July 19, 2019

Omar Introduces Resolution to Boycott Israel, Likens it to Nazis, USSR

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar proposed a resolution this week supporting the right to boycott Israel, likening the boycott of the Jewish state to boycotts of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Omar’s resolution seeks to push back against U.S. laws banning the boycott of Israel and affirms the right of Americans to organize boycotts of foreign countries if they so wish.

While the resolution doesn’t explicitly name Israel or the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, she told media outlets that the resolution concerns the Jewish state.

“And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”— U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor.

“And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement,” she added.

The resolution attracted some Republican detractors, with Rep. Lee Zeldin slamming Omar for introducing it, saying she brought “her hateful twist” by propping up the BDS movement.

“Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats,” Zeldin wrote in a tweet. “Shame on Rep Omar for bringing her hateful twist on that reality to House Foreign today, propping up the BDS movement & blaming Israel for all of its challenges.”

The resolution affirms the right to boycott as an expression of free speech and cites examples of boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and apartheid South Africa.

“Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad including … boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust,” Omar said in the resolution introduced Tuesday.

“Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad including … boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust.”— U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Omar’s measure will be co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the first female Palestinian-American lawmaker in Congress who openly supports a one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

But the resolution will likely lead to yet another clash with her fellow Democrats who are mulling a resolution condemning the boycott movement.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed Wednesday a resolution that accuses the BDS movement of promoting “principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation,” the Times of Israel reported.

It remains unclear if the resolution will be introduced to the whole Congress next week amid fears over intra-party clashes.

“I think the timing would not be very wise to take up additional measures around the Middle East,” Rep. Mark Pocan told Politico. “Donald Trump just brought us all together, so let’s take advantage of that.”


Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com


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CNN’s Collapsed Ratings Trigger Network Panic

CNN is suffering a credibility crisis as viewership for the once-proud network continues to crater with a no apparent plan in place to fix things anytime soon, according to media watchdogs and insiders.

CNN’s audience shriveled in the second quarter of 2019, averaging only 541,000 total viewers while being more than doubled by Fox News Channel’s 1.3 million average in the process. But CNN struggled even more during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, finishing as the fifteenth most-watched network on basic cable behind networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel. CNN averaged a dismal 761,000 primetime viewers while FNC averaged 2.4 million.

The Hill media guru Joe Concha told Fox News that CNN’s freefall may not be slowing.

THIS IS CNN? PRIMETIME SHOWS FILLED WITH LIBERAL OPINION, NOT STRAIGHT NEWS AS NETWORK CLAIMS

“The numbers warrant concern, yes. Q2 was a particularly news-rich quarter highlighted by the release of the Mueller report and all the aftermath and controversy following it, plus the launch of several high-profile Democratic candidacies including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to propel 2020 coverage into high gear,” Concha said. “It may only get worse in Q3 given the numbers we’re already seeing.”

CNN did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

CNN started off the third quarter with “the network’s lowest average since 2015” when it comes to primetime viewers among the key demographic of adults age 25-54, according to TVNewser. But the network has extended various contributors through the election, indicating that its apparent anti-Trump programming strategy will remain in place for at least the duration of the president’s first term.

“You know the answer,” a longtime CNN employee said when asked if staffers are panicked about the ratings decay before declining further comment.

Another current CNN employee told Fox News that there is widespread concern about the network’s ratings problem, but high-profile hosts such as Anderson Cooper remain unfazed.

“The people that are concerned – it’s certainly not the anchors who have lucrative contracts – it’s the people among the lower levels, such as producers and show bookers.”— CNN employee

“The people that are concerned – it’s certainly not the anchors who have lucrative contracts – it’s the people among the lower levels, such as producers and show bookers,” the employee said.

A third current staffer told Fox News that CNN “is clearly doing something wrong if the ratings are like this,” before asking, “So why don’t we try something different?”

Cable news viewership has declined in general as more and more consumers cut the cord in favor of OTT streaming services, but CNN’s losses are overwhelming. Zucker’s network lost 18 percent of its audience compared to the second quarter of last year. CNN also dropped a whopping 38 percent of primetime viewers among the key demo.

“Losing nearly 40 percent of an already-third place audience must be a primary topic in internal meetings, with immediate remedies not readily apparent.”— Joe Concha

“Losing nearly 40 percent of an already-third place audience must be a primary topic in internal meetings, with immediate remedies not readily apparent,” Concha said.

CNN’s most popular show averaged only 910,000 viewers. Fourteen Fox News programs and 10 MSNBC programs attracted larger audiences.

Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper are part of CNN’s struggling primetime lineup that lost 38% of its audience in the key demo during the second quarter of 2019.
Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper are part of CNN’s struggling primetime lineup that lost 38% of its audience in the key demo during the second quarter of 2019.

Reporter-turned-banker Porter Bibb is surprised parent company AT&T hasn’t made any changes. “My guess is that senior management is more concerned about the launch of HBO Max than CNN, at least for the moment,” he said.

Sagging ratings weren’t the only negative headlines generated by CNN executives during the second quarter, as the network reduced headcount days after publically declaring there wouldn’t be mass layoffs.

A CNN spokesperson told Fox News on May 7 that reports of looming layoffs were a “crazy rumor,” but staffers were shocked when members of the network’s Atlanta-based staff that covered health care were shown the door only two weeks later.

CNN also saw over 100 employees accept a voluntary buyout option, losing bureau chiefs and award winners in the process while the network moved into elaborate new New York City digs.

“My guess is that senior management is more concerned about the launch of HBO Max than CNN, at least for the moment.”— Porter Bibb

CNN began broadcasting in May from the network’s ritzy new facility in the Hudson Yards area on the West Side of Manhattan. The brand-new, state-of-the-art headquarters is part of a luxurious complex that also features condominiums which start at $4.3 million, high-end restaurants and stores such as Cartier, Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus.

The second quarter also saw the release of the White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s anti-Trump book. Before its June release, one current CNN employee told Fox News that CNN’s Acosta might not be the right person to cover Trump’s White House these days.Video

“Jim Acosta is, a lot of times, asking the right questions but it doesn’t always need to be about him and his grandstanding,” the CNN staffer said. “People get tired of it. Acosta is supposed to be a correspondent reporting the facts but you can’t tell the difference between him and a paid pundit.”

MSNBC’s recent Democratic presidential primary debate attracted a large audience, and CNN is set to host its own version later this month. The event would typically be a reason for optimism, but CNN announced on Monday that opinion host Don Lemon would a moderator, raising eyebrows in the process as respected journalists such as Erin Burnett and Poppy Harlow remain on the sideline.

Debate moderators are historically straight-news journalists, as opposed to partisan pundits, but CNN’s decision mirrors NBC’s strategy to allow Maddow to moderate last month’s Democratic Debate. CNN has continued to label Lemon an “anchor” despite him spouting anti-Trump opinions on a regular basis.

Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that CNN’s decision is “a disservice to voters all across the political spectrum” because Lemon – whose beleaguered primetime show has contributed to the network’s ratings crisis — is so open about his own views.Video

DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall recently told Fox News that Lemon is no longer a news anchor in the traditional sense because of his partisan rhetoric.

“He is a host of an opinion-driven show in which his opinions are front and center. Thus, he is a host rather than a news anchor,” McCall said. “His show does discuss news topics, but it is not designed as an objective news show.”

In recent memory, Lemon has compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, then claimed he “didn’t mean” to compare the president and Hitler. He has also called Trump a “racist,” a “fraud,” “con man,” questioned whether or not the State of the Union should air on a delay to avoid “propaganda,” declared that he wouldn’t shake the president’s hand and questioned Trump’s mental fitness.

“To pretend he’s not an opinion host is lunacy,” a CNN employee told Fox News.

Lemon has also suggested Trump doesn’t do enough work, speculated on whether or not the president lies about his weight, tied Trump to the college admissions cheating scheme and took a shot at Trump as he was giving his colleague Chris Cuomo a brief tour of his new studio, suggesting that the president can’t afford such a lavish space since he isn’t a “real billionaire.”

