Quantcast
Loading...
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

older | 1 | .... | 1069 | 1070 | (Page 1071) | 1072 | 1073 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    The coqui frog may look innocent, and even sound sweet to some, but its brief history in Hawaii tells a tragic story of how delayed action can have devastating consequences for biodiversity and human well-being. Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

    The coqui frog may look innocent, and even sound sweet to some, but its brief history in Hawaii tells a tragic story of how delayed action can have devastating consequences for biodiversity and human well-being. Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

    I can remember when the nighttime sounds of forests on the Big Island in Hawaii were filled only with the unique songs of native insects. Having studied native Hawaiian crickets for nearly three decades I’ve become familiar with the deep, cow-bell pulses of the Hawaiian tree cricket and the soft, sleigh-bell pulses of Uhini iki, the Hawaiian swordtail cricket.

    Today, they can barely be heard.

    So dense and widespread are the populations on the island that state officials have deemed the goal of permanent removal unfeasible there…

    In the past few years, a population explosion of the invasive coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) has transformed the acoustic landscape of Big Island forests into a monotonous din, masking these native songs. Tens of thousands of amphibian voices, calling “ko-keee, ko-keee, ko-keee,” mask the songs of native endemics. So dense and widespread are the populations on the island that state officials have deemed the goal of permanent removal unfeasible there, focusing instead on eradication efforts for the remaining islands where the coqui has yet to deeply establish itself.

    Now the coqui has arrived in California. With few, and relatively small infestations, California should act immediately to eradicate this destructive invasive species. The coqui may look innocent, and even sound sweet to some, but its brief history in Hawaii tells a tragic story of how delayed action can have devastating consequences for biodiversity and human well-being.

    Although native to Puerto Rico, the coqui invaded vulnerable island habitats by hitching rides on commercial nursery plants. In Hawaii, home to thousands of endemic species, the coqui has had catastrophic impact following its introduction in the late 1980s. Unlike in their native range, coqui have achieved astonishing densities, often as high as 20,000 frogs per hectare (or 2 frogs per square meter), and sometimes over four times that number. These high densities likely arise because the frogs have escaped their natural predators and diseases, factors that regulate coqui numbers in Puerto Rico.

    The coqui is a predator itself, and its high numbers are bad news for native Hawaiian arthropod species, which the frogs consume with voracious appetites. Each frog consumes about eight prey animals per day, and thus, in that one square meter, on any given night, a loss of between thirty and seventy invertebrates can be expected. To put this threat on a human scale, such a density would equate to approximately 20 Tyrannosaurus rex’s per square kilometer. Admittedly, a T. rex might eat just one human per day; nevertheless, we wouldn’t stand a chance.

    Common Coqui (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is a small tree frog averaging 1-2 inches in length. They are classified as an invasive species in California. Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

    Common Coqui (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is a small tree frog averaging 1-2 inches in length. They are classified as an invasive species in California. Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

    For the Big Island’s endemic arthropod species, this analogy suggests a grim future—and sadly, it is more than just a suggestion. In the last decade, frog populations have steadily expanded upslope from Hilo toward the Kilauea summit, such that now the night-time acoustic landscape is filled with a coqui cacophony, revealing massive populations of frogs. As recently as five years ago, native cricket numbers were healthy on Kilauea’s northeast slope. Further surveys are urgently needed, but in the vicinity of Glenwood, where there once were hundreds of thousands of crickets, they are now completely gone. And what of the other tiny forest creatures that do not reveal their losses so readily through the disappearance of sound? One must conclude that they too have been vacuumed up by the voracious coqui.

    There are also well-known human impacts. Coqui are loud, disturbing residents’ sleep, eliciting visitor complaints at hotels and resorts, and depressing real estate values in infested areas on the Big Island. In addition, Hawaiian nurseries have repeatedly exported frog-infested ornamental plants, only to suffer economic loss when their shipments are destroyed or returned.

    Sign up to get our Science email

    We'll explore the wide worlds of science, health and technology with content from our science squad and other places we're finding news.

    Many will be unmoved by the loss of the tiny, unseen creatures of the forest—the beetles, the spiders. But these creatures constitute the food source of Hawaiian honeycreeper birds and are pollinators of spectacular endemic plants such as the Hawaiian hibiscus, orchids, and silverswords.

