Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
The wait is over. But the political parlor game has just begun.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Russian investigation, on Friday afternoon delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr, concluding a wide-ranging probe that has sharply divided Americans and cast a long shadow over President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.
Barr informed congressional leaders by letter that he had received Mueller’s confidential report and that “I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
The central question that Mueller, a former FBI director, set out to answer: Did Trump or his aides collude with the Russians to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 with embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman? Or was Trump merely the fortunate beneficiary of Russia’s malicious tactics? And did the president attempt to torpedo the subsequent investigation to protect himself and his political advisers and aides?
The probe has led to the indictments of 37 individuals and entities, mostly Russian operatives who remain at large. Seven people, including five former Trump associates, have pleaded guilty and five have been sentenced to prison.
Among high-profile cases, former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador, and Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was recently sentenced for a host of crimes.
Ahead of the report’s delivery, speculation was rife that the special counsel would bring additional indictments, but there was no additional legal action before the report was released to the Justice Department.
With the report’s delivery, the Mueller investigation is effectively over, but not the president’s legal troubles. In recent months, Mueller has farmed out parts of his investigation to U.S. attorney’s offices, including the Southern District of New York, where prosecutors have opened separate investigations into the Trump Organization and other Trump entities.
Where the case stands
Whether Mueller’s report will lead to vindication for the president, his impeachment, or some sort of messy, in-between alternative is unknowable for now.
By law, Barr decides what parts — if any — of the document to disclose to Congress and the public.
Trump has repeatedly called the special counsel investigation a “witch hunt” and insists there is no evidence of his collusion with the Russians. While the president has said “I don’t mind” if the report is made public, there is likely to be considerable legal wrangling between the White House, the Justice Department, Trump’s personal lawyer and Congress before portions or all of the report are released.
Justice Department regulations require Mueller to submit a “confidential report” of his findings to the attorney general, and the attorney general to “notify” Congress about it. There are no requirements for Mueller to make his findings public.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Friday, “The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the special counsel’s report.”
Wherever the report takes the United States as a country, understanding where it began and the route it followed will be every bit as important as recognizing the final destination.
The special counsel investigation began on May 17, 2017, with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s announcement that he had appointed Mueller to take over an ongoing FBI investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference.
At the time, Rosenstein stressed that the appointment should not be seen as confirmation that there had actually been any illegal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and said that transferring day-to-day control of the investigation to Mueller was meant to assure the public that the inquiry was free of political bias.
Mueller was not starting from scratch. The investigation he inherited had begun nearly a year before, on July 31, 2016, after the FBI learned of possible collusion between a Trump campaign adviser and Russia.
‘Dirt’ on Clinton
The tip that initially led investigators to open the case came from Australia’s top diplomat in the United Kingdom, who had encountered Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos at a bar in London months earlier.
The diplomat revealed Papadopoulos, while drinking, said he had reason to believe Russian officials were in possession of “dirt” that could damage the candidacy of Clinton, the former secretary of state and front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
On July 22, 2016, when the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks published about 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, the Australian government reached out to the FBI and took the highly unusual step of allowing the official who encountered Papadopoulos — High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer — to be interviewed by investigators.
U.S. intelligence officials were already convinced that Russia was behind the DNC hacking and other efforts to influence the presidential election. But the Downer interview added a new and possibly explosive angle.
The diplomat presented the FBI with credible evidence that a Trump campaign official had specific information about Russian interference in the U.S. elections months before that interference was made public. That forced the agency to open an urgent counterintelligence investigation examining whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia.
An investigation in the public eye
By September 2016, intelligence officials had briefed members of Congress on Russian election interference, but it wasn’t until after Nov. 8, when Trump unexpectedly captured the Oval Office, that some of the most important details about Russian intentions became public.
By that time, further leaks of emails stolen from the account of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and posted online by WikiLeaks reinforced suspicions that the hacking efforts weren’t just meant to sow chaos by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government but were aimed at aiding the Trump campaign. The intelligence community confirmed as much in a closed-door meeting with select lawmakers in November, and would make that conclusion public in early January 2017.
Meanwhile, FBI investigators working on the probe were monitoring a large number of interactions between members of the Trump transition team and Russian officials.
Within a few weeks of Trump’s inauguration, those interactions would cost a prominent member of the Trump administration his job. National security adviser Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, was forced to resign after it was revealed he had lied to the FBI about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn’s fate led, albeit indirectly, to the Russia investigation being handed over to Mueller in spring 2017.
Trump’s choice for attorney general, former Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, recused himself from supervising the Russian investigation because he had served as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, which posed a conflict of interest. That decision angered Trump, and left the Justice Department’s second-in-command, Rosenstein, in charge of the investigation. FBI Director James Comeydisclosed the existence of the investigation during a testimony before Congress in March.
In private meetings with Comey, Trump demanded “loyalty” from the career law enforcement officer, and pressed him to drop the investigation into Flynn, Comey later testified. Comey refused the president’s request.