One certainty is that Lemon wasn’t selected to lift the debate’s viewership totals. Lemon’s “CNN Tonight” finished the second quarter of 2019 as the 35th most-watched show on cable news.


Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.


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New Witnesses in Obama Admin FISA Abuse Probe Agree to Testify

Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour, Fox News has learned.  

Sources familiar with the matter said at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Attorney General William Barr ordered U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the bureau’s 2016 Russia case that laid the foundation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz looks on as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Examining the Inspector General's First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election" in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz looks on as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election” in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

While the investigative phaseof the inspector general’s long-running probe is said to be complete, the sources said recent developments required some witnesses to be reinterviewed. And while Barr testified that he expected the report into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse to be ready in May or last month, multiple sources said the timeline has slipped.

“The wheels of inspector general investigations move very, very slowly,” former senior DOJ official Tom Dupree told Fox News.

Dupree, who served as deputy assistant attorney general from 2007 to 2009, does not have firsthand knowledge of the current IG case but is familiar with the process. He added, “Like any investigation, you talk to one person, something that person tells you sends you back … to the first person, so it can be a very extensive, exhaustive process, because you are constantly picking up leads, interviewing former sources and navigating complex questions of classified information.”

Late-breaking information is known to delay such investigations. Horowitz’s office similarly encountered new evidence late in the process of the IG review into law enforcement decisions during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation. In this case, additional FISA information came to light late in the process – including October 2016 contact (first reported by The Hill and confirmed by Fox News) between a senior State Department official and a former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the infamous and salacious anti-Trump dossier.  

The State Department contact with Steele was relayed to a senior FBI official.  The timeline matters because about two weeks later, the FBI and DOJ used Steele’s unverified research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign, to secure a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. At the very least, it’s been argued, Steele’s contact with another government agency should have been a red flag for the FBI because it may have violated his confidential human source agreement.

Steele was later fired by the FBI over his media contacts before the 2016 presidential election. The Page surveillance warrant is the central issue of the DOJ IG’s review.

With the timeline for Horowitz’s report not public, one of the wild cards is the final review by the FBI and DOJ, which includes classification issues and could take weeks.

A spokesman for Horowitz would not comment on the report’s status. But during largely unrelated testimony in November, Horowitz offered some guidance for the timeline of the FISA abuse probe in response to questions from GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.  

“What I can say is given the volume of documents we’ve had and the number of witnesses it looks like we’ll need to interview, we are likely to be in the same sort of general range of documents and witnesses as the last report,” Horowitz said, referring to his team’s review of the Clinton email case. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we are in that million or so plus range of documents and a hundred-ish or so interviews. The last review, as you know, took us about … 16 months or so.”

If that same guidance holds, the window for completion would begin this month, though it remains unclear how much the DOJ/FBI review and the additional interviews could delay the process.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Facebook’s Process to Label You a ‘Hate Agent’ Revealed

Facebook monitors the offline behavior of its users to determine if they should be categorized as a “Hate Agent,” according to a document provided exclusively to Breitbart News by a source within the social media giant.

The document, titled “Hate Agent Policy Review” outlines a series of “signals” that Facebook uses to determine if someone ought to be categorized as a “hate agent” and banned from the platform.

Those signals include a wide range of on- and off-platform behavior. If you praise the wrong individual, interview them, or appear at events alongside them, Facebook may categorize you as a “hate agent.”

Facebook may also categorize you as a hate agent if you self-identify with or advocate for a “Designated Hateful Ideology,” if you associate with a “Designated Hate Entity” (one of the examples cited by Facebook as a “hate entity” includes Islam critic Tommy Robinson), or if you have “tattoos of hate symbols or hate slogans.” (The document cites no examples of these, but the media and “anti-racism” advocacy groups increasingly label innocuous items as “hate symbols,” including a cartoon frog and the “OK” hand sign.)

Facebook will also categorize you as a hate agent for possession of “hate paraphernalia,” although the document provides no examples of what falls into this category.

The document also says Facebook will categorize you as a hate agent for “statements made in private but later made public.” Of course, Facebook holds vast amounts of information on what you say in public and in private — and as we saw with the Daily Beast doxing story, the platform will publicize private information on their users to assist the media in hitjobs on regular American citizens.

Breitbart News has already covered some of the individuals that Facebook placed on its list of potential “hate agents.” Paul Joseph Watson eventually was categorized as “hateful” and banned from the platform, in part, according to the document, because he praised Tommy Robinson and interviewed him on his YouTube channel. Star conservative pundit Candace Owens and conservative author and terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel were also on the list, as were British politicians Carl Benjamin and Anne Marie Waters.

The Benjamin addition reveals that Facebook may categorize you as a hate agent merely for speaking neutrally about individuals and organizations that the social network considers hateful. In the document, Facebook tags Benjamin with a “hate agent” signal for “neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys” on October 21 last year.

Facebook also accuses Benjamin, a classical liberal and critic of identity politics, as “representing the ideology of an ethnostate” for a post in which he calls out an actual advocate of an ethnostate.

In addition to the more unorthodox signals that Facebook uses to determine if its users are “hate agents,” there is also, predictably, “hate speech.” Facebook divides hate speech into three tiers depending on severity and considers attacks on a person’s “immigration status” to be hate speech.

Here’s how “hate speech” — both on and off Facebook — will be categorized by the platform, according to the document:

Individual has made public statements, or statements made in private and later made public, using Tier 1, 2, or 3 hate speech or slurs:

3 instances in one statement or appearance = signal
5 instances in multiple statements or appearances over one month = signal

If you’ve done this within the past two years, Facebook will consider it a hate signal.

Other signals used by Facebook to determine if its users should be designated as hate agents include carrying out violence against people based on their “protected or quasi-protected characteristics,” attacks on places of worship, and conviction of genocide.

Are you a source at Facebook or any other corporation who wants to confidentially blow the whistle on wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari securely at allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.


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2 Oil Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman

Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, prompting the rescue of dozens of crew members.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. Details of the incident were unclear, but one of the operators made an unconfirmed report that a torpedo had hit its ship, Reuters reported.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said. The Fleet did not blame anyone for the attack.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP/ISNA)

One of the vessels involved was identified as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged but Norwegian-owned crude oil tanker carrying naphtha, a petrochemical product, to Japan.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said.

Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, claimed the Front Altair had sunk, but the Norwegian shipping firm Frontline said it was still afloat.

The Iranian Students News Agency tweeted unverified images of the Front Altair on fire.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said. 
International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said. (AP Photo/ISNA)

The other vessel, the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, reportedly carrying methanol, sustained damage on its hull starboard side. 21 sailors were evacuated, and one was slightly injured.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations — an arm of the British Navy — had put out an alert earlier and urged “extreme caution” amid U.S.-Iran tensions.

In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, described the incidents as “suspicious” and called for regional talks. His comments came as Ayatollah Khamenei was meeting Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, for talks in Iran.

The area of the explosions is near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic route through which 20 percent of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers. Oil prices rose by about 4 percent in the wake of the latest incidents, while the tanker association INTERTANKO said that there were growing worries for the safety of ships sailing through the strait.

“Following two attacks on Member vessels this morning, I am extremely worried about the safety of our crews going through the Strait of Hormuz,” Paolo d’Amico, chairman of INTERTANKO, said in a statement.

“We need to remember that some 30% of the world’s (seaborne) crude oil passes through the Straits. If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

This May 2018 image made available by Marine Traffic shows the MT Front Altair in Antwerp, Belgium. (Patrick Vereecke/Marine Traffic via AP)
This May 2018 image made available by Marine Traffic shows the MT Front Altair in Antwerp, Belgium. (Patrick Vereecke/Marine Traffic via AP)

Thursday’s incident comes a month after the U.S. accused Iran of attacking ships off the coast of United Arab Emirates. The UAE told the U.N. Security Council a “state actor” was most likely behind the attacks but stopped short of blaming Iran.

The timing of Thursday’s incident was especially sensitive as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran as an interlocutor for President Donald Trump to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran. (AP)

On Wednesday, after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe warned that any “accidental conflict” amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. must be avoided at all costs.

