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Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book claims


A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before deciding to shelve it – an explosive claim which a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.

The stunning revelation is contained in Siege: Trump Under Fire, which will be published a week from now, on 4 June. It is the sequel to Fire and Fury, Wolff’s bestseller on the first year of the Trump presidency which was published in 2018.

The Guardian obtained a copy of Siege and viewed the documents concerned.

In an author’s note, Wolff states that his findings on the Mueller investigation are “based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel”.

But Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, told the Guardian: “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.”

Julian Assange hit with 18 federal charges in new indictment

A federal grand jury has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 18 felony charges for his alleged involvement in the 2010 leak of classified documents by Chelsea Manning, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The superseding indictment includes 17 new counts under the Espionage Act, in addition to one charge that had been unsealed after Assange was arrested by in London in April. Each count carries a maximum sentence of between five and 10 years if convicted.

"The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense," the department said in a statement.

The department said Assange "engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning's transmission of classified records to Assange" and "actively encouraged" Manning to hack into a military computer network. WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other sensitive material.


Tillerson told lawmakers Putin was more prepared than Trump in Germany meeting

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir Putin was more prepared than President Donald Trump for their meeting in Hamburg, Germany, putting US officials at a disadvantage, a Democratic House Foreign Affairs committee aide told CNN Wednesday.

Tillerson told lawmakers during a secretive meeting Tuesday that he was guided by "American values" such as democracy and freedom, but could not or would not offer an assessment as to whether the same could be said for Trump, according to the aide.
The source also confirmed that Tillerson said presidential adviser Jared Kushner did not consult with the State Department or other agencies before getting involved in foreign affairs, and that his naďveté put him at risk of being outmaneuvered.
Both details were first reported by The Washington Post.

As you know, I am here today voluntarily in response to your request for my testimony. I chose to come back to Washington to speak with you today on a bipartisan basis because I understand and appreciate the critical role that Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch plays in our constitutional system," he wrote, according to a copy of the remarks released Wednesday.
"That role is especially important with respect to foreign affairs, where our position is strengthened when the world knows that we speak with one voice in protecting America's interests abroad," Tillerson added.


GOP Vermont governor to allow abortion rights bill to become law

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott intends to allow a comprehensive abortion rights bill to become law, as other states led by Republican governors across the nation work to restrict the procedure.

Bill H.57, which passed both thestate House and Senate earlier this year, would "recognize as a fundamental right the freedom of reproductive choice" and "prohibit public entities from interfering with or restricting the right of an individual to terminate the individual's pregnancy." The measure would also protect "rights to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization or to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to obtain an abortion." Vermont -- where both state house chambers are controlled by Democrats -- currently does not restrict abortion.
Scott's communications director, Rebecca Kelley, did not indicate whether the governor would sign the bill, but said that he will not veto it -- effectively allowing the bill to become law, as it will automatically if he does not act on the bill within five days.
"The Governor is and has been pro-choice and believes in a woman's right to choose, so he has ruled out vetoing the bill -- it will become law," she wrote in an email.
Scott has not received the bill or any indication from the legislature as to when he would receive it, Kelley added.
Vermont is not the only state fighting to fortify abortion rights. The state's safeguards on abortions come following the majority-female Nevada Assembly's passage of a bill on Tuesday that would rewrite legal requirements that doctors tell women about the "emotional implications" of an abortion.


WHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump

BY CRISTINA MARCOS - 05/21/19 05:03 PM EDT

A growing number of House Democrats are calling for an impeachment inquiry as the Trump administration resists cooperating with their investigations.

The impeachment talk swelled this week after former White House counsel Don McGahn said he would follow the White House recommendation to defy a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to appear for a hearing on Tuesday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has long resisted impeachment and argued that Democrats should instead focus on the policy issues they campaigned on. But the pressure is growing on Pelosi and her leadership team.

Several Democrats have signed on to a resolution from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) that calls on the Judiciary Committee to inquire whether the House should impeach Trump.

Here's a tally of which lawmakers have endorsed launching an impeachment inquiry of President Trump. This list will be updated.

1. Don Beyer (Va.)
“For me, the final two straws were Don McGahn refusing to come forward after a perfectly reasonable request for him to appear and then [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin writing us back saying he’s not going to honor the subpoena on Trump’s tax returns when the law is crystal clear,” Beyer told The Hill.

2. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

Blumenauer signed on to Tlaib’s resolution.

3. Joaquin Castro (Texas)

“It’s time for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry. There is political risk in doing so, but there’s a greater risk to our country in doing nothing,” Castro tweeted. “This is a fight for our democracy.”

4. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

Cohen introduced articles of impeachment in the last session of Congress that accused Trump of obstructing justice. “I think he's committed impeachable offenses and he ought to be impeached,” Cohen said this week.

5. David Cicilline (R.I.)

Cicilline, a member of Democratic leadership and the Judiciary Committee, called for starting an impeachment inquiry if McGahn didn't appear for the hearing.

“If Don McGahn does not testify tomorrow, it will be time to begin an impeachment inquiry of @realDonaldTrump,” Cicilline tweeted on the eve of McGahn's absence from the Judiciary Committee hearing.

6. Madeleine Dean (Pa.)

Dean, a member of the Judiciary Committee, in an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball" said she backed launching an impeachment inquiry.

7. Diana DeGette (Colo.)

“The facts laid out in the Mueller report, coupled with this administration’s ongoing attempts to stonewall Congress, leave us no other choice: It is time for Congress to officially launch an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States,” DeGette tweeted.

8. Val Demings (Fla.)

Demings, a Judiciary Committee member, said last month after the Mueller report's release that “I think we have enough” to move forward with impeachment. “I think we have great evidence that the president has blatantly violated so many laws. It’s just ridiculous,” Demings said during a Democratic caucus conference call.

9. Veronica Escobar (Texas)

“I personally feel like we cannot tolerate this level of obstruction, that if we do, then we have lowered the bar to the point where any criminal can be president of the United States and that should be unacceptable to all of us,” tweeted Escobar, a Judiciary Committee member. “I believe we need to begin an impeachment inquiry.”

10. Dwight Evans (Pa.)

"The heavily redacted #MuellerReport reveals and details repeated disturbing conduct by the president, & it shouldn't go unnoticed -- an impeachment vote would begin the process & allow House Judiciary to have broader investigative availability, which is certainly warranted!" Evans tweeted.

11. Al Green (Texas)
Green has been a vocal supporter of impeachment since 2017. He forced two House floor votes on impeachment in 2017 and 2018 while Republicans held the majority and has threatened to force a third.

12. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.)

Ocasio-Cortez signed on to Tlaib's resolution after the Justice Department released a partially redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russia's election interference that laid out 10 instances of Trump potentially obstructing justice.

“It is just as politicized a maneuver to not impeach in the face of overwhelming evidence as it is to impeach w/o cause,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on May 21.

“Just as what happens in the House doesn’t control Senate, what happens in the Senate shouldn’t control the House,” she added.

13. Jared Huffman (Calif.)

“The Constitution created our impeachment authority for exactly this kind of circumstance. And it's really damaging to the country and to our institutions if we punt on something like this,” Huffman told "PBS NewsHour" after the Mueller report became public. Huffman is also a co-sponsor of Tlaib’s resolution.

14. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.)

“We are now at the point where we must begin an impeachment inquiry. I don't say that lightly. We've taken every step we can w/subpoenas and witnesses,” tweeted Jayapal, a Judiciary Committee member and Progressive Caucus leader.

15. Seth Moulton (Mass.)

The presidential candidate backs an impeachment investigation.

“I'm not calling for a vote on impeachment today. We don't have all the facts yet. But we should be getting those facts and making them transparent for the American people,” Moulton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

16. Joseph Neguse (Colo.)

“The findings detailed in the Special Counsel’s report, and the Administration’s pattern of wholesale obstruction of Congress since the report’s release, make clear that it is time to open an impeachment inquiry,” Neguse, a Judiciary Committee member, tweeted after McGahn was a no-show.

17. Ilhan Omar (Minn.)

“We must begin impeachment proceedings and investigate if the president committed impeachable offenses,” Omar tweeted after the Mueller report's release. She also co-sponsored Tlaib's resolution.

18. Mark Pocan (Wis.)

“Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the President’s appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry,” tweeted Pocan, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

19. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.)

