Headlines: April 19, 2019
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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has issued a subpoena for the full Special Counsel report, just a day after Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the report. On Friday morning Nadler spoke with CBS News an hour before he issued a subpoena for the full Mueller report. He also had harsh words to say about Attorney General Barr. Many analysts have been picking apart the redacted Mueller report and comparing it to Barr’s characterization of it. Barr quoted the report in his 4-page summary that, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But the Washington Post pointed out on Friday that, “Left out was a key statement from Mueller that came right before what Barr quoted in his letter.” That statement was: “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” In other words, “Russia wanted Trump to win, and Trump campaign members were aware that they would reap an advantage from the ‘information stolen and released through Russian efforts.'”
The Post also found that the Mueller report, “cites multiple instances in which Trump and White House aides misled or lied to journalists or in public statements as the investigation was unfolding.” Among the lies were Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ assertion that after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, “countless members of the FBI” were “grateful and thankful.” According to the report Sanders admitted she had no basis to make that claim. When asked about her lie on CBS on Friday, especially about her use of the word “countless,” she claimed that her word “countless,” was said in “the heat of the moment.” She in fact used that word twice on news shows after Comey’s firing. President Donald Trump, who has been spinning the outcome of the Mueller report in a positive light said on Friday on Twitter, “Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue.”
On the issue of Russia’s attempt to interfere in the US elections the Mueller report goes into exhaustive detail about the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, focusing nearly half the report on that part of the investigation. The report concludes that Russian agents, “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” But Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government brushed aside the accusations. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the report, “still does not present any conclusive evidence of alleged interference by the Russian Federation in the electoral process in America,” adding, “We continue to refuse to accept any such accusation.” Mr. Mueller had indicted 12 Russian nationals last year in connection with election interference.
An armed right wing militia group called United Constitutional Patriots has been found to be confronting refugees at the US-Mexico border in New Mexico who were attempting to apply for asylum. The group is one of several that has operated for years in various border-states and recently had begun posting videos about their encounters with groups of exhausted migrants. The ACLU in a letter to New Mexico’s Governor and Attorney General wrote, “We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum.” Attorney General Hector Balderas responded in a statement saying, “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.” One of the militia members Jim Benvie speaking to the New York Times revealed that he had traveled to the border from Minnesota and admitted that his group has held migrants at gunpoint and called Border Patrol. He said, “Border Patrol has never asked us to stand down.” According to the New York Times, “the organization plans to remain on the border until the extended wall proposed by President Trump is built or Congress changes immigration laws to make it harder for migrants to request asylum.”
In other news tens of thousands of workers at a Massachusetts based grocery chain called Stop and Shop have been on strike for nearly 10 days. They are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and are protesting their new contract, which offered to slash retirement benefits and increase healthcare costs. Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the workers on Thursday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Trump administration announced on Friday that Mr. Abe would travel to the US later this month and that President Trump would visit Japan in May. Trump will meet Japan’s new emperor. Among the topics they expect to discuss are curtailing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, as well as trade relations. Mr. Abe considers himself among Trump’s closest international allies. He has resided in the President’s Florida resort and played golf with him in developing a personal relationship with Trump.
In Bangladesh protesters in the capital Dhaka are calling for justice for an 18-year old woman who was set on fire after she accused her school’s principal of sexual harassment. The woman, named Nusrat Jahan Rafi had refused to withdraw her accusations when she was confronted by five perpetrators on April 6th. Her hands were tied and she was doused with fuel and set on fire in retaliation. She died from her injuries days later. Tens of thousands of people attended her funeral angered by her story. Now feminist activists are demanding that the perpetrators face justice.
And finally climate change protesters in London, organizing with Extinction Rebellion, continued their militant actions on Thursday occupying five key landmarks in the city. At least 400 people have been arrested so far in a week-long series of actions demanding climate justice that have brought the city to a standstill. London Mayor Sadiq Khan voiced cautious support for the activists saying, “We’re facing a climate emergency…I fully support the right of protesters to protest on this vital issue, and urge organizers to work with police to ensure their demonstrations are peaceful and lawful and that disruption is kept to a minimum.”