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Indian-American prosecutor Preet Bharara calls for Independent Counsel regarding Russian meddling in 2016 presidential Election

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New York, May 15, 2017: Indian-American prosecutor Preet Bharara who was fired by President Donald Trump’s administration in March, has called for the appointment of an independent counsel to lead the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the media reported.

Former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara in an op-ed published on Sunday evening in the Washington Post said the move would be of “common sense”, especially in the wake of former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey’s dismissal last week.

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Comey was heading the FBI’s probe into Russia’s links with Trump’s presidential election.

“Jim (James) Comey was once my boss and remains my friend. I know that many people are mad at him. He has at different times become a cause for people’s frustration and anger on both sides of the aisle. Some of those people may have a point…I am proud to know a man who had the courage to say no to a President,” Bharara wrote.

“And in the tumult of this time, many should be asking, Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the President?” he pondered.

Bharara said a special prosecutor must be “independent and uncompromised” and that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from it, must appoint one.

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“Given the manner of Comey’s firing and the pretextual reasons proffered for it, there is no other way,” he wrote.

While early explanations from White House aides detailed how it was Rosenstein’s recommendation that persuaded Trump to fire Comey, the President himself said in an interview with NBC News that he had made up his mind to fire the FBI director before meeting with his deputy attorney general.

Trump also said that the Russia investigation was on his mind as he made the decision to dismiss Comey, escalating alarm in some circles that the president had sought to impede the bureau’s probe.

Bharara in his op-ed piece said Rosenstein, who he labelled “a respected career prosecutor”, nonetheless bears a special responsibility to appoint a special prosecutor given his role in Comey’s firing.

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Rosenstein has “mostly deserved the doubts he generated” by seemingly aiding Trump in dismissing the FBI director, Bharara wrote, and as such, bringing in a special prosecutor “would not only ensure the independence of the investigation, but also provide evidence of Rosenstein’s own independence.”

“A special prosecutor alone is not sufficient…It must be supplemented by a truly bipartisan investigation in Congress as well as a replacement FBI director who is apolitical and sensitive to the law-enforcement mission.”

“History will judge this moment,” Bharara concluded, adding “It’s not too late to get it right, and justice demands it.” (IANS)

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Donald Trump Negotiates Trade Deal With Japan

Trump to negotiate the trade deal with Japan

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Donald Trump is the President of U.S.
FILE IMAGE- Donald Trump

The US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday he is negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Japan and that his country would only re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if its member countries offered him a deal he could not refuse.

“I don’t want to go back into TPP. But if they offered us a deal I can’t refuse on behalf of the US, I would do it. In the meantime, we are negotiating, and what I really would prefer is negotiating a one-on-one deal with Japan,” Donald Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

However, Abe stressed his country’s position towards the TPP, saying that it “is the best for both countries,” although he acknowledged the US’s interest in a bilateral trade deal, Efe reported.

Trump said that should his country reach a trade agreement with Japan, there will be talks about the possibility of ending tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that Washington introduced in March to a number of countries, including Japan.

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump added that his primary concern at the moment is the “massive” trade deficit with Japan, which amounted to “from $69 billion to $100 billion a year.”

In fact, the trade deficit with Japan last year stood at $69 billion, far from the $100 billion that the US President claimed, according to the official figures by the US Department of Commerce.

The two leaders made these announcements in a joint press conference at the tycoon’s private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where Abe arrived on Tuesday to have meeting with Trump on his four-day visit to the US.

Also Read: China And Russia Accused of Manipulating Their Currencies By Trump

Last week, the White House announced that Trump had asked the US foreign trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the economic adviser Larry Kudlow to “take another look at whether or not a better deal (with the TPP) could be negotiated.”

However, Trump has shown little interest in negotiations that would further complicate the matter, since the other 11 countries that negotiated the original TPP, with the then Barack Obama administration, have already signed their own multilateral deal, the so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), or TPP-11.

Shinzo Abe
FILE IMAGE- Shinzo Abe.

On the other hand, during this four-day visit Abe has a special interest in getting an exemption for Japan from the 10 per cent and 25 per cent tariffs that the Trump administration imposes on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.

Trump has granted a temporary exemption until May 1 to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the European Union.

Also Read: White House Denies Any Direct Talks Yet Between Trump And Kim

Japan has been left out of the exempted countries despite being one of the US’s major allies, and for that reason Abe is trying to make use of his visit to secure a place on that list, although Japan barely produces aluminum and the amount of steel exported to the US stands at only around 5 percent of its total steel exports.  IANS