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Court rules House of Representatives can bar secular prayer from atheist

A D.C. federal appeals court ruled Friday that the House of Representatives does not have to allow a self-described atheist to deliver secular prayers.

The Good Friday ruling concerned efforts by Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to pray in the House chamber as a guest chaplain -- only to be turned down by Father Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain.

PENNSYLVANIA LAWMAKER DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL PRAYER 

The court, however, sided with Conroy in determining the House was in its right to require prayers be religious in nature.

“We could not order Conroy to allow Barker to deliver a secular invocation because the House permissibly limits the opening prayer to religious prayer. Barker has therefore failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted,” the opinion stated.

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution declares that both the House and Senate “may determine the rules of its proceedings.”

Barker had alleged that Conroy rejected him “because he is an atheist.” But the court determined that while that may be true, the House requirement that prayers be religious holds weight.

“In other words, even if, as Barker alleges, he was actually excluded simply for being an atheist, he is entitled to none of the relief he seeks,” the opinion said.

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The tradition of House and Senate prayers goes back to 1789.

The House and Senate both begin their legislative days with a religious invocation, frequently delivered by Conroy and his Senate counterpart Barry Black.

Fox News’ Bill Mears contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Sen. Michael Bennet has ‘completely successful’ surgery for prostate cancer, eyes 2020 run

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is recovering at home after a “completely successful” surgery for prostate cancer, his office said Friday -- opening the door for the Democrat to throw his hat into the 2020 presidential race

“Last weekend, Michael underwent surgery and is recovering at his home in Colorado,” spokeswoman Courtney Gidner said in a statement. “His doctors report the surgery was completely successful and he requires no further treatment. Michael and his family deeply appreciate the well wishes and support from Coloradans and others across the country, and he looks forward to returning to work after the recess.”

MICHAEL BENNET ON CANCER DIAGNOSIS: 'I DON'T SEE THIS STOPPING ME' FROM 2020 RUN

The two-term senator announced this month that he had been diagnosed with cancer but told Fox News it had been caught early. He had been openly contemplating a 2020 run and suggested he would follow through with those plans if the surgery went well.

“I feel really lucky. It was caught early and this is a really treatable form of cancer and we have insurance. I think I’m going to be fine. I hope I will because I really want to have the opportunity to run in 2020,” he said earlier this month.

He noted in that interview that then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had successful cancer surgery at the start of his 2004 presidential campaign.

“John was 59 when he had the same operation. He had it and two weeks later he was in California, doing what he needed to do out there to campaign,” he said. “So I take this seriously, but if all goes well I don’t see this stopping me.”

Bennet had said before his surgery that he hopes to jump into the White House race within a few weeks of the surgery if he gets a clean bill of health.

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Bennet will face a struggle to catch up with other contenders, some of whom have bigger name recognition, larger campaign war chests, and have been in the race longer.

However, he is not the only candidate leaving it late to jump into the packed Democratic field. Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to declare his candidacy for president next week, two sources told Fox News Friday.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Eric Swalwell: No apology necessary for surveilling Trump campaign

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued the special counsel's report "certainly" showed evidence of collusion and rejected the idea that President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign deserved an apology for the controversial surveillance conducted under former President Barack Obama's administration.

When Fox News host Julie Banderas asked Swalwell about a potential apology, the California congressman said that special counsel Robert Mueller's report "laid out a multiplicity of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians."

He contended that although special counsel Robert Mueller's report didn't declare collusion beyond a reasonable doubt, it still showed enough evidence of troubling contacts between Russia and Trump's associates. Swalwell argued that "reasonable suspicion," a lower standard than "beyond a reasonable doubt," was all that was necessary for starting an investigation.

"There was certainly evidence of collusion, not evidence that met the beyond a reasonable doubt standard" he said on "Outnumbered" before affirming suspicions that Trump potentially knew about Russian activities related to the election. "This president is in no way cleared," Swalwell said.

MUELLER REPORT IGNITES NEW DEM BATTLE OVER IMPEACHMENT

Swalwell's appearance came amid growing pressure from Democrats for the Justice Department to reveal more information related to the investigation. The Trump administration, however, has declared "Game Over," arguing that the report put collusion and obstruction concerns to rest.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's close adviser and 2016 campaign manager, indicated that the press owed her and the rest of the administration an apology. "We’re accepting apologies today, too, for anybody who feels the grace in offering them," she told reporters on Thursday.

