(BEIJING) — Police say an explosion struck the entrance to a kindergarten in eastern China on Thursday, with the local government saying seven have been killed. However, state media reports say people have been hurt and photos purportedly from the scene and posted to social media showed children and adults lying on the ground, some…
(BEIJING) — Police say an explosion struck the entrance to a kindergarten in eastern China on Thursday, with the local government saying seven have been killed.
However, state media reports say people have been hurt and photos purportedly from the scene and posted to social media showed children and adults lying on the ground, some bleeding.
Police say the blast struck at 4:50 p.m. Thursday at the Chuangxin Kindergarten in the city of Fengxian in Jiangsu province.
It wasn’t clear whether the blast was an accident or was deliberately set. The newspaper Xiandaikuaibao on its website cited an unidentified witness as saying the explosive appeared to have been a bottle of cooking gas.
Calls to the kindergarten and local hospitals rang unanswered.
Kindergartens in China have been targeted before in apparent revenge attacks carried out by people bearing grudges against their neighbors and society.
China maintains tight control over firearms and most attacks are carried out using knives, axes or homemade explosives.
Early in 2016, Lorene Weber, a real estate agent in the French town of Biarritz, began getting calls and emails from journalists about a deal she handled in 2012. She remembered it well. The buyer and the seller had both been wealthy Russians, well-dressed and soft-spoken, not the flashy types who like to park their…
Early in 2016, Lorene Weber, a real estate agent in the French town of Biarritz, began getting calls and emails from journalists about a deal she handled in 2012.
She remembered it well. The buyer and the seller had both been wealthy Russians, well-dressed and soft-spoken, not the flashy types who like to park their yachts in the nearby marinas of San Sebastian. Rather than sending their lawyers, the two men had come to handle the deal in person, which suggested to Weber that they had nothing to hide. So the reporters’ questions surprised her: Was she aware, and could she confirm, that this property was linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin?
For almost as long as Putin has been in power, the question of his personal wealth, and that of his friends and family, has been a frequent obsession for investigative journalists. Numerous leaks and whistleblowers have given credence over the years to reports that Putin has access to billions of dollars; the Kremlin has fastidiously denied them all.
But in the past few months, new revelations about the secret fortunes of Russian officials have begun to fuel mass protests around the country – most recently the ones that broke out on Monday, at which more than a thousand people were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg. As TIME reports this week, many of the protestors are teenagers born under Putin’s rule, who have known no other leader.
The organizer of those protests, Alexei Navalny, has made it his mission to track any evidence of Putin’s wealth – searching through piles of offshore bank records and flying drones to photograph the villas of the President’s associates. In recent months he’s dug up enough about them to keep millions of Russians glued to his YouTube channel, waiting for more. But when it comes to Putin’s personal fortune, even Navalny isn’t sure it can be found.
“Putin is the czar of corruption,” says the activist, who was arrested on Monday and sentenced to 30 days in jail for organizing the protests. “The czar of corruption owns everything and nothing,” he told TIME in an interview last month at his offices in Moscow.
At least as long as he remains in power, Putin doesn’t have much need to own anything directly. His office entitles him to the use of imperial palaces in St. Petersburg and ski chalets in Sochi. Thanks to his childhood friends – several of whom have become billionaires during his time in office – he can also holiday just about anywhere he likes. But what troubles Navalny and his young supporters is the way these privileges are passing to the next generation of Kremlin elites, renewing a system where success is reserved for the well-connected.
Nowhere is that more clear than in Biarritz, the quiet resort in southwestern France where TIME found evidence of the life afforded to Putin’s family. In some sense it was an obvious place to look. Nestled between the vineyards of Bordeaux and the Basque country in northern Spain, the beaches of Biarritz have attracted wealthy Russian visitors since the middle of the 19th century. Members of the Russian imperial court used to come for the climate and the pampering to be found at the Hôtel du Palais, a former palace built in the 1850s for the French Empress Eugénie.
The town has seen a revival of that tradition among the new Russian elite over the past two decades, partly thanks to its unusual place in the history of the Putin family. In the summer of 1999, when he was serving as chief of Russia’s main intelligence agency, Putin was interrupted by an urgent message from the Kremlin while vacationing in Biarritz with his wife and daughters. President Boris Yeltsin had chosen the young spy chief as his successor.