By May, Trump fired Comey, saying later in a TV interview that he did so largely because of the Russia investigation, to which he strongly objected.
To insulate the investigation from political interference, Rosenstein on May 17 appointed Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation.
In his letter appointing Mueller, Rosenstein authorized the special counsel to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Mueller’s mandate was later expanded to include whether Trump had obstructed justice.
Following Comey’s firing, Andrew McCabe, then the bureau’s acting director, quietly ordered two separate investigations to examine whether Trump had obstructed justice and whether he was acting as an agent of Russia.
Stream of indictments, guilty pleas
In the months after Mueller took over, the public began to see the fruits of an investigation that had, at that point, been ongoing for nearly a year.
In July, Papadopoulos was arrested and charged with lying to the FBI. He later pleaded guilty and received a two-week prison sentence.
In October, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were both indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges dating back to work they had done for Russian-supported politicians in Ukraine years earlier.
The indictments had nothing to do with the Trump campaign specifically, but were widely seen as providing prosecutors with leverage over Manafort and Gates, who would likely have been privy to any collusion that might have occurred during the election.
The next month, Flynn entered a guilty plea to a charge of lying to the FBI, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in multiple investigations.
In February 2018, Mueller’s office unsealed an indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies, charging them with conspiracy to interfere with U.S. elections. Months later, 12 other Russians were indicted and charged with hacking the email system of the Democratic National Committee and others.
The following months marked a series of major events in the investigation.
In late February, Gates pleaded guilty and promised to assist in further investigations. In April, FBI agents raided the home and office of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
In June, Mueller expanded the charges against Manafort to include witness tampering and obstruction of justice, and also named suspected Russian intelligence officer and Manafort business partner Konstantin Kilimnik in an indictment.
By August, Manafort was convicted in the first of two trials for his illicit business practices, and Cohen pleaded guilty of campaign finance violations — implicating Trump in at least one crime — in a case handed off by Mueller to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Notably, though, neither of the convictions touched on Russian election interference.
Manafort later pleaded guilty of additional crimes and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for leniency. He would lose that consideration after Mueller and a federal judge determined that he had continued lying to investigators after striking his plea deal.
Cohen pleaded guilty to a further charge of lying to Congress and was sentenced to three years in prison.
An agreement and another arrest
After more than a year of sparring over whether Trump would consent to be interviewed by the special counsel’s office, an agreement was reached in late November 2018 in which the president instead submitted written answers to a series of questions from investigators.
In January 2019, Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, five counts of making false statements to Congress, and one count of witness tampering. Investigators had been interested in his potential communication with Russian hackers and their associates during the 2016 election.
‘Racist, cheat, con man’
During three days of testimony on Capitol Hill in late February, Cohen lashed out at Trump, his former boss.
During his opening statement to lawmakers, Cohen called Trump, among other things, a “racist,” “cheat” and “con man.” He also produced documentary evidence that allegedly proved the president’s participation in a criminal conspiracy to conceal illicit campaign contributions in the form of payment of hush money to prevent adult-film star Stormy Daniels from going public with her allegation that she and Trump had a sexual liaison years earlier.
Cohen also said, “Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear.”
He did say, though, that he had “suspicions” about connections between the Trump family and Russians who worked to influence the election.
Changing cast members
Today, as the investigation concludes, it is operating under the direction of a different set of presidential appointees.
Trump’s frustration with Sessions finally boiled over in late 2018, resulting in Sessions’ forced resignation. He was replaced on a temporary basis by his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker. After a delay, Trump appointed William Barr to fill the role.
Barr, in his confirmation hearing, told senators he would commit to allowing the Mueller probe to run its course. He was less forthcoming when asked to guarantee that the results would be made public.
“My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law,” he said. (VOA)
The global pandemic has massively transitioned the ways in which we approach our fashion essentials. With work from home defining the major chunk of our 24/7 routine, loungewear is no longer limited to our homes. While being on top of our fashion game will always be a priority, our casual and formal wear are swapping roles and even entering into this amicable crossover with the new kid on the block -- the 2-mile fashion.
For those wondering what the 2-milefashion game is all about, there's a great possibility that you're already hopping on the trend without even knowing about it. Because as comfort becomes our new cashmere, we can all find ourselves rocking the 2-mile run away; From a cafe WFH vibe to taking the dog out for a walk to a pizza date night, comfort is your cue. When it comes to footwear, our choices in 2-mile fashion range from sandals to mules to sneakers. And it can get tricky to make the 'occasion perfect' pick when one doesn't know what comesunder its ambit. We have Matteo Lambert, Chief Collection Officer, Bata India Limited, to help us dress it up or down with the perfect footwear picks for the new trend that is here to stay:
Slides, Sandals and Style: Whether it's a traditional ceremony or coffeehouse work meetings, slides and sandals have made their way through it all. They offer that pick and slide and glide through life comfort across genders. With the slip-on ease, you can up your style game; go for the classics, the jewelled, the floral, the neutrals, the possibilities are endless.