"The big lie that you’ve let fly for two years, it’s over, folks," she also said in reference to collusion.

Swalwell, who serves on both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, has acted as a key public figure in the Democratic push for further investigation. His interview indicated that Democrats would continue to pursue the issue despite speculation that it might be a poor political strategy going into 2020.

KELLYANNE CONWAY REITERATES CALL FOR ADAM SCHIFF'S RESIGNATION AFTER MUELLER REPORT'S RELEASE

Swalwell told Banderas that he wasn't so much worried about the political consequences as he was about preserving American democracy.

"It's such an extraordinary remedy, we shouldn't even consider the political consequences," he said. "It's the consequence to our democracy — are we going to set a standard and say no president should do this or are we not?"

When asked whether Democrats should apologize, Swalwell seemed to decline the opportunity.

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"I'll never apologize for loving our country so much that I don't think any campaign transition or president should draw as close to the Russians and welcome their support and never tell law enforcement while they were seeking to support them," he said.

"I'll always stand on our side rather than Russia's, and I just wish the president would, too," he said.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Djokovic falls to Medvedev in Monte Carlo, Nadal marches on

ATP 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters
Tennis - ATP 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters - Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France - April 19, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his quarter final match against Russia's Daniil Medvedev REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

April 19, 2019

(Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic’s French Open preparations were dealt with a blow as he suffered a 6-3 4-6 6-2 defeat by Russian Daniil Medvedev in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals on Friday.

Djokovic, twice champion in Monte Carlo, fought back to level the match after dropping the first set before the 23-year-old Medvedev claimed the biggest victory of his career.

Medvedev had lost each of his previous three clashes with Djokovic but he broke his Serbian opponent’s serve five times to move into the final four.

“He’s got a very solid backhand. He hits it very low and with depth,” Djokovic said.

“A windy day like today, conditions are changing every single game. It’s kind of tough to find the rhythm, and he doesn’t give you much rhythm.

“He improved his movement a lot since last year. He definitely deserves to be where he is.”

Medvedev will next face another Serb in Dusan Lajovic, who followed up his shock win over world number five Dominic Thiem with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego.

For Djokovic, it was another premature exit from an ATP Masters 1000 event after he crashed out in the early rounds at Indian Wells and Miami last month.

The 31-year-old has struggled for rhythm in his first claycourt event of the season and will need step up his game to have a chance of winning his fourth straight Grand Slam title at next month’s French Open.

Second seed Rafa Nadal was forced to work hard for his 18th straight match win at the Monte Carlo Country Club as he fought back to beat Argentina Guido Pella 7-6(1) 6-3.

The 11-times champion made a sluggish start and was one point away from 1-5 deficit in the opening set but recovered well to convert seven of his 13 break-point opportunities and advance after two hours and 20 minutes.

“It was a very tough first set physically and mentally, too. Losing the first three games with my serve was tough. But I found a way at the right time,” world number two Nadal said.

“I was lucky at 4-1, he had two points to be 5-1 and with 5-1 it’s almost impossible. Then I played better. Being in the semi-finals again here means a lot to me.”

Nadal has now won 25 consecutive sets on Court Rainier III since dropping one in his opening match in 2017 to Briton Kyle Edmund.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

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Rep. Pete King: Trump Probe Came from ‘Coordinated Effort’ Against Him

Rep. Pete King said Friday he thinks the lengthy investigation into President Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian collusion was the result of a "coordinated effort," to implicate the president's campaign of collusion, and now, the investigation should shift to the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

"This was a coordinated effort by certain people at the top levels of the government," including former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, and "that should be investigated," the New York Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

He said the probe was launched "on the flimsiest of evidence" and there was no evidence at all to justify it.

"Being on the Intelligence Committee, I heard almost all of the witnesses Bob Mueller would have heard, and they were under oath," King said. "I never saw any evidence at all whatsoever of collusion."

He said he'd be saying the same thing whether the president was "Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or anybody else."

King added he fears that there will be a continued investigation about Trump, but he'd rather resolve it.

"This is going to be used as an 18-month investigation of President Trump," he said. "I went through all of those instances of supposed obstruction of justice, and to me, people on the Mueller staff who couldn't get Donald Trump on any criminal (charges), just allow this investigation to go forward. I don't see any reason why this couldn't be wrapped up in a matter of months."

