Mueller Says No Collusion by Trump or His Campaign, AG Barr Concludes

Special counsel Robert Mueller says neither President Donald Trump, his campaign, nor anyone associated with it conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, according to a summary by Attorney General William Barr released Sunday.

But on the question of whether Trump tried to obstruct justice by interfering with or trying to derail the Mueller probe, Barr said, “The report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Barr released a summary of the long-awaited report on a 22-month-long probe into allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election in Trump’s favor.

Barr sent his summary to Congress and released it to the public Sunday. Mueller delivered his report to the Department of Justice on Friday.

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that he Trump campaign or anyone associated with it coordinated … with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Barr’s summary said.

Barr said this is what the report concluded despite what he says were “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

According to Barr, Mueller did not conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, turning that question over to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Barr writes that there is not enough evidence to conclude whether Trump committed the crime of obstructing justice. He said this was not based on any belief that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

“To obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acting with corrupt intent engaged in obstructive conduct,” Barr wrote.

Despite Barr saying the Mueller report does not totally clear him, Trump tweeted, “No collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration. Keep America Great!”

He later told reporters that the probe was “the most ridiculous thing I ever heard … it’s a shame our country had to go through this … it’s a shame the president had to go through this before I even got elected — this was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side.”

Numerous court decisions upheld the legality of the Mueller probe.

Barr’s summary noted that during the nearly two-year-long investigation, Mueller had 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents working with him, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, talked to about 500 witnesses, and carried out nearly 500 search warrants.

The House voted unanimously earlier this month on a measure demanding the full Mueller report be released to the public. Many lawmakers also want to see any evidence Mueller used to reach his conclusions, especially now that Barr wrote the Mueller report “does not exonerate” Trump, even if the president says it does.

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. “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.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler says his panel will call Barr to testify in the near future “in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the president.”

Several Democratic presidential candidates – Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – also said Sunday that a summary of the Mueller report filtered through the president’s “hand-picked attorney general” is unsatisfactory.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, says Barr’s letter makes it “abundantly clear, without a shadow of a doubt, there was no collusion” and says the country welcomes the findings.

One of Trump closest congressional allies, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, says Mueller did a “great job” and called Sunday a “good day for the rule of law” and a “bad day for those hoping the Mueller investigation would take President Trump down.”

“Now it is time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to combat Russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020,” he wrote Sunday.

End of Russia Probe Leaves Washington in Suspense

Washington is in deep suspense over the findings of the Russia probe now that special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded a two-year investigation of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and contacts between President Donald Trump’s inner circle and Russia. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, a new battle is brewing over whether and how much of Mueller’s report will be made public.

Looking for Election Boost, Israel’s Netanyahu in US to Meet with Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington looking for an electoral advantage from U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights.

Netanyahu, facing corruption charges and a tough re-election contest April 9, is meeting Monday with Trump at the White House and having dinner there on Tuesday, sandwiched around a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major U.S. lobbying group for the Jewish state.

Trump said on Twitter last week that he would recognize the Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights, the territory to the northeast of Israel along the Syrian border that was seized by Israel from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

Trump’s stance breaks with long-standing U.S. policy and the international community, which considers the Golan Heights as Israeli-occupied, not a sovereign holding.  

“President Trump will sign tomorrow in the presence of PM Netanyahu an order recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Netanyahu is lagging in political surveys ahead of next month’s election.  His main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, is speaking at the annual AIPAC convention on Monday, but only Netanyahu will be at the White House dinner on Tuesday.

Trump compared his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as similar to that of his decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, another stance at odds with the international community. Israel claims Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, but the Palestinians have also staked a claim on Jerusalem as their capital in any eventual creation of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, in the run-up to the election, has stressed his friendship with Trump.

“Our alliance in recent years has never been stronger,” the Israeli leader said last week as he met in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  “It is an unbreakable bond.  It is based on shared values of liberty and democracy and shared interest to fight the enemies of democracy, the enemies of our way of life, the terrorists that prowl our airspace and our countries, and working together we have been able to achieve an enormous amount.”

Trump’s Golan Heights announcement came shortly after Pompeo visited the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites in Palestinian east Jerusalem, with Netanyahu, the first time such a high-ranking U.S. official had visited the site with an Israeli leader.

Пункт пропуску в Золотому на Луганщині відкрили тільки з українського боку – Наєв

Пункт пропуску через лінію розмежування у селищі Золотому на Луганщині відкрили тільки в односторонньому порядку, цитує штаб української воєнної операції на Донбасі командувача об’єднаних сил Сергія Наєва.

«Українська влада звернулась до тристоронньої контактної групи та міжнародної моніторингової місії ОБСЄ з вимогою щодо забезпечення діяльності КПВВ «Золоте». Проте окупаційна влада вкотре красномовно довела ворожість своїх намірів, повне нехтування принципів моралі та гуманітарного права, не давши громадянам України, які бажають скористатись КПВВ «Золоте», гарантій безпеки», – заявив він.

Як повідомляється, угруповання «ЛНР» не пропускає людей на підтконтрольну їй територію.

Сьогодні вранці Державна прикордонна служба України повідомила про відновлення роботи пункту пропуску через лінію розмежування поблизу селища Золоте на Луганщині. Але як висловилося відомство, ніхто через КПВВ станом на публікацію повідомлення (близько восьмої ранку) не проходив.

Українська сторона кілька разів намагалася відкрити пункт пропуску у Золотому, оскільки у Луганській області наразі працює лише один КПВВ поблизу Станиці Луганської. Він піший та передбачає перехід через аварійний міст. Але угруповання «ЛНР» виступає проти.

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Ватажок угруповання Леонід Пасічник заявив, що це рішення української влади є «провокацією», а пункт пропуску бойовики відкриють тільки після того, як рішення про це ухвалять на переговорах Тристоронньої контактної групи в Мінську.

Military Identifies 2 US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has identified two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan while involved in combat operations Friday in Kunduz Province.

The men were identified Saturday as Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, and Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado. Collette was assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, and Lindsay was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Both were based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

“The 71st Ordnance Group … is deeply saddened by the loss of Spc. Joseph P. Collette. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends,” Col. David K. Green, commander of 71st Ordnance Group, said in a statement.

The fatalities bring to four the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan. The deaths underscore the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-ravaged country.