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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

According to the White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump has shown no abnormal signs following a cognitive exam and is in excellent health.

Dr. Ronny Jackson said at a White House briefing on January 16: “I have no concerns about his cognitive ability or neurological functions.”

Last week, Donald Trump, 71, had a three-hour examination in his first medical check-up since becoming president.

The medical check-up comes after the release of a controversial book fuelled speculation about the president’s mental health.

Dr Jackson said: “All data indicates the president is healthy and will remain so for the duration of his presidency.”

“He continues to enjoy the significant long-term cardiac and overall health benefits that come from a lifetime of abstinence from tobacco and alcohol,” the physician added.

When asked by a reporter how a man who consumes fried chicken and Diet Coke and does not exercise could be in good shape, Dr. Ronny Jackson replied: “It’s called genetics… He has incredible genes.”

However, he added that President Trump could benefit from a lower-fat diet and more exercise.

Image source WhiteHouse.gov

President Donald Trump Is in Excellent Health After Physical Exam, White House Doctor Says

Donald Trump Is In Excellent Physical Health, Says Dr. Harold Bornstein

On January 12, the president was examined by military doctors at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, in tests that were said to have gone “exceptionally well”.

Among them was Dr. Ronny Jackson, whose official title is Physician to the President.

A rear admiral in the US Navy, Dr. Jackson tended to Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

To check for possible cognitive dysfunction, the US Department of Veterans Affairs uses the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) neuropsychological test. This test assesses an individual’s attention and concentration, memory, language, conceptual thinking, calculations and orientation.

Questions have been raised about the president’s cognitive ability, particularly with the publication of Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Some neurological experts had compared earlier clips of President Trump speaking with more recent instances in which he had used fewer words and appeared to ramble.

Michael Wolff has alleged the president is intellectually incapable of carrying out his role and questioned his mental fitness. He claimed all of the president’s White House aides saw him as a “child” who needed “immediate gratification”.

In December 2015, Donald Trump’s own long-time doctor, Harold Bornstein, declared in a pre-election assessment that his client would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”.

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According to recent reports, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has been summoned to testify before a grand jury.

Steve Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.

On January 16, he appeared separately before a Congressional panel.

Congress is holding its own inquiry into the allegations.

Image source Wikimedia

Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council

The New York Times, quoting an unnamed person with direct knowledge of the matter, reports that Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week.

However, the summons could be a negotiating tactic by Robert Mueller to persuade Steve Bannon to agree to be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington, the newspaper’s source added.

The House Intelligence Committee is also investigating the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Its proceedings on January 16 were not open to the public.

This is one of four investigations being conducted by Congress into the alleged collusion, with others launched by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

Following a row broke out over the president’s alleged use of the word “s**thole” to describe African nations, Donald Trump has denied that he is racist.

President Trump reportedly used the term last week during a bipartisan Oval Office meeting on immigration reform.

“I am not a racist. I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed,” he told reporters.

It is the first time President Trump has responded directly to the racism accusations.

Donald Trump made the denial to White House press pool reporters at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach in Florida on January 14.

The scandal broke out on January 11, when lawmakers from both parties visited the president to work on a proposal for a bipartisan immigration deal.

Image source Flickr

President Donald Trump Reportedly Lashes Out at Immigrants in Oval Office Outburst

African Union Demands Apology from President Donald Trump

In recent weeks the Trump administration has been withdrawing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from a number of nationalities currently living in the US.

Reports later emerged in media that President Trump had asked during the meeting: “Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?”

The president was said to have told them that instead of granting temporary residency to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, the US should be taking in immigrants from countries like Norway.

Accounts suggest that when President Trump was told that the largest groups of immigrants with the status were from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, the president responded: “Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?”

Donald Trump tweeted on January 12 that the language he used in the meeting was “tough” but disputed the wording of the reports.

The president also posted another tweet denying he had insulted Haitians, accusing Democrats of making it up.

However, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin stood by claims, and said that President Trump had used “hate-filled, vile and racist” language during the meeting.

Several senior Republican lawmakers at the meeting, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, have said they do not recall President Trump making the remark.

However, another Republican senator who was there, Lindsey Graham, did not deny the comments were made.

He said: “Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that President Donald Trump’s immigration comments were “very unfortunate” and “unhelpful”.

On January 14, when he was asked whether he thought the comments had made it harder to achieve any immigration deal, President Trump responded: “Have you seen what various senators said about my comments? They weren’t made.”

On January 12, the African Union demanded that the president apologize expressing their “shock, dismay and outrage” at the “clearly racist” remarks.

Meanwhile, the UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as <<s**tholes>>.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) accused President Trump of falling “deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia”.

Several Democratic representatives have said they intend to skip Donald Trump’s State of the Union address later this month over the comments, accusing the president of racism.

President Donald Trump is in “excellent health”, his White House physician has announced.

Donald Trump, 71, underwent his first medical check-up since becoming president.

Dr. Ronny Jackson said in a brief statement that the three-hour examination of the president on January 12, conducted by military doctors, had gone “exceptionally well”.

The White House physician promised further details on January 16.

No psychiatric tests were planned but Michael Wolff’s recent book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, fuelled speculation about the president’s mental health.

According to the author, all Donald Trump’s White House aides see him as a “child” who needs “immediate gratification”.

President Trump responded by saying Michael Wolff’s book was “full of lies”, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson dismissed suggestions the president’s mental health was failing.

The health status announcement echoed the words of President Trump’s own long-time doctor, Harold Bornstein, in a pre-election assessment in December 2015, when he declared his client would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”.

