Ex-Trump aide should be jailed for 19 – 24 years – Robert Mueller

Ex-Trump aide should be jailed for 19 - 24 years - Robert Mueller
Paul Manafort

US President Donald Trump’s former election campaign chief Paul Manafort, should be jailed for up to 24 years, special counsel Robert Mueller says.

Manafort was convicted of financial fraud on charges relating to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine.

He accepted a plea deal on the charges in return for co-operating with Mr Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election campaign.

But he was found guilty earlier this week of breaching his plea deal.

The 69 year old, who was one of the first people to be investigated in the probe, was found to have lied to prosecutors.

On Thursday, US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort had “made multiple false statements” to the FBI, Mr Mueller’s office and a grand jury.

On Friday, a court document filed by Mr Mueller’s office said it agreed with a US Department of Justice calculation that Manafort should face between 19 and 24 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 (£39,000) and $24m.
“While some of these offences are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct or the sophistication of his schemes,” the document reads.

“The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”

In her ruling on Wednesday, Judge Berman Jackson said there was evidence that showed Manafort had lied about three different topics, including his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant. Prosecutors claim Mr Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence.

What was the plea deal?

Last August, Mr Manafort was convicted on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose bank accounts.

A month later he pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy against the US and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice in a plea bargain with Mr Mueller. The agreement avoided a second trial on money laundering and other charges.

The plea deal meant Manafort would face up to 10 years in prison and would forfeit four of his properties and the contents of several bank accounts – but deadlocked charges from the previous trial would be dismissed.

It was the first criminal trial arising from the Department of Justice’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

However, the charges related only to Manafort’s political consulting with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, largely pre-dating his role with the Trump campaign.

Trump to declare emergency over Mexico border wall

Trump to declare emergency over Mexico border wallUS President Donald Trump is to invoke rare national emergency powers to secure funding for his planned border wall with Mexico, the White House said.

The controversial move would enable Mr Trump to bypass Congress which has refused to approve the money needed.

Senior Democrats have accused the president of a “gross abuse of power” and a “lawless act”. Several Republicans have also voiced concern.

Building a border wall was a key campaign pledge of Mr Trump’s campaign.

Declaring a national emergency would free Mr Trump from many of the legal constraints on executive power and give him access to billions of dollars for his project.

The president agreed on Thursday to sign a spending bill that does not include finance for the wall. The bill ended two months of deadlock which led to a 35-day government shutdown – the longest in US history.

The spending bill must be signed on Friday to avert another shutdown. Citing unnamed White House officials, US media outlets reported that the president would sign the emergencies act at the same time.
Can Congress stop Trump’s emergency move?

The National Emergencies Act contains a clause that allows Congress to terminate the emergency status if both houses vote for it – and the president does not veto.

With a comfortable majority in the House, Democrats could pass such a resolution to the Senate. The Republicans control the Senate, but a number of Republican senators have been vocal in their unease about the president invoking a national emergency.

The dissenting Republicans include 2012 presidential contender and new senator for Utah Mitt Romney, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and the senator from Maine Lisa Murkowski, who said the move was “of dubious constitutionality”.

The resolution would however still require Mr Trump’s signature to pass, allowing him to veto it. A supermajority in both houses of Congress is needed to overturn a presidential veto.
Trump to declare emergency over Mexico border wall
What did the White House say?

“The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

She said Mr Trump would “take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border”.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated his support for the president’s national emergency move, saying the president was taking action with “whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his efforts to secure the border”.
How have Democrats responded?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer issued a strongly worded joint statement condemning the move.

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” read the statement.

“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it.”

Ms Pelosi had already suggested that Democrats would mount a legal challenge.

Michelle Obama ends Hillary Clinton’s 17-year run as America’s most admired woman

Michelle Obama ends Hillary Clinton's 17-year run as America's most admired womanUS Former First Lady Hillary Clinton has ended her reign as the woman Americans admire most.

Deposing Clinton’s most admired woman position, another former First Lady, Michelle Obama, has been credited the new title according to a Gallup poll published on Thursday.

Former president Barack Obama was named the man Americans admire most for the 11th year in a row, Gallup poll reveal.

President Donald Trump finished second in the poll for the fourth year in a row. Gallup has conducted the annual poll every year since 1946 with the exception of 1976.

Fifteen percent of the 1,025 Americans polled said the woman they admire most is Michelle Obama, who is currently on a tour promoting her book “Becoming.”

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey was second with five percent followed by Hillary Clinton and First Lady Melania Trump with four percent.