Source: NewsMax Politics

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Ilhan Omar once addressed gender-segregated audience in Somalia

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar once spoke to an audience segregated by gender in her native Somalia, as she praised the country's efforts empowering women and sought to contrast that with America's.

According to a translation of the remarks, though, she did not raise the matter of the audience's segregation during that 2016 speech.

Omar, the embattled freshman Democrat who’s faced numerous controversies over comments decried as anti-Semitic and other statements, appeared on the “Deprani show,” a Somali news show, following her election to Minnesota’s House of Representatives.

CAMPAIGN DONATIONS FROM ILHAN OMAR REJECTED BY AT LEAST 2 DEMS

The show, which celebrated Omar’s victory, was filmed at Puntland State University in December 2016 and featured prominent shots of women and men being seated separately.

The show, which celebrated Omar’s victory, was filmed at Puntland State University in December 2016 and featured prominent shots of women and men being seated separately. (YouTube)

The show, which celebrated Omar’s victory, was filmed at Puntland State University in December 2016 and featured prominent shots of women and men seated separately.

During her remarks, Omar praised Puntland, the semi-autonomous regional territory of Somalia, for setting the goal of a 30 percent quota for women in legislative positions.

“There in America [we are] yet to achieve that, so, we're looking for that justice and the same justices for the different races, genders and everything,” she said, according to the translation.

“There in America [we are] yet to achieve that, so, we're looking for that justice and the same justices for the different races, genders and everything.”

— Ilhan Omar

But Omar's appearance at the event and lack of comments about the segregation in the room were striking considering her image as a barrier-breaking politician who fights for women’s rights everywhere.

“I stand in solidarity with everyone who is fighting to protect the rights of women and girls, domestically and internationally,” she tweeted in March.

Omar has been critical of other countries over human rights violations, often criticizing Saudi Arabia for its women’s rights record.

ILHAN OMAR RAISES NEARLY $1M AFTER CONTROVERSIES, TOPS OTHER PROGRESSIVE DEMS LIKE AOC, TLAIB

“The Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even the #YemenGenocide, but the murder of #JamaKhashoggi should be the last evil act they are allowed to commit,” she tweeted last October.

The show, which celebrated Omar’s victory, was filmed at Puntland State University in December 2016 and featured prominent shots of women and men being seated separately.

The show, which celebrated Omar’s victory, was filmed at Puntland State University in December 2016 and featured prominent shots of women and men being seated separately. (YouTube)

In response to a tweet accusing her of not speaking out for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, Omar insisted that she did and reiterated that “we need to collectively fight for women's rights around the world!”

But the same criticism hasn’t been extended to Somalia where she wields influence due to her political success in the U.S.

A U.N. report several years ago described gender inequality as a serious problem in Somalia, citing violence against women and "extremely limited" women participation in "politics and decision-making spheres."

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Omar’s office did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment for this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Ari Fleischer: Trump should move on from Russia, let Dems ‘walk that impeachment plank’

President Donald Trump should "move beyond" the Russia issue and let Democrats self-sabotage through their focus on impeachment, Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer said on Friday.

"The Democrats are about to walk a plank and fall off of it into the ocean with their conspiracy theories and their truther collusion theories," he said while appearing on "America's Newsroom." "Let them walk that plank and fall off into the ocean."

The special counsel's report — detailing 10 concerns surrounding potential obstruction of justice — prompted Democrats to call for Mueller's testimony, subpoena the unredacted report, and support impeachment.

Trump, Fleischer worried, only invited more suspicion as he continued discussing the issue in public.

"If I were the president, I would have basically declared victory with the Mueller report and everything that came out," Fleischer said after noting Trump's tweets from Friday morning.

TRUMP RAILS AGAINST ASSOCIATES WHO SPOKE TO MUELLER, CALLS CLAIMS 'TOTAL BULL---T

"This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened," Trump tweeted. Trump also derided the Mueller's team as "18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters" and called some of the report's statements "totally untrue."

MUELLER REPORT IGNITES NEW DEM BATTLE OVER IMPEACHMENT

Fleischer argued that Trump's tweet "suggested he was upset with something in the Mueller report, which only makes it look like he's got something to worry about."

While it's unclear exactly which statements Trump was referring to, Fleischer called some of the report's claims came "too close to obstruction" and said the administration should "realize just how close" it came to facing charges.