Image source Wikipedia

Donald Trump Is In Excellent Physical Health, Says Dr. Harold Bornstein

Fire and Fury: Michael Wolff’s Donald Trump Book Goes on Sale Days Ahead Its Scheduled Release

Doctors assessed President Trump on January 12 at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Among them was Dr. Ronny Jackson, whose official title is Physician to the President.

A rear admiral in the US Navy, Dr. Ronny Jackson also tended to Donald Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.

In the run-up to January 12 check-up, the White House made clear that it would focus on the president’s physical health.

It is up to the White House what data, if any, it reveals about President Trump’s condition.

The White House has a long history of picking and choosing what to reveal about its occupant’s health, Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), Barbara Perry pointed out, disclosed war injuries but not the fact that he suffered from Addison’s disease, a degenerative condition.

Experts have been baffled by the capacity of an overweight Donald Trump to consume large amounts of fast-food and appear to take minimal exercise, while staying fit.

A recent book, Let Trump Be Trump, claimed Donald Trump had “four major food groups” during his campaign, which were McDonald’s, fried chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.

Co-authored by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, the book said the president could eat “two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted (milkshake)” for dinner.

The African Union has demanded that President Donald Trump apologize after he reportedly called nations on the continent “shitholes”.

The organization’s mission in Washington DC expressed its “shock, dismay and outrage” and said the Trump administration misunderstood Africans.

President Trump made the alleged remark in a meeting on immigration on January 11.

However, the president has denied using the language reported.

President Trump has been backed by two Republicans who were at the White House meeting, but Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said Donald Trump called African countries “shitholes” several times and used “racist” language.

On January 12, President Trump tweeted that his language he used at the private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation had been “tough”.

However, he added that the words attributed to him were “not the language used”.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump Reportedly Lashes Out at Immigrants in Oval Office Outburst

President Trump Signs New Immigration Executive Order

The African Union said the “remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity”.

The organization representing African countries added: “While expressing our shock, dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current Administration.

“There is a serious need for dialogue between the US Administration and the African countries.”

It represents 55 member states throughout the African continent. The group succeeded the Organization of African Unity – which originated in the decolonization struggles of the early 1960s – in 2002.

President Trump’s remarks were allegedly made when lawmakers visited him on January 11 to discuss a bipartisan proposal that would impose new restrictions on immigration but protect the so-called “Dreamers” – hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the US illegally as children – from deportation.

The president was said to have told them that instead of granting temporary residency to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, the US should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway.

The Washington Post quoted President Trump as saying: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Senator Dick Durbin said that when President Trump was told that the largest groups of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) were from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, the president responded: “Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?”

However, in another tweet on January 12, President Trump denied that he insulted Haitians.

On January 11, many media outlets reported President Trump’s comments, quoting witnesses or people briefed on the meeting. However, the White House did not deny them.

According to recent reports, President Donald Trump has lashed out at immigrants in a foul-mouthed Oval Office outburst that a UN spokesman later condemned as “shocking”, “shameful” and “racist”.

President Trump reportedly asked lawmakers during talks on an immigration deal: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to reports, the president was apparently referring to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

However, the White House made no attempt to deny the comment.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been trying to limit the number of family members of immigrants who can enter the United States, and has moved to end the protected status of thousands of immigrants already in the US.

President Trump’s reported remark came as lawmakers from both parties visited him on January 11 to propose a bipartisan immigration deal.

According to media, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin had just been discussing US temporary residency permits granted to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that President Trump told lawmakers the US should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway, whose prime minister visited him a day earlier.

The newspaper quoted the president as saying: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

Image source Flickr

President Trump Signs New Immigration Executive Order

Donald Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for Criticizing Immigration Order

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was in January 11 meeting at the White House, but would not comment on the president’s reported slur.

A statement from White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.

“Like other countries that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.

“He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

In response, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said: “If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States, I’m sorry but there is no other word for this but racist.”

The UN official spoke of a 2016 presidential campaign speech in which Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, and to his response last year to a white supremacist march that ended in violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the president said “both sides” were to blame.

Rupert Colville said such comments went against “universal values the world has been striving for” since the end of World War Two, and opened “the door to humanity’s worst side”.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) accused President Trump of falling “deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia”.

Mia Love, a Utah Republican and the only Haitian-American in Congress, demanded President Trump apologize for the “unkind, divisive, elitist” comments.

The Washington Post broke the story with the word “shithole” in its headline and in the alert that the newspaper sent out to followers’ smartphones.

Fox News used asterisks to obscure the offensive word along the bottom of the screen, but CNN and MSNBC carried it in full.

Lawmakers reportedly proposed restoring so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permits for certain countries, allowing their residents leave to remain in the United States because their home countries are temporarily unsafe for them.

In return, they were said to have offered $1.5 billion for a wall that President Trump wants built on the US border with Mexico.

This week the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing TPS for more than 200,000 people from El Salvador.

The decision gives Salvadoreans who have been living in the US for nearly three decades until next year to leave, seek lawful residency or face possible deportation.

People from El Salvador were granted provisional US residency after an earthquake devastated the Central American country in 2001.

President Donald Trump’s administration has issued new guidance that would allow states to impose work requirements on low-income healthcare recipients.

According to the document, able-bodied recipients of the Medicaid health program for the poor would be required to work, volunteer or prepare for a job through school or training.

However, critics argue that the move is aimed at cutting the number of people receiving government-funded Medicaid.

The administration contends the policy is to promote “community engagement”.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said: “This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.

“Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction.”

Seema Verma said the new policy came about at the request of 10 different states including Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana and Utah.

ObamaCare Repeal: Senate Votes to Start Debating New Republican Healthcare Bill

ObamaCare Repeal Bill: Some 22 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance over Next Decade

The new guidance also suggests considering exemptions or “reasonable modifications” for certain Medicaid recipients, including elderly, pregnant or disabled people; those in areas with high unemployment or people caring for children or elderly relatives; people with substance abuse disorders such as opioid addiction.

