Tuesday March 26, 2019
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Former FBI Director James Comey To Testify Before House

Democrats complain Republicans are simply trying to fuel a conspiracy theory to protect Trump from the ongoing Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

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Protesters urging the White House not to impede Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling gathered outside the White House and in Lafayette Park, just north of the White House, in Washington. VOA

House Republicans are set to interview former FBI Director James Comey behind closed doors Friday, the last time before they cede power to Democrats in January.

The committee subpoenaed Comey last month to testify about investigations into the Donald Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Comey resisted, arguing the GOP-led investigation in the decision-making by the FBI and the Justice Department in 2016 and 2017 was politically motivated.

Call for public setting

He said in a Thanksgiving Day tweet that he may not appear if the interview is not conducted in a public setting.

“I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions. But I will resist a ‘closed door’ thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion.” Comey added: “Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”

But Comey relented to the closed-door interview after gaining a promise that a transcript of the session would be released to the public after 24 hours.

Republican lawmakers maintain that anti-Trump bias among senior officials resulted in the FBI focusing more on its probe into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia and less on its investigation into Democratic candidate Clinton’s private email server.

Trump has repeatedly called the Russia probe a “witch hunt” and has accused Comey and his close colleagues of being corrupt.

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Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

It a series of tweets early Friday, the president blasted Comey and the Mueller probe into Russia’s hacking of the 2016 U.S. national election.

Also Read: U.S. Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump Commits a Federal Felony

Conspiracy theory?

Democrats complain Republicans are simply trying to fuel a conspiracy theory to protect Trump from the ongoing Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Democrats say they will scrutinize Trump’s attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department when they assume control of the House in January. They have also urged their Republican counterparts to shield Mueller from any attempts by Trump or his newly-appointed acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, to impede the investigation. (VOA)

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Trump Denies any Knowledge of Kushner’s Unofficial Communications on Whatsapp

"I know nothing about it. I've never heard that, I've never heard about it," the Republican president said

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FILE - White House adviser Jared Kushner speaks with people as they wait for President Donald Trump to arrive in the East Room of the White House, June 29, 2018. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool, a day after a top U.S. Democratic congressman questioned the unofficial communications.

On Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings asked the White House about Kushner’s use of the unofficial messaging application as part of his government work.

In a letter to the White House, seen by Reuters, Cummings said Kushner’s lawyer had told lawmakers about his WhatsApp use for official duties, a move that would violate current law prohibiting White House officials from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

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FILE – Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 27, 2017. VOA

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Florida, for the weekend, denied any knowledge of Kushner’s unofficial communications.

“I know nothing about it. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never heard about it,” the Republican president said.

Cummings in his letter on Thursday said Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell also told Congress that Ivanka Trump — the president’s daughter, Kushner’s wife and also a top White House adviser — continued to use a personal email account for official business.

That would also violate the Presidential Records Act.

‘Not completely accurate’

Lowell, in a separate letter to Cummings, called the Democratic committee chairman’s characterization of earlier comments “not completely accurate.”

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Trump knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool. VOA

The lawyer denied telling Congress members Kushner had communicated through any app with foreign “leaders” or “officials” but said that instead Kushner had used such apps for communicating with “some people,” whom he did not specify.

Lowell also denied saying that Ivanka Trump continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal account. He said Ivanka Trump “always forwards official business to her White House account.”

ALSO READ: Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner’s Whatsapp Habits Worry Cyber Experts

In the 2016 presidential race, Trump railed against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, inspiring chants at his rallies of “lock her up.” The FBI and the Department of Justice investigated Clinton but brought no charges.

Kushner’s communications, particularly with foreign leaders, have been under scrutiny since the presidential campaign, and questions have been raised about his security clearance. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc. (VOA)