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National Govt & Politics
Trump praises DOJ review of how Russia probe began
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Trump praises DOJ review of how Russia probe began

Trump praises DOJ review of how Russia probe began

Trump praises DOJ review of how Russia probe began

Telling reporters that he did not order an internal Justice Department investigation into the origins of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised the decision of Attorney General William Barr to put a federal prosecutor from Connecticut in charge of an internal review of the matter.

"I didn't know it, but I think it's a great thing that he did it," the President told reporters as left the White House for a trip to Louisiana on Tuesday, as he again accused FBI officials of using the probe to wrongly investigate his campaign over possible ties to Russia.

"They want to look at how that whole hoax got started," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump - and many Republicans in Congress - have long claimed that the FBI 'spied' on his 2016 campaign, an accusation given new life by Attorney General William Barr in early April, when he told a Senate panel that there had been possible illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign.

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked about that characterization by the Attorney General - and he made clear that he did not agree with Barr, saying, "that's not the term I would use."

That semantic conflict was simmering in the President's mind, as he denounced the FBI Director's answer as 'ridiculous.'

"I thought the Attorney General answered it perfectly," Mr. Trump said of Wray. "I certainly didn't understand that answer; I thought it was a ridiculous answer."

In charge of the review will be U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut - who is no stranger to high profile investigations.

In 2008, Durham was chosen to investigate the destruction of videotaped interrogations by the CIA, in a post-9/11 dispute over treatment of terrorist detainees, and whether they were tortured in violation of U.S. laws.

Last week, former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker said the probe began after Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russia had offered to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Papadopoulos later plead guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with "certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.”

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Universal Studios Orlando has announced it will reopen to the public June 5, but some passholders will get the chance to visit before then. Over the weekend, some passholders received an invite to visit the Florida theme park again June 3 or 4, WFTV reported. Universal has unveiled several new plans for how the park will implement new safety procedures. Social distancing starts when you park, with a space or two between vehicles. Everyone will be required to undergo a temperature check, and face coverings must be worn. There will also be new ride queue configurations for social distancing, and more virtual lines. Signs and announcements with the new rules throughout the park will also remind guests of the new policies. Other changes include more contactless pay options, and extra cleaning of equipment, especially at Volcano Bay.
  • The parents of Ahmaud Arbery have met with members of the Department of Justice as they investigate why it took so long to make an arrest in the murder case, their legal team said. Arbery, 25, was gunned down Feb. 23 as he went on a run near his home in Brunswick, Georgia. Travis James McMichael, 34, is charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s slaying. His father, Gregory Johns McMichael, 64, is charged as a party to felony murder and aggravated assault. The legal team for Arbery’s family said the meeting with U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District and the family happened late last week, WSB-TV reported. >> Ahmaud Arbery: Gregory and Travis McMichael charged with murder In a statement, the attorneys for Arbery’s parents said, in part: “This would involve the consideration both civil and criminal charges against state officials and conspirators involved in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. We left that meeting feeling satisfied that the DOJ would do their part to fully investigate all players involved in this murder and would hold those responsible accountable.” In a statement, the Department of Justice announced it is looking at federal hate crime charges in the case. “The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.” Video of the shooting was leaked on social media earlier this month, prompting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. Last week, the GBI announced a third arrest in the case against William “Robbie” Bryan, the man who shot the cellphone video showing the shooting that killed Arbery. The GBI charged Bryan with murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Critics say Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson mishandled the case from the beginning, before recusing herself. But Johnson said she was barely involved because suspect Greg McMichael used to be her chief prosecutor and that her office quickly pulled out of the investigation. But as she heads into a reelection campaign, Johnson now faces many questions and both federal and state investigations. In a recent interview with radio station WIFO-FM, Johnson blamed the Glynn County police for not calling in the GBI sooner and the media for the firestorm around her. “I don't fear the truth; I fear lies,” Johnson said. “We are under a cloud now because of the national media that's based on a lie.” Bryan, along with the McMichaels, remain in jail waiting for a court date to be set for a bond hearing.
  • Twenty hikers were rescued Monday after flash flooding near a swimming hole known as the Devil’s Bathtub in southwestern Virginia, authorities said. The U.S. Forestry Service closed the Devil’s Bathtub Trail for the rest of Monday after the hikers were accounted for shortly after 10 a.m., WJHL reported. According to Duffield Fire Chief Roger Carter, the hikers were rescued on trails around the Devil’s Bathtub after they were trapped by rising waters, ending an ordeal that began Sunday at 7:15 p.m, WCYB reported. “The real challenge is the stream crossings and when you have the water come up very quickly, that’s going to trap people in places where they can’t get out and they can’t get out because the terrain is so steep and in some places, sheer vertical cliffs and then other places, they may end up on an island trapped by water on all sides of them,” Billy Chrimes, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, told WJHL. Carter told reporters that one rescued hiker might have a twisted knee, while others have mild cases of hypothermia. Devil’s Bathtub is a naturally occurring swimming hole located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The trail leading to it is called Devil’s Fork and is a 7.2-mile round trip, CNN reported.
  • She does not have the moves of her famous father just yet, but 11-month-old Capri Bryant gave it a good try as she made her first uncertain steps. Vanessa Bryant continues to grieve the deaths of her husband and daughter -- NBA legend Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January -- but there have been some recent happy moments for the family. Vanessa Bryant shared an Instagram video shot over the weekend of the couple’s youngest child, Capri, taking her first steps. “I’m so proud of you!” Vanessa Bryant said in the video. “I knew you were gonna do it!” “My baby!!!! So proud of my Koko Bean,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram on Monday. “Capri took her first steps from her auntie Sophie to mama today.' Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in late January, along with the pilot and six other people.
  • On a day when Americans honor veterans, a Florida man got a double treat -- a parade to honor his military service and his 90th birthday, which fell on Memorial Day this year. Vincent Delmore, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was expecting a quiet birthday since most of his family lives in his native Connecticut, the Naples Daily News reported. Family and friends had different ideas, organizing a parade of patrol cars and friends through his neighborhood. Family members showed up, too. “It was a complete surprise,” Delmore told the Daily News in a telephone call. “I don’t know how many (patrol) cars there were with lights on.” Family members living in Tampa and Orlando made the drive to southwest Florida to visit. It was exciting for the 90-year-old man, who joked about his age to the Daily News. “Make sure not to put my picture in the obituary section,” he told the newspaper.

Washington Insider

  • The White House on Sunday added Brazil to the list of nations where foreign nationals are not allowed entry into the United States, in another bid to use travel restrictions to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. 'As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world,' said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement.  'Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,' she added. The new rules apply not only to Brazilians, but also any other non-U.S. citizen who has been in the South American nation. The changes will take place late this week. The decision comes as the virus outbreak has been spreading in Brazil, which is now seen as the third worst in the world, behind the U.S. and Russia. Last week, President Trump had hinted at such a move. 'I don't want people coming in here and infecting our people,' the President told reporters when asked about a possible move to slow travel with Brazil. 'Brazil is having some trouble. No question about it,' Mr. Trump added on May 19. The designation of Brazil adds that nation to a list of travel restrictions because of the Coronavirus which includes the United Kingdom, most countries in mainland Europe, and China.