White House Counsel Interviewed For 30 Hours In Russia Probe: Reports


Don McGahn, shared information on Donald Trump’s actions during the firing of the FBI (Reuters)

Washington: 

The White House’s top lawyer has cooperated extensively with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter, the newspaper said White House Counsel Donald McGahn had shared information, some of which the investigators would not have known about.

On Saturday evening, McGahn’s lawyer confirmed the White House counsel had cooperated with Mueller’s team. “Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly,” William Burck said, explaining the president did not ask McGahn to refrain from discussing any matters.

Also on Saturday, Trump tweeted that he had encouraged McGahn and White House staff to cooperate with investigators.

According to the New York Times, McGahn in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, described Mr Trump’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which the president urged McGahn to respond to it.

The newspaper reported McGahn’s motivation to speak with the special counsel as an unusual move that was in response to a decision by Trump’s first team of lawyers to cooperate fully. But it said another motivation was McGahn’s fear he could be placed in legal jeopardy because of decisions made in the White House that could be construed as obstruction of justice.

McGahn, the newspaper said, shared information on Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and the president’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of attorney general Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it.

The newspaper said McGahn was also centrally involved in Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

McGahn cautioned to investigators he never saw Trump go beyond his legal authorities.

A source close to the president told Reuters on Saturday the extent of McGahn’s cooperation was “a tactical or strategic mistake” instigated by Trump’s first legal team and it should not have been allowed to happen because McGahn should have been covered by executive privilege. The person also said Trump is not worried because he does not feel he did anything wrong.

One lawyer familiar with the matter said McGahn could have been subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury if he did not cooperate with Mueller voluntarily and might have lost legal battles if he tried to invoke executive privilege.

Trump’s former personal lawyer, John Dowd, told Reuters on Saturday he was aware McGahn had spoken extensively with Mueller’s team.

“Lot to cover,” Dowd said in text message. “Did a great job. McGahn was a strong witness for the President according to Burck and debriefs of DM (Donald McGahn). Not aware of any of the alleged apprehensions manufactured by the NYT.”

After the Times story was published on Saturday, Mr Trump tweeted that he had told White House staff to cooperate.

“I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Councel,” Trump wrote.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow as a “witch hunt.”

Rudy Giuliani, who joined the president’s outside legal team after Dowd resigned, told Reuters on Saturday that Trump’s lawyers had been in contact with McGahn’s counsel after he was interviewed and possessed “emails that say he provided nothing that was damaging or incriminating to the president.”

Giuliani said McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller was part of a legal strategy. As an officer of the court, he added, McGahn would have had to resign if he thought the president did anything illegal.

Giuliani said he did not believe McGahn was cooperating against the president, noting Trump’s lawyers and McGahn’s have a joint defense agreement that would have otherwise ended.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.

 

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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On Video, Dramatic House Collapse After Rain In Karnataka’s Kodagu


Bengaluru: 

Heavy rain in six districts in Karnataka has led to floods and landslides in the southern state. The state government has announced a Rs 200 crore relief fund for the affected districts. One of the worst-hit is Kodagu, a district in south-western Karnataka known for its coffee plantations and small waterfalls that draw a lot of tourists.

Residents of Kodagu, 260 km from Bengaluru, have been posting updates on the rain situation on social media. All roads leading to Kodagu are blocked due to multiple landslides, PRS Chetan, member of the civil defence quick reaction team, told news agency ANI. The main Kodagu-Kushalnagar is inaccessible due to landslides, he added.

One of the videos shot by a Kodagu resident shows a house slipping toward a deep fall in the back of the building.

The two-storey house is fairly big and stands on higher ground; half of the building juts out to a steep cliff-like face of muddy soil, made more slippery by rainwater.

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The road leading to Kodagu region is blocked due to multiple landslides

The building begins to slide toward the rear and within seconds the entire structure falls on the muddy ground below. A few people who were standing in front of the building run for safety to the side.

Twenty-nine relief camps have been set up and over 1,700 people have taken shelter, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s office said in a statement. Two people have died due to heavy rain in Kodagu and one each in Udupi and Shivamoga.

The gates of 35 of 39 dams in Karnataka, including the ones on the Cauvery river, have been opened. People have been asked to move to safer areas as the water released from the dams could affect them.





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Donald Trump Calls Sacked White House Aide A “Dog”


Critics condemned Donald Trump for what they said were racial and sexist undertones (File)

Washington: 

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, calling her a “dog” as his fellow former reality TV star continued to publicly release recordings from her time in Trump’s orbit.

