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- Donald Trump allegedly asked ex-FBI Director James Comey in February to stop his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
- According to Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, the president never, in form or substance, indicated Mr. Comey to stop investigating anyone
- The case for obstruction of justice based on Comey’s testimony is far from ironclad, legal scholars say
Washington, June 10, 2017: Did President Donald Trump break the law when he allegedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February to stop his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn?
The question is at the heart of a legal debate a day after Comey disclosed during closely watched congressional testimony that Trump asked him to end his investigation of Flynn’s suspected ties to Russia.
In riveting detail, Comey recounted that after a February 14 counter-intelligence briefing at the White House, Trump told him that he wanted “to talk about Mike Flynn,” saying Flynn “is a good guy” and “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go.”
The allegation raised two sets of questions: Did Trump obstruct justice when he asked for an end to the Flynn probe? And, is it an issue for the courts or Congress to decide?
Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer, said in a statement released after the testimony that “the president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”
Senators were at odds over the implications of Comey’s testimony. While some Democrats suggested it pointed to obstruction of justice by Trump, Republican members of the panel seized on the fact that the president did not explicitly “direct” the former FBI director to drop the Flynn investigation.
In response to a question, Comey declined to say whether he thought Trump’s conduct amounted to obstruction of justice, saying it was up to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to make that determination.
To Trump’s critics, Comey’s revelations recalled the “Nixon tapes,” secret White House recordings that former President Richard Nixon refused to release during the Watergate scandal, ultimately leading to his resignation in 1974.
Case not ironclad
But the case for obstruction of justice based on Comey’s testimony is far from ironclad, legal scholars say.
While Trump’s alleged interactions with Comey were seen by many as grossly out of line, the Comey testimony did not provide grounds for obstruction charges, these scholars say.
“The president is not facing a particularly compelling case of obstruction for prosecution at this time,” said Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law. “This is also not a record that would support impeachment.”
Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, agreed that the case for charging Trump with obstruction of justice is not there, but he said that Comey’s firing after he refused to carry out the president’s wishes is “a serious matter.”
“No one outside the White House is contesting the fact that that is what happened, that director Comey is telling the truth,” Seidman said. “If he is telling the truth, that means the president has lied about it and that is a further indication he may not be fit to be president of the United States.”
No American president has ever been indicted while in office, though two, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached but later acquitted.
Legal scholars disagree over whether a sitting president can be prosecuted, but the White House Counsel’s office has argued against it, deciding in at least two instances not to indict a president, Seidman said.
Obstruction of justice, or interference with a legal proceeding, such as a criminal investigation, is a crime, but proving it is legally challenging. To demonstrate obstruction of justice, prosecutors must show evidence of “corrupt intent.”
“That’s a very difficult standard to meet,” Turley said.
Andy McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and now a fellow at the conservative National Review Institute, said that as the head of the executive branch of government, Trump has “prosecutorial discretion” to end an investigation and that he “couldn’t conceivably have thought he was doing something wrong.”
“Therefore, it would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted corruptly,” McCarthy said.
Though Trump’s true motivation remains unknown, “it’s perfectly plausible that the president was feeling sympathetic to his former aide who had just resigned and was facing a torrent of criticism,” Turley said.
The U.S. Constitution allows Congress to remove a president from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” through impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives and a trial in the Senate.
While it is easier to bring an article of impeachment on obstruction charges, the allegation of crimes must be far more detailed than what has been alleged about Trump, Turley said.
In the Nixon case, he noted, the first article of impeachment in the House of Representatives listed obstruction of justice but included “nine separate but rather detailed crimes.”
In the Clinton impeachment case, the House of Representatives dropped an article on obstruction of justice, said Turley, who testified before the House in favor of impeachment.
With Republicans in control of Congress, the prospects of their impeachment of their party leader appear slim. But Turley said impeachment is not always brought for purely political reasons.
In Watergate, he noted that Republicans abandoned Nixon in favor of his impeachment. And today, congressional Republicans are “actively supporting the investigation of Donald Trump,” he said. (VOA)
Actor and dancer Susovan Sonu Roy began his career as a western dancer. Bengali Actor Susovan Sonu Roy was a part of the Star Jalsha channel's serial named "Kora Pakhi". He played a negative role in the serial for several months, along with lead actress Parno Mitra. He acted in the Star Jalsha channel's serial "Mohor", and through Mohor, he got "Kora Pakhi", which is the same production house project.
Susovan Sonu Roy debuted with the serial "Anandamoyee Maa", on the Aakash Aath channel. He has also acted in Zee Bangla channel's serial "Jamuna Dhaki," in which he played the role of a neighbour. After that, Susovan Sonu Roy acted in the Star Jalsha channel's serial named "Titli" in which he played a vital role. He has also starred in a serial called "Khelaghor.". People recognised him as an actor after being cast in so many serials.
The Kolkata Actor Susovan Sonu Roy dared to leave his job to follow his dreams in the field of acting. After graduation, he auditioned for many Mumbai based projects, and later on, he auditioned for his hometown, i.e., Kolkata based projects and did workshops under the production house of renowned Directors and Producers for two years (2016 -2018).
A two-member team of Mugdha Dubey and Mahyah Binti Idris from NewsGram interviewed Bengali actor Susovan Sonu Roy, a budding actor and western dancer, about his career, struggle and various issues in the entertainment industry on Saturday.
The Kolkata Actor Susovan Sonu Roy dared to leave his job to follow his dreams in the field of acting. | NewsGram
Readout excerpts from the interview with Susovan Sonu Roy.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Before we begin with this interview, would you like to tell us something about yourself?