While meeting with Abe on Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that while Tehran doesn’t want an atomic bomb, “America could not do anything” to stop Iran if it did.

Khamenei was quoted earlier saying that Iran “will in no way repeat” negotiations with the U.S. amid tension over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Khamenei’s official website quoted him as telling Abe: “I don’t regard Trump as deserving any exchange of messages and have no response for him and will give no response.”

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Hillary Clinton’s Russia collusion IOU: The answers she owes America

During the combined two decades she served as a U.S. senator and secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s patrons regularly donated to her family charity when they had official business pending before America’s most powerful political woman.

The pattern of political IOUs paid to the Clinton Foundation was so pernicious that the State Department even tried to execute a special agreement with the charity to avoid the overt appearance of “pay-to-play” policy.

Still, the money continued to flow by the millions of dollars, from foreigners and Americans alike who were perceived to be indebted to the Clinton machine or in need of its help.

It’s time for the American public to call in their own IOU on political transparency.

The reason? Never before — until 2016 — had the apparatus of a U.S. presidential candidate managed to sic the weight of the FBI and U.S. intelligence community on a rival nominee during an election, and by using a foreign-fed, uncorroborated political opposition research document.

But Clinton’s campaign, in concert with the Democratic Party and through their shared law firm, funded Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier which, it turns out, falsely portrayed Republican Donald Trump as a treasonous asset colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin to hijack the U.S. election.

Steele went to the FBI to get an investigation started and then leaked the existence of the investigation, with the hope of sinking Trump’s presidential aspirations.

On its face, it is arguably the most devious political dirty trick in American history and one of the most overt intrusions of a foreigner into a U.S. election.

It appears the Clinton machine knew that what it was doing was controversial. That’s why it did backflips to disguise the operation from Congress and the public, and in its Federal Election Commission (FEC) spending reports.

Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) used the law firm of Perkins Coie to hire Glenn Simpson’s research firm, Fusion GPS, which then hired Steele — several layers that obfuscated transparency, kept the operation off the campaign’s public FEC reports and gave the Clintons plausible deniability.

But Steele’s first overture on July 5, 2016, failed to capture the FBI’s imagination. So the Clinton machine escalated. Steele, a British national, went to senior Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr — whose wife, Nellie, also worked for Fusion — to push his Trump dirt to the top of the FBI.

Nellie Ohr likewise sent some of her own anti-Trump research augmenting Steele’s dossier to the FBI through her husband. Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann used his connection to former FBI general counsel James Baker to dump Trump dirt at the FBI, too.

Then Steele and, separately, longtime Clinton protégé Cody Shearer went to the State Department to get the story out, increasing pressure on the FBI.

In short, the Clinton machine flooded the FBI with pressure — and bad intel — until an investigation of Trump was started. The bureau and its hapless sheriff at the time, James Comey, eventually acquiesced with the help of such Clinton fans as then-FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

To finish the mission, Simpson and Steele leaked the existence of the FBI investigation to the news media to ensure it would hurt Trump politically. Simpson even called the leaks a “hail Mary” that failed.

Trump won, however. And now, thanks to special counsel Robert Mueller, we know the Russia-collusion allegations relentlessly peddled by Team Clinton were bogus. But not before the FBI used the Clinton-funded, foreign-created research to get a total of four warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, transition and presidency from October 2016 through the following autumn.

The Clinton team’s dirty trick was as diabolical as it was brilliant. It literally used house money and a large part of the U.S. intelligence apparatus to carry out its political hit job on Trump.

After two years of American discomfort, and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, it’s time for the house to call in its IOU.

Hillary Clinton owes us answers — lots of them. So far, she has ducked them, even while doing many high-profile media interviews.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Longtime Clinton adviser Douglas Schoen said Friday night on Fox News that it’s time for Clinton to answer what she knew and when she knew it.

Here are 10 essential questions:

  1. In January 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a formal investigative request for documents and written answers from your campaign. Do you plan to comply?
  2. Please identify each person in your campaign who was involved with, or aware of, hiring Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele.

  3. Please identify each person in your campaign, including Perkins Coie lawyers, who were aware that Steele provided information to the FBI or State Department, and when they learned it.

  4. Describe any information you and your campaign staff received, or were briefed on, before Election Day that was derived from the work of Simpson, Steele, Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr or Perkins Coie and that tried to connect Trump, his campaign or his business empire with Russia.

  5. Please describe all contacts your campaign had before Election Day with or about the following individuals: Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, former foreign policy scholar Stefan Halper and Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud.

  6. Did you or any senior members of your campaign, including lawyers such as Michael Sussmann, have any contact with the CIA, its former Director John Brennan, current Director Gina Haspel, James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe?

  7. Describe all contacts your campaign had with Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal concerning Trump, Russia and Ukraine.

  8. Describe all contacts you and your campaign had with DNC contractor Alexander Chalupa, the Ukraine government, the Ukraine Embassy in the United States or the U.S. Embassy in Kiev concerning Trump, Russia or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

  9. Why did your campaign and the Democratic Party make a concerted effort to portray Trump as a Russian asset?

  10. Given that investigations by a House committee, a Senate committee and a special prosecutor all have concluded there isn’t evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, do you regret the actions by your campaign and by Steele, Simpson and Sussmann to inject these unfounded allegations into the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community and the news media?

Hillary Clinton owes us answers to each of these questions. She should skip the lawyer-speak and answer them with the candor worthy of an elder American stateswoman.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill. Follow him on Twitter @jsolomonReports.


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Far-Left CNN Suffers Double Digit Primetime Ratings Crash in May

The news just keeps getting worse and worse for the far-left CNN, which suffered a 16 percent primetime ratings collapse last month.

The embattled CNN, which always lands is far-last place and axed more than 100 jobs already this year, had about as bad of a ratings month as is possible in May.

It’s primetime hours were only able to average a measly 761,000 viewers, while the fake news outlet’s total day viewers dove nine percent (compared to this same month last year) to just 559,000 viewers.

For comparison purposes, Fox News earned three times as many primetime viewers (2.34 million) and more than twice as many total day viewers (1.34 million). What’s more, when compared to this same month last year, Fox lost none of its primetime viewers and only four percent of its total day viewers.

The most astounding thing, though, is that CNN’s ratings are already so low, it seems impossible they could dive any lower — and yet, they always do.

Do you have any idea just how low 761,000 primetime viewers is…?

How does a nationally known brand like CNN, a brand that is decades old, only manage to attract 761,000 viewers throughout a gonzo news month in a country of over 300 million?

But his is just how far over the cliff CNN has gone… CNN has lost almost all of its viewers, all of its moral authority, and every bit of trust it once had. Over the past six years, as soon as Jeff Zucker took over, CNN got every major national  story exactly wrong, including…

  • Hispanic George Zimmerman: The White Racist Killer
  • Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
  • Trump Can’t Win
  • Brett Kavanaugh: Serial Rapist
  • The KKKids from KKKovington High School
  • Trump Colluded with Russia

And in every one of those cases, CNN got it deliberately wrong because CNN is nothing less than a hysterical propaganda outlet, a fire hose of hate, violence, and lies

Things are so bad at CNN that even though it is only competing with two other cable news networks, the fake news outlet’s top rated program, Cuomo Prime Time, crash-landed in 25th place averaging only 938,000 viewers.

That’s right, the top 24 slots are all filled with shows from Fox News and MSNBC — and Fox holds seven of the top ten.

The insufferable Jake Tapper, the guy Zucker put at 4 p.m. hoping he’d act as a primetime anchor, as a lead-in for the rest of the night, landed in a pathetic 36th place with only 706,000 average viewers, which is 55,000 fewer viewers than CNN’s primetime average.

Among CNN shows, Tapper used to regularly place in the top three as far as total viewers. Now he’s in sixth place among his fake news colleagues.

CNN’s flagship morning show, New Day, is a laughingstock with just 485,000 average viewers.

How big of a fail is that?

Well, New Day is losing by about 80,000 viewers to Fox & Friends First, which airs at — get this — 4 a.m.

