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Mixed Reaction across the Globe to 45th U.S. president Donald Trump’s Inauguration

On Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts

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Donald Trump. Wikimedia

Hundreds of thousands of people at the National Mall in Washington looked on Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts. VOA reporters talked to people around the globe who said they are looking at the transition of American power with a mix of admiration and apprehension.

Russia

In Moscow, a “Russian Army”-brand clothing store flashed Trump’s image on an electronic billboard and offered discounts to American citizens. On the streets, reactions were mixed.

“We hope that relations between our Russia and America will improve, that they’ll find a common language in relation to Syria, that they will find a common language to get rid of what is going on there,” said Lidiya Voronova, a retiree.

A young editor at a newspaper who gave his name only as Sergey said Trump “is quite a controversial president in the history of the United States, but I hope he will gain the trust of Americans.”

Trump’s inaugural address signaled a new “America first” policy for the country:

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” he declared at the U.S. Capitol.

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Mexico

That attitude has unnerved some in Mexico, where the respected weekly magazine Proceso warns, “The war is coming.”

José Luis López Aguirre, a media expert at the Pan American University in Mexico City, says Trump’s use of Twitter and other social media to proclaim his views has widened divisions in America.

“He [Trump] is creating a community that is very adept at his aggressive, confrontational speech that tries to polarize American society,” Aguirre said, adding, “Because not everything he says is true.”

His university colleague, communication specialist María López Gutiérrez, has a different point of view: “I think that this possible threat of Trump has been greatly exaggerated. … We should be waiting, we are dedicated to communication, to give reality and not just the show.”

West Africa

In West Africa, VOA spoke with residents of both Nigeria and Niger, who for the most part seemed encouraged by the new administration.

Muhammad Uba Musa of Maiduguri, Nigeria, said, “Americans have so much to write about Barack Obama’s administration. We are praying for him … [and] also praying for President Donald Trump to succeed in his government.”

Alhaji Bello Musa of Birnin Konni in Niger also was hopeful: “Despite President Trump’s heated campaign in the past year … our prayers to him are that he should try to unify the world. … We also hope he’ll help Third World nations reach their potential.”

Umma Issaka of the same region in Niger was more cautious: “Donald Trump’s statement [that he may] ban Muslims from entering the country, is our major problem. … Most importantly, one cannot distinguish between Muslims and Christians; the relationship between the two has a long history, which has been since the era of the prophets. He should be very careful with his words as a leader of a great nation.”

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Abdul Hadi Arez, a retired attorney, says he believes that Trump will face some grave challenges in foreign policy. “Over the past 30 years, Afghanistan has been torn apart in a regional proxy war,” he said, and this trend has become even more pronounced recently, “Because we see Russia, China and Iran interfering in Afghanistan against the U.S.”

Emran Khan, a student in Kabul, is “concerned that with the arrival of the new president, Afghanistan will lose the aid we receive.” He hopes the United States will not shift away from efforts to eliminate the Taliban, because “U.S. commitment is necessary for our security.”

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South Korea

“We have been hearing about [Trump’s] America First’ policies since his campaign, and his extreme attitude makes us worry about what the future holds,” said Choi Seowoo, 22, who works at a finance company in Seoul.

“However, I am hopeful — or at least I want to believe — that rather than simply abandoning the traditional U.S.-South Korea alliance, President Trump will open a new chapter in the alliance by making it into a more modern relationship that fits the ever-volatile global society and politics.”

North Korea

A 50-year-old North Korean defector who lives in Chicago, and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told VOA he hopes “Trump revitalizes the nation’s economy, so that people here can have a better life.”

And along with strengthening U.S. national security to protect Americans, the defector added, “he should increase pressure on Pyongyang by slapping tougher sanctions against North Korea.”

Another defector, 50-year-old Kim Chang Ho of Los Angeles, said, “There are scores of North Korean defectors who have arrived here through third countries, and they do not have legal status. … I wish the U.S. would give them a chance to settle here permanently.”

Other nations

The inauguration attracted people of many different nationalities to Washington, both visitors and those who now live here permanently.

Nem Chhoeung is a Cambodian who lives in Clayton, Georgia. He told VOA he is very happy “because in our country we rarely see this kind of event.” He felt honored and privileged to be in the U.S. capital to watch the transition from one U.S. president to another.

Sen Son, a Buddhist monk who now lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, shared the same joyous feeling of witnessing history.

“For me, as a Buddhist monk living in this country, I am happy to be participating in this event. This does not mean that I support [Trump], but I am enjoying this inauguration.”

Yehuda Glick, a visiting Jewish rabbi who also is a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, told VOA he strongly hopes and prays — “that’s what I’m here for, to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

Next Story

No Evidence of Trump ‘Collusion’ with Russia in 2016 Elections: Mueller in Final Report

Mueller reached no conclusion and punted the decision to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

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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

In a big legal and political win for U.S. President Donald Trump, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded in his final report that there was no evidence that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign or anyone associated with it colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the vote, according to a summary of the confidential report released on Sunday by Attorney General William Barr.