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and a former US senator and secretary of state, has topped the list 22 times including the past 17 years in a row. Nineteen percent of those polled said Barack Obama was the man they admired most. Trump was second with 13 percent followed by former president George W. Bush and Pope Francis, who were tied with two percent. Gallup said the survey conducted December 3-12 had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

‘I cannot meet promise to create 1 million U.S. jobs’ – Alibaba’s Jack Ma

'I cannot meet promise to create 1 million U.S. jobs' - Alibaba's Jack MaChairman Jack Ma said the company can no longer meet its promise to create 1 million jobs in the United States due to U.S.-China trade tensions, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Ma had met U.S. President Donald Trump two years ago and laid out the Chinese e-commerce giant’s plan to bring one million small U.S. businesses onto its platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.

“This commitment is based on friendly China-US cooperation and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade,” Ma told Xinhua. “The current situation has already destroyed the original premise. There is no way to deliver the promise.”

Ma said on Tuesday that trade tensions between the United States and China could last for two decades and would be “a mess” for all parties involved.

He had also said trade tensions would likely impact Chinese and foreign companies immediately and negatively, while predicting that Chinese businesses may move production to other countries in the medium-term to get around tariffs.

Trump on Monday imposed 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion more if China retaliated against the U.S. action.

China responded a day later with tariffs on about $60 billion worth of U.S. goods as previously planned, but reduced the level of tariffs that it will collect on the products. Ma, the charismatic co-founder of Alibaba, announced last week that he would step down in one year to concentrate on philanthropy and education, passing on the reins to trusted lieutenant Daniel Zhang.

Kim Kardashian is ‘fighting’ to free another felon sentenced to life in prison

Kim Kardashian is pushing US president Donald Trump to free another convicted felon who was sentenced to life in prison when he was 22 after being caught with eight ounces of cocaine and six ounces of crack.Kim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prisonMrs West is “fighting” to free a prisoner who was sentenced to life for drug possession.

The reality star believes Chris Young was given an “unfair” punishment and that “the laws really have to change”.

Speaking on a United States podcast, she told listeners she “talks to the White House often” regarding jail reform.

In May, Kim met with President Donald Trump to debate the discharge of another unfortunate person, Alice Marie Johnson – who was only freed a month later.

Now Kim hopes that she will be able to do a similar job for 30-year-old Chris – who has been in jail for eight years already.Kim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prison“It’s so unfair,” she told Jason Flom on his Wrongful Conviction podcast, that was aired on Wednesday.

According to the Kardashians star, Chris was confined for possession of marijuana and less than half a gram of cocaine.

“It started with Ms. Alice, but looking at her and seeing the faces and learning the stories of the men and women I’ve met inside prisons I knew I couldn’t stop at just one. It’s time for REAL systemic change.”

His story has conjointly been shared by the Buried Alive Project – that desires to prevent life without parole sentences being handed out under United States drug laws.Kim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prison Kim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prisonKim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prisonKim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prisonKim Kardashian is 'fighting' to free another felon sentenced to life in prison

Report: Nigerian President Buhari is ‘lifeless’ – Trump

US President Donald Trump reportedly told his aides he never wanted to meet someone as “lifeless” as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari again.Report: Nigerian President Buhari is 'lifeless' - TrumpTrump’s remarks came after Buhari’s visit to the White House earlier this year, said a BBC report quoting Financial Times.

“Trump likes chemistry. Africa has never been high on his radar but if the big guy likes you he’ll find a way to make things work,” an unnamed source reportedly told the Financial Times ahead of a meeting between Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday.

Buhari was the first sub-Saharan African president to visit Trump at the White House where Trump also reportedly managed to stir a few controversies during the meeting, according to BBC.

During their meeting Trump reportedly asked Buhari what the situation was with “that Boca Haram” referring to Boko Haram and also showed little understanding of the conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, owing it only to a religious divide and a Christian genocide.

Trump has also angered many Africans over the past few months with his ignorance as he called some countries – including those on the African continent – “shithole” countries, his mispronunciation of Namibia as “Nambia” and the latest tweet weighing in on the matters of land ownership in South Africa.

BBC

US ambassador urges Britain to rethink support for Iranian nuclear deal

US ambassador urges Britain to rethink support for Iranian nuclear dealThe United States’ ambassador has urged Britain to back Donald Trump in putting pressure on Iran and rethink its support for the “flawed” 2015 nuclear deal.

It comes after the UK and its European allies reacted with dismay when the US president decided to pull out of the landmark deal earlier this year which relieved sanctions on Iran in return to an end to Tehran’s military nuclear ambitions.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – referred to as the Iran nuclear deal – was signed three years ago by the former US President Barack Obama, alongside the UK, Russia, France, Germany, China and the EU.

Last week Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, joined with his European counterparts and agreed to work to block the impact of Mr Trump’s new sanctions against Tehran, which were reimposed on Monday.