If Democrats push for impeachment, they could face pushback from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has already denigrated the idea.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Although Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez had some strong words about the report, he seemed to sidestep Fox News host Bret Baier's question about pursuing impeachment. Perez indicated that impeachment wasn't out of the question, however, and said it was "hogwash" to argue "there's no obstruction."

"I think that there are more questions to be asked here," Perez said.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Tech giant Amazon worked with the police department in Hayward, California, to catch package porch thieves, Vice’s Motherboard reports.

“Operation Safe Porch,” executed in late 2018, set out to lure thieves with fake packages rigged with GPS devices. Amazon provided the police department with boxes, tape, and lithium-ion stickers for the sting.

It is unclear whether anyone was arrested, as the Hayward Police Department declined to comment for the story.

An Amazon spokesperson told Motherboard: “We appreciate the effort by local law enforcement to tackle package theft in their communities, and we remain committed to assisting them in their efforts however we can.”

Amazon has worked with police departments in the past to catch porch pirates, including in December of last year when police in Jersey City teamed up with the online seller to install doorbell cameras and plant dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city.

Source: NewsMax America

Third round play of the Masters at Augusta National
Golf – Masters – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, U.S. – April 13, 2019 – Tiger Woods of the U.S. walks up to the 18th green during third round play. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

April 13, 2019

By Andrew Both

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Tiger Woods shot his best score at Augusta National since 2011, a five-under-par 67 that lifted him within two strokes of leader Francesco Molinari after the third round at the Masters on Saturday.

Woods parlayed his 54-hole lead into victory in 2005, but he has not since added to his collection of four Green Jackets, despite coming close several times in the ensuing decade-plus.

He will start Sunday’s final round joint second with fellow American Tony Finau, while Molinari will be the man to catch at 13-under 203.

The Italian is unlikely to be intimidated, after staring down and overtaking Woods en route to winning last year’s British Open at Carnoustie, where they were paired in the final round.

A victory on Sunday would be Woods’ fifth, leaving him second behind six-times champion Jack Nicklaus.

Arnold Palmer also had four victories.

Woods has been stuck on 14 major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, and the early holes on Saturday offered little inkling of the fireworks ahead.

Four pars followed by a bogey at the difficult newly-lengthened fifth left him languishing at five-under-par.

For a time he failed to join the birdie party in benign condition on a course where marshmallow greens allowed for players to fire fearlessly at the pins.

But a 20-foot birdie at the sixth sparked his round as the 43-year-old quickly climbed up the leaderboard by picking up further shots at the next two holes.

Not that he was perfect over the middle holes.

He pushed his drives at the par-four ninth and 11th holes, but both times fortunately found a clear opening and had no trouble threading a recovery between the Georgia pines and saving par.

But his biggest piece of luck came at the par-five 13th, where he hooked his drive so far left that the ball seemed more likely to end up in adjacent Augusta Country Club than stay in Augusta National. But it hit a tree and fell to earth right of Rae’s Creek tributary, in the clear in light rough.

He took advantage of the break, punching his second shot to wedge range and then skipping his next up to set up a birdie.

Further birdies followed at the par-five 15th and par-three 16th.

(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

Israel's President Rivlin entrusts Israeli PM Netanyahu with forming the next government in Jerusalem
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hands a letter of appointment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he is entrusted with forming the next government, during their meeting at the President’s residence in Jerusalem April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

April 17, 2019

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s president on Wednesday nominated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head the next government, after he won the backing of a majority of members of parliament following an April 9 election.

In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term despite an announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in February that he intends to charge the prime minister in three corruption cases. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

“At a time of great turmoil in our region, we have managed not only to maintain the state’s security and stability, we have even managed to turn Israel into a rising world power,” Netanyahu said at the nomination ceremony after President Reuven Rivlin gave him the mandate to form a new government.

Netanyahu has 28 days, with a two-week extension if needed, to complete the task. If, as seems likely, he succeeds, he will become in July Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

Netanyahu has said he intends to build a coalition with five far-right, right-wing and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would give the government, led by his Likud party, 65 seats. No party has ever won an outright majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

PEACE PLAN

Among the most pressing issues awaiting the new government will be U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday it would be unveiled once the new Israeli government is in place and after the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which ends in early June. The plan, Kushner said, would require compromise by all parties.

A right-wing coalition in Israel would, however, likely object to any proposed territorial concessions to the Palestinians, who are boycotting the Trump administration over what they see as its pro-Israel bias.

Such a coalition would also be less likely to pressure Netanyahu to step down if he is indicted for corruption.