    Likewise, native crickets perform ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling, which plays a vital role in sustaining rain-forested watersheds. Unchecked predation by frogs has the potential to drastically destabilize the native ecosystem.

    Indeed, the only beneficiaries of the frog expansion likely will be those that eat frogs, such as invasive rats.

    Indeed, the only beneficiaries of the frog expansion likely will be those that eat frogs, such as invasive rats. Rats, in turn, will pose an even larger predatory threat to the imperiled native birds than they already do, and to humans, since they serve as a reservoir for rat lungworm. Ultimately, the negative human impacts of these frogs are multifaceted and far-reaching.

    There continue to be serious efforts to suppress and eradicate coqui on other Hawaiian islands, thanks to neighborhood coqui-watches, an invasive species program that backs “coqui-free” nursery business certification, and state law that makes it a felony to intentionally transport, import or harbor coqui.

    Hawaii’s coqui explosion has not only had huge local costs, but also downstream effects beyond the Big Island . For, despite similar coqui watches on other Hawaiian islands, the enormous reservoir of frogs ensures further accidental introductions on the other islands due to regular shipping traffic.

    Moreover, these invasive populations may act as stepping-stones to other west coast states such as Oregon and Washington, where coqui may encounter favorable habitats.

    Now the coqui has arrived in California, probably via contaminated plant shipments from Hawaii, with occurrences documented in nurseries in Torrance, Orange County, and San Diego, where their loud but unfamiliar calls have been mistaken for car alarms and exotic birds, and have become a general concern to local residents. Moreover, these invasive populations may act as stepping-stones to other west coast states such as Oregon and Washington, where coqui may encounter favorable habitats.

    With Hawaii as a warning lesson for what happens when tepid measures are taken, California should swiftly and thoroughly eradicate the invasive coqui immediately. By playing a waiting game, California encourages a much more costly problem down the road that threatens biodiversity, the economy, and human health. Established populations have only been found at nurseries so far. But that is precisely where the coqui invasion got its start in Hawaii.

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on June 8, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post Grab your earplugs. Invasive coqui frogs gain foothold in California appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    President Donald Trump’s outside attorney Marc Kasowitz delivered a statement, following James Comey’s testimony from earlier today.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s personal attorney says the president “never, in form or substance” directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone. That includes former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

    Marc Kasowitz is responding to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the Flynn case.

    READ MORE: What to watch for in Comey’s Senate testimony

    Kasowitz says that the president is “entitled to expect loyalty” from those serving the administration. But he says Trump never told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” in form or substance, as Comey claimed.

    Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post WATCH: Trump’s personal lawyer delivers statement following Comey hearing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks with the media following a conference meeting on Capitol Hill in D.C. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks with the media following a conference meeting on Capitol Hill in D.C. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump is “learning as he goes” about government and probably did not fully understand the protocols that keep the FBI separate from the president.

    Ryan was asked about ousted FBI Director James Comey’s account that Trump pushed him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey is testifying in the Senate that the request made him uncomfortable and spurred him to write detailed memos of his conversations with Trump.

    Ryan said he had not been watching the hearings. But he said Ryan said the FBI needs to independent and “the president is new at this.”

    He later added, “He’s learning as he goes.”

    Ryan said Trump is probably frustrated that speculation has swirled around him even after being told by Comey three times that he was not directly under investigation.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post Paul Ryan says Trump is unfamiliar with protocol, ‘new to this’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, D.C., on June 8. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, D.C., on June 8. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    A Columbia University law professor and close friend of former FBI director James Comey has confirmed he leaked contents of one of Comey’s memos to The New York Times.

    Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday that he hoped the story about his interactions with President Donald Trump would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

    READ MORE: What to watch for in Comey’s Senate testimony

    Daniel Richman confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that he was the friend who Comey mentioned in his testimony. He declined further comment.

    Richman served with Comey in the Southern District of New York and at the FBI.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post Friend confirms he leaked Comey memo to NYT appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    President Donald Trump delivers a speech Thursday at the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Watch in the player above.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sought comfort in the figurative embrace of his evangelical supporters Thursday as the FBI director he recently fired told Congress about their conversations, telling a religious gathering that they are “under siege” but will emerge “bigger and better and stronger than ever.”