Their escalating feud was sparked by the release of a tell-all book, “Unhinged,” by the former contestant on Trump’s “The Apprentice,” describing her year at the White House before her firing last December. Manigault Newman had been one of the Republican president’s most prominent black supporters.

In recent days, she has released audio of her firing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and of a call from Trump in which he says he did not know about her dismissal.

On Tuesday, CBS News released another recording it said was unverified but appeared to be Manigault Newman and several Trump campaign aides in October 2016 discussing the potential fallout from a tape of Trump using a racial epithet during the taping of “The Apprentice.”

CBS News’ parent company, CBS Corp, owns Simon and Schuster Inc, which published her book. CBS said the book also describes the conversation.

Trump on Monday denied the existence of any such tape, citing the show’s former producer, Mark Burnett. Some of the aides on the latest tape also denied the conversation.

Reuters could not verify any of the recordings, and Burnett could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump wrote, “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Critics condemned Trump for what they said were racial and sexist undertones.

“The president of the United States is calling a woman of color a dog? … How dare he call anyone a dog?” Democratic U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson, who is also an African-American, told CNN.

Asked whether Trump’s language was appropriate, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway did not answer directly but told Fox News she had never heard Trump “issue a racial slur about anyone.”

Trump brought on Manigault Newman, previously known for repeatedly being fired on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” as director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison.

Manigault Newman has dismissed any legal concerns about taping conversations. On Monday, she told MSNBC that, if asked, she would give her recordings to the U.S. Special Counsel’s Office investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

Russia has denied meddling in the election and Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a witch hunt.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Rogue White House Ex-Staffer Omarosa Newman Releases Donald Trump Tape


Recording appears to show Trump has little knowledge of what is happening inside White House. (File)

Washington: 

Former White House staffer and TV celebrity Omarosa Manigault Newman has released a recording of a private conversation with President Donald Trump after she was fired.

NBC’s “Today” program on Monday played the brief recording, in which Trump claims to have had no knowledge that she was sacked and expresses regret at the news.

The recording is the latest volley from the disgruntled 44-year-old, once an ardent Trump ally, and represents another stunning breach of presidential trust.

But it also appears to show a president who has little knowledge of what is happening inside his own White House — or who is willing to lie to avoid confrontation.

“Omarosa? Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” he said, apparently unaware she had already been fired.

“Nobody even told me about it,” Trump is heard saying, after chief of staff John Kelly terminated her employment.

“You know they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it.”

He continues: “I didn’t know that. Goddamn it. I don’t love you leaving at all.”

Trump has already branded “Omarosa” — as she is commonly known — a “lowlife” after she released a recording of her firing, seemingly recorded in the White House Situation Room.

He lashed out further at his former friend in a series of angry tweets, as he prepares to return to the White House after an 11 day vacation.

“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard…. ” Trump tweeted.

“…really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!”

Trump seemed to acknowledge that the unseemly fight would have been unusual for most of his 44 predecessors as president of the United States.

“While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!”

Trump came to office vowing to hire “only the best people” — but has struggled to put a lid on leaks, backbiting and scandal inside his White House.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Ex-Trump Aide Omarosa Manigault Newman Releases Purported Recording Of Her White House Firing


Omarosa Manigault repeated that Trump is a “racist, misogynist and bigot,” (Reuters)

Washington: 

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the fired White House aide seeking publicity for her new memoir about her time in the Trump administration, said in an interview Sunday that the way Chief of Staff John Kelly dismissed her involved a “threat” and played an audio recording of Kelly that she said she made in the Situation Room.

The recording was played on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” where Manigault Newman was interviewed by Chuck Todd.

In the purported recording, which would constitute a serious breach of White House security, Kelly is heard complaining about her “significant integrity issues” and saying that he wants to make her departure “friendly” and without “any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that after being fired, Manigault Newman declined a $15,000-a-month job offer from President Donald Trump’s campaign, which came with a nondisclosure agreement stating that she could not make disparaging comments about the campaign, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, their families, any Trump or Pence family company or asset, and that the agreement would survive even if her contract expired, was canceled or she was fired. The Post obtained copies of what Manigault Newman said was the job offer and the companion agreement.

In her interview with Todd, Manigault Newman said she considered the offer an attempt to buy her silence. “They were not offering a real job,” she said. “They told me I could work from home, if I wanted to work. They didn’t care if I showed up.”

In a statement Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the book as “riddled with lies and false accusations.” On Saturday, Trump called Manigault Newman a “lowlife.” Manigault Newman, who starred on Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” was fired from her administration position in December amid allegations of misconduct, including trying to stage her wedding photos on White House grounds.