Putin returned to Moscow and, after some hesitation, accepted the offer. “I will work wherever you assign me,” he said, according to Yeltsin’s memoirs, Midnight Diaries. The following year, one of Putin’s first presidential decrees granted Yeltsin and his family immunity from prosecution, ensuring that no corruption probes could ever strip the Yeltsins of their wealth.
At around the same time, Russia took the unusual step of appointing an honorary consul in Biarritz, a town of less than 30,000 people; the nearby cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse have no such diplomatic outpost. “It was because Putin’s circle has an affection for this place,” says the consul, Alexandre de Miller de La Cerda, a descendant of Russian nobility who has held that position ever since.
In an interview with TIME at a Biarritz hotel, he explained that members of this circle would often attend the “debutante balls” that he hosted, most recently in 2013 in the ballroom of the local casino. The evenings were meant to showcase the scions of Russia’s new elites – giving Putin’s courtiers a chance to feel like the heirs to the czarist aristocracy, whose children went through the same rituals in centuries past.
Putin’s own daughters have mostly kept away from such pageantry, and the Kremlin has guarded their private lives almost as closely as its military secrets. Neither Maria Putina, 32, nor Katerina Putina, 30, has ever appeared on television. The state has not released any photos of them in adulthood, nor has it confirmed some of the most basic details about their lives, such as where they live, where they work and whether they are married. Considering the corruption scandals that plagued Yeltsin’s son-in-law, the marital status of the President’s children is no trivial matter in Russia.
Only last week, after more than 17 years in power, Putin finally admitted that his daughters have children of their own. In a clip released fromThe Putin Interviews, a four-hour documentary by the American director Oliver Stone, the President is asked whether he likes his grandchildren. Putin answers that he does, though he has little time to play with them.
That is about as candid as Putin has ever been about his family, which has left most Russians in the strange position of not knowing what his heirs even look like. Anyone curious about such matters would have to rely mostly on Western news reports on the identity of his younger daughter. A former classmate tells TIME that Katerina, who was born in East Germany during her father’s posting there as an agent of the KGB, studied at an elite German-language school in Moscow and had trouble fitting in, partly because of the bodyguards who followed her around to parties. She grew up to become a competitive dancer of acrobatic rock’n’roll, specializing in the category known as “boogie-woogie.”
According to investigations by Reuters and Bloomberg, Katerina is married to a young oil executive named Kirill Shamalov, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine to be $1.25 billion. Their marriage helps illustrate just how tightly knit Putin’s circle has become. Shamalov’s father Nikolay is one of the President’s oldest friends. He is also one of the founders of Bank Rossiya, which the U.S. Treasury Department identified in 2014 as the “personal bank” for Putin and his close associates.
This habit of mixing friendship and finance was equally clear in the deal that Weber, the real estate agent, handled in 2012. According to property records obtained by TIME in Biarritz, the buyer of that property was the younger Shamalov, Putin’s reported son-in-law; the seller was the oil trader Gennady Timchenko, another one of Putin’s old friends. Weber confirmed that the documents are accurate. “I know why you’re here,” she told a TIME reporter who showed up at her office in May. “It’s about Putin’s family.”
As a courtesy to her former client, she says she called Shamalov last year and asked him how to respond to all the attention from journalists. (Shamalov did not reply the TIME’s requests for comment.) “He told me not to speak,” Weber recalls. “And I respect that.” But she suggested that it would not be hard to find people who know about Putin’s family in the area. “It is not unusual to have such clients here,” she says.
She was right. However hard the Kremlin and its media outlets may try to obscure the details of Putin’s family life, they are practically an open secret among officials in Biarritz. The town’s deputy mayor, Jocelyne Castaignede, says the property that Shamalov purchased in 2012 is one of at least two homes in the area connected to Putin’s family. “People see them in the market, going for walks,” she says of the President’s relatives. “But we don’t come up and take selfies with them. We don’t care who they are.”