    Trump made no reference to Comey in his remarks to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering. But hours before the president arrived to make his first public comments of the day, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty and drop an investigation into potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

    Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9. A private attorney for Trump said the president never asked Comey to stop investigating anyone.

    In his remarks to the conference, Trump pledged to always support the right of evangelicals to follow their faith, which some conservatives believe is under attack by government.

    “We will always support our evangelical community and defend your right and the right of all Americans to follow and to live by the teachings of their faith,” the president told more than 1,000 activists meeting at a Washington hotel across town from Capitol Hill, where Comey was testifying in a nationally televised hearing

    “And as you know, we’re under siege. We will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You fought hard for me and now I’m fighting hard for all of you,” Trump said.

    He said his one goal as president is to “fight for the American people and to fight for America and America first.”

    Trump spoke about his actions to safeguard religious freedom and continued, for a second straight day, to label congressional Democrats as “obstructionists” who are blocking his agenda. Yet it is differences of opinion among Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, standing in the way of what Trump wants to do on health care and other issues.

    Following James Comey’s testimony before a Senate Intel commmittee today, President Donald Trump’s outside attorney Marc Kasowitz delivered a statement, accusing the former FBI director of “unauthorized disclosures” of talks with the president.

    Trump also mentioned getting the Senate to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court, and keeping a campaign promise to repeal a rarely enforced IRS rule barring churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates at the risk of losing their status.

    “As long as I’m president, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or preaching what is in your heart,” he said.

    Trump said restoring freedom also means repealing and replacing the health care law enacted in 2010 by then-President Barack Obama, saying high deductibles and premiums have turned it into a “catastrophe.” But a replacement health care bill has yet to clear Congress despite seven years of pledges by Republicans to scrap the law and start over, and despite the fact that the GOP has full control of the White House and Congress.

    The Republican-controlled House passed a bill with the bare minimum of GOP votes and none from Democrats. Senate Republicans are working on their version of the bill, but are divided about the approach.

    Trump ignored that and blamed Democrats, calling them “obstructionists.” He said they’ve gone so far to the left in terms of opposing him that “they’re bad right now for the country.”

    He urged the audience to help send more Republicans to Congress in next year’s midterm elections, noting the GOP has just a two-vote edge in the Senate and a slim advantage in the House.

    “We have to build those numbers up because we’re just not going to get votes” from Democrats, he said. “Sadly, we’re going to have to do it as Republicans because we’re not going to get any Democratic votes and that’s a sad, sad thing.”

    Trump also ignored the fact that three Democratic senators voted to confirm Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

    Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York and Vivian Salama in Washington contributed to this report.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post WATCH: President Trump vows to survive and thrive ‘siege’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Searching for solutions to back pain can lead sufferers into an expensive and sometimes dangerous maze of ineffectual treatments, procedures and pills, journalist and investigative reporter Cathryn Jakobson Ramin found. Illustration by leremy/via Adobe

    Searching for solutions to back pain can lead sufferers into an expensive and sometimes dangerous maze of ineffectual treatments, procedures and pills, journalist and investigative reporter Cathryn Jakobson Ramin found. Illustration by leremy/via Adobe

    For the majority of us, it’s not a question of whether we’ll someday experience back pain; it’s a question of when.

    ‘Study after study after study has shown that long-term visits to chiropractors don’t help patients. They don’t prevent back pain; they don’t solve back pain.’

    But searching for solutions can lead sufferers into an expensive and sometimes dangerous maze of ineffectual treatments, procedures and pills, as journalist and investigative reporter Cathryn Jakobson Ramin found. For years, she searched for ways to alleviate her own intractable back pain. Then she began to investigate the entire back pain ecosystem: doctors, chiropractors, surgery centers, pharmaceutical companies, “posture mavens,” collusion between personal injury attorneys and doctors … you name it.

    Her new book, “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting On the Road to Recovery,” explores what she found, while also telling the story of how she overcame her chronic suffering. When it comes to people making money on — literally — the backs of other people, “A lot of things didn’t add up,” she says. “That generally means something is wrong.”

    Ramin recently spoke about her investigation with Eric Westervelt on KQED’s Forum program. Here is some of what she said.