Manigault Newman’s purported recordings inside the White House – especially the Situation Room, which is supposed to be one of the most secure locations on Earth – represents a serious breach of security protocol, said Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesman for the Obama administration.

The Situation Room “is the inner sanctum within an already-secure facility where the most sensitive of the most sensitive information is discussed,” Price said. “It’s where negotiations with Iran were hashed out. It’s where contingency plans for nuclear launches have been developed. The fact that she was recording a conversation in there, really, raises alarm bells in the minds of people who have worked in that room.”

Price said cellphones and recording devices are not allowed in the room, though aides are not screened before entering.

“It’s a system based on honor and integrity, and there’s a sign outside that says, ‘Place your phones here,'” he said.

On Sunday, Manigault Newman did not address those issues.

She repeated what she asserts in the book: that Trump is a “racist, misogynist and bigot,” a realization that she said dawned on her only as her rocky White House tenure came to an end.

Todd asked why she did not come to this conclusion sooner, noting that Trump had said many things over the years that people considered racist, including calling Mexicans “rapists” or saying that “both sides” were to blame for bloodshed during the white nationalist march in Charlottesville last year. Trump launched his political career advancing the “birther” conspiracy about President Barack Obama.

“Yes, I was complicit …” said Manigault Newman, who was the highest-ranking black employee in the White House. “I had a blind spot when it came to Donald Trump. I wanted to see the best in him. Obviously, I failed miserably.”

White House aides are exploring what punishment she could face for the purported recording in the Situation Room and in the building, according to a senior administration official.

Privately, many are wondering how many tapes she might have – and whether they are heard speaking on them.

Manigault has tapes of Trump speaking, a person familiar with the tapes said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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2 Arrested For Exploding Crude Bomb Outside Alleged Lover’s House In Pune


The accused claimed to be in a relationship with the girl earlier, says police.

Pune: 

A 20-year-old man, along with his friend, was arrested for allegedly exploding a crude bomb outside the house of a teenage girl with whom the accused claimed to be in a relationship earlier, police said today.

The incident happened in the early hours of August 8 in Dhayari area of Sinhgad in Maharashtra’s Pune district, an official informed.

The crude bomb, made by packing gunpowder and ball bearings with a sealant in a small box, shattered the windowpanes of nearby houses and spread panic in the area, police said.

A Sinhgad police station official identified the accused as Kishor Modak and his friend Akshay Somwanshi, 24.

“Modak and Somwanshi were arrested yesterday after police checked the CCTV footage of the area. Modak has claimed that he was miffed that the girl had called off their relationship,” the official said.

“He has told us that the two procured gunpowder, used in making firecrackers, and assembled a crude bomb using multi-purpose sealant and ball bearings,” the official said.

The two have been charged under section 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance) of the Indian Penal Code, the official said.





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United States Strongly Condemns Russia’s Poisoning Of Former Spy Says White House


Forensic investigators emerge from the rear of John Baker House in Amesbury, Britain. (Reuters)

BERKLEY HEIGHTS, United States: 

The White House said on Friday the United States strongly condemned Russia’s use of chemical weapons against a former Russian agent in Britain, two days after the U.S. State Department announced sanctions over the move.

“The attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom, on March 4, 2018, was a reckless display of contempt for the universally held norm against chemical weapons,” said a spokesman for the White House National Security Council in an email.

The spokesman said sanctions that the State Department said it would impose by the end of August fulfilled its legal obligations “after determining a foreign government has used chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals or in violation of international law.”

Skripal, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March, after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to his home’s front door.

President Donald Trump, who is spending the week at his golf property in New Jersey, did not comment on the recent sanctions when asked about them by a reporter on Thursday. Trump has sought to improve relations with Russia despite U.S. intelligence findings that Moscow had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

European countries and the United States have expelled 100 Russian diplomats since that attack, in the toughest action by Trump against Russia since he came to office.

Trump and his advisers have often appeared at odds over how strongly to act against Moscow. In the run-up to a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month, U.S. officials repeatedly called out Russia over its “malign” activities, but Trump did not use such language during a news conference with Putin.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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3 Minors, Woman Injured In House Collapse In Bihar


The four injured were rushed to hospital in serious condition, says police. (Representational)

Muzaffarnagar: 

Three minors and a woman were seriously injured after a part of a house collapsed on them at Jalalabad in Shamli district, the police said today.

According to circle officer Arvind Rathore, the incident took place when they were passing through a street last night.