Morning shows are supposed to be Zucker’s specialty, where he truly shines, and New Day is a catastrophe — but so is CNN overall in every possible metric — including integrity, decency, honesty, and humanity.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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Special Counsel Robert Mueller Speaks, Closes Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his first public appearance since being appointed to lead the Russia investigation, said it was “not an option” to charge President Trump with a crime, citing Department of Justice policy, but maintained that if they had “confidence” that the president did not commit a crime, they “would have said so.”

“I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete,” Mueller said. “The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel’s office. And as well, I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life.”

The Justice Department announced Mueller would make a statement on Wednesday morning–his first in the more than two years since he was appointed as special counsel.  A senior White House official told Fox News that the White House was advised on Tuesday night of Mueller’s plans.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning that President Trump was “aware” Mueller’s remarks were coming but had no comment when asked whether the White House had advanced knowledge of the substance of Mueller’s remarks. Sanders also had no comment on whether the president would make a public statement after Mueller speaks.

Meanwhile, multiple sources familiar with the situation told Fox News that Attorney General Bill Barr was aware of Mueller’s plans to deliver a statement Wednesday. One source told Fox News that Barr has also been made aware of the contents of Mueller’s statement. The attorney general, though, will not be at the Justice Department for Mueller’s appearance, and is, instead, traveling to Alaska to meet with law enforcement officials.

Mueller’s appearance comes amid mounting pressure for Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a public setting as part of that panel’s oversight investigation of the probe and the Trump administration.

The committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has been in negotiations with Mueller to schedule a hearing for the special counsel, but it is unclear if and when he will appear.

Meanwhile, the special counsel’s office this week issued a rare denial in response to questions about controversial author Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, “Siege: Trump Under Fire,” which reportedly claims that Mueller drew up an obstruction of justice indictment against President Trump.

Robert Mueller set to make first public statement since the release of the report

Video

According to The Guardian’s Edward Helmore, Wolff reports that Mueller’s office planned to charge the president with “influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding,” “tampering with a witness, victim or informant” and “retaliating against a witness, victim or informant” but eventually decided to “shelve” it. The Guardian reporter claimed he viewed the document, but the special counsel’s office denied it even exists.

“The documents described do not exist,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told Fox News on Tuesday.

DOJ AGREES TO SHARE SOME MUELLER DOCUMENTS WITH DEMOCRATS

Last month, Mueller’s report, with redactions covering sources and methods, and grand jury material, was released to the public and to Congress. The special counsel found no evidence of collusion between the Russians and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller was also leading an inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice, outlining 10 instances that could have been perceived as obstruction. Mueller did not, however, come to a conclusion on that matter.

Attorney General Bill Barr, in March, upon reviewing Mueller’s report, said in his four-page summary that the special counsel’s investigation did not find evidence sufficient to charge the president with an obstruction of justice offense.

Barr has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of the report. The House Judiciary Committee, earlier this month, voted to hold him in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena to turn over an unredacted version of the Mueller report and its underlying documents and evidence to the committee. The president, then, asserted executive privilege in a bid to protect those files from release.

Fox News’ Kristin Brown, Jake Gibson, Brian Flood, and Blake Burman contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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Obama Federal Judge Sides with House Democrats over Subpoena for Trump’s Financial Records

Most of President Trump’s income came from his properties, making $247 million from his golf and other resort clubs; Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence reports from Washington.

A Washington, D.C.-based federal judge has sided with House Oversight Committee Democrats seeking to enforce their subpoena of Trump accounting firm Mazars USA, in a major ruling that breathes new life into Democrats’ ongoing efforts to probe the president’s financial dealings.

The subpoena seeks access to a slew of Trump financial documents dating back to 2011, including personal records and records of various affiliated business and entities. Democrats pursued the subpoena after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in February that the president’s accountants routinely and improperly altered his financial statements — including some signed by Mazars — to misrepresent his assets and liabilities.

Barack Obama-appointed judge Amit P. Mehta’s 41-page opinion began by comparing President Trump’s concerns about congressional overreach to those of President James Buchanan, asserting that Trump “has taken up the fight of his predecessor.”

And Mehta acknowledged a high likelihood that any documents obtained by House Democrats would quickly leak, and become partisan political fodder.

“[T]he court is not naïve to reality,” Mehta wrote, admitting there “is a chance that some records obtained from Mazars will become public soon after they are produced.”

Mehta added that he was “well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States,” dating back to well before he declared his candidacy.

White House says House Democrats will not get a 'do-over' of the Mueller probe

White House says House Democrats will not get a ‘do-over’ of the Mueller probe

A letter to House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler accuses Democrats of trying to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of the investigation; Catherine Herridge reports from Washington.

But, Mehta said, Democrats’ subpoena fell within established congressional investigative and oversight powers, which generally only require that subpoenas serve some “valid legislative purpose.” The judge noted that the probe could uncover conflicts of interest in the White House, as well as potential violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause or the reporting requirements of The Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Mehta said he would not stay his ruling pending appeal, despite the risk of permanently compromising Trump’s private financial information, in part because of the public’s strong interest in Democrats obtaining the records.

“Courts have grappled for more than a century with the question of the scope of Congress’s investigative power,” Mehta wrote. “The binding principle that emerges from these judicial decisions is that courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose. To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority. But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress.”

The judge continued: “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

The president’s legal team, in a filing earlier this month, had asked the judge to prohibit Mazars from “enforcing or complying” with the subpoena, issued April 15.

Trump’s lawyers quoted Democrats as openly admitting they wanted to use subpoena power for political purposes. “We’re going to have to build an air traffic control tower to keep track of all the subpoenas flying from here to the White House,” one Democrat said; another referenced a “subpoena cannon” firing at the White House.

Trump’s lawyers also argued the subpoena to Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and is an “unconstitutional attempt to exercise ‘the powers of law enforcement.’”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel's subpoena of Mazars, President Trump's accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel’s subpoena of Mazars, President Trump’s accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But, Mehta wrote in his ruling, the standard for obtaining a valid congressional subpoena is not a difficult bar to clear under Supreme Court precedent, and Democrats had easily shown they were not simply out on a “fishing expedition.” Comments made by Democrats suggesting their political motivations, Mehta said, did not automatically make the subpoena itself invalid.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records,” the judge wrote. “It is undisputed that the President did not initially identify as liabilities on his public disclosure forms the payments that Michael Cohen made to alleged mistresses during the presidential campaign. Furthermore, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations arising from those payments.”

Trump’s lawyers also noted that the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is leading several Trump-focused investigations.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records.”— Washington, D.C. district court Judge Amit P. Mehta

“Chairman Cummings flat-out admitted that he wanted to ‘investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office’ and ‘review whether he has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

Meanwhile, House Oversight Commitee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the subpoena “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority to target and expose the private financial information of the President of the United States.”

The Trump team filing came after Cummings’ committee issued several subpoenas for Mazars Accounting in an effort to obtain financial documents and audits prepared for Trump and his businesses over the last decade.

Cummings also sought independent auditor’s reports, annual statements and other documents related to Trump’s finances spanning from 2011 to 2018.

At the time, Mazars said it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

The ruling comes the same day that Trump directed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, citing a Justice Department opinion that he cannot be compelled to testify about his official duties.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders blasted Democrats for continuing to pursue Trump investigations, saying they want a “wasteful and unnecessary do-over” in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — and describing the subpoena for McGahn as part of that effort.

Fox News’ Bill Mears, Edward Lawrence, Brooke Singman, and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.


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US Attorney John Durham has been Investigating Origins of Russia Probe For Weeks Already


Attorney General Bill Barr assigns Connecticut attorney John Durham to review the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.

The U.S. attorney appointed to examine the origins of the Russia investigation has been working on his review “for weeks,” a person familiar with the process told Fox News on Tuesday.

Fox News reported on Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr had assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether Democrats were the ones who improperly colluded with foreign actors.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6036508658001/

Durham, known as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor, according to a source, will focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016—including the use and assignments of FBI informants, as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.

Barr first announced that he was reviewing the “conduct” of the FBI’s original Russia investigation during the summer of 2016 last month, following calls from Republicans, and President Trump, to investigate the origins of the probe.