Foreign office minister Alistair Burt said the United States had “not got this right”, adding: “Sometimes you need to take a stand against friends”.

But in an article for the Sunday Telegraph, the American ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, urged ministers to rethink their position. “It’s time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal,” he said.

“We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us as we lead a concerted global effort towards a genuinely comprehensive agreement,” he said.

The ambassador said Iran had used the flow of money coming into the country since the easing of sanctions not to improve the lives of ordinary Iranians but to beef up spending on the military and networks of proxy forces and terrorists.

“It is clear that the danger from Iran did not diminish in the wake of the deal,” he said. “It grew.

“Far from becoming a more responsible member of the international community, as we had all hoped, Iran grew bolder.”

He called for a “united front” among Western nations to force Tehran into a change of course.

“Only by presenting a united front can we exert the maximum possible pressure on the Iranian regime, and get it to finally change course and put an end to its malign and reckless activities both at home and abroad,” said Mr Johnson.

“If the regime does make tangible and sustained changes to behave like a normal country, America is prepared to resume full commercial and diplomatic relations. Iran will be free to develop advanced technologies and play a full role in the global economy.

“Until then, America is turning up the pressure and we want the UK by our side.”

Independent

Uhuru Kenyatta to meet Trump for trade talks

Kenyan Leader Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on August 27 in Washington, the White House confirmed on Monday.

Mr Kenyatta’s visit comes just four months after Mr Trump held talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who was the first African leader to be received at the White House by the current US leader.

The meeting will focus on growing trade between the two countries and finding a long-lasting solution to insecurity in neighbouring Somalia and South Sudan.

“The meeting between the two leaders will reaffirm the long-standing relationship between the United States and Kenya as a cornerstone of peace and stability in Africa and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

Ms Sanders described Kenya as a “vital partner” of the US and that Mr Trump was looking forward to “discussing ways to broaden the strategic partnership based on our shared democratic values and mutual interests”.

“President Trump and President Kenyatta will explore ways to bolster trade and investment between the two countries, while strengthening security cooperation.”

Trade between the two countries is tilted towards the US, with Nairobi buying goods worth Ksh57 billion ($567 million) last year against exports – largely textile and apparels – valued at Ksh47 billion ($467 million), official statistics show.

Washington views Kenya as key in strengthening its ties with Africa as Mr Trump appears to be moving to mend fences with the continent he reportedly described as a collection of “sh**hole” countries on January 11.

The Trump administration has been warming up to Nairobi in recent months, with two high-powered delegation on trade and security holding talks with top leadership in Nairobi.

Trump warns countries against doing business with Iran

  • US President Donald Trump says that sanctions reimposed on Iran were the “most biting ever” as he warned other countries from doing business with Tehran.
  • The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.

Trump warns countries against doing business with IranUS President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that sanctions reimposed on Iran were the “most biting ever” as he warned other countries from doing business with Tehran.

“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” he wrote in an early morning tweet.

“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less.”

The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.
Iran’s markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the trial strengthening by 20 percent since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.
But a second tranche coming into effect on November 5 covering Iran’s vital oil sector, could be far more damaging — even if several key customers such as China, India and Turkey have refused to significantly cut their purchases.

Trump’s contempt for the nuclear deal dates back to his time as presidential candidate and on May 8, he made good on a pledge to pull America out of the international agreement.
The unilateral withdrawal came despite other parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU — pleading with Trump not to abandon the pact aimed at blocking Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

AFP

Trump-Putin summit: US president reverses remark on Russia meddling

Trump-Putin summit: US president reverses remark on Russia meddling
Photo by ANATOLY MALTSEV/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9762785o)Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin, Russia US Summit in Helsinki, Finland – 16 Jul 2018

US President Donald Trump has said he accepts US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election – despite declining to do so just a day ago.

After meeting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin he said he could not see why Russia would meddle.

The comments drew outrage even among his supporters.

But he told reporters that he misspoke and had meant to say he saw no reason why it was not Russia that meddled.

He said he had full “faith and support” in US intelligence agencies and would take “strong action” to secure the US election process.

Mr Trump said that the interference had no impact on the election, which saw him defeat Hillary Clinton.

However, he did not respond when reporters asked him if he would condemn Mr Putin.

At the summit in Helsinki on Monday, Mr Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to allegations of meddling in the 2016 presidential vote.

“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” he replied.

He also upset some in the US by refusing to offer specific criticism of Russia, instead saying he held both countries responsible for their poor relations.

The Helsinki press conference drew strong condemnation: one of his Republican supporters, Newt Gingrich, said it was the “most serious mistake of his presidency” and Mr Trump had been urged to clarify his comments.

 

BBC