It states that a review of studies showed, “strong evidence that unemployment is generally harmful to health, including higher mortality; poorer general health; poorer mental health; and higher medical consultation and hospital admission rates”.

The report also states that people with a full-time job are less likely to suffer from depression.

As of October 2017, nearly 75 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program (CHIP).

According to a study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 60% of working-age Medicaid recipients are already employed full time or part time.

It is unclear how many Medicaid recipients who are actively seeking work may lose their insurance in the process if their state should choose to enact the new guidelines.

Several members of Congress were outspoken against the decision.

Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, 31 states expanded Medicaid coverage. Republicans have tried repeatedly to overturn the health law.

The Obama Administration had previously rebuffed proposals allowing states the right to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, arguing it would result in fewer people having access to health insurance.

In order to implement any new policy based on the guidance, states would have to propose the changes through waivers and wait until they are granted federal approval.

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According to recent reports, President Donald Trump’s legal team is in talks with investigators who are seeking to interview him as part of a justice department probe.

The Washington Post, quoting an unnamed person close to President Trump, says investigation lead by Robert Mueller is likely to interview him within weeks.

President Trump’s legal team has not confirmed the reports.

Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia in the US elections.

Tensions between Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to look into alleged Russian interference, and the president have risen since the investigation led to charges against several former members of Donald Trump’s campaign team.

Donald Trump’s administration denies working with Russia on the election, and the president has labeled the investigation “a witch hunt”.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump Believes He Will Be Treated Fairly By Robert Mueller’s Investigation

Robert Mueller Accused of Unlawfully Obtaining Emails

According to The Post, Robert Mueller first raised the possibility of interviewing the president in a meeting with his lawyers, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, in late December.

President Trump’s lawyers are reluctant to allow him to sit down for open-ended questioning and are discussing whether to allow him to provide written answers to some of the questions, The Washington Post and NBC News report.

According to NBC, which cited three people close to the story, the talks are “preliminary and ongoing”.

President Trump’s lawyers did not confirm the reports, but told both media outlets: “The White House is continuing its full co-operation with the OSC [Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller] in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution.”

The Post, quoting an unnamed source, says the two sides planned to meet again to continue discussions on terms and substance of any interview.

Aside from the Russia angle, special counsel Robert Mueller may also look into whether the president and his inner circle sought to obstruct justice while in office following the firing of FBI director James Comey.

Robert Mueller was appointed by the justice department as special counsel shortly after James Comey’s dismissal.

Sitting presidents have been interviewed by prosecutors in the past, most notably when Democrat President Bill Clinton testified before a grand jury in 1998 over his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

President Donald Trump and leading GOP members are meeting to thrash out their priorities for 2018.

According to recent reports, the two-day retreat at Camp David is expected to focus heavily on a strategy before crucial congressional elections in November.

The meeting takes place as a row continues between President Trump and Michael Wolff, the author of a new tell-all book about his presidency.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House raises concerns over Donald Trump’s mental health. The president called Michael Wolff a “total loser”.

Image source WhiteHouse.gov

Steve Bannon Book: Donald Trump’s Lawyers Issue Cease-And Desist Notice

The Camp David summit begins two weeks before the end of President Trump’s first year in office. It will seek to tie up unfinished business by Republicans, who have rallied around Donald Trump during the release of Michael Wolff’s book.

President Trump said as he left for the Maryland retreat: “We have a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to accomplish.”

The agenda is not public, but various media outlets have said the talks could also look at immigration and the opioids crisis.

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After Steve Bannon announced his tell-all book, President Donald Trump’s lawyers have written to his former strategist, saying he has violated a non-disclosure agreement.

The cease-and-desist notice accuses Steve Bannon of defaming President Trump in speaking to author Michael Wolff.

Michael Wolff’s forthcoming tell-all book describes Donald Trump as being unprepared for the president job.

The 64-year-old writer is a former columnist for New York magazine and Vanity Fair. He also wrote a biography of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

His book is reportedly based on more than 200 interviews.

President Trump responded by saying Steve Bannon had “lost his mind” after losing his White House position.

The president’s lawyers said Steve Bannon had broken his employment agreement by speaking to Michael Wolff about Donald Trump and his family, “disclosing confidential information” and “making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company”, the letter said.

Image source Flickr

Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council

Donald Trump Jr. Releases Private Twitter Correspondence with WikiLeaks

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House makes many explosive claims, including that Steve Bannon thought a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians was “treasonous”. The Trump team was shocked and horrified by his election win and Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, was in tears on election night. Donald Trump was angry that A-list stars had snubbed his inauguration and the new president “found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary”.  The book also claims that Ivanka Trump had a plan with her husband, Jared Kushner, that she would be “the first woman president”. Ivanka Trump mocked her dad’s “comb-over” hairstyle and “often described the mechanics behind it to friends”.

The book also alleges that former UK PM Tony Blair told Donald Trump during a meeting in February 2017 that the British intelligence services may have been spying on him and his campaign, according to a report in The Times.

The Times says Tony Blair was hoping to get a job advising Donald Trump on the Middle East.

A spokesperson for Tony Blair told The Times that the allegations were a “total fabrication: and said the former prime minister had not suggested himself as Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy.

In March 2017, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists UK intelligence services could have been involved in an alleged spying operation on Trump Tower in New York. GCHQ said the allegation was “nonsense”.

According to New York magazine, which first published the extracts from Michael Wolff’s book, the author was able to take advantage of the Trump administration’s political inexperience to gain an unusual amount of insight.

“There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed,” it says.

