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Trump Marks Mueller’s Report as a Win, Others Push to Make it Public

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  • On Friday, Mueller handed in his report on whether or not Trump’s team colluded with Russia during the election to Attorney General William Barr, recommending no further indictments.
  • In a summary on the report, Barr says that Mueller concluded that there was no collusion, but did not say one way or the other about obstruction of justice.
  • Trump is counting this as a big win for himself, but Democrats want the full report released to the public.

Barr’s Summary

Robert Mueller’s report concluded that President Donald Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election. However the report did not exonerate Trump from obstruction of justice, according to Attorney General William Barr.

On Friday, Special Counsel Mueller turned in his report on his two-year-long investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election to the attorney general. At the time, he recommended no additional indictments.

On Sunday, Barr released a letter to Congress that contained a four-page summary of Mueller’s report. Barr’s summary said the report was broken down into two parts, the first being Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

According to Mueller’s findings, there were two main efforts by Russia, one from the Internet Research Agency, and one from the Russuian government. The investigation has already resulted in arrests regarding both of these efforts.

The investigation did not find, however, that Trump or his colleagues aided these efforts. Barr quoted Mueller’s report, saying,  “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The second part of the report centered around obstruction of justice, but the findings were not conclusive.

“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” Barr said in his letter.

He also went on to quote the Special Counsel, which said in their report, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

So what does this mean? In their report, the Special Counsel outlined the various activities investigated, and the arguments on each side. They drew no conclusions, and instead left it up to Attorney General Barr to decide if the actions constituted as criminal behavior.

In his letter to congress, Barr said he discussed the report with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and that they “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

What Does This Mean for Trump?

Many view this as a big win for Trump and his administration. The Special Counsel found there was no conspiracy or collusion in the campaign, and while they did not say either way if he obstructed justice, the Attorney General said there was not enough evidence, which was enough for Trump to take to Twitter to make a statement.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on the TODAY Show on Monday morning, backing up Trump’s comments. Anchor Savannah Guthrie asked Sanders, “Would you acknowledge that it is incorrect for the president to call this a total exoneration?”

“Not at all. It is a total and complete exoneration,” Sanders said. “And here’s why. The special counsel, they said they couldn’t make a decision one way or the other. The way that process works is that they then leave that up to the AG. The AG and the Deputy AG went through and based their decision on Mueller’s investigation.”

Push to Release the Report

On the other side, democrats are arguing that Mueller’s full report should be released.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement calling for the report to be made public, given biases the Attorney General may have.

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” the statement read.  “The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.  Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”

Others like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris took to Twitter to demand the full report.

The democratic leaders are not alone in wanting the report to be made public. Earlier in the month, the House voted 420-0 to demand the Department of Justice release Mueller’s full investigation to lawmakers, and as much as possible to the public. This vote was non-binding and does not mandate anything, but it does put pressure on Barr.

So will we ever get to see the report? That still remains unclear. In his letter to congress, he said the report remains confidential, but also added that he was aware of the “public interest in this matter.”

“For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies,” Barr stated.

What those laws, regulations, and policies could limit is also unclear, but material in the report is likely relevant to other investigations, or could be a security risk. So if the public were to see it, there is a good chance that there would be heavy redactions.

Many are also debating whether or not Trump would be able to use Executive Privilege to prevent the public from seeing certain parts of the report. This could include internal communications and private conversations involving the president. But right now, whether or not he could use it is up in the air. It is also unclear if he would want to, as in the past he tweeted in support of the Republicans voting for transparency regarding the report.

If the Department of Justice were to not make the report public, Representative Jerry Nadler said he would be willing to take legal action. On CNN, he said he would go so far as to take it to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Well we will try to negotiate and we will try everything else first,” said Nadler. “But if we have to, yes, we will certainly issue subpoenas to get that information.”

“And you’re going to be willing to take that up to the supreme court if you have to,” anchor Dana Bash asked.

“Absolutely,” Nadler responded.

See What Others Are Saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Washington Post) (CBS)

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McConnell to Propose Raising Tobacco Use Age to 21

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  • Mitch McConnell announced during a press conference Thursday, that he plans to introduce legislation that would raise the age for tobacco use to 21.
  • Currently, 12 states across the country and hundreds of localities have already raised the age from 18 to 21.
  • The use of tobacco products by teens has risen significantly, with many attributing the increase to e-cigarettes.

McConnell Announces New Legislation Proposal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Thursday that he will introduce legislation to raise the tobacco use age from 18 to 21 nationwide.

This legislation would include all tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping.

“For some time I’ve been hearing from parents of teenage children seeing an unprecedented spike in…vaping, among teens,” McConnell said in a press conference in his home state of Kentucky. “It is reaching epidemic levels around the country.”

Smoking Rates Among American Teens

The use of tobacco products among teenagers was McConnell’s motivating factor in announcing the legislation. According to the CDC, 90 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21.

The rise of e-cigarettes has led to an increase in teen smoking. In 2017, 2.1 million high school students reported using e-cigarettes. In 2018, that number jumped to 3.6 million. In the state of Kentucky, in 2018, 45 percent of high schoolers used these devices.

According to a 2018 survey by Truth Initiative, 63 percent of Juul users did not know that these devices contained nicotine.

In 12 states, the legal age for tobacco use is already 21. Over 400 towns, cities, and counties have also followed suit. McConnell said he expects bipartisan support of the bill.

The 12 U.S. states where the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21.

Juul is also behind this move, saying in a statement, “we must restrict youth usage of vapor products.”

