Washington, US – Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded in his investigation that President Donald Trump should not be charged with obstruction of justice or conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections, according to a letter by Attorney General Robert Barr to congressional leaders.
“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election,” Barr said in his letter on Sunday.
“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’,” Barr added.
Following the release of Barr’s summary, Trump claimed on Twitter: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
Mueller concluded his investigation and sent a final report to Barr on Friday.
The special counsel did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice during the investigation but Barr’s letter reached a finding that, without evidence of an underlying conspiracy, the legal threshold for obstruction would not be met.
Mueller’s report states that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”, according to Barr.
Further, Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Russian campaign”.
Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense”.
The lack of a finding of obstruction was based on the recognition that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference”, the letter said.
By manufacturing a legal conclusion there was no obstruction, Barr’s letter appeared to give Trump what he wanted politically, even though the underlying report said the president was not exonerated.
“The most interesting thing in the letter is that Barr decided to make a decision on obstruction after 48 hours, when Mueller decided after two years, not to do that. I find that somewhat suspicious in that, it’s not the way the department works,” Matt Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman in the Obama administration, told Al Jazeera.
“You don’t leave decisions to the attorney general. You make recommendations,” he added.
“Mueller didn’t make a recommendation. I assume it’s because their reading of the law is that he couldn’t indict a president and so there is no point in making that decision and that decision is left to Congress. It’s very odd then, that the attorney general put his finger on the scale when an independent prosecutor who investigated for two years decided not to reach a conclusion.”
Mueller’s investigation included 19 lawyers and a team of 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and professional staff. The team interviewed 500 witnesses, executed more than 500 search warrants, 13 requests to foreign governments, issued 2,800 subpoenas and 50 wiretaps in the investigation, according to Barr.
Over the course of a 22-month investigation, Mueller brought charges against 34 people, including Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his personal attorney Michael Cohen.
In addition, Mueller has made referrals to prosecutors in New York.
Earlier on Sunday, Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the report to be made public “as soon as possible so we can evaluate the body of evidence on the issue of conspiracy and look at why Bob Mueller decided not to indict now”.
“Mueller can’t indict the president,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation show.
“The fact there are no indictments now or in the future, doesn’t tell us about the quantum of evidence. We need to wait to see the report but I also think the attorney general needs to make that report publicly available.
“The special counsel spent almost two years almost investigating this. The public has a right to know, indeed a need to know, so that we don’t have to ask questions about what the evidence was on either of these core subjects of his investigation.”
US Democrats call on Barr to release full Mueller report
Barr had pledged to provide Congress with as much transparency as possible under Department of Justice (DoJ) regulations governing the production of reports by a special counsel.
Barr spent the weekend reviewing Mueller’s report with officials at the DoJ.
The report itself was not provided to Congress prompting calls by politicians for its release. Democrats and many Republicans have called for public release of Mueller’s report. The House voted 420-0 to approve a resolution on March 14 expressing a view the report should be made public.
With Congress on recess over the weekend, Speaker Nancy Pelosi convened 170 Democrats for an emergency conference call on Saturday to address the Democratic caucus’s posture on the forthcoming report.
“The American people deserve the truth, to know the truth. Transparency is the order of the day,” Pelosi told Democrat members of Congress, according to a leadership aide who provided a readout of the call to Al Jazeera.
“Right now, we are in a mode of wanting to know the truth, wanting the facts so that our chairpersons and members of the committees can take a look into this going forward.”
Five House committees have launched investigations of Trump since Democrats won control of the chamber in the 2018 elections.
Pelosi has tamped down on talk of impeachment as Democrats seek to avoid a political path that could prove damaging to their chances in 2020.
Trump had remained uncharacteristically quiet over the weekend, staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he played golf with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and country music entertainer Kid Rock.
Vietnamese envoy hails KRCS’ global humanitarian efforts
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation…
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation for the society’s aid to the Vietnamese Embassy during the coronavirus crisis.
The ambassador added that they discussed providing his country with aid to face the impact of the recent floods and landslides, considered to be the worst in decades. Sayer said he was pleased with the ambassador’s visit and affirmed that KRCS will continue exerting humanitarian efforts to aid those affected by natural disasters and crises everywhere. – KUNA
Pain, frustration: Expats lose jobs to new rules and COVID
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the…
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel
After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the government sector who were being laid off.
As part of its Kuwaitization policy, Kuwait is replacing expats with locals in the government sector. The government has also stopped issuing work permits to expats over 60 years of age without a university degree. These new rules have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of expats in the country, leaving many with no choice but to pack their bags and leave.
Gulf countries are facing an exodus of foreign workers as the coronavirus pandemic pushes out foreign workers. In the midst of the COVID-19 and financial crunch, the National Assembly approved a draft law to slash expat numbers over the next five years.
As the budget deficit widens and economic conditions worsen, Kuwait is grappling with an economic downturn as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world. The combined shock of collapsing oil prices, the pandemic and joblessness is reshaping labor policies in the region, thus bringing anti-foreigner sentiments to the fore again.
While Kuwait’s expats struggle to secure their jobs, the government is calling for an increase in workforce nationalization in government entities. “Why will foreigners take the jobs meant for us (Kuwaitis)? They can work anywhere – but not in the ministries,” argued Abdullah, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti.
Buttressing Abdullah’s viewpoint, Fatma, an unemployed Kuwaiti woman, complained of the difficulty in competing with foreign workers for jobs in the private sector. “Foreign workers can work longer for less, unlike us Kuwaitis. So most companies prefer to hire non-Kuwaitis. This leaves us with only one sector (the public sector). I think this is why the government introduced Kuwaitization, so as to give unemployed Kuwaitis an opportunity,” she explained.
For Lyon, justice and fairness should override anti-expat sentiments. “It is understandable that ministries would give preference to locals for jobs during these tough times, but it would be fair to consider the efforts of the old staff who have put in their best to build this country,” Lyon, 61, and some of his co-workers who were laid off recently lamented, as they worry about their future.
Expats make up the majority of the population of Kuwait. Residency is tied to employment and Kuwait does not easily offer citizenship routes to non-nationals. “We have been here (in Kuwait) legally for over 20 years. It will be difficult to go back and start afresh in our home countries. More so, Kuwait’s residency is linked to the work permit – when you lose your job, you automatically lose your residency. I worry about my children who are still in school. The three-month notice will not be enough to relocate them,” Mustapha, an Egyptian expat who recently lost his job, said in dismay.
Abdurazak Hamad, an African expat, is in a dilemma. “I feel miserable leaving my family behind. I don’t want to go alone, but I can’t make my wife quit her KD 450 job since she is now the sole breadwinner. Starting afresh in my home country at this age (62) will be very difficult. I wish I can get a permit (residency) to stay here with my family,” said Hamad, who was recently sacked.
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