    Beware the One Surgeon Who Says Yes

    Ramin, who had ineffective minor surgery for her back pain, said the post-surgical woes of Tiger Woods and Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr serve as prime examples of what can go wrong with back surgery.

    ‘Minimally invasive surgery’ is a marketing term. ‘The damage beneath the skin will be exactly the same as it would be in traditional spine surgery.’
    She said some athletes do have successful surgery for back pain, but that it’s unlikely their example would apply to the rest of us. “Those athletes are highly, highly trained and in excellent condition,” she says.

    Ramin says the fee-for-service payment system in the U.S. incentivizes unnecessary and potentially damaging spine surgery, where in other countries, spine surgery is rare.

    And beware the surgeon who agrees to operate on you after other reputable doctors have turned you down. She gave the example of author, physician and marathon runner Jerome Groopman, who, after five surgeons had told him there was nothing they could do for his back injury, found a sixth who claimed he could operate and get him up and running in six weeks.

    “He spent the next 19 years in extraordinary pain,” Ramin says.

    Beware the surgeon who agrees to operate on you after other reputable doctors have turned you down.

    Ramin also warns against taking the description “minimally invasive spine surgery” literally, calling it a marketing term.

    “These are sexy buzzwords,” she says. “Perhaps the incision is small — and it isn’t always. If in fact you do have a small incision, good for you, you might look better in a bathing suit. The damage beneath the skin will be exactly the same as it would be in regular, traditional, conventional spine surgery.”

    These procedures are often done in outpatient surgery centers , she says. “If anything goes wrong afterward, you’re not in a hospital environment.”

    Chiropractors: A Very Mixed Bag

    Ramin says some chiropractors are completely ineffectual while some are treating patients the right way. Of the latter, “They have stopped seeking vertebral subluxations [partial dislocations] which don’t actually exist on any X-ray or any type of scan, and have moved onto the very excellent practice of rehabilitation. They may ultimately be a back patient’s best hope because they have studied exercise science and they have worked hard on it.”

    Neck adjustments, Ramin said, “are to be avoided at all costs. There is no reason to let a chiropractor anywhere near your neck.” Photo by Microgen/via Adobe

    Neck adjustments, Ramin said, “are to be avoided at all costs. There is no reason to let a chiropractor anywhere near your neck.” Photo by Microgen/via Adobe

    However, “If you see a chiropractor more than one or two sessions, you are wasting your time if you are being cracked, adjusted or walked over. Study after study after study has shown that long-term visits to chiropractors don’t help patients. They don’t prevent back pain; they don’t solve back pain.”

    She said the World Health Organization has come up with a long list of all the diagnoses for which chiropractic is contra-indicated.( See page 20 here.) “And it’s probably anything that would take you to a chiropractor.”

    Neck adjustments, she said, “are to be avoided at all costs. There is no reason to let a chiropractor anywhere near your neck.”

    Pharmaceutical Companies: Painkilling Pill Pushers

    In the 1990s, Ramin says, pharmaecutical companies embarked on a well-funded campaign to get primary care doctors to ask all their patients if they were experiencing any pain.

    ‘There is no reason to let a chiropractor anywhere near your neck.’
    Oftentimes they were experiencing some back pain, “because it is a human condition,” she says. “The answer to that from the primary care doctor’s perspective, because of the active marketing from pharmaceutical companies, was to say ‘Well, we can take care of that pain.’ ”

    Doctors often started out with short-acting pain killers, such as Vicodin, a potent and addictive narcotic. This was often followed by longer-acting, extended-release painkillers, such as the opioid-based Oxycodone — which has led thousands into heroin addiction.

    But, Ramin says, opioid painkillers don’t work well for people with back pain.

    “They cause those patients to become very unmotivated and very sleepy,” she says.

    Plus, a condition called opioid-induced hyperalgesia can arise, in which the brain generates pain independent of the original injury.

    Expensive Chairs and Standing Desks

    What Ramin calls “posture mavens” rely on “ergonomic smoke and mirrors” to fix back pain, Ramin says.

    For instance, many back sufferers will try new office chairs.

    “I had a stable of office chairs,” she says. “One after another, expensive office chairs parading through my office, and I found most of them to be not very good.”