Michael Wolff said he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” following the president’s inauguration.

In a statement on January 3, President Trump said: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.

“When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

“Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president continued.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the book as “filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House”.

“Participating in a book that can only be described as a trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, was considered a key player in the Trump White House and helped shape Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign message before he left his post in August.

In April, President Trump had declined to affirm that Steve Bannon still had his support, removing him from his elevated role on the crucial National Security Council.

He then appeared to downplay Steve Bannon’s role, declaring in a New York Post interview: “I’m my own strategist.”

After leaving the White House, Steve Bannon returned to his role as the head of the right-wing Breitbart News website, where he said he planned to help the Trump administration as a “wingman outside”.

Donald Trump reportedly spoke to Steve Bannon as recently as December 13, the day of the special Senate election in Alabama that saw the defeat of Republican Roy Moore, whom Bannon supported.

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In a New Year speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said a nuclear launch button is “always on my table” and warned the US it will never be able to start a war.

Kim Jong-un said the entire US was within range of North Korean nuclear weapons, adding: “This is reality, not a threat.”

However, he also offered a potential olive branch to South Korea, suggesting he was “open to dialogue”.

Kim Jong-un also announced that North Korea may also send a team to the Winter Olympics in Seoul.

When asked by reporters to respond to Kim Jong-un’s latest threats, President Donald Trump said: “We’ll see, we’ll see.”

President Trump was speaking at the sidelines of New Year’s Eve celebrations at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

North Korea has come under increased criticism and sanctions over the past year because of its nuclear weapons program and repeated testing of conventional missiles.

During the time, North Korea claimed to have a fully deployable nuclear weapon, though there is still some international skepticism about its true capacity to carry out such an attack.

In his televised speech, Kim Jong-un re-emphasized his focus on the weapons program, but implied the country still has a few stages left to go before achieving its ambitions. North Korea must “mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment”, he said.

Donald Trump’s Tweet Calls Kim Jong-un Short and Fat

US Wants New Sanctions Against North Korea Including Freeze on Kim Jong-un’s Assets

Kin Jong-un also said they would not use their weapons unless they felt that peace was threatened.

While his language against the United States remained tough, Kim Jong-un did not employ his typically antagonistic tone when speaking about his neighbors in South Korea.

He said: “The year 2018 is a significant year for both the North and the South, with the North marking the 70th anniversary of its birth and the South hosting the Winter Olympics.

“We should melt the frozen North-South relations, thus adorning this meaningful year as a year to be specially recorded in the history of the nation.”

A spokesperson for South Korean President Moon Hae-in said their office had “always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea at anytime and anywhere”.

“We hope the two Koreas will sit down and find a solution to lower tensions and establish peace on the Korean peninsula.”

Kim Jong-un also said he would also consider sending a delegation to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February – a gesture which South Korea has previously suggested would be welcome.

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people and we wish the Games will be a success,” he said.

“Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”

Lee Hee-beom, the president of the PyeongChang Games’ organizing committee, told South Korea’s news agency Yonhap he was delighted to hear of the potential participation.

He said: “[The committee] enthusiastically welcomes it. It’s like a New Year’s gift.”

The only two North Korean athletes who qualified for the Games are figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik.

Although North Korea has missed the official deadline to confirm their participation, the skaters could still compete with an invitation by the International Olympic Committee.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in last month suggested delaying an annual joint military drill with US troops until after the Games. North Korea usually denounces any such exercises as a rehearsal for war.

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the judiciary.

Mohammed Morsi already holds other jail terms including a life sentence.

The ousted leader is awaiting a retrial on a separate charge of conspiring to commit terrorist acts, for which he was previously sentenced to death. The death sentence was lifted on appeal.

Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the military in 2013 and has been detained since. He is currently in a high-security prison.

He has also been fined a million Egyptian pounds ($56,000) relating to a speech given in 2013.

Image source Wikimedia

Mohamed Morsi Death Sentence Overturned by Egypt’s Court of Cassation

On December 30, other 17 co-defendants, including fines for political blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and broadcaster Tawfiq Okasha, have been sentenced.

Mohammed Morsi has previously rejected the authority of the courts, and in his first trial shouted from the dock that he was being “forcibly detained”.

Since then the former president has been forced to sit in soundproof glass cages in courtrooms, which officials say are designed to prevent him disrupting proceedings.

Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the military following mass protests a year after he took office as Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.

The authorities subsequently launched a crackdown on supporters of Mohammed Morsi and the Islamist movement to which he belongs, the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Former African soccer star George Weah has been elected as Liberia’s president.

With nearly all ballots from December 26 run-off vote counted, George Weah is well ahead of his opponent, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, with more than 60% of the vote.

As news of George Weah’s victory emerged, his supporters began celebrating in the capital Monrovia.

George Weah will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, in Liberia’s first democratic handover in decades.

After the results were announced, he tweeted: “My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation.

“I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on.”

George Weah starred at top-flight European soccer clubs Paris St-Germain (PSG) and AC Milan, before ending his career in England with brief stays at Chelsea and Manchester City.

He is the only African to have won both FIFA World Player of the Year and the prestigious Ballon D’Or.

Image source Wikipedia

Ebola 2014: Liberia holds postponed elections

George Weah, 51, entered politics after his retirement from the game in 2002 and is currently a senator in Liberia’s parliament.

His former club, PSG, congratulated him on Twitter.

Liberia, founded by freed American slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power from one elected president to another since 1944.

George Weah won the first round of the presidential election in October with 38.4% of the vote, compared with the 28.8% won by second-placed Joseph Boakai, 73. The failure of any candidate to secure an outright majority forced the run-off.