In the neighboring town of Anglet, a second property tied to the family is currently under renovation. The owner of the Art Deco villa is listed in the local land registry as Artur Ocheretny, the St. Petersburg businessman whom Maria and Katerina’s mother, Lyudmila, reportedly married soon after divorcing the President in 2013. (Neither of them replied to TIME’s requests for comment.)
La Cerda, the Russian consul, says Putin’s ex-wife has come almost every year to Biarritz to “take the waters,” both before and after her divorce. He says he often sees her during these visits, occasionally driving her own rental car or shopping for textiles at a favorite boutique. “She stops either at the Miramar” – one of the town’s most luxurious hotels – “or in the house that belongs to our mutual friend from Putin’s St. Petersburg circle,” he says.
Under both French and Russian law, none of these visits or property holdings would be illegal in any way, and Castaignede, the deputy mayor, assured TIME that Putin’s relatives would undergo rigorous financial checks, just like any foreign investors, to make sure the money they invest in France is clean.
But the persistent reports of the family’s foreign assets still pose a major dilemma for Putin. The image he has cultivated for nearly two decades is that of a selfless ascetic, a patriot who works “like a galley slave,” as Putin once described himself, and abstains from the comforts that most of his countrymen cannot afford.
In his official wealth declaration, the President admits to owning a small plot of land, two modest apartments, three Russian cars and an old-fashioned tent trailer known as a Skif, which was once popular among Soviet holidaymakers. Even his vacation destinations, as shown on Russian state TV, seem to underline the President’s modesty: the wild expanses of Siberia and the Russian Arctic, or the sleepy resort of Sochi on the Black Sea.
But Navalny has eroded the credibility of that facade. With the aid of his wildly popular YouTube channel, he has shown a young generation of Russians the opulence that comes with power in their country, and many of them have begun to protest what they see as a system rigged against them. They aren’t the only ones to find it unfair.
“Let God be the judge,” says Father Panteleimon, the priest at the Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz, when asked about the Kremlin elites who visit his parish. “But to me, what they do here just doesn’t look good.” Sitting in the pews of his church on a recent afternoon, he says Putin’s family has owned property nearby for years – but they’ve never come by to give alms or to pray. “They just come here to enjoy themselves,” says the priest.
The Senate is expected Tuesday to vote on a resolution seeking to block part of President Trump‘s proposed $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Critics of the arms package say it could further entangle the U.S. in a disastrous civil war in Yemen, where Saudi forces have been accused of war crimes. The resolution…
The Senate is expected Tuesday to vote on a resolution seeking to block part of President Trump‘s proposed $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Critics of the arms package say it could further entangle the U.S. in a disastrous civil war in Yemen, where Saudi forces have been accused of war crimes.
The resolution only seeks to block a portion of the overall arms deal, which was struck in May between Trump and Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during Trump’s first trip abroad as president. The proposed arms deal includes a range of defense services and equipment, including patrol boats, Patriot missiles, and THAAD missile defense systems.
Co-sponsored by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Al Franken of Minnesota, the resolution of disapproval specifically targets a proposed $510 million sale of precision-guided munitions, which have reportedly been used by Saudi forces against civilian targets in Yemen. The measure to block the sale was buoyed Monday when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also signaled his support, and again on Tuesday when Republican Indiana Sen. Todd Young also backed the measure.
According to Oxfam, Saudi Arabia’s deployment of the weapons in question have ” compounded the horrors” faced by civilians in Yemen, where a humanitarian crisis affecting more than 19 million people is unfolding amid the conflict and crushing famine. Opponents of the sale say it would embolden Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen’s bloody civil war, in which over 10,000 people have been killed.
“Our bipartisan resolution would block the latest weapon sale and help demonstrate that the U.S. won’t stand for what the Saudis are doing to innocent people,” Franken said in a statement in late May, when the bill was first introduced.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s past support of terror, poor human rights record, and questionable tactics in its war in Yemen, Congress must carefully consider and thoroughly debate if selling them billions of dollars of arms is in our best national security interest at this time,” Paul said in the bipartisan statement.
Oxfam, which is one of the main providers of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, last week called on lawmakers to support the resolution, predicting a close vote that could have a significant impact on millions of people.