    These chairs are “often built for 250-pound men,” she says.

    Some tremendous benefits can be gained from doing yoga, Ramin says, but there is potential harm, as well.

    “I realized you could have a chair from Costco for $25 that could keep you in the right position.”

    The standard, erect typing position, she says, is actually a relic from when you had to press hard on typewriter keys to get them to work.

    Regarding the use of standing desks, Ramin says those come with their own problems. “It’s a nice variation from sitting. But remember, if you are standing, you are putting tremendous pressure on possibly a different set of ligaments,” she says. “But still you’re asking your ligaments to hold you up for a really extended period of time. We’re seeing all kinds of problems related to standing desks, now. They tend to be knee and hip problems, but those will lead to back problems.”

    If you have a standing desk, you still need to move around every so often, she counsels.

    The Yoga Trap

    Some tremendous benefits can be gained from doing yoga, Ramin says, but there is potential harm, as well.

    “One of the risk factors is finding yourself in a very competitive Northern California yoga class where you are pushed to do what you really cannot do. Most of us who are even remotely competitive will experience that.”

    She says if you have back pain, there are limitations to what you should do in class, and you need an instructor who can give you variations on postures to suit your condition.

    Moving is the key. Our bodies are not built to sit or stand in one place for hours at a time.

    “Be very careful about finding yourself in a flow yoga class where things are moving very fast and there’s no way the teacher can keep a close eye on you.”

    Two type of yoga she recommends for back sufferers: Iyengar yoga and Viniyoga.

    “Both of them have a very powerful orthopedic focus,” Ramin says.

    So What Does Work?

    Two things: Exercise and changing the way you think about back pain.

    “Understanding that hurt does not mean harm,” Ramin says. “You can continue to live an active life. The most dangerous thing you can do for yourself is take to the couch or take to your bed or take to pain management. But of course that is what most people do.“

    Ramin recommends finding a “back whisperer”–someone who understands the musculoskeletal system and is able to help people build strength, balance their gaits and move effectively.

    Moving is the key. Our bodies are not built to sit or stand in one place for hours at a time, she says. “The best posture is your next posture.”

    This report was produced by KQED’s Future of You. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post How the back pain industry is taking patients for an unhealthy ride appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C> Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C> Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee says there’s more work ahead in the committee’s investigation after hearing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

    READ MORE: Who’s on the Senate Intel panel questioning Comey?

    Sen. Richard Burr says the committee plans to get together next week with the special counsel who’s leading an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Burr says the aim is to work on ways to avoid logistical conflicts with upcoming witnesses and testimony.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post Senate Intel committee says more work ahead in Russia probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Defense attorney Marc Kasowitz speaks to reporters in New York in 2005. Photo by Keith Bedford/Reuters

    Defense attorney Marc Kasowitz speaks to reporters in New York in 2005. Photo by Keith Bedford/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyer is accusing fired FBI Director James Comey of “unauthorized disclosures” of “privileged communications” he had with the president.

    Marc Kasowitz said there continues “to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.”

    He says, “Comey has now admitted that he is one of the leakers.”

    Comey said in his testimony that he leaked his memos of his conversations with the president to a friend after a tweet by the president suggested he may have taped the conversations.

    Kasowitz says Trump’s team will “leave it the appropriate authorities” to determine whether the leak should be investigated.

    WATCH: James Comey testifies in Senate hearing on Russia

    The post Trump’s lawyer accuses Comey of ‘unauthorized disclosures’ of ‘privileged’ talks with president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein – RTX39OMX

    Former FBI director James Comey did not drop any major bombshells in his much-anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. But the confrontation did reveal new information about the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, and it showcased the Republicans’ and Democrats’ approach to the controversy. Here are some takeaways from the hearing:

    A punt on obstruction of justice

    It was one of the most important questions coming into the hearing: Would Comey say under oath that he believed President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice by asking him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn? Comey quickly laid it to rest. Near the start of the hearing, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., asked him point-blank if Trump’s request represented obstruction of justice, one of the impeachment charges leveled against President Richard Nixon.

    READ MORE: The special prosecutor Democrats want no longer exists

    “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey answered. He said the request was worrisome – a point he made in his written testimony – but declined to go further. “That’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel [Robert Mueller] will work towards,” Comey said.

