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Trump lawyer calls for end to Russia investigation after McCabe firing

  • Attorney John Dowd responds to firing of Andrew McCabe
  • Ex-CIA chief Brennan calls Trump a ‘disgraced demagogue’

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Trump lawyer calls for end to Russia investigation after McCabe firing” was written by Lauren Gambino in Washington, for theguardian.com on Saturday 17th March 2018 20.12 UTC

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer said on Saturday he hoped the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe would prompt Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation, to shut down the inquiry.

John Dowd spoke hours after Trump gloated that the firing of McCabe marked a “great day for democracy”. His glee provoked a savage response from former CIA director John Brennan, who called him a “disgraced demagogue” headed for “the dustbin of history”.

McCabe is a 21-year veteran of the FBI who became a lightning rod in a partisan battle over investigations into Russian election interference, potential links between Trump aides and Russia, and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

He stepped down in January but was fired on Friday night, after the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rejected an appeal to allow him to retire on Sunday, his 50th birthday, when he would become eligible for a government pension.

On Saturday, Dowd said in a statement first provided to the Daily Beast that he “pray[ed]” Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller, “will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR] and attorney general Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier”.

Dowd said he was speaking as the president’s attorney but later, reached by the Guardian, he said he was “speaking for myself not the president”.

He added that the investigation should be ended “on the merits in light of recent revelations”. A justice department spokeswoman declined to comment. The White House did not answer a request for comment.

Senator Mark Warner, vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, responded: “Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the special counsel. Now.”

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, warned of “severe consequences” should Trump curtail or end Mueller’s work. Republicans have advised Trump not to fire Mueller, though they have not advanced legislation to protect him.

John Brennan has said Trump is headed for ‘the dustbin of history’.
John Brennan has said Trump is headed for ‘the dustbin of history’.
Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Brennan addressed the president earlier on Saturday, writing: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.

“You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America … America will triumph over you.”

He was responding to a tweet sent by Trump in the early hours which celebrated McCabe’s dismissal, an act one historian likened to the “Saturday night massacre” of 1973, when Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor leading the Watergate investigation.

“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy,” Trump wrote. “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

Trump fired Comey as FBI director last May, an act which led to the appointment of Mueller, a former FBI director, as special counsel. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch-hunt” though his legal team has been cautious not to criticize Mueller publicly.

The 2020 election

The most likely price Trump would pay, if he were perceived guilty of wrongdoing, would be a 2020 re-election loss. He can’t afford to lose many supporters and expect to remain in office. Any disillusionment stemming from the Russian affair could make the difference. His average approval rating has hung in the mid-to-upper 30s. Every president to win re-election since the second world war did so with an approval rating in the 49%-50% range or better.

Congress

As long as Republicans are in charge, Trump is not likely to face impeachment proceedings or to be removed from office. A two-thirds majority in the Senate is required to remove a president from office through impeachment.

Public opinion

If public opinion swings precipitously against the president, however, his grip on power could slip. At some point, Republicans in Congress may, if their constituents will it, turn on Trump.

Criminal charges

Apart from impeachment, Trump could, perhaps, face criminal charges, which would (theoretically) play out in the court system as opposed to Congress. But it’s a matter of debate among scholars and prosecutors whether Trump, as a sitting president, may be prosecuted in this way.

Other

Robert Mueller is believed to have Trump’s tax returns, and to be looking at the Trump Organization as well as Jared Kushner’s real estate company. It’s possible that wrongdoing unrelated to the election could be uncovered and make trouble for Trump. The president, and Kushner, deny wrongdoing.

Mueller is said to be looking into whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he fired Comey. The president reportedly ordered Mueller fired last June, but backed down when the White House counsel threatened to resign.

Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation after failing to reveal contacts with Russians, announced McCabe’s firing late on Friday.

The attorney general – an early supporter of Trump who became a target of the president’s ire after his recusal – said an OPR review found McCabe allegedly “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor” during a review of the FBI and justice department’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

In a statement, McCabe lamented an “ongoing war on the FBI” and Mueller. He said he had answered questions truthfully and had attempted to correct the record where he believed he had been misunderstood. He had been fired, he said, because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey”.

Speaking to Politico, McCabe said those actions included pushing for a special counsel and briefing a congressional “gang of eight” on his efforts.

“I literally walked into the building every day expecting that I would be removed from my position before the end of the day,” he said. “And if that happened, I didn’t want anyone to be able to just walk away from the work that we had done on the Russia investigation.”

Multiple outlets reported on Saturday that McCabe had kept memos detailing his conversations with Trump.

It was revealed this week that Mueller has subpoenaed corporate records from the Trump Organization, including those related to Russia. Trump has said investigating his family finances would be a “red line” if it extended beyond any relationship with Russia.

On Saturday, Trump issued a pair of tweets, attacking the “fake news” media.

“As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded,” the president wrote, referring to a Republican-authored report, “there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. #DrainTheSwamp.”

Comey, who will publish a book next month, also tweeted.

“Mr President,” he wrote, “the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died

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Buckingham Palace has announced that The Duke of Edinburgh has died.

Philip Mountbatten, the rakish naval officer who captured the heart of a young Elizabeth Windsor and became the lifelong consort to the British queen, has died aged 99.

The death ends the longest marriage of a reigning monarch in British history, an enduring alliance that outlasted the Cold War, war and peace in Northern Ireland and the painful divorces of three of their four children.

Reacting to the death, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;

“Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the UK, across the Commonwealth & around the world.

He was the longest serving consort in history & one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in WW2.”

Prince Philip never held the official title of Prince Consort, but he was Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidant, most reliable political advisor and the undisputed master of the royal household for more than six decades.

Philip was known equally as a curmudgeon and a charmer who could quickly put nervous guests at ease with an easy one­liner.

The Queen, on the event of their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, said of her husband: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

The Duke is survived by his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and his children Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

While Elizabeth presided over affairs of state, Philip championed dozens of charities, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which has promoted self­reliance, physical development and other personal accomplishment for more than 6 million youths all over the world.

(more…)
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Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow

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The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President

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(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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