“The situation in Yemen is dire,” the organization said in an emailed statement. “Oxfam is calling on Senators to support the bipartisan resolution of disapproval so we stop providing unconditional support for the Saudi-led coalition and selling weapons being used in violation of international humanitarian law.”
(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans and Democrats reached agreement late Monday on a new package of sanctions on Russia amid the firestorm over Russia’s meddling in the presidential election and investigations into Moscow’s possible collusion with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign. Top lawmakers on two committees — Banking and Foreign Relations — announced the deal,…
(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans and Democrats reached agreement late Monday on a new package of sanctions on Russia amid the firestorm over Russia’s meddling in the presidential election and investigations into Moscow’s possible collusion with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Top lawmakers on two committees — Banking and Foreign Relations — announced the deal, which would require a congressional review if a president attempts to ease or end current penalties. The plan also calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on corrupt Russian actors, those involved in human rights abuses and those supplying weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The batch of sanctions would be added to a bill imposing penalties on Iran that the Senate is currently debating.
“The amendment to the underlying Iran sanctions bill maintains and substantially expands sanctions against the government of Russia in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyberattacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria,” said Republicans and Democrats on the committees.
A procedural vote on the Russia sanctions is expected Wednesday, and the measure is expected to get strong bipartisan support. The legislation was worked out by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, of the Banking Committee, and Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., of the Foreign Relations panel.
The legislation also allows new penalties on key elements of the Russia economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.
House and Senate committees are investigating Russia’s meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign, with testimony scheduled Tuesday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a separate probe.
“By codifying existing sanctions and requiring congressional review of any decision to weaken or lift them, we are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President (Vladimir) Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the top Senate Democrat. “These additional sanctions will also send a powerful and bipartisan statement to Russia and any other country who might try to interfere in our elections that they will be punished.”
The sanctions package is rooted in legislation introduced earlier this year amid concerns on Capitol Hill that Trump may seek to lift sanctions against Russia as part of a plan to forge a partnership between the two countries in key areas, such as counterterrorism. In early January, before Trump was sworn in, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill designed to go beyond the punishments already levied against Russia by the Obama administration and to demonstrate to Trump that forcefully responding to Moscow’s election interference wasn’t a partisan issue.
Then-President Barack Obama in late December ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the U.S. said were really spies. Those penalties were on top of existing U.S. sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which have damaged Russia’s economy but had only limited impact on Putin’s behavior.
A month later, senators introduced another measure that would require the president to get approval from lawmakers before easing Russia sanctions. Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said at the time that the measure was styled after 2015 legislation pushed by Republicans and approved overwhelmingly in the Senate that gave Congress a vote on whether Obama could lift sanctions against Iran. That measure reflected Republican complaints that Obama had overstepped the power of the presidency and needed to be checked by Congress.
The White House said last week it has no plans to scale back existing sanctions against Russia, as relations have soured.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration “is committed to existing sanctions against Russia” and will keep them in place “until Moscow fully honors its commitments to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday underscored the distrust between Moscow and Washington, telling the House Armed Services Committee that he’s seen nothing to indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in cooperation with the United States.
“Mr. Putin has chosen to be a strategic competitor,” Mattis said.
Well played, Moscow. If the Russians wanted to sow chaos and distrust in American democracy, Thursday’s testimony from dismissed FBI chief James Comey helped deliver on their goal. For almost three hours under the bright lights of Capitol Hill, Comey answered senators’ questions about his interactions with Donald Trump, the unconventional figure whose campaign for…
If the Russians wanted to sow chaos and distrust in American democracy, Thursday’s testimony from dismissed FBI chief James Comey helped deliver on their goal.
For almost three hours under the bright lights of Capitol Hill, Comey answered senators’ questions about his interactions with Donald Trump, the unconventional figure whose campaign for President is the subject of an investigation about just how deeply Russian agents penetrated America’s politics. In the process, Comey helped grind away at the already splintered confidence in democratic systems, including the long-held expectations that the FBI is independent of political influence, and called into question the very integrity of the nation’s elections.
“I took it as a direction,” Comey said of Trump’s suggestion that he drop his investigations.
