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National Govt & Politics
Lingering questions left over from the Mueller Report
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Lingering questions left over from the Mueller Report

Lingering questions left over from the Mueller Report

Lingering questions left over from the Mueller Report

As reporters, politicians, legal experts, and members of both political parties spent the weekend going over the impact of the 448 page redacted version of the Mueller Report, it was obvious from the political and legal reactions that the fight over what Russia did in the 2016 elections - and how the Trump Campaign and President Donald Trump dealt with that - was not going to be ending anytime soon.

"There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday, as Republicans continue to press the case that the Mueller Report absolves the President of any and all wrongdoing.

"We need to go back and look at how this fake “Russia Collusion” narrative started," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as Republicans looked to move on from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and to focus on investigating the investigators.

Meanwhile, Democrats were mulling over their own options, which certainly seem to include more hearings in Congress on what was revealed by the Mueller Report, tugging the story in the exact opposite direction.

Democrats pointed to comments from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who said the Mueller Report showed a 'pervasiveness of dishonesty' inside the Trump White House.

Here's some things which may get some attention in the weeks and months ahead:

1. GOP still wants answers on the Steele Dossier. If you were looking for the Special Counsel's office to detail how the Steele Dossier had factored into the Russia investigation, there was precious little in the Mueller Report. The dossier was directly mentioned 14 times, but there was no mention of it contributing anything directly to the findings of the report. The Special Counsel report says nothing about the dossier as the reason for starting a counter-intelligence investigation, instead making clear that it was information from Trump Campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos which was the genesis. "On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government rep01ting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign," the report states on page 14. But the Mueller Report does not address one key question - was the Steele Dossier just another effort by Moscow to disrupt the 2016 elections? This is where Republicans say they want answers - they can hold hearings in the U.S. Senate, if they wish.

2. Michael Cohen again demands retraction over Prague story. One item in the Steele Dossier which has often caused a media furor is over the assertion that President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen went to the Czech Republic on some sort of mission for the President during the 2016 campaign. Cohen has always denied it, and repeated that in testimony before Congress earlier this year. "Have you ever been to Prague?" Cohen was asked. "I've never been to Prague," Cohen responded without missing a beat. "I've never been to the Czech Republic." The Mueller Report was clear that Cohen was believed over Steele. "Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false," the report says on page 351. On Friday, Cohen again said he was still waiting for a retraction by McClatchy Newspapers.

3. Why did Donald Trump Jr. not answer questions from Mueller? While President Trump's son has steadfastly defended his father throughout the Mueller investigation, and testified to the Congress about the Russia probe, the Special Counsel report notes that Trump Jr. did not directly aid the Mueller investigation, specifically on the infamous Trump Tower meeting. "The Office spoke to every participant except Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer) and Trump, Jr., the latter of whom declined to be interviewed by the Office" - then, the next two sentences are redacted, with the explanation on page 125 that grand jury information is responsible for the redacation. In a later discussion of how President Trump handled publicity about the Trump Tower meeting, there is a redaction which involves Trump Jr. on grand jury grounds - does it indicate again that Trump Jr. did not answer questions? It's not clear because of the blacked out material - but the President's son never seemingly answered questions from Mueller's team or a federal grand jury.

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Lingering questions leftover from the Mueller Report

4. A Trump tweet that was redacted in the Mueller Report. This seems sort of crazy, but it's true. On page 363 of the report, Mueller discusses President Trump denouncing Michael Cohen, when his former personal attorney had moved to plead guilty and cooperate with the feds. "He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion serve a full and complete sentence," the President tweeted. Then there is a section which is blacked out under, "Harm to Ongoing Matter." But if you look at the footnote, it refers to a tweet by Mr. Trump, at 10:48 am on December 3, 2018. It's not hard to figure out which tweet that was, as it was one in which the President talks about Roger Stone not flipping and cooperating with the feds. I'm not a lawyer, so it makes no sense to me that printing that tweet could interfere with an ongoing case, but that's one of the redactions made by the Justice Department.

5. When will Robert Mueller talk in public? Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have already sent a letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller asking him to testify before Congress on his report. Last week, the Attorney General said he would have no opposition to Mueller testifying. Mueller operated in a much different way than previous high-profile independent prosecutors - go back to Watergate and you will see news conferences by Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski; Ken Starr spoke to the press during the Whitewater investigation. But Robert Mueller has been totally silent, ignoring questions on his few visits to Capitol Hill, doing no interviews and saying nothing in public. An effort to get some remarks from him on Sunday after church netted only a 'no comment' - which is pretty much the most we have heard from Mueller during his almost 22 months as Special Counsel.

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  • As you spend this Memorial Day weekend celebrating with your friends and family, its important to remember that the freedom many of our nation's heroes have fought and died for always comes at a price. Well in honor of the occasion, as you would expect, here are some freebies and deals through Memorial Day that veterans, active duty and retired military members and their families can take advantage of( standard disclaimer: some locations may not be participating, so its important to always contact them ahead of time):  Ace Hardware: While supplies last, you can get a free 8 by 12 inch flag on May 25th.  AAA: Through Tuesday, you can get free tipsy low service.  Apple: They have special offers on their products, including their Apple Care Protection Plans.  Cinemark Theatres: It varies by location, but if you show your military ID, you get a special discount.  Delta Airlines: Military personnel get a free bag check.  Home Depot and Lowe's: Veterans and their families get 10 percent off. Just show your ID  Hooters: Show your military ID on May 27th and you can get free entrees including 10 free boneless wings, Buffalo chicken salad, Hooters Burger or a Buffalo Chicken sandwich.  Longhorn Steakhouse: Check out the coupon below to get a free appetizer or dessert when you get an entree through May 26th.  https://www.longhornsteakhouse.com/customer-service/coupons/free-app-or-dessert-with-2-entrees-lh74-052319?cmpid=br:lh_ag:ie_ch:eml_ca:LHQ419L52COUP_dt:20190523_vs:1NV_in:Specials_pl:image01_FreeApp_rd:9bc86910b47843f7a15abeafd3d66e28  Sea World and Busch Gardens: The Waves of Honor program gives free entry to military families and members with their ID through December 31st. TGI Fridays: Check out the coupon to a free entree when you buy one and two drinks from May 25-27.  https://share.rivet.works/fridays
  • An ex-Magic Kingdom worker from Clermont has been arrested, accused of trying to set up a sexual encounter with an 8 year old girl.  According to the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Frederick M. Pohl Jr.  sent inappropriate pictures of himself to what he believed was the 8 year old girl and talked online with her and her father in order to arrange a meeting. When he arrived at an Orlando hotel that they were supposed to meet at, Pohl was arrested by an undercover federal agent who was the one posing as the girl he was talking to.  According to the submitted criminal complaint, Pohl was in possession of condoms and a child sized pink dress. While the Middle District did confirm that he was an employee at the Magic Kingdom, they did not say what his role was.
  • A man who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting outside a mosque in South Florida on Friday was wanted in Osceola County for attempted murder, according to law enforcement officials. >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Marshals Service Florida and Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force were involved in the shooting at the parking lot of the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Fort Lauderdale. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said the man who was shot was Hamid Ould-Rouis, 58, who was wanted for attacking two people at a home on Luminous Loop in Kissimmee on Thursday.  Deputies said Ould-Rouis entered the home and battered a man before attacking a woman with a knife. The woman is in a hospital in critical condition, deputies said. Marshals said they were attempting to arrest Ould-Rouis, but a threat posed by him prompted members of the task force to fire their weapons. There is no indication that the mosque is related to the incident, officials said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
  • A man who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting outside of a South Florida Mosque Friday afternoon was wanted in Osceola County for attempted murder. According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Police in Broward County and U.S. Marshals had been looking for Hamid Ould-Rouis,58, who was accused of beating up a man and stabbing a woman nearly to death in a Kissimmee home early Thursday. The woman remains hospitalized in critical condition.  Members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force tracked him to the parking lot near the Masjid Al Iman mosque, in Fort Lauderdale. When he got out of a black SUV with a weapon, several officers opened fire. He died on the scene.  There is no indication that the mosque is related to the incident, officials said.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
  • Game dates and kickoff times for Orlando’s Camping World Bowl and Citrus Bowl games were announced Thursday as part of ESPN’s 2019-20 college football bowl schedule. This year, the Camping World Bowl, which traditionally features teams from the ACC and Big 12 conference will be broadcast on ABC for the first time in the bowl’s 30-year history.  It is set for Saturday, December 28 at Noon.  Last year’s contest saw Syracuse beat West Virginia 34-18 which helped guide the Orange to a 10-3 record, the team’s best finish since 2001.  The Citrus Bowl, which typically features teams from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten conference will continues its News Years Day tradition, kicking off at 1 o' clock on January 1, 2020.  It will also be broadcast on ABC.  In last year’s game, Kentucky defeated Penn State 27-24.  “We are thrilled to present two big-time bowl games from Orlando on national television this season,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase the Central Florida community twice in five days this postseason.”  The Cure Bowl, Orlando’s third bowl game, had already announced that this years game will be played at Orlando City Stadium, on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Washington Insider

  • Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.