“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted in the summer of 2016,” Barr testified on April 9.

AG Barr taps US attorney John Durham to investigate Russia probe origins

That same day, Fox News learned that Barr had assembled a “team” to investigate the origins of the investigation. A source told Fox News Tuesday that Durham has been working on the investigation “for weeks,” but it is unclear if he was part of the original team assembled by Barr last month.

The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was opened by former senior agent Peter Strzok. Former FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI “knew so little” about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were “true or not true,” at the time that they opened the probe, noting that they had just “a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path” of vetting the allegations. Page later said that it was “entirely common” that the FBI would begin a counterintelligence investigation with just a “small amount of evidence.”

The FBI, at the time, was led by former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—both fired during the Trump administration.

It has been widely reported that in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI employed informants to probe and extract information from Trump campaign officials.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that an investigator working for the U.S. intelligence community posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016, and tried to probe former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

The investigator, who went by Azra Turk, met with Papadopoulos at a London Bar, where she asked directly whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, another time over dinner, and then once with Stefan Halper, the Cambridge professor who had been a longtime FBI informant. The Times noted that Turk had apparently been sent to oversee Halper, and possibly provide cover for Halper in the event Turk needed to testify.

Papadopoulos told Fox News earlier this month that he “immediately thought she was an agent, but a Turkish agent, or working with the CIA,” and explained “that’s why I never accepted her overtures and met her again after London…London became a very bizarre hangout spot for me that year.”

Papadopoulos also told Fox News that Turk was trying to “seduce” him in an effort to “make me slip up and say something that they knew I had no info on.”

The role of the informants, however, are also reportedly part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review into potential abuses of FISA. Horowitz’s probe began last year, and Fox News has learned that that investigation is nearing completion. Horowitz’s probe is also focused on the FISA warrants issued and recertified for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Christopher Wray on if the FBI engages in spying: 'That's not the term I would use'

Republicans, for months, have called for a careful review as to whether the FBI violated Page’s constitutional rights, misled the FISA court, or withheld exculpatory information.

The FBI’s ultimately successful October 2016 warrant application to surveil Page, which relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, accused Page of conspiring with Russians. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Republicans have also been looking for answers from U.S. Attorney John Huber, who was appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review not only surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI, but also their handling of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation and other matters. Huber apparently has made little progress, and has spoken to few key witnesses and whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, Barr’s appointment of Durham comes after he testified last month that he believed that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said at a congressional hearing. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated…Spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

Barr later clarified in the hearing: “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred; I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that’s all.”

But FBI Director Chris Wray during a separate congressional hearing broke with Barr’s sentiment.

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked if FBI agents engage in “spying” when they follow FBI policies and procedures.

“Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” he continued. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities.”

But former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned in November amid a political clash with the president following his decision in 2017 to recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation due to his work with the campaign, later took Barr’s side.

“I think that ‘spying’ is a perfectly good word,” Sessions said during an on-stage interview at a conference in Las Vegas last week.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Gregg Re and Adam Shaw contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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9th Circuit Agrees Trump Admin can Send Asylum Claimants to Wait in Mexico

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday granted the Trump administration’s request to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out court proceedings temporarily.

The court order reversed a decision by a San Francisco judge that would have blocked the policy — giving President Trump a temporary victory on immigration.

The case must still be considered on its merits at a lower court in San Francisco and could end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled April 8 that the policy should be halted while a lawsuit, filed on behalf of 11 asylum applicants and several other organizations, proceeds.

Migrants from around the world gather in Mexico with goal of entering US

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, said that despite the ruling, “there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt.”

“Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “Notably, two of the three judges that heard this request found that there are serious legal problems with what the government is doing.”

The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups says the Trump administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.

Yuma at breaking point over asylum seekers, Sen. McSally says ‘crisis getting worse everyday’

Video

It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or impossible for them to do so.

The Trump administration says the policy responds to a crisis at the southern border that has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants. Growing numbers of families are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Last year, the Justice Department eliminated gang violence and domestic abuse as a possible justification for seeking asylum.

The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy was one of the primary innovations of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who left her role with the Trump administration last month.

Asylum law, conservatives point out, is intended to shield individuals from near-certain death or persecution on account of limited factors like religious or political affiliation — not poor living conditions and economic despair.

Most asylum applicants are ultimately rejected for having an insufficient or unfounded personalized fear of persecution, following a full hearing of their case before an asylum officer or an immigration judge.


Fox News’ Raymond Bogan, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nicoledarrah.


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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Denies House Dem’s Request for Trump’s Tax Returns

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter Monday, denied House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for President Trump’s tax returns, saying the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

“As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” the letter said.

Mnuchin told the Massachusetts Democrat he’d relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded that the department was “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

“The Department of Justice has informed us that it intends to memorialize its advice in a published legal opinion as soon as practicable. Out of respect for the deadlines previously set by the Committee, and consistent with our commitment to a prompt response, I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” the letter read.

The move, which was expected, is sure to set in motion a legal battle over Trump’s tax returns. The likely options available to Democrats would be to subpoena the Internal Revenue Service for the returns or to file a lawsuit.

Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April under a law that said the IRS “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers, including the chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The White House and the president’s attorneys declined to comment on the deadline to turn over Trump’s returns. Trump already has signaled he has no intention of turning over the much-coveted records.

The president has long told confidants that he was under audit and therefore could not release his taxes. But in recent weeks, he has added to the argument, telling advisers that the American people elected him once without seeing his taxes and would do so again, three White House officials and Republicans told The Associated Press anonymously.

By Frank Miles | Fox News

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Kimberly Strassel: AG Barr Attacked Because His New Probe Targets Powerful Democrats

The only thing uglier than an angry Washington is a fearful Washington. And fear is what’s driving this week’s blitzkrieg of Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Barr tolerantly sat through hours of Democratic insults at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. His reward for his patience was to be labeled, in the space of a news cycle, a lawbreaking, dishonest, obstructing hack. Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly accused Mr. Barr of lying to Congress, which, she added, is “considered a crime.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will move to hold Mr. Barr in contempt unless the attorney general acquiesces to the unprecedented demand that he submit to cross-examination by committee staff attorneys. James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lamented that Donald Trump had “eaten” Mr. Barr’s “soul.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren demands the attorney general resign. California Rep. Eric Swalwell wants him impeached.

These attacks aren’t about special counsel Robert Mueller, his report or even the surreal debate over Mr. Barr’s first letter describing the report. The attorney general delivered the transparency Democrats demanded: He quickly released a lightly redacted report, which portrayed the president in a negative light. What do Democrats have to object to?

Some of this is frustration. Democrats foolishly invested two years of political capital in the idea that Mr. Mueller would prove President Trump had colluded with Russia, and Mr. Mueller left them empty-handed. Some of it is personal. Democrats resent that Mr. Barr won’t cower or apologize for doing his job. Some is bitterness that Mr. Barr is performing like a real attorney general, making the call against obstruction-of-justice charges rather than sitting back and letting Democrats have their fun with Mr. Mueller’s obstruction innuendo.

But most of it is likely fear. Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching – that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.

He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.


Kimberley Strassel is a Fox News contributor and writes the Potomac Watch column for the Wall Street Journal where she is a member of the editorial board. Her latest book is “The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech” (Twelve, 2016).  Follow her on Twitter @KimStrassel.  


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Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein Resigns

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who frequently found himself in the political crosshairs due to his role in the special counsel’s Russia probe and whose departure has long been expected, submitted his resignation on Monday to President Trump, effective May 11.

Attorney General William Barr in a statement said Rosenstein served the Justice Department “with dedication and distinction.”

“His devotion to the Department and its professionals is unparalleled,” the statement read. “Over the course of his distinguished government career, he has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace, and good humor.”

Rosenstein, 54, previously served as deputy assistant attorney general and U.S. attorney. He had intended to leave his position last month but stayed on for the completion of the Mueller probe, which Rosenstein had overseen.

In February, Fox News reported that Barr had picked Jeffrey Rosen, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to take over for Rosenstein.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defends Attorney General Bill Barr's handling of the Mueller report

Rosenstein was part of a small group of department officials who reviewed the document and helped shape its public release. After Mueller didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, Barr and Rosenstein stepped in and determined the evidence wasn’t enough to support such an allegation.

In recent months, Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe described private discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump accused them of pursuing a “treasonous” plot against him. Rosenstein, though, denied pursuing a recording of the president and has pushed back on claims he broached the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. However, Rosenstein was largely spared the type of anger directed by Trump at Sessions, whose recusal infuriated the president and led to Sessions’ to his forced resignation last November.

As first reported by The New York Times last year, Rosenstein allegedly discussed wearing a “wire” to tape Trump and pursuing his removal from office in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials. This would have been in the tumultuous days after Comey was fired as FBI director, with the president citing in part a memo penned by Rosenstein — reportedly catching him off guard.

Are Democrats overreacting to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's expected departure from the DOJ?

Fox News has learned one key meeting took place on May 16, 2017 at Justice Department headquarters. Several people were in the room, including McCabe and former FBI counsel Lisa Page. Mueller was appointed as special counsel the next day.

Rosenstein’s conservative critics on the Capitol Hill seized on the reports, with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, calling on him to appear before Congress to explain the comments. In July, Meadows and Jim Jordan of Ohio, another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.

Those impeachment articles accused Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That effort was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has not been voted upon.

Before named by Trump to serve as the No. 2 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Rosenstein took over the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself from the investigation. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller to his post.

Fox News’ William Mears, Alex Pappas, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.


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Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Bid

3 things to know about the former vice president

Former Vice President Joe Biden officially announced his 2020 presidential bid.

“The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Biden announced in a tweet early Thursday.

Biden, 76, is the latest Democrat to enter the crowded race for the White House against President Trump. A former senator from Delaware, Biden has emerged as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination — topping the polls alongside self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here are three things to know about the former vice president as his campaign journey begins.

He first bid for the presidency came over three decades ago

Biden’s announcement on Thursday marks the beginning of his third campaign for the White House.

As a 45-year-old senator from Delaware, Biden launched his first campaign in 1987 at the Wilmington train station. The first campaign didn’t last long, ending after it became public that he had plagiarized a speech from a British politician, according to the Delaware News Journal.

His second bid began in 2007, but he dropped out in 2008 after failing to gain enough support. Biden ultimately went on to serve as vice president for two terms under Barack Obama.

In 2016, there was much speculation that Biden would again announce a bid for president, but he decided against running for personal reasons. His son, Beau, had died in 2015 after battling brain cancer.

His choice of transportation is the Amtrak train

Aptly nicknamed “Amtrak Joe,” Biden had long been a fixture on the rail line between his home in Delaware and his office in Washington D.C.

Biden began taking the train home every night to care for his two sons after his wife and daughter died in a car accident in 1972, according to the Washington Post.

He carried on the Amtrak tradition throughout his decades-long Senate career. Biden’s affinity for the train gained national attention when he became Obama’s running mate in 2008.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 12, 2017.

President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 12, 2017. (The Associated Press)

In January 2017, outgoing President Obama surprised Biden with the President Medal of Freedom in an emotional ceremony.

“To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Obama said.

Biden tearfully accepted the honor.

By Stephen Sorace


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Dr. Qanta Ahmed: Rep. Ilhan Omar is a Disgrace to Islam

Rep. Ilhan Omar continues to be an embarrassment and a disgrace for me and other American Muslims with her outrageous, ignorant, anti-Semitic and now anti-American comments.

And while Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, holds herself out as a proud Muslim, she repeatedly projects a distorted and patently Islamist interpretation of Islam – a religion that in reality stands for the values of justice, peace and ethical conduct.

Sadly, Omar gives millions of Americans a false impression of what Islam is and what we Muslims believe and stand for. While she denounces prejudice against Muslims, her aberrant views on Islam fuel prejudice against me and my coreligionists by distorting who we are while defaming and dishonoring the great monotheism of Islam.

Omar’s latest absurd and insulting comment came to light just a few days ago. Describing the horrific Islamist terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed almost 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others – including many Muslims – Omar told a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

First, Omar betrayed her ignorance, because CAIR was founded in 1994. Second, the congresswoman displayed an appalling and dismissive insensitivity to the worst foreign attack on America in our history, claiming almost 600 more lives than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Omar’s grotesque trivialization of a national tragedy amounts to an explicit denial of 9/11 – a desecration of all the lives erased that awful day. This denial is inexplicable unless she has strong and covert Islamist sympathies.

Tragically, the Sept. 11 attacks continue to take a toll almost 18 years later.

Some estimate more than 2,100 first responders who worked in Ground Zero in New York City in an effort to save lives and then find the deceased after the attacks have died of diseases they incurred. More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer related to the World Trade Center attacks and over 43,000 have been certified with World Trade Center-related illnesses.

Omar should be honest. There is no escaping the fact that the atrocities of 9/11 were not simply committed by “some people.” Islamist jihadists were responsible and they came from within the Muslim fold.

Most of the almost 490,000 Americans who either lived near Ground Zero or responded to the recovery and rebuilding efforts have never enrolled in the government’s health programs. So we don’t know how many more have suffered health problems from the terrorist attack on the twin towers.

I am a physician now working in New York and I’m affiliated with New York University Winthrop Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program. I see the burden of Sept. 11 on a regular basis, treating brave and selfless first responders who still suffer from complex sleep disorders – including post-traumatic stress – that I specialize in treating.

President Trump responded to Omar’s comments by posting a video on Twitter mixing her words with terrible scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks. His action can be considered insensitive to many 9/11 survivors and family members – including some of my own patients – who can’t view these pictures without experiencing repeat trauma.

However, the president’s exposure of Omar’s hypocrisy and offensive diminishment of 9/11 was both legitimate and necessary.

In her dismissal of Sept. 11, Omar callously erased the deep suffering of every survivor and family I attend, and everyone else still impacted by the terrorist attacks.

Like each person old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, the day will be engraved in my mind for as long as I live.

I was working as a physician in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was 4 p.m. when I turned on my TV and watched the world come to a standstill as I witnessed (along with people around the world) the jet planes go through the World Trade Center, and soon after saw the twin towers collapse.

Mass murder on live TV – an unbelievable nightmare, like a horror film come to life.

Living at the time in the Saudi Kingdom – the epicenter of Islam – as the world learned the identity of the 9/11 terrorists, I wondered how my religion had been hijacked by suicidal killers who claimed they had a religious duty to kill innocents.

And I knew from that moment that these murderers would now become the face of Islam for many non-Muslims who know little about a religion with more the 1.6 billion followers around the globe.

Of course, only the perpetrators of the 9/11attacks and their supporters are to blame for their evil and immoral massacre. But on that sad day it became the responsibility of every Muslim to understand the heinous perversion of Islam known as Islamist jihadism and to stand against it.

In her grotesque trivialization of the Sept. 11 attacks, Omar betrays the Islam she claims to follow. She also denigrates every victim and survivor of the attacks and does me and every other Muslim a grave dishonor.

And while Omar relishes in flaunting her Muslim identity, she categorically fails in her Islamic duty. Islam is very clear in assigning responsibility for wrongdoing. Each Muslim has a clear-cut duty to himself or herself, to God and to society.

In fact, the holy texts of Islam emphasize that one’s greatest allegiance should be to justice – even if doing so demands superseding family and coreligionist ties.

“Be strict in observing justice, and be witness for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against your parents or kindred,” the Koran says in Chapter 4, Verse 36. Omar fails on every count when her remarks trivializing the Sept. 11 attacks are seen in the light of this verse.

There is no question that the Sept. 11 attacks were an act of war launched through evolutionary Islamist jihadism, which has since become the hallmark of radical Islam.

Radical Islam – also known as Islamism – is a deviant, fictional and extreme distortion of true Islam, perpetrated by Islamist Muslims who use it to justify hatred and lethal violence that in reality have nothing to do with Islam.

Omar should be honest. There is no escaping the fact that the atrocities of 9/11 were not simply committed by “some people.” Islamist jihadists were responsible and they came from within the Muslim fold.