The lasting impression was that Trump had obstructed justice—the same charge that was Richard Nixon’s downfall. Comey didn’t offer a legal conclusion but clearly laid out a case that special counsel Robert Mueller could build criminal charges against the President. Comey also said he shared his contemporaneous notes from his sessions with Trump with Mueller.
Repeatedly, Comey spoke to his firing, which in itself was previously unthinkable. Comey also seemed intent on settling a score with the President, who in the FBI chief’s telling sought to develop an I-scratch-your-back-you-vindicate-my-national-security-adviser situation. “I’m hopelessly biased,” Comey said, indicating he lost his job and the FBI its chief because the President felt threatened by an investigation circling him.
That investigation is ongoing, even after Comey’s ouster. Trump’s attempt to shut it down by firing the FBI chief only made it worse, in fact. “The work is going to go on as before,” Comey said. Now, he is out of government and free to speak his mind — especially about his highly unusual one-on-one conversations with the President. “Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey said of the President’s rationale for firing him.
Russia clearly came out ahead after the session. The integrity of America’s justice agencies was under fire. An ousted FBI chief, the nation’s top cop, suggested the President of the United States was a serial liar who has only a passing relationship with the truth. The same official said he asked a friend at Columbia University to leak memos to reporters, already facing low poll numbers.
The President’s legal standing has never been less secure, which could spook Wall Street. Concern about improper influence of political appointees was back as a bogeyman, as were Bill and Hillary Clinton. The fact Russia put its thumb on America’s elections—and got away with it—screamed for answers. And at the White House, a spokeswoman was left to make the remarkable claim that the President is not a liar.
None of this is normal or helpful for an electorate with fleeting confidence in its democratic systems. Which is precisely why Russia started down this path. The United States’ idealized place in the global pecking order is secured, in theory, because of its commitment to democracy: fair elections, transparent government, accountable leaders, a government’s sovereignty. Each is now under assault, either through Russian meddling or the President ushered to power by it. Russia is looking to benefit from this zero-sum fight, and its clear its former-KGB agent president has ideas.
From the start, Comey made clear he had zero doubts Russia attempted to interfere with the election of 2016. He repeatedly indicated he had plenty of evidence that he couldn’t share while reporters were in the room. “That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting,” Comey said time and again. Lawmakers rushed from the open-to-the-public session to the closed one, hoping to find more clarity about just what the feds have uncovered about the President and those around him.
(For their part, Trump’s loyalists and lawyers spun the day as a win for the President. They argued that Comey repeatedly told the President he wasn’t under investigation. What they missed, though, is that the FBI investigates crimes, not criminals. They start with a situation and move to individuals once they understand the facts.)
What Comey could say, however, left a rather dim view of a President, who apparently attempted to pressure his FBI chief to shut down investigations into Russia’s influence operations in 2015 and 2016. The narrative read like a political thriller, but executed with Veep-like competence. “There clearly remain a lot of questions,” said Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
But then what? Justice, as Americans expect it, would only grate at democratic institutions if Comey’s allegations are proved. And that gives Russia yet another victory its new cold war with the United States.
By the time James Comey arrived at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday, Roxanne Brando had already been waiting in line for seven hours. “It’s part of our American history,” the 24-year-old intern in Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy’s office said of why she got to the Hart office building at 3 a.m.…
By the time James Comey arrived at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday, Roxanne Brando had already been waiting in line for seven hours.
“It’s part of our American history,” the 24-year-old intern in Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy’s office said of why she got to the Hart office building at 3 a.m. to get a spot in the hearing room. “Today anything is possible, anything can change.”
Brando isn’t the only Hill intern who braved the early morning hours to snag one of the 88 public seats in the hearing room. Joe Noser, a 19-year-old who declined to say which office he works for, arrived with a gaggle of other interns around 5:15 in the morning. “It’s a remarkable opportunity,” Noser says. “I want to be able to tell my kids about something cool I did when I was in Washington.”
In front of the public seats where Brando and Noser sat was an even larger section for press. The Senate Periodical Press Gallery said there were 126 seats reserved for writing press alone and 35 more for radio and television journalists, which doesn’t count the more than 50 press photographers packed into the room or the networks in booths upstairs.