Pressley is also a co-sponsor of Tlaib's resolution. “There's a lack of moral fortitude and fitness to even be in this office,” Pressley told Boston Public Radio. “I think what we have seen that is unredacted in this report relative to examples of obstruction of justice also gives us the legal grounds.”

20. Jamie Raskin (Md.)

Raskin, a member of the Judiciary Committee and Oversight and Reform Committees, told The Washington Post that “the logic of an impeachment inquiry is pretty overwhelming at this point.”

21. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.)

Rice said on Twitter that "Congress has a moral obligation to put our politics aside and take action," calling on lawmakers to begin impeachment hearings. The New York lawmaker had opposed Pelosi's bid for Speakership.

22. Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.)

“No one is above the law. The time has come to start an impeachment inquiry because the American people deserve to know the truth and to have the opportunity to judge the gravity of the evidence and charges leveled against the president,” Scanlon, the Judiciary Committee's vice chairwoman, said in a statement after McGahn declined to show up for Tuesday’s hearing.

23. Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.)

“I believe that an inquiry into impeachment is required at this point in time,” Speier, a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, told CNN's “New Day.”

24. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.)

In addition to her impeachment inquiry resolution, Tlaib drew attention on her first day as a member of Congress in January for pledging to a crowd of supporters that “we're going to impeach the motherf---er.”

25. Filemon Vela (Texas)

Vela has signed on to Tlaib's resolution calling for an impeachment inquiry.

26. Maxine Waters (Calif.)

Waters was one of the first Democrats to call for Trump's impeachment. Waters told CNN in a recent interview that Trump has “done everything that one could even think of to be eligible for impeachment.”

27. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

“I've been there a long time,” Yarmuth told The Hill when confirming he supports launching an impeachment inquiry, noting he co-sponsored an impeachment resolution in the last Congress when Republicans controlled the House.

Tillerson quietly meets with House lawmakers to discuss Trump

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quietly met with the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday for an interview that focused primarily on his time in the Trump administration, a congressional aide with direct knowledge of the discussion confirmed to CNN.

Tillerson traveled to Capitol Hill where he sat down with the committee's Democratic chairman Rep. Eliot Engel and ranking Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, the aide said, declining to provide additional details about the meeting itself other than the fact that it centered around the former top diplomat's time at the State Department.
What is clear, however, is that Tillerson's trip to Capitol Hill came as a surprise to many in Washington, including to some members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a December 2018 interview with CBS News, Tillerson called President Trump "undisciplined."
"When the President would say, 'Here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it.' And I'd have to say to him, 'Well Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. It violates the law. It violates treaty,'" he said at the time.


n January, CNN confirmed that after a 2017 meeting with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, Trump took the interpreter's notes and told him not to share anything about the discussion with anyone else, according to a former State Department official who was in Hamburg when the meeting took place.
Senior White House and State officials who work on Russian issues asked for notes on the meeting and did not get them, the source said.
Another former State Department official said that Tillerson did not provide a readout of the meeting to US ambassadors in the region at the time. The source said that "Tillerson played stuff pretty close to his chest" with all meetings and this one was no different.
Engel, a New York Democrat, previously told CNN that his panel would work with the House Intelligence Committee to get the interpreter's notes and lawmakers have discussed the possibility of issuing a subpoena for those records.

US intercepts Russian bombers, fighter jets off the coast of Alaska

S F-22 stealth jets intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian Su-35 fighter jets off the coast of Alaska on Monday, according to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The Russian long-range bombers flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends approximately 200 miles off Alaska's western coast.
US F-22s fighter jets and an E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System from North American Aerospace Defense Command "positively identified and intercepted a total of four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on May 20," NORAD said in a statement.

Two of the Russian bombers were intercepted by two F-22s, and a second group of bombers with Su-35 fighters was intercepted later by two additional F-22s, while the E-3 provided overall surveillance," NORAD said, adding that "the Russian bombers and fighters remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace."
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the incident in a tweet Tuesday, saying the Tu-95 bombers "made scheduled sorties over the neutral waters of the Chukotka, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands."
"At certain stages of the route, Russian aircraft were escorted by #F22 fighter jets of the #USAF. The total flight time exceeded 12 hours," the ministry added.
"NORAD's top priority is defending Canada and the United States. Our ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens, vital infrastructure, and national institutions starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace," Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the commander of NORAD, said in a statement.

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