The vast majority of the world’s Muslims reject the cult or murder and death embraced by the hijackers of our beautiful religion, and in fact, many Muslims continue to die at the hands of Islamist jihadism. We each bear a responsibility to expose it.

Finally, let me set the record straight on Omar’s frequent complaints about how she and other Muslims are being persecuted and discriminated against in the United States today.

As a Muslim woman of color and immigrant – just like Omar – it’s logical to assume that if there was pervasive anti-Muslim discrimination in the United States I would be aware of it.

But in fact, Muslims have not experienced a contraction of civil rights in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks. We continue to have the same rights as all other Americans.

Rather than being second-class citizens, Muslims born in America and immigrating here legally have full citizenship open to us. We are all allowed to both be and feel fully American and recognized as such, unlike the way many Muslims tell me they feel in European nations.

The greatest obscenity in the lie that Omar pedals is that she – along with millions of other Muslims in America – is somehow victimized. Do not believe this.

Muslims in America are mainstream and most are middle-class. Some of us are even wealthy. Many of us are highly educated, upwardly mobile and among the fastest immigrants to climb the economic ladder and earn six-figure incomes. This is in stark contrast to Muslims in Europe, where Muslims are much less affluent than the general population.

The myth of Muslim victimhood is an Islamist one. It is completely false in the setting of Islam in America and in comparison to Islam in the wider Muslim-majority world.

For me, condemning Omar’s trivialization of the Sept. 11 mass murders is an act of being fully American, being a physician advocate for my 9/11 survivor patients and their families, and at the same time – keeping in line with Islam’s clear teachings – being fully Muslim.

Omar’s words are a grotesque injustice against people who have already experienced diabolic injustice.

I thank God every day that I was able to immigrate to the United States of America, where I am now a proud citizen in a country I love and where I enjoy the blessings of  American liberty and protection of my rights under the U.S. Constitution. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear Rep. Ilhan Omar express these same sentiments?  Don’t expect it anytime soon.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY QANTA AHMEDQanta A. Ahmed, M.D., is  a councilor at the USC Shoah Foundation and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also an associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York. Follow her on Twitter @MissDiagnosis.


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Unfortunately, We’ve Reached the Point that We Need a National ID

WERE YOU AWARE THAT MOST NATIONS HAVE A NATIONAL ID?

It’s true. For a quick lesson in how many countries issue a National ID for their citizens, do a Google search for “national id” and click on images. Hundreds of nations issue ID cards for their citizens, to differentiate them from non-citizens and ensure that national benefits and rights are extended to their citizens, and that they are not removed as non-citizens.

For all of us civil libertarians, who abhor ‘Big Brother’ tracking our every move and knowing what we are doing in life, the thought of a National ID card has been a very sore subject for decades. We have simply rejected any mention of it at every turn.

Yet, we live in a nation where liberals create problems, then create solutions to those problems, which create bigger problems–perpetuating the escalating cycle of government intrusion and bureaucratic expansion.

Because we are overrun with non-citizens who seek American citizen rights and privileges–like voting, welfare benefits, employment, etc.–and because the left has been pushing so hard to make those rights and privileges available to non-citizens, we must seriously consider the reality that we must now provide all Americans with federal government issued identification. Those who hold the ID are extended the rights and privileges of US citizens, and those who do not hold it are not. It’s really that simple.

Of course, those who are in favor of open borders and who have a desire to dilute the status of US citizenship will hate the idea. They will decry a National ID as being exclusive, discriminatory, and limiting. They will tell us that there will be a few citizens who have difficulty obtaining a National ID, and therefore, no one should have it (like a Voter ID card, for example).

We are at the point that we can make a National ID card that is nearly impossible to replicate. A biometric database (fingerprint or retina scan) can quickly identify anyone who is asked to produce his ID, but left it in his other wallet.

Again, critics will argue that those who are unable to obtain a Nation ID will be discriminated against, and illegal aliens will be deported. Of course, every nation on the earth defines its borders and only allows certain people within its borders (try to visit Canada or Sweden without their permission, and you’ll see how archaic America has become), and America should be no different. To those who fear that illegals will be discovered through this process, all I can say is–you’re right. That is exactly what will happen.


By James Thompson. James holds a doctoral degree, and is a political commentator and professional ghostwriter.


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Porn Lawyer Michael Avenatti Arrested for Extorting Nike for $20M

Michael Avenatti, porn star Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer who briefly considered a bid for president, was charged Monday for allegedly trying to extort Nike for $15-$25 million, officials at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said. He was also charged in a separate case out of California for wire fraud and bank fraud.

Avenatti, who Fox News confirmed was taken into custody Monday, allegedly tried to extort the massive sports apparel company “by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met,” prosecutors alleged.

The counts against him include conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to extort, conspiracy to commit extortion and more. Avenatti is expected to answer to the charges later Monday.

At a press conference Monday, Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Avenatti used illegal tactics and threats in an effort to obtain millions of dollars for himself. He claimed that if Nike did not meet his demands “the company might die.” The scheme played out in less than a week.

According to the New York complaint against him, Avenatti and an unidentified co-conspirator met with attorneys for Nike on March 19 and “threatened to release damaging information” if the company did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments to them, as well as an additional $1.5 million payment to a client Avenatti claimed to represent.

He allegedly told the attorneys that if his demands were not met, he would “go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f***ing around.”

The complaint said Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the NCAA tournament to announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees.

The co-conspirator was identified as an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California, and is “similarly known for representation of celebrity and public figure clients.” Meanwhile, the alleged client was identified as a coach for an amateur athletic union men’s basketball program based in California.

Earlier Monday, Avenatti tweeted he would be holding a press conference Tuesday to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

Meanwhile, at a second press conference in California, federal authorities announced additional criminal charges against the lawyer for a separate matter. In that case, Avenatti was accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm.

United States Attorney Nick Hanna said Avenatti was charged with wire fraud and tax fraud stemming from a two-year IRS tax investigation after he allegedly obtained bank loans on false terms by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

“[Avenatti] is a corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interest,” Hanna said, adding that the allegations against the attorney “paint an ugly picture of lawlessness and greed.”

Avenatti became famous as the lawyer for Daniels, the porn actress who alleged she had an affair with President Trump. In the last year, the duo became household names in their fight against Trump, dominating cable news shows for months and taunting the president in interviews.

Daniels released a statement Monday saying she was not “shocked” by the charges against Avenatti.

“Knowing what I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today,” Daniels said. “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come.”

Before Avenatti began representing Daniels in February 2018, he was virtually unknown outside of the California legal community. But in a matter of months, he had become known as a no-holds-barred lawyer with a media style — and a penchant for tweeting — similar to Trump’s.

Avenatti had toyed with a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat — he even visited Iowa at one point — but ultimately ruled that out. He also was involved in another high profile case, representing dozens of parents whose children were separated from them at the U.S. border as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. More recently, he’s been representing women who said they were sexually abused by R&B star R. Kelly.

In the California case, Avenatti faces up to 50 years in prison, while in the New York case, the charges carry a potential penalty of 47 years in prison. Hanna said they coordinated with prosecutors in New York to execute both arrest warrants at the same time, but emphasized that they were two separate cases that happened to coincide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter & Editor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang


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BREAKING–AG Barr Stuns Washington, Nation with Mueller Results

NO COLLUSION! NO OBSTRUCTION!

WASHINGTON – The day has finally come. 

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday released the “principal conclusions” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s completed Russia probe in a bombshell four-page letter to Capitol Hill lawmakers, which stated definitively that Mueller did not establish evidence that President Trump’s team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia — “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

Mueller’s team specifically looked into two Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election — first, the work by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, to “conduct disinformation and social media operations” designed to “sow discord” in the U.S.”

According to Barr’s letter, “The special counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its effort” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election in that manner.

Next, Mueller investigated whether the Trump team was involved in the hacking of emails, many of which were released publicly, that belonged to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“The Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with Russians who worked on those hacking efforts, according to Barr’s letter, “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

The letter concluded: “After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues… Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Barr adds, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does no exonerate him.”