That finding was emphatic, and validated Trump’s long-standing insistence that “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russian hackers and meddlers who sought to change the outcome of Trump’s presidential battle with Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state. Using Mueller’s own words, the Barr letter stated that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice in the course of the investigation, Mueller reached no conclusion and punted the decision to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to a letter Barr wrote to top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate judiciary committees summarizing the report’s “principal conclusions.” Complicating Mueller’s challenge in getting to the bottom of the question was Trump’s refusal to answer questions under oath and instead provide written answers. Barr and Rosenstein – who appointed Mueller as Special Counsel and oversaw the investigation– concluded that the evidence developed during the investigation “is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

That finding is certain to be a key bone of contention for congressional Democrats who are investigating Trump and his administration, especially given the Special Counsel’s assertion that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, tweeted that “The fact that Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report & documentation be made public without any further delay.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at an Economic Club of Washington luncheon gathering in Washington, March 8, 2019. VOA

Mueller submitted his report to Barr late Friday, nearly two years after he was appointed to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election and collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

After combing through the report over the weekend, Barr submitted a four-page letter to Congress absolving Trump of any collusion with the Russians or obstruction of justice in blocking the criminal investigation. Barr’s letter was made public shortly after it was delivered to Congress.

“It was complete and total exoneration,” Trump told reporters in Florida before returning to Washington Sunday afternoon. “This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at their other side.”

Here are five key take-aways from Barr’s summary of the Mueller report:

Trump was right: There was no collusion

The central question before Mueller was whether members of the Trump campaign or any other Americans conspired with Russians to tip the 2016 campaign in favor of the real estate tycoon. On that score, the Mueller report delivers a categorical vindication of the president.

While Mueller’s investigators uncovered evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, “[the] investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the summary quotes Mueller as writing.

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FILE – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort looks on during Trump’s walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. VOA

The special counsel interpreted “coordination” fairly broadly to include both tacit and express agreements.But he found no evidence that members of the Trump campaign accepted offers of help from Russian operatives. “There was really an affirmative ‘No’” said Eric Jaso, a former associate special counsel for the Whitewater affair during former President Bill Clinton’s administration.“If they’d gone along and said yes, that would have fallen under the tacit agreement category.”

Mueller punts obstruction of justice question

Mueller’s decision to punt the question of obstruction of justice struck many legal experts as unusual.

The Special Counsel took up the question after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation and after Comey claimed that Trump had asked him to stop investigating his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

But Mueller drew no conclusion about whether Trump’s actions during the investigation amounted to obstruction of justice, according to the Barr summary.

“Instead, for each one of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of” whether Trump obstructed justice, Barr wrote.

With Mueller leaving the matter unresolved, it was left to the attorney general to make a determination. Barr wrote that after consulting with Justice Department officials, he and Rosenstein concluded that there was not enough evidence that Trump had committed obstruction of justice. The determination, he added, was made irrespective of a long-standing Justice Department guidance that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

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DOJ Notification to Congress Regarding the Conclusion of the Mueller Investigation. VOA

Before taking the helm of the Justice Department last month, Barr had written critically of the Mueller probe and called the investigation of Trump for possible obstruction of justice “fatally flawed.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the decision “concerning” and said he’ll ask Barr to testify before the panel in the near future.

Jaso said the fact that Barr made the determination in concert with Rosenstein provides Barr with political cover.

“He can’t be just painted as toady of the president,” Jaso said.

No additional indictments

The Special Counsel investigation led to the indictments of 37 individuals and entities, mostly Russian operatives and a handful of former Trump associates. In the run-up to the Mueller report, speculation was rife that the Special Counsel would announce new indictments against individuals in the president’s orbit.

But Barr’s summary says the Special Counsel does not recommend any additional indictments in his report and says that there are no indictments under seal that have yet to be made public.

A redacted version in the works

The full extent of Mueller’s findings, including evidence concerning obstruction of justice, will remain unknowable until a more complete version of the report is released. In his letter, Barr indicated that he’ll share a redacted version of the full report at a future date.Barr said that he’s asked the Special Counsel to identify confidential information that must be kept classified and that as soon as “that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining” what can be released. Democrats are demanding full disclosure and vowing to compel the attorney general to comply.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2017. VOA

Thorough investigation

Defenders of the Mueller investigation found a measure of vindication in the thoroughness with which the veteran prosecutor and former FBI director carried out the probe. According to Barr’s letter, the Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.

By all accounts, Mueller left no stones untouched in his dogged effort to probe whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow and whether the president sought to impede the investigation that followed.

ALSO READ: Robert Mueller Probe Concludes, Political Parlor Game Has Just Begun

But Mueller appears to have steered clear of one line of inquiry that the president had said was off limits: Trump’s finances and whether the president’s business interests in Russia led him and his campaign into collusion.

“It does not say that thirdly or furthermore we investigated whether the Trump campaign or Trump himself had a desire to ingratiate himself with the Russians which somehow made him vulnerable to this effort,” Jaso said. (VOA)