Netanyahu is under no legal obligation to resign if charges are brought against him and has said he plans to serve Israel for many more years. He can still argue, at a pre-trial hearing whose date has not been set, against the formal filing of bribery and fraud charges against him.

The election, brought forward from November, was widely seen in Israel as a bid by Netanyahu to win a renewed mandate in the hopes that it would strengthen his hand in the legal proceedings against him.

“I am not afraid of threats and I am not deterred by the media. The public has given me its full confidence, clearly and unequivocally, and I will continue to do everything in order to serve you, the citizens of Israel,” he said on Facebook on Tuesday.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

2018 IIHF World Championships
Ice Hockey – 2018 IIHF World Championships – Group A – Russia v Slovakia – Royal Arena – Copenhagen, Denmark – May 14, 2018 – Nikita Gusev of Russia in action. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

April 12, 2019

The Vegas Golden Knights could be getting some offensive punch for their playoff push, and it could come from a player who has never played in the NHL, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Nikita Gusev, the reigning MVP of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, could be on his way to the United States after his current team, SKA St. Petersburg, was eliminated from the playoffs by SCKA Moscow.

Gusev, 26, had 82 points in 62 games this season to lead the KHL, according to NHL.com. The left wing scored 17 goals with 65 assists. Canada’s TSN reported that Gusev’s representatives were working on a release from his current contract, which officially expires at the end of April.

“I don’t know much about him,” Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant said, according to the league website. “(Golden Knights general manager) George (McPhee) mentioned it today. … If he joins us, we’ll see what’s going to happen. Hopefully he does join us and gets some practice time in with us, but I have no idea where that’s going.”

Vegas trails its best-of-7 Western Conference playoff matchup with San Jose 1-0, with Game 2 set for Friday in the Bay Area. The Golden Knights are the defending Western Conference champions.

Gusev was a seventh-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012, but his rights were traded to Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft.

-Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Nearly two years of fevered speculation surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe will come to a head in a dramatic television finale-like moment on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET, when Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are set to hold a press conference to discuss the Mueller report’s public release.

It was not immediately clear exactly when on Thursday the DOJ would release the redacted version of the nearly 400-page investigation into Russian election meddling, but the document was expected to be delivered to lawmakers and posted online by noon. With just hours to go until that moment, hopes for finality amid a deep national divide — and persistent accusations of far-flung conspiracies — are all but certain to remain unrealized.

Although Barr has already revealed that Mueller’s report absolved the Trump team of illegally colluding with Russia, Democrats have signaled that the release will be just the beginning of a no-holds-barred showdown with the Trump administration over the extent of report redactions, as well as whether the president obstructed justice during the Russia investigation.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

Trump’s legal team is preparing to issue a comprehensive rebuttal report on Thursday, to challenge any allegations of obstruction against the president, Fox News has learned.

The lawyers originally laid out their rebuttal in response to written questions asked by Mueller’s team of the president last year, according to a source close to Trump’s legal team.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller drives away from his Washington home on Wednesday. Outstanding questions about the special counsel's Russia investigation have not stopped President Donald Trump and his allies from declaring victory. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller drives away from his Washington home on Wednesday. Outstanding questions about the special counsel’s Russia investigation have not stopped President Donald Trump and his allies from declaring victory. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Barr has said redactions in the report’s release are legally mandated.to protect four broad areas of concern: sensitive grand jury-related matters, classified information, ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged “peripheral” people.

Those individuals, Barr said, did not include Trump. “No, I’m talking about people in private life, not public officeholders,” the attorney general said at a hearing last week.

ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT PETER STRZOK’S PHONE TOTALLY WIPED AFTER HE WAS FIRED FROM MUELLER TEAM

In a filing in the ongoing Roger Stone prosecution on Wednesday, the DOJ revealed that certain members of Congress will be able to see the Mueller report “without certain redactions” in a secure setting. Stone, a longtime confidant of the president, is awaiting trial on charges including giving false statements and obstructing justice.

Barr and Rosenstein are expected to take questions at the Thursday press conference, which was first announced in a radio interview by Trump and confirmed by the DOJ, and they’ll likely be pressed on the precise nature of the final redactions.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has said he is prepared to issue subpoenas “very quickly” for the full report if it is released with blacked-out sections, likely setting in motion a major legal battle.