Four people were injured – Aman, 14, Shadan, 12, Insha, 13 and Ruksana, 45, were rushed to a hospital in serious condition, he said.





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Hope For Constructive Debate, Consensus In House: Harivansh Singh


Harivansh Singh was elected as Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Today after securing 125 votes.

New Delhi: 

Newly elected Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh today said it would be his endeavour to uphold the dignity of the Upper House and expressed hope that differences would be ironed out through constructive debates, consensus and guidance.

The journalist-turned-politician exuded confidence that all members will work together and tread on principles of Gandhi and Jai Prakash Naryan to ensure a smooth run of the House.

The JD(U) member said, “Treading on rules and procedures framed by our Constitution makers, we can lead the country to greatness…There would be differences in debates, there would be different opinions… We can find out a way.

“I got this opportunity to be here…I am frightened, surrounded by so many experienced people but this is my strength too as you all will guide me and I assure you I will run the House in a fair and decent manner,” he said.

He said he was faced with a “Yaksha Prashna” (complex question) ever since he became an MP and delivered a lecture at a university in Ara, the land of great fighter Veer Kunwar Singh after students questioned if India followed the Western model of democracy why can’t parliamentarians show discipline and dignity and whether the ancient Indian system of high- level debates and communication is followed.

Mr Harivansh said students wanted to know “why don’t we follow discipline, decorum, decency and dignity and run Parliament like them (West if we adopted their model)” and also questioned why the rich Indian tradition of high-standard debates were dumped while citing examples of Shankracharya and Vedic sage Ashtavakra who went alone to Janak’s Durbar.

He said he considered this as “Yaksha Prashna” but the answers lie in a Gita shloka that says: “For whatever a great man does that very thing other men also do; whatever standard he sets up, the generality of men follow the same.”

Emphasising that people emulate parliamentarians, he said they should lead by example and also urged them to follow Gandhian principles citing how he had set 10-12 points of conduct for all who followed him.

Mr Harivansh also cited Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Naryan’s refusal to take up the demand of road and basic infrastructure of his village to higher ups by saying, “If I do this for my village; what about 5.5 lakh other such villages?” “JP’s response is still alive in my memory …He said yes if I say work will happen but if it happens in my village and 5.5 lakh other villages are deprived what answer will I give to them. Our grooming was done in this decent atmosphere,” he said.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah, Leader of the Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad and others for getting him elected to the post, he said he had never envisioned that he will be at this post in Lutyen’s Delhi as he came from a village between two mighty rivers- Ganga and Ghagra where during floods people thought this was the last night or day of their life.

“I studied below a tree … from an ordinary primary school …My journey to Lutyen’s Delhi or elite’s Delhi was possible due to each one of you. The foundation of social awareness was laid … there was no road in the village to commute …We used to be confined to our homes during floods… People used to carry the sick on a charpoy for 15 km distances … We saw electricity many years later…We started our journey with earthen lamps,” he said.

He said after for 40 years of job including 37 years of journalism he was here and quoted Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. He said this country has different culture, traditions and under such circumstances the thinking has to be different as he quoted Dr Radhakrishnan, “We will try to do within our power to justify to the public of this country that a second chamber is essential to prevent hasty legislation.”

As soon as his speech was over, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu invited him to conduct proceedings and Mr Harivansh adjourned the House till 2 pm.

Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members were seen congratulating him in the House.

Ruling NDA candidate and JD(U) member Harivansh was elected as the Deputy Chairman, securing 125 votes as against 105 polled by opposition candidate BK Hariprasad.

The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since the retirement of P J Kurien on July 1.





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On Camera, House Collapses Into Flooded Canal Minutes After Evacuation


Bankura: 

In a shocking incident, a 2-storey house in Bengal collapsed into a flooded canal within minutes after it was evacuated. There were a number of residents in the house who were taken to safety right before the horrifying incident.

The incident happened in the Junbedia area of Bankura district and a video of the collapse made its way into social media. The reason behind the sudden collapse is said to be dampening of the house due to heavy rainfall and also the presence of a flooded canal next to the building may have weakened it further.

No casualties have been reported in the incident.

In May, about 200 houses collapsed in a storm in Nadia district. Last month, a house collapsed in central Kolkata that killed one. The collapse was also followed by rain. Kolkata and other parts of Bengal have many old buildings that are on the verge of collapse. Some of them are in a dilapidated state that poses a threat to people around the area. Many buildings in the capital of the state have signs that warn of unmaintained buildings and possible collapse.

 





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