For Trump, who has tweeted more than 230 times that he and his team did not collude with Russians, the moment amounted to a near-total vindication.

Attorney General William Barr leaving his home in McLean, Va., on Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Attorney General William Barr leaving his home in McLean, Va., on Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Barr said Mueller’s team had “thoroughly” investigated allegations that Trump’s team sought to conspire with Russians or obstruct investigators. Mueller said he employed 19 lawyers and approximately 40 FBI agents, executing hundreds of search warrants, 10 pen registers, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.

Barr’s disclosure was a capstone moment following the 22-month investigation that ensnared six former Trump advisers and associates — but resulted in no indictments related to collusion with Russia.

The letter promised to settle some of the largest outstanding questions of the Mueller investigation, even as Democrats on Sunday vowed to press on with other investigations, and members of both parties continued to push for the public release of as much of the Mueller report as possible.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that he believed there remained “significant evidence of collusion” linking the Russian government with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Schiff said Democrats might subpoena Mueller if the full report is not released.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” insisted, “So we know a lot of things and maybe it’s not indictable, but we know there was collusion. The question is the degree.”

Democrat congressional leaders scrambled to respond to the end of the Mueller probe this weekend, holding an emergency conference call and discussing potential next steps.

A top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee conceded to reporters Saturday that Barr’s release of Mueller’s conclusions likely would be a cause for celebration among President Trump’s supporters — many of whom have stood by the president for more than two years amid a torrent of unproven allegations that the Trump campaign illegally worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

WATCH THE MEDIA MELTDOWN OVER MUELLER REPORT — WAS MADDOW CRYING?

“It’s the end of the beginning but it’s not the beginning of the end,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said, echoing his party’s strategy of moving forward on to other investigations, including probes into Trump’s financial dealings. “Once we get the principal conclusions of the report,” he added later, “I think it’s entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters.”

Along those lines, Nadler said that Democrats would continue their efforts.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife, Ann, leaving St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House, in Washington on Sunday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife, Ann, leaving St. John’s Episcopal Church, across from the White House, in Washington on Sunday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“The job of Congress is much broader than the job of the special counsel,” Nadler said. “The special counsel is looking and can only look for crimes. We have to protect the rule of law, we have to look for abuses of power, we have to look for obstructions of justice, we have to look for corruption in the exercise of power which may not be crimes.”

But House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” argued that Democrats were unlikely to uncover anything Mueller could not.

“As we’ve seen in the first two months of this Congress, [Democrats] really don’t have a policy agenda,” Collins said. “They have an agenda against the President. They have an agenda to try and win 2020. And so, what we’re seeing is, they think that they can go into the Judiciary Committee or any other committee and have a limited budget, limited subpoena power, limited staff and go up against an investigation that lasted 22 months, had unlimited power, unlimited subpoena power, had plenty of investigators — and they think they can find something more than what they did, then I think they’re sadly mistaken.”

A former senior law enforcement official echoed those remarks, telling Fox News that Democrats would lack key investigative powers that Mueller had, including the ability to convene grand juries — and that Nadler’s path amounted to trying to criminalize meetings with foreign actors that the special counsel apparently determined were simply not criminal.

criminal.

Was press too invested in probe toppling Trump?

Pundits split over attacking Trump or investigators.

“With all the talk of the Democrats intensifying their House investigations,” the former official said, it was important to note that “unlike Special Counsel Mueller, Congress and the [DOJ Inspector General] cannot convene grand juries and initiate prosecutions. If Mueller couldn’t find collusion or conspiracy with every investigative tool, what do the Democrats expect to accomplish?”

Some conservatives, meanwhile, argued that Democrats should come under increased scrutiny for their contacts with foreign nationals. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hired the firm Fusion GPS, which employed Britsh ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an anti-Trump dossier that the FBI used to justify the surveillance a top Trump aide and kickstart the Russia probe — even as text messages exclusively obtained by Fox News this week revealed that the DOJ seemingly raised “repeated” concerns that Steele, whose anti-Trump views are now widely known, was politically biased.

The Trump aide, Carter Page, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, although the FBI initially alleged he had conspired with Russians.

On Sunday, Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said Sunday that if the Mueller report is disclosed publicly, then all documents relating to it should also be published — including the complete Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application to monitor Page.

“We have asked for that information to be made public a long time ago,” Jordan said in a televised interview.

In a show of confidence, for his part, Trump waved and flashed two thumbs up to supporters as he returned to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday. The entertainer Kid Rock later uploaded a photograph of his golf outing with Trump earlier in the day.

On Sunday morning, Trump broke an unusual, nearly 40-hour-long Twitter silence, writing simply, “Good Morning, Have A Great Day!”

He added, minutes later: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

White House officials told Fox News that Trump then embarked on a golf outing with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson at the Justice Department and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.


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BREAKING: Mueller Report Delivered

Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report to Justice Department

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates — marking the end of the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle over its contents and implications.

Mueller is “not recommending any further indictments,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

The report was delivered Friday afternoon to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office and it was delivered to Barr’s office within minutes, a senior DOJ official told Fox News. The White House was notified that the DOJ had received the report around 4:45 p.m., before lawmakers on Capitol Hill were informed. Neither the White House or Congress have seen the actual report.

Both Barr and Rosenstein have seen the report, according to a senior DOJ official.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted following the report’s submission.

“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” she said. “The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.”

Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, both of whom are counselors to Trump, also released a joint statement.

“We’re pleased that the Office of Special Counsel has delivered its report to the attorney general pursuant to the regulations,” the statement said. “Attorney General Barr will determine the appropriate next steps.”

Following word that Mueller was not recommending more indictments, Giuliani told Fox News that they were “confident” the investigation would show there was no collusion.

“This marks the end of the investigation. We await a disclosure of the facts. We are confident that there is no finding of collusion by the President and this underscores what the President has been saying from the beginning – that he did nothing wrong.”

President Trump's attorneys release statement on completion of Mueller report

Video

Several lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received a letter about the report’s submisision. Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the ranking member.

“Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters,” the letter said.

Barr also said that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

“Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies,” it continued.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released a joint statement, urging that the report’s contents be made public.

“Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,” the statement said. “Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”

“The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation,” the statement continued. “The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.”

It’s not clear how much, if any, of the report will be made public or provided to Congress. None of Mueller’s findings were immediately released.

The president has repeatedly decried Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” emphatically denying he or his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 race. The president has alleged a slew of internal “conflicts of interest” from Mueller’s team and has previously said his legal team is drafting a “major counter report” in response to its findings.

Mueller’s investigation, which was initially ordered to look into the 2016 election in May of 2017, has gone on for almost two years. It has expanded to probe financial crimes of Trump associates before the election, conversations Trump’s national security adviser had with the Russians during the transition and whether Trump obstructed justice with his comments and actions related to the probe.

Mueller, the former director of the FBI under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May of 2017. In his order, Rosenstein directed Mueller to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, as well any other matters that arose from the investigation.

“If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” Rosenstein wrote to Mueller.

Since then, Mueller’s team has indicted, convicted, or won guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies as part of an investigation that has also probed issues unrelated to the 2016 campaign.

Twenty six Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

But none of the Trump associates connected to Trump have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Mueller’s team charged former Trump associate Roger Stone in January with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Other convictions include: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017.

Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November.

Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.

Mueller has also looked at actions taken by Trump after he was sworn in as president, like his firing of FBI director James Comey and his ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions, once one of President Trump’s most loyal and trusted advisers infuriated Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation. In March 2017, Sessions announced his plans to recuse himself after reports surfaced detailing undisclosed conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

At the time of his recusal, Sessions said he met with the “relevant senior career department officials” to discuss the issue.

“Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said.

Rosenstein, Sessions’ number two at the Justice Department, then took control of the investigation and decided to appoint Mueller to take over the probe.

Rosenstein said at the time, “What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Mueller said in a statement, upon his appointment: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.’’

Rosenstein later ceded oversight to then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker when he took over for Sessions. But the report was submitted to Barr, who was confirmed in February by the Senate as attorney general.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and John Roberts contributed to this report.


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