Whether it's a traditional ceremony or coffeehouse work meetings, slides and sandals have made their way through it all. | Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash
Always on, Athleisure: Athleisure is the biggest buzzworthy trend of the year, and rightly so. They resolve our footwear conundrum by offering the perfect balance to the blurring boundaries between active and formal wear. If fitness and fashion are your two magic words, then give your feet a break, quite literally. From grey suit formals to morning joggers, they'll let you rock everywhere.
Athleisure is the biggest buzzworthy trend of the year, and rightly so. | Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash
The Clog Club: If 2-mile is the new fashion cue, clogs have always been our comfort cue. And now we can have the best of both worlds as the humble functional shoe makes it a chic comeback. Clogs are the must-have wardrobe essentials to up our loungewear game. H-straps, metallic, studded -- they're on the 2021 heels' hotlist. Show off by making a chic statement as you dress up your straight-cut pants, T-shirt dresses, Boho gowns or flared joggers.
Clogs are the must-have wardrobe essentials to up our loungewear game. | Photo by Bert Ferranco on Unsplash
The Mule Moodboard: From heeled to flats to sandals, they come in all shapes and sizes. And what's better? They can be worn with a floral dress and your casual blue denim, at work and at a party. They're basically your everyday 'slip-on and get going' vibe. So, make some room for a pair of the classic mules.
From heeled to flats to sandals, they come in all shapes and sizes Photo by Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pandemic, covid, shoes, sandals, flats, clog, athleisure, moodboard
The city of Delhi has seen it all; from sultanate rule, to dynasties, and to colonial rule. From monarchy to democracy, Delhi has gone through its phases. But, in order to know and explore the nuances of Delhi, you must read these beautiful books.
1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
This book was written while Dalrymple was still flirting with his love for the Medieval India. The author writes, "Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," and just like this, Dalrymple takes you in a tour to discover Discover Delhi.
2. Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller by Raza Rumi
This book explores how the author explores his identity as a South Asian Muslim and how his city of Lahore is a mirror image of Delhi. Rumi, in this book, tries to co-relate the past with the present by comparing its festivals, streets, and markets.
3. Delirious Delhi: Inside India's Incredible Capital by DavePrager
This book is quite interesting. The story of this book revolves around the lives of Dave and Jenny who have recently moved to Delhi when their firm began to go down. The city of Delhi in this book is shown through their eyes as they try to make their way in the city that holds together a very large population.
4. The Heart has its Reasons by Krishna Sobti, Translated by Reema Anand, Meenakshi Swami
The original title of this book is "Dil - o - Danish". This book tells the reader about the streets of Old Delhi and almost transport the reader back in the past. This book is basically set in the 1920's, and tells the tale of a man's extramarital affair, his children out of wedlock, black magic, and Chandni Chowk's rich culture of sweets and the perils of being a widow. Interestingly, many have compared the author of this book to Jane Austen.
5. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh
Who would talk about Delhi and not remember Khushwant Singh? This amazing book is just like a narrative of the author's fulfilled love affair with the city and with a eunuch. The narrator in this book is an aging man who is trying to discover the city. This book is truly a masterpiece, where it takes the readers on the history of Delhi glimpsing at what makes the city what it is– simply beautiful.
There are some of the Indian cities which are older than time. Therefore, we must know which cities are they, and what has been their history!
1. Varanasi (1200 BC–)
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India, and has been a center of religious and cultural activity since the Bronze Age. In fact, this city might have been in existence from a very long time, since it finds mention in the Rig Veda. It is believed that the city of Varanasi was thriving for more than 1600 years before the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe. This city is one of the holiest places for Hindus and Jains, and even Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon here in 528 BC. In Hinduism, it is believed that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, which is the reason why the city is always brimming with pilgrims.
2. Ujjain (700/600 BC–)
Ujjain was once considered as one of the most prominent cities in the Middle India. In fact, the name of this city is repeatedly mentioned in the literature of that period, i.e. in the works of stalwarts like Kālidāsa. This city has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, from the Mauryas to the Avantis, Nandas, and even the Guptas. This city, just like Varanasi, is also considered as one of the holiest cities in India, and hosts one of the officially recognized Kumbh melas, the Ujjain Simhastha Kumbh, in which people across the world take place.
3. Madurai (500 BC–)
Madurai been a major center of culture and trade for more than 2500 years. In fact, the name of this city has been mentioned in the writings of the great traveler, Megasthenes, and has been ruled by several empires from the Pandyas and the Cholas to the Karnata, and finally the British. Interestingly, ‘'Koodal,' was one of its ancient name which means 'a congregation of learned men'. There is no doubt that Madurai was an epicenter of scholars and religious teachers in the southern part of India.
4. Thanjavur (300 BC–)
Thanjavur was formerly known as Tanjore. This city is pretty famous for its Tanjore style of painting, which is a traditional style that is characterised by the use of gold foil, religious imagery, and simple compositions. This city is best known for being the home of the Great Living Chola Temples, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Till date, people across the world visit this place in order to experience its rich history and heritage.