said opposition leaders were fighting for their existence and were trying their best to create fear among people that there would be no election in the country in future and that the reservation policy would be abolished if he is voted back to power.

“On the contrary I favour further strengthening of reservation policy,” Modi said and cited the 10% reservation which his government had announced for poor people of upper caste.

He referred to the government’s minimum support price agriculture produce of farmers against their crop expenditure and said the Congress had no interest in improving the lives of farmers.

“Once we are voted to power again all farmers would be covered under financial assistance scheme instead of present coverage to farmers having land holdings up to five acres,” Modi said.

He also spoke about future plans aimed at extending support to small and marginal farmers besides small businessmen. He mentioned the development work undertaken in Bihar praised Nitish Kumar’s government for its performance.

In the silk town, the PM also spoke about the problems faced by local silk industry and apprised them on what his government has been doing to boost their business globally. “The mega handloom cluster was established here as a step towards solution of your problems,” Modi said.

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 20:56 IST

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