On December 28, the National Elections Commission (NEC) said that with 98.1% of the run-off vote counted, George Weah had won 61.5% of the vote while Joseph Boakai was far behind with 38.5%.

Legal challenges delayed the vote to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and turnout was low – put at 56% by election officials.

However, election observers have praised the conduct of the poll.

More than two million people were eligible to cast their ballots from Liberia’s population of 4.6 million.

Brazil has expelled Venezuela’s charge d’affaires Gerardo Delgado.

It came days after Venezuela’s decision to expel the Brazilian ambassador to Caracas, Ruy Pereira.

Venezuela said Brazil had acted illegally in impeaching its former left-wing president, Dilma Rousseff.

On December 23, Venezuela also expelled Canada’s charge d’affaires, accusing him of interfering in internal affairs.

On December 25, Canada announced that Venezuela’s Ambassador Wilmer Barrientos Fernández, who was already abroad, would not be allowed to return.

Venezuela’s charge d’affaires in Ottawa, Ángel Herrera, was also asked to leave.

Relations with Brazil have deteriorated since President Michel Temer took office in 2016, following Dilma Rousseff’s dismissal by Congress for fiscal irregularities.

Image source Wikimedia

Canada Expels Venezuela’s Ambassador and Charge D’Affaires

Venezuela Expels Brazilian Ambassador and Canadian Charge D’Affaires

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro described her impeachment as “a right-wing coup”.

On December 23, the head of Venezuela’s powerful Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, said that “diplomatic relations with Brazil will not be restored until the government reinstates the constitutional order it has effectively broken”.

The Brazilian government said the move showed “once again the authoritarian nature of President Maduro’s administration”.

Brazil and Canada have both become outspoken critics of President Maduro.

They accuse Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government of harassing the opposition and violating human rights.

Canada imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials a few months ago.

Brazil and Canada were among many countries critical of President Maduro’s decision to convene a Constituent Assembly, which effectively replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The announcement prompted mass street protests, which killed more than 120 people in four months.

Venezuela’s opposition boycotted the poll in July and also held an unofficial referendum in which they said more than seven million Venezuelans had voted against the constituent assembly.

Nicolas Maduro’s six-year term ends in 2019. He is due to run for re-election in 2018.

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Canada has expelled Venezuela’s ambassador to Ottawa, Wilmer Barrientos Fernández, and its charge d’affaires, Ángel Herrera.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move was in retaliation for the expulsion of its ambassador to Caracas over the weekend.

Venezuela had accused Canada of meddling in its internal affairs.

In response, Canada has criticized the government of President Nicolás Maduro over its human rights record.

More than 120 people were killed in Venezuela during months of anti-government protests earlier this year.

Image source misionvenezuela.org

Chrystia Freeland in a statement: “Canadians will not stand by as the Government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance.”

“We will continue to work with our partners in the region to apply pressure on the anti-democratic Maduro regime and restore the rights of the Venezuelan people.”

She said Wilmer Barrientos Fernández was already abroad and would not be allowed to return, while Ángel Herrera had been asked to leave.

Venezuela Expels Brazilian Ambassador and Canadian Charge D’Affaires

US Extends Travel Ban to North Korea, Venezuela and Chad

Canada had already imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials in a move which angered the Venezuelan government.

On December 23, the head of Venezuela’s powerful Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez, announced Venezuela was declaring Canada’s charge d’affaires to Caracas, Craig Kowalik, persona non grata.

Delcy Rodríguez accused Craig Kowalik of “permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela”.

Venezuela also expelled the Brazilian ambassador, Ruy Pereira, over the alleged violation of the rule of law by its government.

The US imposed sanctions on Nicolas Maduro and the Trump administration labeled the Venezuelan president a “dictator”.

The opposition has accused Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, of destroying the country’s economy with their socialist policies.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest inflation rates and for years has suffered from a shortage of basic goods, including medicines.

Nicolas Maduro’s six-year term ends in 2019. He is expected to stand for another term in elections scheduled for 2018.

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Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori has been pardoned by current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on health grounds in a move that has prompted angry protests.

Alberto Fujimori, 79, who is serving 25 years for human rights abuses and corruption, was moved from prison to hospital because of health problems on December 23.

President Kuczynski denied pardoning the former leader as part of a deal with his party last week to avoid his own impeachment.

Police in the capital Lima clashed with protesters after the news emerged.

Two members of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s party in the Peruvian Congress, Vicente Zeballos and Alberto de Belaunde, resigned in protest at the pardon.

Meanwhile, supporters of the former president, who led Peru from 1990 to 2000, celebrated outside the city hospital where he was being treated.

Image source Wikimedia

Alberto Fujimori: Peru jailed ex-president’s health worsening

Peru Elections 2016: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Wins Presidency

Alberto Fujimori is admired by some Peruvians for combating Maoist rebels but his critics considered him a corrupt dictator.

His son, Kenji Fujimori, tweeted video of himself breaking the news of the pardon to his father in his hospital bed and wishing him a Merry Christmas.

A statement from President Kuczynski’s office said he had decided to grant a “humanitarian pardon to Mr. Alberto Fujimori and seven other people in similar condition”, without naming the others.

According to the statement, doctors had “determined that Mr. Fujimori suffers from a progressive, degenerative and incurable illness and that prison conditions represent a grave risk to his life”.

Alberto Fujimori was transferred from his cell to a clinic suffering from low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat, doctors said.

Kenji Fujimori said earlier that his father would probably not go home for several days.

The conservative Popular Force (FP) party, led by Albert Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, controls Congress and on December 21 tried to impeach President Kuczynski over a corruption scandal.

However, her brother Kenji split the FP vote, allowing President Kuczynski to stay in power and prompting the accusation that Alberto Fujimori’s release had been promised in exchange.