SS Roy: So, basically, I am an actor from Kolkata, and I have worked in Bengali TV Serials, and I started my career in the entertainment industry as a western dancer. When I was just five years old, I lost my father in a car accident. Despite my difficult upbringing, my mother never wavered in her commitment of achieving the goals I set for myself.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Despite your mother's wishes, what was the inspiration that made you decide to pursue a career in acting/dancing instead of singing?
SS Roy: I am a firm believer of the fact that inspiration comes from within, and positivity is essential. Things go your way when you're upbeat and optimistic. I enjoy the work I do, and once I started my career in the entertainment industry, there was no turning back, I kept acquiring one project after another. I have always wanted to be an actor, and I am happy that I found my inspiration from within.
Mahyah Binti Idris: You played a negative character in 'Kora Pakhi' for several months. What kind of impact did it have on your professional life after opting for such a role?
SS Roy: I am pretty comfortable in opting for any kind of role I am offered because I believe acting is acting, whether it is a big role, a minor role, a negative or a positive role. I take inspiration from the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and John Abraham.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Nowadays, cyberbullying and trolling are getting more frequent. How do you handle trolls or deal with criticism?
SS Roy: Trolls exist just to cause others distress. I ignore all the negativity and don't let it affect me in any way. If anyone lets the negative comments get into their head, they will find it difficult to do anything, as negativity hinders pursuing dreams.
Mahyah Binti Idris: What, in your opinion, is more crucial to long-term success in the field of acting, additional projects or formal training?
SS Roy: Indeed, training about the various techniques used in acting is essential, and once you get into the role, everything comes out naturally but that doesn’t mean one should stop training to become better day by day, training and trying to improve your skills is very important.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and what projects do you have on your bucket list?
SS Roy: I auditioned for a movie that will feature Kajal Aggarwal in the lead. My ultimate goal is to crack a role in Bollywood. I want to gain as much experience as possible in serials and movies.
Mugdha Dubey: What is the difference in the challenges one faces while struggling to gain a role in regional cinema and Bollywood?
SS Roy: The difference in struggle is huge; it is pretty challenging to get a role in Bollywood. But I believe that experience matters and gives you an edge over others because you are already aware of some techniques used in acting and won't commit the mistakes a fresher does. I got the chance to audition for a movie with the lead as Kajal Agarwal because of my experience.
Mugdha Dubey: Have you ever witnessed nepotism firsthand, or did you ever feel that nepotism is prevalent in the Kolkata film industry?
SS Roy: Nothing can stop you if you put in the effort and stay true to your ambitions. But, one cannot ignore the fact that nepotism is everywhere, be it Bollywood or Tollywood. The acquaintances of artists get easily recognized but that shouldn’t demotivate aspiring actors because your hard work matters and if you keep working hard in the right direction, you will surely get recognized.
Mugdha Dubey: What message or tips would you like to convey to today's youngsters and those who aspire to become actors?
SS Roy: I would encourage the young generation to stand up for what they believe in and make the world a better place for future generations by following your passions and utilizing your inborn talents and abilities. If they aspire to become actors, I would like to tell them that mere luck will not be sufficient to become an actor; the struggle is real. You need to work very hard and train yourself to become an actor. Your success and failure depend on what you do, and the type of content you can produce, and one should always try to improve themselves.
(Keywords: Susovan Sonu Roy, Tollywood, bollywood news, actor, dancer, nepotism, struggle, kolkata, bengali)
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NASA will pay up to $1 million to people who can come up with innovative and sustainable food production ideas to feed astronauts in space, as the US space agency prepares to send astronauts further into the cosmos than ever before. Giving future explorers the technology to produce nutritious, tasty, and satisfying meals on long-duration space missions will give them the energy required to uncover the great unknown. In coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA has launched the 'Deep Space Food Challenge' that calls on teams to design, build, and demonstrate prototypes of food production technologies that provide tangible nutritional products -- or food.
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"Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. "Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home," he said in a statement. Over time, food loses its nutritional value. That means for a multi-year mission to Mars, bringing along pre-packaged food will not meet all the needs for maintaining astronaut health.
Innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. |UnsplashUnsplash
In October 2021, Phase 1 of the challenge culminated as NASA awarded 18 teams a total of $450,000 for their concepts for innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. NASA now invites both new and existing teams to enter Phase 2 for a prize purse up to $1 million. "Everything needed to store, prepare and deliver food to the crew, including production, processing, transport, consumption, and disposal of waste should be considered," said NASA. Proposed technologies such as plant growth systems, manufactured food products, and ready-to-eat solutions combined could provide the future crews with a variety of options that would provide the needed daily nutrition, it added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : NASA, innovative, food, healthy, idea, astronaut, USA, tasty, technology, space, travel, explorer, health, nutrition, prize, solution, variety.)
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People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation, according to a new study. The study found that people with moderate or greater symptoms of depression were more likely to believe at least 1 of 4 false statements about Covid-19 vaccines.
Those who believed the statements to be true were half as likely to be vaccinated, the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated. 'It is clear the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of Americans, especially young people," said researcher Katherine Ognyanova from Rutgers University, the US.
People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation. | Unsplash
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately one-quarter of adults in the US have consistently reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings suggest that people suffering from depression may be at a higher risk of Covid-19, highlighting the need to address mental health disorders.
For the study, the team used data from the research group The Covid States Project, which conducted surveys approximately once every six weeks since April 2020. The researchers analysed data from 15,464 adults in the US and the participants were asked to rate vaccine-related misinformation as accurate (statement is true), inaccurate (statement is not true) or not sure.
Approximately one-quarter of adults in US reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. | Unsplash
The four statements of misinformation included "The Covid-19 vaccines will alter people's DNA", "The vaccines contain microchips that could track people", "The vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses", and "The -19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant". The survey participants completed a health questionnaire to measure major depressive symptoms over two weeks. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: depression, vaccine, misinformation, patients, health questionnaire, study)