Monday June 24, 2019
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Trump Denies Allegations Suggesting He Is Beholden to Putin

He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not,” Bernstein said.

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Donald Trump. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is dismissing news reports suggesting he is beholden to Russia and President Vladimir Putin or hiding accounts of his private talks with the Russian leader the five times they have met, including at their July summit in Helsinki.

Asked directly late Saturday by Fox News talk show host Jeanine Pirro whether he is now or has ever worked for Russia, Trump said, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

The U.S. leader said, “If you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other — probably any other president period, but certainly the last three or four presidents, modern day presidents. Nobody’s been as tough as I have from any standpoint.”

Trump was reacting to a report in The New York Times that Federal Bureau of Investigation officials started investigating whether he “was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence” because they were so alarmed by Trump’s behavior after he fired former FBI chief James Comey in May 2017 when he was leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2017. VOA

“It’s a very horrible thing they said…,” Trump said. “They really are a disaster of a newspaper.”

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that has been investigating Trump campaign links with Russia, told CNN on Sunday that at times Trump has “almost parroted” Putin’s policies.

“It’s a very real consideration” whether Trump is a willing agent of Russia, Warner said, especially considering information that surfaced last week that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data in 2016 with a former business associate of his that U.S. investigators believe had ties to Russian intelligence.

Another key Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, told ABC News there are “serious questions” about why Trump is “so chummy” with Putin.

Earlier, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement that in the coming weeks his panel “will take steps to better understand both the president’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behavior. There is no reason to doubt the seriousness or professionalism of the FBI, as the president did in reaction to this story.”

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In this Monday, July 16, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. VOA

Trump also assailed The Washington Post’s new account that he has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide details of his conversations with Putin over the last two years. On one occasion, the newspaper said Trump took possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructed the linguist to not discuss what had transpired with other Trump administration officials.

The newspaper said that incident occurred after Trump and Putin met in Hamburg in 2017, a meeting also attended by then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump’s most high-profile meeting with Putin occurred in Helsinki, where the two leaders met for two hours behind closed doors with only their interpreters listening in. No official accounts of their talks have been released, but Trump told Pirro there was nothing to hide about their discussions and could release a transcript.

“Well Jeanine I would, I don’t care,” Trump said. “I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the president of various countries, I do it with all countries. We had a great conversation. We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things. And it was a great conversation. I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less. I mean, it’s so ridiculous.”

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President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is at left, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is at right. VOA

He added, “Anybody could have listened to that meeting, that meeting is up for grabs.”

Trump’s first two years in office have been consumed by the now 20-month investigation whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to help him win and whether, as president, Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the investigation after Trump ousted Comey.

Shortly after Trump dismissed Comey, he told NBC news anchor Lester Holt that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire the FBI chief, saying that he felt the investigation was created by Democrats dismayed that Trump had upset former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to win the White House.

Mueller is believed to be nearing the end of his investigation and is expected to write a report on his findings.

Also Read:FBI Probes Into Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia

While appearing on CNN’s Reliable Source program Sunday, investigative journalist Carl Bernstein said he’s been told that Mueller’s report will show how President Trump helped Russia “destabilize the United States.”

“From a point of view of strength… rather, he has done what appears to be Putin’s goals. He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not,” Bernstein said. He explained that he knew from his own high-level sources that Mueller’s report would discuss this assessment.

“And that is part of what the draft of Mueller’s report, I’m told, is to be about,” he said. “We know there has been collusion by [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn. We know there has been collusion of some sort by [Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort. The question is, yes, ‘what did the president know and when did he know it?’” (VOA)

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Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

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The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)