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FBI Probes Into Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia

Comey’s firing, rather than ending the Russia investigation, led directly to the appointment, over Trump’s objections, of Mueller

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A combination of file photos show U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House in Washington, April 9, 2018, and former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2017. VOA

The New York Times is reporting that FBI officials were so alarmed by President Donald Trump’s behavior after he fired former FBI Director James Comey that they started investigating whether he was working against American interests.

The Times cited anonymous former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation Friday who said counterintelligence investigators looked into whether “Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”

The officials told the newspaper that after Comey was fired in May 2107, they become concerned when Trump tied the firing of Comey to the Russia investigation.

Trump actions questioned

Law enforcement officials have previously confirmed that after the firing the FBI opened an investigation into whether the action constituted obstruction of justice. However, what has not been made public is that law enforcement officials also sought to determine whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security, according to the Times.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller, in charge of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, departs Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 21, 2017. VOA

The entire investigation was taken over several days later when special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election as well as possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Trump reacted to the New York Times report in a post on Twitter early Saturday: “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!”

There has been no public evidence that Trump was in contact with Russia during the election campaign and Trump has long denied any illicit connection. Russia has also denied the allegations.

Giuliani: Nothing found

A lawyer for Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, told the Times that if FBI officials had concluded Trump was working against American interests, the public would have heard about it.

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Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOAA combination of file photos show U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House in Washington, April 9, 2018, and former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2017.

“The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,” Giuliani told the paper.

Two days after Trump dismissed Comey in May 2017, he told NBC News anchor Lester Holt that he was going to fire Comey regardless, “knowing there was no good time to do it,” but was thinking of the Russia investigation when he decided to dismiss him.

Also Read: The Senate Judiciary Committee is Renewing Its Attempt To Protect Special Counselor Robert Muller

“When I did this, now I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’” Trump said.

Comey’s firing, rather than ending the Russia investigation, led directly to the appointment, over Trump’s objections, of Mueller, another former FBI director, to take over the Russia probe. Trump has repeatedly called the Russia probe a “witch hunt.” (VOA)

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Trump Administration to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Auto Mileage Standards

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California's authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting

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FILE - Automobile traffic flows over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. California's long struggles with smog mean the state has been setting its own mileage standards since before the 1970 Clean Air Act was written. VOA

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting that only the federal government has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

Conservative and free-market groups have been asked to attend a formal announcement of the rollback set for Wednesday afternoon at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington.

Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Tuesday that her group was among those invited to the event featuring EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The move comes after the Justice Department recently opened an antitrust investigation into a deal between California and four automakers for tougher pollution and related mileage requirements than those sought by President Donald Trump. Trump also has sought to relax Obama-era federal mileage standards nationwide, weakening a key effort by his Democratic predecessor to slow climate change.

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at a news conference in Washington, Sept. 12, 2019. VOA

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action to stop the rollback.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to EPA. EPA’s press office did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the National Automobile Dealers Association on Tuesday that the Trump administration would move “in the very near future” to take steps toward establishing one nationwide set of fuel-economy standards.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said, adding that higher fuel economy standards would hurt consumers by increasing the average sticker price of new cars and requiring automakers to produce more electric vehicles.

Also Read- Lack of Sleep Alters Fat Metabolism, Says Study

Word of the pending announcement came as Trump traveled to California on Tuesday for an overnight trip that includes GOP fundraising events near San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

California’s authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The state has long pushed automakers to adopt more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles that emit less pollution. A dozen states and the District of Columbia also follow California’s fuel economy standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s action will hurt both U.S. automakers and American families. He said California would fight the administration in federal court.

“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to Trump. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”

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FILE – California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses a news conference in Sacramento, July 23, 2019. VOA

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the White House “has abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming.”

“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” said Newsom, a Democrat.

The deal struck in July between California and four of the world’s largest automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — bypassed the Trump administration’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under Obama at 2021 levels.

The four automakers agreed with California to reduce emissions by 3.7% per year starting with the 2022 model year, through 2026. That compares with 4.7% yearly reductions through 2025 under the Obama standards. Emissions standards are closely linked with fuel economy requirements because vehicles pollute less if they burn fewer gallons of fuel.

Also Read- Festival Sales by Amazon, Flipkart Violating FDI Norms

The U.S. transportation sector is the nation’s biggest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gasses.

Wheeler said Tuesday: “California will be able to keep in place and enforce programs to address smog and other forms of air pollution caused by motor vehicles.” But fuel economy has been one of the key regulatory tools the state has used to reduce harmful emissions.

Environmentalists condemned the Trump administration’s expected announcement, which comes as gasoline prices have crept higher following a weekend drone attack that hobbled Saudi Arabian oil output.

“Everyone wins when we adopt strong clean car standards as our public policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Strong clean car standards give us healthier air to breathe, help protect us from the urgent threat of climate change and save Americans hundreds of dollars a year in gas expenses.” (VOA)