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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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Signs Of The U.S. Government Shutdown Ending May Soon Be Emerging

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats.

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

The first tangible signs of movement may be emerging in the impasse that has shut down the government for weeks: President Donald Trump is promising a “major announcement” about the closure and the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats are pledging more money for border security.

It was unclear whether the developments, following days of clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might represent serious steps toward resolving the partisan fight or instead may simply be political posturing as the partial shutdown reached a record 29th day. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gone without paychecks, enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

The White House has declined to provide details about what the president would announce midafternoon Saturday. Trump was not expected to sign a national emergency declaration he has said was an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Instead, he was expected to propose the outlines of a deal that the administration believes could have the potential to pave the way for a shutdown end, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to publicly discuss details about the impending announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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From left, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

 

Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.

Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.

Whatever the White House proposed would be the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he gave an Oval Office address trying to make the public case for the border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.

Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.

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Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children. VOA

In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.

It was possible Democrats would introduce that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump’s wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who leads the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, “What is our plan?”

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should “take the politics out of it” and “get to work” to “make a deal.” But he also repeated his warnings, saying: “We have to secure our southern border. If we don’t do that, we’re a very, very sad and foolish lot.”

Few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration’s hard-line response overwhelm border resources. But critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and they argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.

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Migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

Trump’s Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.

It was the latest turn in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has played out against the stalled negotiations.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats. It is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.

Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi’s military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops. (VOA)