Leftist politician Veronika Mendoza labeled the president’s decision as treason: “To save his own skin he [President Kuczynski] cut a deal with Fujimori’s supporters.”

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski denied the claim.

In 2007, Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to six years in jail for bribery and abuse of power, but two years later was sentenced to another 25 years in prison for human rights abuses committed during his time in office.

The former president was convicted of authorizing killings carried out by death squads.

On December 24, police reportedly fired tear gas at dozens of protesters who turned out to protest at news of the pardon, waving pictures of victims of the counter-insurgency campaign.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch in the Americas, tweeted: “I regret Fujimori’s humanitarian pardon.

“Instead of reaffirming that in a state of law there is no special treatment for anyone, the idea that his liberation was a vulgar political negotiation in exchange for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski maintaining power will remain forever.”

Brazilian Ambassador to Caracas Ruy Pereira and Canadian charge d’affaires Craig Kowalik have been expelled by Venezuela’s powerful Constituent Assembly.

The move was announced by the Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez.

Delcy Rodriguez accused Brazil of violating the rule of law and Canada of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Both countries have strongly criticized the move.

The decision to expel Ambassador Ruy Pereira may have been triggered by Brazil’s recent complaint that President Nicolás Maduro was “constantly harassing the opposition”.

Canada imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials a few months ago.

Venezuela’s diplomatic relations with Brazil have deteriorated since Brazil’s President Michel Temer replaced left-wing leader Dilma Rousseff.

Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment was described by Nicolas Maduro as a “right-wing coup”.

Image source Wikimedia

Venezuela’s Main Opposition Parties Banned from 2018 Presidential Election

Venezuela Crisis: Argentine Airlines Becomes Latest Carrier to Suspend Flights to Caracas

US Extends Travel Ban to North Korea, Venezuela and Chad

Delcy Rodriguez said at a news conference on December 23: “Diplomatic relations with Brazil will not be restored until the government reinstates the constitutional order it has effectively broken.”

In response, the Brazilian government said the move showed once again the authoritarian nature of President Maduro’s administration.

Delcy Rodriguez accused Craig Kowalik of “permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela”.

Relations with Canada have been difficult for months. Earlier this year, Ottawa imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights violations and corruption.

Last month, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that the sanctions were illegal and accused the Canadian government of “shameful and utter submission to Donald Trump’s administration”.

In response, Canada said to the expulsion of its charge d’affaires by saying it would not be cowed into easing pressure on the Maduro government.

Brazil and Canada were among many countries critical of President Maduro’s decision to convene a Constituent Assembly, which effectively replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The announcement prompted mass street protests, which killed more than 120 people in four months.

The opposition boycotted the poll in July and also held an unofficial referendum in which they said more than seven million Venezuelans voted against the constituent assembly.

The EU and major Latin American nations have said they will not recognize the new body.

Meanwhile, the US imposed sanctions on President Maduro and the Trump administration labeled him a “dictator”.

Nicolas Maduro’s six-year term ends in 2019. He is due to run for re-election next year.

The opposition has accused President Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, of destroying Venezuela’s economy with their socialist policies.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest inflation rates and for years has suffered from a shortage of basic goods, including medicines.

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A UN resolution calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been decisively backed by a General Assembly vote.

The resolution says that any decision regarding Jerusalem status is “null and void” and must be canceled.

The text was approved by 128 states, with 35 abstaining and nine others voting against.

The vote came after President Donald Trump threatened to cut financial aid to those who backed the resolution.

Following the vote, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was exploring “various options” and no decisions had yet been made.

The nine who voted against the resolution were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

Among the 35 abstaining were Canada and Mexico.

Those voting in favor included the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia and the UK) as well as key US allies in the Muslim world.

There were 21 countries who did not turn up for the vote.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem Issue: Donald Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Resolution Supporters

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.

The 193-member UN General Assembly held the rare emergency special session at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution that was similar to the text approved on December 21.

The text put forward by Turkey and Yemen does not mention the US, but expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.

The resolution also says “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council”.

Catalonia has voted in a closely watched regional election, called by Spain following a controversial independence referendum.

The snap election pits Catalan pro-independence parties against those who want the region to remain a semi-autonomous part of the country.

One exit poll suggested that separatist parties would win a majority.

It said the separatist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the unionist Citizens (Cs) were neck and neck in the race to become the biggest party in the new parliament.

Image source Wikipedia

Spain Suspends Catalonia’s Autonomy and Takes Charge of Its Government

Catalonia Declares Independence from Spain

Spain dismissed the separatist Catalan government in October after declaring the referendum to be illegal.

El Pais newspaper said on its front page that one million undecided voters could have the last word on December 21.

Polling stations opened at 09:00 local time and closed at 20:00, with the first official results expected shortly afterwards.

At 18:00 local time turnout was 68%, the Catalan authorities said – about 5% higher than the corresponding figure for the 2015 regional election.

Most results should have emerged by 22:00 local time.

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President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that back a UN resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as he took the step amid international criticism.

The president told reporters at the White House: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.

“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Donald Trump’s comments come ahead of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution opposing any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The draft resolution does not mention the United States, but says any decisions on Jerusalem should be canceled.

Earlier, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned member states that President Donald Trump had asked her to report on “who voted against us” on December 21.

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Image source Flickr

Jerusalem Issue: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Expects EU Countries to Follow US Recognition

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.

The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on December 21 at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, which affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were “null and void and must be rescinded”, and urged all states to “refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city”.

The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the draft, but Ambassador Nikki Haley described it as an “insult”.

The non-binding resolution put forward by Turkey and Yemen for the General Assembly vote mirrors the vetoed Security Council draft.

The Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he hoped there would be “overwhelming support” for the resolution.

However, on December 19, Nikki Haley warned in a letter to dozens of member states that encouraged them to “know that the president and the US take this vote personally”.

According to journalists who were shown the letter, Nikki Haley wrote: “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

“The president’s announcement does not affect final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” she added.

“The president also made sure to support the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites.”

Nikki Haley also tweeted: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, accused the US of intimidation.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in Ankara on December 20 before travelling to New York: “We see that the United States, which was left alone, is now resorting to threats. No honorable, dignified country would bow down to this pressure.”

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the tax bill, his first major legislative achievement and the biggest rewrite of the US tax code in a generation, in the coming days.

The bill slashes taxes for corporations and the wealthy, while offering mixed, temporary relief to working people.

However, Democrats have labeled the GOP tax bill “government for sale” as Congress sent the historic measure to the president’s desk.

Prominent Democrat Elizabeth Warren said: “It’s a heist.”

Meanwhile, President Trump, hosting Republican leaders at the White House, said: “We are making America great again.”

The president thanked congressional leaders for pushing through what he called “the largest tax cut in the history of our country”.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Donald Trump’s “exquisite presidential leadership” for the success of the bill.

Earlier, in a statement, President Trump said: “I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.”

Image source Public Domain Pictures

Because of a procedural glitch, the bill had to be voted on for a second time in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. The bill passed 224 to 201 on December 20.

Democrats say that error was caused by Republicans rushing the most sweeping overhaul of the tax system since 1986 through Congress.

In an often secretive process, no public hearings were held and multiple last-minute amendments that were pushed by lobbyists cropped up in the final version.

President Trump tweeted: “The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean. This is truly a case where the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

The unpopular bill is likely to be a major issue during the 2018 mid-term congressional elections.

Senate Passes Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Bill

Donald Trump to Focus on Tax Reform after Healthcare Bill Failure

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 52% of adults said they opposed the tax plan, while only 27% supported it.

Non-partisan analysts say the greatest beneficiaries of the package will be the super-wealthy, multinational corporations and the commercial property industry.

In the immediate future, the plan will see the vast majority of taxpayers having lower tax bills, but those cuts expire in 2025.

By 2027, the Tax Policy Center estimates the overall change would be negligible.

And 53% of taxpayers would face higher bills, many of them in the lower income brackets.

The tax bill is projected to add $1.5trillion over the next decade to the $20 trillion US debt, which President Trump promised last year he would eliminate.

However, Republicans argue it will boost economic growth.

The legislation reaches beyond fiscal matters to tick off a wish list of conservative priorities.

It strikes a serious blow to ObamaCare, scrapping the fine levied on Americans who do not buy health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office says this will increase premiums for people who have medical coverage.

The bill also opens Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a major defeat for environmentalists.

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President Donald Trump has denied he is planning to fire Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Tensions have been rising between the White House and Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

On December 16, a lawyer for Donald Trump’s presidential transition group said thousands of emails had been unlawfully obtained by Robert Mueller’s team.

Responding to questions over the legal row, President Trump said it was “not looking good” and his people were “very upset”.

The president said, while returning from a weekend trip to Camp David: “I can’t imagine there’s anything on them, frankly, because, as we said, there’s no collusion.”

Donald Trump’s administration has denied working with Russia in the 2016 election and the president labeled the investigation “a witch hunt”.

Responding to a media question on the White House lawn on whether he was considering firing Robert Mueller amid his criticism, President Trump responded: “No, I’m not.”

Several Democratic lawmakers had expressed concern, and on December 15 the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said he feared Republican members wanted to shut the probe down.

Image source Wikimedia

Robert Mueller Accused of Unlawfully Obtaining Emails

Robert Mueller Investigation: Michael Flynn Admits Making False Statements to FBI

Robert Mueller Investigation: Donald Trump’s Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Lied About Russia Links

Several former members of Donald Trump’s campaign team are facing charges as part of the investigation.

Kory Langhofer, a lawyer working for the Trump for America (TFA) group – who helped Donald Trump’s transition to the White House after his election, complained on December 16 after the group became aware Robert Mueller’s investigation had obtained tens of thousands of their emails.

He sent a letter to congressional committees claiming the records had been obtained unlawfully.

The TFA group had used the facilities, including email hosting, of a government agency, the General Services Administration (GSA), in the period between Donald Trump’s election in November 2016 and inauguration in January.

In his letter, Kory Langhofer, says GSA staff “unlawfully produced TFA’s private materials, including privileged communications” to Robert Mueller’s investigation team.

The emails obtained reportedly involve 13 Trump transition officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI earlier this month.

The GSA, Kory Langhofer complains, “did not own or control the records in question” and maintains the constitutional rights of transition officials were violated.

A spokesperson for Robert Mueller said they had done nothing wrong.

Peter Carr said: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt has denied another of Kory Langhofer’s accusations, that the GSA gave assurances that requests for Trump transition records would go through the group’s lawyers.

Lenny Loewentritt told BuzzFeed that the transition group knew materials would have to be provided to law enforcement “therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed”.

Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell tweeted that the accusations were “another attempt to discredit Mueller as his #TrumpRussia probe tightens”.

US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to tip the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump – a charge denied by both Moscow and the president.

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Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for a group set up to help Donald Trump’s transition to the White House, has accused special counsel Robert Mueller of unlawfully obtaining thousands of emails.

He made the comments in a letter to congressional committees.

However, a spokesperson for Robert Mueller said the “appropriate criminal process” had been followed.

Robert Mueller is investigating allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

Kory Langhofer works for the Trump for America (TFA) group. It used the facilities, including email hosting, of a government agency, the General Services Administration (GSA), in the period between Donald Trump’s election in November 2016 and inauguration in January.

In his letter, Kory Langhofer, says GSA staff “unlawfully produced TFA’s private materials, including privileged communications, to the special counsel’s office”.

The GSA, he complains, “did not own or control the records in question” and the constitutional rights of transition officials were violated.

Kory Langhofer goes on to ask Congress to act to protect future presidential transitions from having “private records misappropriated by government agencies, particularly in the context of sensitive investigations intersecting with political motives”.

The emails obtained reportedly involve 13 Trump transition officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI earlier this month.

A spokesperson for Robert Mueller said they had done nothing wrong.

“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” Peter Carr said.

Image source Wikimedia

Robert Mueller Investigation: Michael Flynn Admits Making False Statements to FBI

Robert Mueller Investigation: Donald Trump’s Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Lied About Russia Links

Russia Election Hacking: First Charges Filed in Robert Mueller’s Investigation

GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt has denied another of Kory Langhofer’s accusations that the GSA assured that requests for Trump transition records would go through the group’s lawyers.

He told BuzzFeed that the transition group knew materials would have to be provided to law enforcement “therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed”.

Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell tweeted that the accusations were “another attempt to discredit Mueller as his #TrumpRussia probe tightens”.

US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to tip the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump – a charge denied by both Moscow and the president.

President Trump has called Robert Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” while other Republicans accuse it of bias.

Michael Flynn became the most senior Trump official to be charged as part of the invetigation after admitting making false statements to the FBI about meetings with Russia’s ambassador.

Another ex-aide, George Papadopoulos, has also pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents.

In October, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his business associate Rick Gates were accused of conspiring to defraud the US in dealings with Ukraine. Both deny the charges, which center on relations with a former Ukrainian president who was very close to Russia.

On December 15, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said he feared Republican members wanted to shut down their own investigation.

According to media reports, President Trump’s private lawyers are expected to meet Robert Mueller and members of his team next week to discuss the next phases of the inquiry.

Kentucky House Republican Dan Johnson, who defiantly denied allegations that he assaulted a teenage girl in the basement of his home, died in an apparent suicide on December 13, the county coroner said.

According to Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings, Dan Johnson, 57, died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky.

Dave Billings said Dan Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car. He said an autopsy is scheduled for December 14.

“I would say it is probably suicide,” he said.

Dan Johnson was elected to the state legislature in 2016, part of a wave of Republican victories that gave the GOP control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years. He won his election despite Republican leaders urging him to drop out of the race after local media reported on some of his Facebook posts comparing Barack and Michelle Obama to monkeys.

Image source Fox News

The pastor of Heart of Fire church in Louisville, Dan Johnson sponsored a number of bills having to do with religious liberty and teaching the Bible in public schools.

He was mostly out of the spotlight until December 11, when the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an account from a woman saying the pastor assaulted her in the basement of his home in 2013.

At the time, the woman told police, who investigated the incident but closed the case and did not file charges.

On December 12, Dan Johnson held a news conference in the pulpit of his church, which he began by leading friends and family in singing a portion of the Christmas carol O Come All Ye Faithful. The lawmaker said the allegations against him were “totally false” and said they were part of a nationwide strategy of defeating conservative Republicans. He referenced Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces assault accusations from multiple women.

On December 13, shortly before 5PM, Dan Johnson posted a message on his Facebook page that asked people to care for his wife. He wrote that PTSD “is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. It has won this life, BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.” The post appears to have been removed.

Democrat Doug Jones has won Alabama election after a bitter campaign against Republican Roy Moore, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate seat for the state in 25 years.

Doug Jones’ unexpected victory deals a blow to President Donald Trump, who backed Roy Moore, and narrows the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49.

Roy Moore has so far refused to concede, saying “it’s not over”.

The Republican fought a controversial campaign, in which allegations surfaced of assaulting teenage girls.

Roy Moore, a firebrand conservative who has said he believes that gay activity should be illegal, has repeatedly denied the claims against him.

The contest was for the seat vacated by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year.

Doug Jones won with 49.9% of the vote, to Roy Moore’s 48.4%. All votes from precincts around the state have been counted.

The margin of victory is well above the half a percentage point which would have triggered a recount.

Image source Wikimedia

Roy Moore Scandal: Fifth Woman Accuses Alabama Senate Candidate of Assault

However, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, quoted by the Washington Post, said a recount could still be ordered if a review of write-in votes and overseas ballots narrowed it to within this range.

Overseas ballots can continue to come in until the seventh day after the election (December 19), the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program says.

There was a total of 1.7% of votes for write-ins, where voters wrote in names of candidates who did not appear on the ballot paper.

Even if the final result is outside the 0.5% margin, either candidate can request a recount if they are prepared to pay the costs.

Roy Moore, a 70-year-old former judge, told his supporters it was not yet over.

“We’ve been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light,” he said.

“Realize that when the vote is this close that it’s not over.”

Although Roy Moore did not concede, President Donald Trump congratulated Doug Jones in a tweet shortly after media declared him the winner, adding that “Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time”.

The Senate seat will come up for re-election in November 2020.

Doug Jones, 63, told his supporters in a victory speech that the “entire race has been about dignity and respect”.

“This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life,” he said before the crowd erupted in cheers.

Doug Jones is a former lawyer known for helping convict two Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in 1963 in Birmingham, killing four girls. He has never held elected office.

His victory has been credited to an unusually high turnout of black voters. Exit polls also suggest 56% of women voted for him.

After Doug Jones takes his seat, the Republicans can only afford to lose one vote – in the event of a 50-50 split VP Mike Pence will have the casting vote.