Luckily for the photographers craning to get a good shot, Comey stands a formidable 6 feet 8 inches, and there was a crescendo of clicks when he entered the room and then stood to take the oath.
Throughout the roughly 2.5 hours of testimony, the crowd remained subdued, despite the splashy news the former FBI director was making, including the revelation that he leaked his own memo on meeting with Trump, his belief that a special counsel will look into whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, the pressure he felt from President Obama’s attorney general on the Clinton email investigation and his hope that Trump taped their conversations.
One of the only times the audience buzzed and murmured was when Comey admitted he asked a friend to leak a memo on his behalf to speed up the appointment of a special counsel. That was followed by audible laughter in the room when he explained why he couldn’t just leak it to the press himself: “I worried it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach.”
The room also chuckled when Comey said he broke a date with his wife to have dinner with President Trump, and when he uttered his most quotable line from the testimony, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
At that point, former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, who had a reserved spot at the hearing, live-tweeted from his seat in the second row behind Comey:
Even though the room had been quiet and well-behaved, with committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr barely having to use his gavel to keep order, the senators and Capitol staff didn’t take any chances at the end of the hearing. Burr and ranking member Sen. Mark Warner gave a brief statement to a gaggle of reporters afterwards but refused to take any questions. Capitol police then herded everyone remaining into two separate rope lines against the walls outside the hearing room, leaving a wide pathway in the middle to clear a space for Comey when he exited out of concerns he would be mobbed by the press.
“At least it’s almost over,” one Capitol Police officer said to another as they kept the crowd at bay, refusing to allow anyone to leave the cordoned off areas.
When asked whether this was normal security protocol, one of the women in charge of keeping the hallway setup laughed: “Nothing about today is normal.”
After former FBI Director James Comey’s three-hour testimony in Congress, President Trump’s personal attorney gave a public statement disputing parts of his account. Marc Kasowitz said two parts of Comey’s sworn testimony, in which he claims Trump asked him to for full loyalty and, on a separate occasion, asked him to “let go” of any…
After former FBI Director James Comey’s three-hour testimony in Congress, President Trump’s personal attorney gave a public statement disputing parts of his account.
Marc Kasowitz said two parts of Comey’s sworn testimony, in which he claims Trump asked him to for full loyalty and, on a separate occasion, asked him to “let go” of any investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, are not true.
Kasowitz also lambasted Comey for testifying that he had asked a friend to read one of his memos of an encounter with Trump to a New York Times reporter.
Read Kasowitz’s statement below.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am Marc Kasowitz, President [sic] Trump’s personal lawyer.
Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told President Trump privately: That is , that the President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. The President – MR. Comey He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.
Mr. Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election and in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the President told Mr. Comey quote “it would be good to find out” closed quote in that investigation if there was quote “some satellite associates of his who did something wrong,” closed quote. And he, President Trump, did not exclude anyone from that statement.
Consistent with that statement, the President never in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the President never suggested that that Mr. Comey quote “let Flynn go” closed quote. As the President publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, quote “General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot” quote and also quote “asked how General Flynn is doing” closed quote Admiral Rogers testified that the President never quote “directed [him] to do anything …. illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate” closed quote and never never quote “pressured [him] to do so” closed quote. Director Coates said the same thing. The President likewise never pressured Mr. Comey.
The President also never told Mr. Comey, quote “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” closed quote. He never said it in form and he never said it in substance.Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration, and from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.
Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends of his purported memos of those privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. Mr. Comey also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of those memos to the press in order to, in Mr. Comey’s words, quote “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Closed quote.
Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated.
In sum, it is now established that the President was not being investigated for colluding with or attempting to obstruct any investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the course of these events. As he said yesterday, the President feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda, with the business of this country, and with the public cloud removed.
(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea fired several projectiles believed to be short-range surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast Thursday, South Korea’s military said, a continuation of weapons tests that have rattled Washington and the North’s neighbors as Pyongyang seeks to build a nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States. South Korea’s…
(LONDON) — Polling stations have opened across Britain in an election to choose a new government. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (0600GMT to 2100GMT) Thursday as voters choose 650 lawmakers for the House of Commons. Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim…