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Mueller Report Shows No Trump-Russia Conspiracy But Leaves Open Question of Obstruction

Apr 19, 2019

The Justice Department has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and President Trump’s attempts to impede the special counsel’s investigation. The 448-page document states Trump’s campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” but concluded, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The report reveals that when President Trump was first told of the special counsel’s investigation, he slumped back into his chair, proclaiming, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” On Thursday, Trump responded to the report’s release.

President Donald Trump: “I’m having a good day, too. It was called no collusion, no obstruction.”

Mueller’s report outlined at least 10 instances where Trump tried to impede the special counsel’s investigation, but came to no definitive conclusion on whether Trump broke the law by obstructing justice. In the report, Mueller suggests that this is a decision for Congress. That contradicts the conclusion by Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr, who said Trump did not obstruct justice. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler said he’d ask Robert Mueller to appear before Congress “as soon as possible.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler: “I have formally requested that special counsel Mueller testify before the House Judiciary Committee as soon as possible, so we can get some answers to these critical questions, because we clearly can’t believe what Attorney General Barr tells us.”

Some lawmakers said the report offers a road map to Trump’s impeachment. Freshman Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution. As such, I’ll be signing onto @RashidaTlaib’s impeachment resolution.” After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour discussing the Mueller report and its implications with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists David Cay Johnston and Glenn Greenwald.

Trump Admin to Spend $40 Million on New Immigration Detention Camps

Apr 19, 2019

The Trump administration is planning to spend $40 million to build a pair of tent cities to imprison migrant families—including children—in southern Texas. Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday the camps would be temporary, calling them part of a strategy to ease strain on Border Patrol agents in El Paso and at other U.S. ports of entry. Critics say the move is aimed at indefinitely detaining whole families in squalid conditions, in a further bid to deter migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S.

Central American Migrants Claim Assault by Mexican Authorities

Apr 19, 2019

In southern Mexico, authorities have halted a caravan of hundreds of Central American migrants from advancing north toward the U.S. border, where they hoped to seek asylum. The migrants were stopped in Chiapas by agents of the National Migration Institute, as Mexico’s government comes under intense pressure by the Trump administration to thwart attempts by asylum seekers to move north. This is Elizabeth, a Honduran mother of a 3-year-old boy who says she and her family were physically abused by Mexican authorities.

Elizabeth: “They came down on us as though we were criminals. From the beginning, we said that if we came, we came in peace. We have not made any fuss. We have not attacked anyone. How is it possible that now it’s the migration officials who came to attack us? What is this about? If they saw that my husband was carrying a child, why kick him and knock him down, knowing he’s got a child in his arms? What is wrong with them?”

ACLU Warns of “Fascist Militia” Holding Migrant Border Crossers at Gunpoint

Apr 19, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union is warning that armed vigilantes are working directly with the U.S. Border Patrol to unlawfully detain hundreds of migrants at gunpoint along the U.S.-Mexico border. The ACLU cites videos posted on social media showing members of a militia group pursuing migrants in New Mexico’s desert west of El Paso, Texas, and effectively kidnapping them against their will. In one video, vigilantes armed with assault rifles are seen approaching a group of several dozen people seated on the ground, as the video’s narrator, a man named Jim Benvie, films.

Jim Benvie: “Hey, guys. This is Jim with the United Constitutional Patriots and We Build the Wall. … As you can see, we did actually end up getting everybody wound up. It was a combination of us and some good horses over there and basically a team effort here.”

In a letter to New Mexico’s governor and attorney general calling for an investigation, the ACLU called the United Constitutional Patriots an “armed fascist militia organization,” adding, “The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law.”

Nicaragua Bans Anti-Government Protests, Arresting Dozens

Apr 19, 2019

In Nicaragua, police arrested dozens of protesters Wednesday as they took to the streets demanding that President Daniel Ortega step down. It’s been one year since anti-government protests erupted in Nicaragua. Human rights groups say at least 324 people have been killed in clashes involving anti-government demonstrators, police and pro-government militias. This week, Nicaragua’s government said it had released more than 600 prisoners as a gesture to opposition groups, but activists said only a small fraction of those released were political prisoners.

Mali’s Government Resigns as Protesters Condemn Ethnic Violence

Apr 19, 2019

Mali’s prime minister resigned Thursday along with his entire Cabinet, as public protests mounted over the government’s inability to stem ethnic violence. Last month, armed men killed 160 people from a Fulani community, as rights groups warned of mounting militia killings of civilians in central and northern Mali. The killings sparked mass demonstrations by thousands of protesters in Bamako earlier this month, demanding the government step down, as well as the departure of foreign forces from Mali.

Sudan: Mass Protests Demand Civilian Rule After Omar al-Bashir’s Ouster

Apr 19, 2019

In Sudan, hundreds of thousands of protesters continued to hold rallies in cities across the country on Thursday and Friday, calling for an end to military rule. The protests come as Sudan marks the one-week anniversary of longtime President Omar al-Bashir’s removal by top Sudanese generals amid a popular uprising against his 30-year rule. Since al-Bashir’s ouster, thousands of youth-led protesters have been holding a sit-in occupation of areas just outside the Ministry of Defense in the capital Khartoum. A military council has said it will oversee a transitional period of up to two years; the protesters are demanding the military quickly hand over power to a civilian-led government. The African Union is demanding the same thing or saying Sudan will have to leave the union. Al-Bashir is in the prison now where he sentenced so many to death.

Bangladeshi Teen Burned to Death After Reporting Sexual Assault

Apr 19, 2019

In Bangladesh, campaigners are demanding justice for Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a 19-year-old woman who was burned to death at her school after she filed a sexual assault complaint against her headmaster. In late March, Nusrat went to her local police station in her hometown south of the capital Dhaka to file a complaint. Her statement was filmed by a police officer on a cellphone, in a video that was later leaked to local media. In the video, taken on the day of the alleged assault, a visibly shaken Nusrat claimed the headmaster touched her in an inappropriate manner before she managed to escape his office. Five days after filing the complaint, Nusrat returned to her school, where she was surrounded by four or five people demanding she recant her testimony against the headmaster. When she refused, she was doused with kerosene and set on fire. She survived the assault long enough to give a statement to police, before succumbing to her injuries. The case has brought renewed attention to the plight of sexual assault survivors in Bangladesh and the impunity often granted to perpetrators of sexual violence.

Saudi Court Suspends Hearing for 11 Women’s Rights Activists Who’ve Faced Torture

Apr 19, 2019

A court In Saudi Arabia indefinitely postponed a hearing Wednesday for a group of 11 prominent women’s rights activists imprisoned on what human rights groups say are trumped-up charges. The women were arrested nearly one year ago as they campaigned against the kingdom’s male “guardianship” system and a ban on women drivers. Their arrests came just weeks before the kingdom lifted the ban. Among those arrested was 29-year-old Loujain Al-Hathloul. Her brother Walid told the BBC Wednesday that his sister has been severely abused in Saudi custody.

Walid Al-Hathloul: “All sorts of torture—electrocutions, waterboarding, sexual harassment. And this is actually done by Saud al-Qahtani, the top adviser of the crown prince. He was actually overseeing the torture at this secret facility, because when the torture was happening, that was happening at the secret facility outside Dhahban prison. And it was done in a basement. And that’s where he was laughing, he was threatening her with rape and murder.”

The latest reports of Saudi torture came after President Trump vetoed a War Powers Resolution calling on the U.S. to end military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Journalist Lyra McKee Shot Dead Amid Northern Ireland Riots

Apr 19, 2019

In Northern Ireland, a 29-year-old journalist was shot and killed Thursday as violent protests erupted in an Irish nationalist section of the city of Derry. Lyra McKee was a rising star of investigative journalism who published articles in The Atlantic, Mosaic Science and BuzzFeed. Investigators say they’re treating her death as a “terrorist incident” and have launched a murder inquiry. The riots broke out after a police raid that authorities said broke up a plot to stage attacks this weekend. They came just hours after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrapped up a visit to Derry, where she led a congressional delegation that marked the anniversary of the U.S.-brokered 1998 peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement.

Florida Police Dept. to Investigate Officers Filmed Brutalizing Teenagers

Apr 19, 2019

In Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department says it will probe the actions of officers caught on camera brutally assaulting teenagers after responding to a call about an after-school fight in a McDonald’s parking lot near their high school in Coral Springs. Viral video of the incident shows sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying teenagers and slamming one boy’s head into the pavement before repeatedly punching him in the head. The boy was left bleeding heavily and was later rushed away in an ambulance.

New York City Approves Climate Plan Meant to Curb Emissions from Big Buildings

Apr 19, 2019

New York’s City Council has approved historic climate change legislation aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from big buildings. Under the bill approved Thursday, most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet will need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and by 80 percent by mid-century.

New Yorkers Rally Against Proposed Fracked Gas Pipeline

Apr 19, 2019

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters rallied at New York City Hall Thursday evening and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to demand a halt to the proposed Williams pipeline project, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s shale fields under New York Harbor. Scores of elected officials have joined hundreds of environmental groups and tens of thousands of petitioners in opposing the plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo has until May 16 to halt the project.

CIA Director Gina Haspel Confronted over Torture During Rare Public Appearance

Apr 19, 2019

And CIA Director Gina Haspel made a rare public appearance Thursday, delivering a speech to students at Auburn University in Alabama that many described as a recruiting pitch for the spy agency. A few minutes into her speech, Haspel was interrupted by a protester—just after she described the thrill she felt when she was first sworn in as a CIA officer.

Protester: “Do you remember the thrill of the CIA black site that you tortured people in, and the evidence that you destroyed? Tell these young children. Tell them who you tortured. You know their names! They’re still in Guantánamo Bay!”

Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. She also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site.

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