NUNES’ CRIMINAL REFERRALS OVER MISCONDUCT DURING RUSSIA PROBE COULD INVOLVE ‘TWO DOZEN’ INDIVIDUALS

Grand jury information, including witness interviews, is normally off limits but can be obtained in court. Some records were eventually released in the Whitewater investigation into former President Bill Clinton and an investigation into President Richard Nixon before he resigned.

Attorney General William Barr reacts as he appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. Barr said Wednesday that he was reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. He said he believed the president's campaign had been spied on and he was concerned about possible abuses of government power. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Attorney General William Barr reacts as he appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. Barr said Wednesday that he was reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. He said he believed the president’s campaign had been spied on and he was concerned about possible abuses of government power. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Both of those cases were under somewhat different circumstances, including that the House Judiciary Committee had initiated impeachment proceedings. Federal court rules state that a court may order disclosure “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding,” but prominent Democrats — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — have dismissed suggestions that Trump should face impeachment.

Another major area of scrutiny will be Barr’s decision, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, that Mueller had not uncovered sufficient evidence to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice.

In his four-page summary of Mueller’s findings released late last month, Barr stated definitively that Mueller did not establish evidence that Trump’s team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election — “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

But on obstruction, Barr wrote that Mueller had laid out evidence on “both sides” of the issue, even as he acknowledged that it would be more difficult to prosecute an obstruction case without evidence of any underlying crime. That evidence, on Thursday, will go under the microscope.

FBI MADE 11 PAYMENTS TO AUTHOR OF DISCREDITED DOSSIER USED TO JUSTIFY SURVEILLANCE OF TRUMP AIDE

The report may also contain unflattering details about the president’s efforts to exert control over the Russia investigation. And it may paint the Trump campaign as eager to exploit Russian aid and emails stolen from Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The report’s release will also be a test of Barr’s credibility, as the public and Congress judge the veracity of a letter he released relaying what were purported to be Mueller’s principal conclusions.

Barr, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to the role of attorney general in 1991 before reclaiming the role in February, has endured withering criticism from Democrats who say he is covering for the president.

After Barr announced plans for the Thursday press conference, Nadler quickly charged that Barr “appears to be waging a media campaign” on behalf of Trump.

In a statement joined by several other Democrat committee chairs late Wednesday, Nadler called for Barr to cancel the press conference.

“This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it,” the Democrats wrote. “[Barr] should let the full report speak for itself. The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.”

Mueller is known to have investigated multiple efforts by the president over the last two years to influence the Russia probe or shape public perception of it.

In addition to examining former FBI Director James Comey’s firing, Mueller scrutinized the president’s reported request that Comey end an investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser; his relentless attacks on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation; and his role in drafting an incomplete explanation about a meeting his oldest son took at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

But this week, Trump, who has long said that voicing his opinions about the “witch hunt” against him wasn’t a crime — showed no signs of backing down.

WHAT’S GOING TO BE INSIDE THE TRUMP TEAM’S MUELLER COUNTER-REPORT?

“Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele,” Trump wrote on Wednesday. “The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people! It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC.

On Monday, he wrote: “Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller findings (and great intelligence), have already ruled No Collusion, No Obstruction. These were crimes committed by Crooked Hillary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!”

Republicans, including House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, have pushed aggressively for answers into the origins of the Mueller probe, which began shortly after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

Trump cited several justifications for terminating Comey, including what the president called his mismanagement of the Hillary Clinton email probe, and Comey’s refusal to publicly announce that the president was not under investigation.

The former FBI head acknowledged in testimony in December that when the bureau initiated its counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government in July 2016, investigators “didn’t know whether we had anything.”

An op-ed in The Washington Post earlier in the week, entitled “Admit it: Fox News has been right all along,” pointed to the role in the media in spreading the Russia collusion narrative.

Justice Department legal opinions say that a sitting president cannot be indicted, but Barr said he did not take that into account when he decided the evidence was insufficient to establish obstruction.

That conclusion was perhaps not surprising given Barr’s own unsolicited memo to the Justice Department from last June in which he said a president could not obstruct justice by taking actions — like the firing of an FBI director — that he is legally empowered to take.

Overall, Mueller brought charges against 34 people — including six Trump aides and advisers — and revealed a Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

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Twenty-five of those charged were Russians accused either in the hacking of Democratic email accounts or of a hidden but powerful social media effort to spread disinformation online.

Five former Trump aides or advisers pleaded guilty to charges unrelated to collusion and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics



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