See what others are saying: (WLKY) (Politico) (CNBC)

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Mueller Report Includes 10 Possible Instances of Obstruction of Justice, Lacks Evidence, AG Says Ahead of Full Release

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  • Attorney General William Barr held a press briefing Thursday morning in advance of the public release of the Mueller report.
  • Barr stated that the report “found no evidence that any Americans – including anyone associated with the Trump campaign – conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
  • Barr said that the special counsel looked at 10 instances where Trump acted in a way that could be considered an obstruction of justice, but defended his conclusion to ultimately clear Trump of any attempted obstruction of justice.

Barr Briefing Before Release

Attorney General William Barr gave a press conference Thursday morning as a precursor to the public release of the highly anticipated Mueller report.

During the briefing, Barr stated that while the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller “makes clear” that Russian operatives tried to interfere in the 2016 election, the investigations “found no evidence” that any member of President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian efforts to interfere in the election.

“The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans,” said Barr.

“As you will see, the special counsel’s report states that his ‘investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” he continued.

Barr claimed that the White House “fully cooperated” with the investigation and that Trump did not have “corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.” He also said that Trump’s lawyers were given access to the report earlier this week before it was made public and that Trump’s lawyers did not ask for any additional redactions.

10 Instances of Possible Obstruction of Justice

Barr said that the special counsel looked at 10 instances where Trump may have obstructed justice. Despite these 10 instances and the fact that Mueller said he was neither charging nor exonerating Trump of obstruction of justice, Barr defended his own decision to clear the president of any potential charges.

Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with “some of the special counsel’s legal theories,” and ultimately concluded the evidence was “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.”

He also defended Trump’s actions, saying that he was “frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”

The WikiLeaks Question

Regarding the question of the Trump campaign’s connection to WikiLeaks’ release of hacked DNC emails in the summer of 2016, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign colluded with WikiLeaks, that is not a crime.

“The special counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts,” said Barr. “Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy.”

This means that because WikiLeaks did not directly participate in the Russian hacking of the emails, WikiLeaks did not itself commit a crime. Meaning any collusion between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks is not an illegal conspiracy.

What Next?

At 11 a.m. EST, Barr sent the Mueller report to Congress and published the “lightly redacted” report on the Justice Department’s website. Now, reporters, legal experts, and lawmakers alike will analyze the findings of the 448-page report.

In the press conference, Barr said that most of the redactions fall into four categories: Content that involves grand jury material, content that involves foreign intelligence, content that implicates ongoing cases and investigations, and content that would violate the privacy of people who are not directly implicated in the report.

Barr said that redactions would be labeled according to their category. He also stated that the redactions were made by Department of Justice attorneys, attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office, the intelligence community, and prosecutors in ongoing cases.

Democratic lawmakers have demanded to see the unredacted report, arguing that Barr cannot be trusted to provide an accurate portrayal of Mueller’s findings because Barr was appointed by Trump, and has openly argued against the obstruction case against Trump in the past.

Barr addressed this in his briefing, saying that he believed the redacted report “will allow every American to understand the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

“Nevertheless, in an effort to accommodate congressional requests,” continued Barr, “We will make available to a bipartisan group of leaders from several Congressional committees a version of the report with all redactions removed except those relating to grand-jury information.”

Barr’s findings will surely continue to be questioned by legal experts and pundits as more analyses of the report are done on the historic Mueller report.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (Fox News)

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Trump Vetoes Resolution to Remove U.S. From Yemen

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  • Trump vetoed a resolution backed with bipartisan support that would remove U.S. troops from Yemen.
  • Trump called the legislation “unnecessary” and “dangerous.”
  • Democratic leaders have condemned Trump for the veto, while Saudi Arabia has given the president praise.

Trump Vetoes the Resolution

President Donald Trump vetoed legislation that would stop the United States’ involvement in the war in Yemen.

Trump used his presidential veto power for the second time on Tuesday when he rejected Senate Joint Resolution 7. The bill directs the president to remove Armed Forces from Yemen within 30 days. Congress, however, did not ask for all military personnel to be removed, and made an exception for operations related to or directed at Al-Queda.

The resolution started in the Senate and was passed 54-46 in March, with all Democrats voting in favor, and seven Republicans voting alongside them. In early April, it made its way to the House where it passed with a vote of 247-175.

In a letter to the Senate, Trump called the bill “unnecessary” and “dangerous.”

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities,” the president wrote, “endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.

Trump also elaborated, saying that a political decision alone could not stop tensions in Yemen.

“We cannot end the conflict in Yemen through political documents like S.J. Res. 7,” Trump added in his letter. “Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement.”

American Involvement in Yemen

Since 2015, the United States has been aiding Saudi Arabia on the ground in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia is fighting against Houthi Rebels, who are backed by Iran and have seized part of the country. They also ousted Yemen’s president.

Saudi Arabia is fighting against Houthi Rebels, who are backed by Iran and have seized part of the country. They also ousted Yemen’s president.

American involvement in the war has come under scrutiny several times since the conflicts began. One instance, in particular, involved an American-made bomb killing at least 40 children in a school bus when dropped from a warplane.

In his letter, President Trump claimed that the U.S. is not currently engaging in any hostile combat.

“Apart from counterterrorism operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, the United States is not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen,” he said. He later cited that our only involvement includes concepts like intelligence sharing and logistics support.

Reactions to the Veto

Politicians have heavily criticized Trump for vetoing the resolution, which was backed with bipartisan support.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a thread of tweets after his veto.

“The President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress & perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis,” she wrote.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  was one of the Senators leading the resolution. Upon learning that Trump rejected it, he said, “I am disappointed, but not surprised.”

President Trump did receive praise from Saudi Arabia. The country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, called his decision “positive.”

See what others are saying: (New York Magazine) (Al Jazeera) (BBC)

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