    Comey’s answer was a reminder that the biggest decisions surrounding the Russia investigations will be made by Mueller and others. From here on out, Comey will continue to play an important role. But the final outcome isn’t up to him.

    Politics ruled the day

    In his opening statement, Burr implored his colleagues to “keep these questions above partisanship and politics.” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the panel’s top Democrat, echoed the sentiment moments later. “This investigation is not about re-litigating the election,” Warner said. “It’s not about Democrats versus Republicans.”

    “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”

    Their colleagues seemed to have a different idea. The Democrats and Republicans on the committee took two markedly different approaches in their questioning of the former FBI chief. Democrats focused on the behavior of Trump, his campaign associates and top administration officials. Republicans focused on Comey’s behavior, casting doubts on his actions and statements going all the way back to the 2016 campaign and his handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    Republicans’ questions to Comey ranged widely from the Clinton email case to his note-taking abilities and failure to confront Trump over the president’s request to drop the Michael Flynn probe. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., noted that Comey seemed to have “serious concerns” about the president’s intervention in the FBI investigation. Yet “you had taken no action” to make that public, Blunt told Comey. He added, “Do you have a sense of that looking back, that that was a mistake?” “No,” Comey said.

    But the exchange and others like it reinforced the view, held by many on the right, that Comey can’t be trusted. To that end, a conservative group launched campaign-style television ads Thursday morning attacking Comey ahead of the hearing. The attacks likely won’t impact Comey’s reputation in Washington, where he is widely seen as a respected public servant. But the ads and Republican line of questioning at the hearing won’t help Comey’s reputation outside the Beltway— and that could have a big impact on his credibility as the investigations continue.

    Was Trump’s request on Flynn a direct order?

    According to Comey’s memo and written testimony, Trump told Comey that it was his “hope” Comey would drop the Flynn investigation. On Thursday, Republicans honed in on the word, and argued that it did not amount to a direct order on Trump’s part.

    But the exchange and others like it reinforced the view, held by many on the right, that Comey can’t be trusted.

    At one point, Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, asked Comey: “Did [Trump] order you” to drop the investigation into Flynn? “No,” Comey acknowledged, the words were “not an order.” But he said that, in the private, Oval Office conversation with the president of the United States, “I took it as a direction.”

    Right now, the debate over obstruction of justice hinges on Trump’s conversations with Comey, so every word matters. And Comey’s testimony left plenty of room for interpretation, depending on your political persuasion. While the Democrats on the committee made clear they were concerned by Trump’s request, the Republicans suggested they were open to reaching a different conclusion.

    Sen. Roy Lankford, R-Okla., asked Comey if he was aware of Trump making the Flynn request to any other intelligence official. When Comey said he didn’t think so, Lankford answered, “This seems like a pretty light touch to drop it.” Special Counsel Mueller will make the ultimate determination. But it was a signal from Republicans – at least for now – that they’re willing to live with Trump’s behavior.

    Comey called Trump a liar

    Public officials rarely call a president a liar outright— but Comey made it clear that he thinks Trump has a habit of not telling the truth. When asked by Warner why he took notes on his conversations with Trump, Comey answered:

    “The nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.” Comey added that because of the gravity of the topics being discussed with Trump, he “knew that there might come a day where I would need a record” of their talks.

    Comey went on to say that he did not feel a need to document the three one-on-one conversations he had with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, a point he also made in his written testimony. “The combination of those factors just wasn’t there with President Bush or President Obama,” he said.

    The message was clear: Comey trusted Bush and Obama, and does not trust Trump. That Comey thought Trump had a propensity to lie was clear before the hearing. But Comey’s blunt public confirmation was his strongest personal criticism of Trump at the hearing. Comey also pushed back on Trump’s claims that he had lost the confidence of the agents at the FBI. “Lies, plain and simple,” Comey said.

    The remarks likely stung a president who is known to focus on perceived slights and harbor deep personal grudges. If Trump disliked Comey before the hearing, being called a liar probably only made things worse. The question is, will Trump shelve his personal feelings about Comey, or let them influence his behavior? As a candidate and president, Trump has feuded with individual political opponents and reporters, sometimes using ugly language that sparked distracting headlines.

    Comey hoped memo leak would lead to special counsel

    Comey acknowledged that he shared his memo of the Feb. 14 meeting with Trump — in which the president asked him to drop the Flynn investigation — to a friend who works as a professor at Columbia Law School. “I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey said.

    It was a frank admission on Comey’s part that, after he was fired, he hoped the scope of the Russia investigation would be expanded— and that he took concrete action to further that goal. The comment showed a willingness on Comey’s part to be honest about his motivations. But it also opened him up to further criticism from the right that the Russia probes are a political witch hunt aimed at hurting Trump.

    The special counsel has Comey’s memos. Senate investigators do not

    Comey revealed for the first time that he handed all of his memos over to Mueller, the special counsel. That puts Mueller one step ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has still not received the documents from Comey. Comey said he was open to releasing his memos more widely. He also said he hoped that, if Trump taped their conversations, the president would release the recordings.

    “I’ve seen the tweet about tapes,” Comey said. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

    The post Important takeaways from Comey’s Senate hearing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

    A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House has backed legislation to undo much of former President Barack Obama’s landmark banking law created after the 2008 economic crisis.

    Republicans argue that rules designed to prevent another meltdown were making it harder for community banks to operate and hampering the economy.

    The House has passed the bill 233-186.

    President Donald Trump had said he wants to do “a big number” on what is known as the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Still, the Republican overhaul of Dodd-Frank is unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form. Senators have said they’ll spend the next few months trying to find common ground on legislation to boost the economy.

    Democratic lawmakers overwhelmingly oppose the GOP’s repeal bill. They say it could lead to conditions that would result in another economic crisis.

    WATCH: Barney Frank takes on Bernie Sanders and the ‘too big to fail’ argument

    The post House GOP passes bill to roll back Dodd-Frank regulations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., questions FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers during a hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is set to take over leadership of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. File Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who led a two-year investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is set to take over leadership of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

    The House Republican Steering Committee on Thursday recommended Gowdy for the chairmanship, replacing Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is leaving Congress at the end of the month. Gowdy beat out Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell. The full House Republican conference is expected to confirm the choice next week.

    Gowdy, 52, a former state and federal prosecutor, led the Benghazi inquiry that focused on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration. As the new chairman, he will lead oversight of the Trump administration, including a budding investigation into possible ties between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign.

    MORE: Chaffetz announces upcoming resignation

    “Trey Gowdy possesses the experience and deep commitment to transparency and accountability necessary to be the House’s next Oversight chairman,” Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. “He has proven that he will always look out for taxpayers and seek answers from the bureaucracy. Trey has my absolute confidence, and I know he will do an outstanding job.”

    Gowdy, in a statement, said he was “grateful” for “this opportunity to serve.” The statement made no mention of specific lines of inquiry.

    Chaffetz is stepping down June 30 to pursue a private-sector career amid questions about willingness of the Republican Congress to conduct oversight of Trump.

    Gowdy, in his fourth term representing upstate South Carolina, is less senior than several Republican colleagues on the oversight panel but is well-liked by Ryan and other GOP leaders, with a high-profile earned as chairman of the select committee on Benghazi and a reputation as a sharp questioner.

    GOP lawmakers trust Gowdy, “and he’s going to do a fantastic job.” – Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.

    Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., a Steering Committee member who nominated Gowdy for the oversight post, said Gowdy’s background as a prosecutor and leader of the Benghazi panel “perfectly suits him for this chairmanship.”

    GOP lawmakers trust Gowdy, “and he’s going to do a fantastic job,” Graves said.

    Chaffetz, who doggedly investigated Clinton before the 2016 presidential election but declined for months to investigate Trump, said in April that he won’t run for re-election.

    Chaffetz, a close friend, called Gowdy “the right person for the job” and said he has a history of demanding accountability.

    Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on Oversight, congratulated Gowdy in a statement and promised to “support his efforts whenever we can.” The two men served on the Benghazi panel, where Cummings also was the top Democrat. They initially pledged to work together, but their relationship descended into partisan bickering by the time the investigation ended last summer.

    Chaffetz is leaving the oversight panel just as it was poised to investigate Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey amid the FBI’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    Chaffetz has asked the FBI to turn over documents about Comey’s interactions with the White House and Justice Department, including materials dating back nearly four years to the Obama administration. Trump fired Comey May 9 amid questions about the FBI’s investigation, which is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director. Comey testified Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee about his interactions with Trump.

    The post Rep. Trey Gowdy tapped for House oversight chairman appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now another in our series Limitless, stories about living with disabilities from youth reporters in the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs network.

    Tonight, we travel to Norfolk, Virginia, to meet Jonathan Atkins, a 19-year-old bodybuilder with down syndrome who competed in the 2017 Body Sculpting Open.

    The story was produced by students at Granby High School.

    WATCH MORE: Limitless: Breaking the Bounds of Disability

    The student correspondent is Jamil Aforo.

    JAMIL AFORO: Professional bodybuilders are praised for their ability to enhance their external appearance, pushing the limits of the human body.

    But for Jonathan Atkins, the hobby has transformed not only his body, but his life. The 19-year-old athlete comes to this Virginia Beach gym, called the Houze of Champions, to work out with his trainer, Joe Hartfelder, every week.

    Jonathan was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that stems from an additional chromosome.

    JOE HARTFELDER, Trainer and Professional Bodybuilder: My name is Joe Hartfelder. I’m a WNBF natural pro bodybuilder.

    I met Jon over a year ago, and through his mother, who I have known since I was around 6, 7 years old.

    He always showed an interest in lifting weights at the house and kind of doing his own thing.

    I don’t impose bodybuilding on anyone, because it’s — a lot of people don’t get it, and everyone does it for a different reason. And there is a lot of ego in the industry. And I just don’t like that.

    JAMIL AFORO: After working together for about a year, Joe encouraged Jon to enter a local bodybuilding competition.

    JOE HARTFELDER: I really love people and helping people. So, with Jon, he was already flexing, and he was kind of already doing that anyway, and I guess looking on Facebook and looking on different things on social media. So I was just like, hey, he could do this.

    LISA DUDLEY, Jonathan’s Mother: Down syndrome has low muscle tone, so for him to have the muscles he does is pretty impressive, because he didn’t walk until he was almost 6.

    JAMIL AFORO: Lisa Dudley, Jonathan’s mother, has seen how bodybuilding has improved her son’s self-esteem.

    LISA DUDLEY: Because, a lot of times, he knows that he is different and that he’s — there are certain things that he cannot do, but this is one thing that he knows that he can do, that, for self-confidence, I think it’s been awesome to him.

    JAMIL AFORO: With encouragement from his trainer, Jon traveled to Phoebus, Virginia, in February 2017 to compete in the Body Sculpting Open.

    He had never been on a stage before, or been in front of so many strangers. He was one of two participants to compete in a challenged division section of the competition.

    LISA DUDLEY: When I saw him on stage, I felt very nervous, but I was proud. I was proud that he actually went out in front of all these strangers and hundreds of people. And it was like he had done this a hundred times before.

    And he didn’t look the first bit nervous. And he looked good. He looked really good up there.

    When he did his one-minute routine, this is what he — this is the pose he did, right at the end, before he walked off.

    JOE HARTFELDER: Oh, it was great. It was great. He loved getting the trophy. Every part of it, he was just a champ the whole way through.

    The beauty in it is, you can always get better. In lifting, whether it’s bodybuilding, in life, in anything, you are just always pursuing to do better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jonathan Atkins, you are a star.

    And you can see more of these stories from young journalists across the country. That’s at studentreportinglabs.org.

    The post Bodybuilding builds pride and confidence for this teen with Down syndrome appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the rest of this day’s news.

    The polls have closed in Britain, and voters appear to have delivered a blow to the ruling Conservatives. Exit surveys indicate they are likely to come in first, but lose their majority in Parliament.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from London.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: After an election campaign punctuated by terrorism, voters went to the polls amid tight security.

    Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who repeatedly promised strong and stable leadership, cast her ballot in a village west of London.

    Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigned on reversing public service cuts and increasing spending on health, schools and police.

    JEREMY CORBYN, Leader, Labour Party: It’s a day of our democracy. I have just voted. And I am very proud of our campaign. Thank you very much.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: May announced the snap election seven weeks ago.

    THERESA MAY, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: The government should call a general election to be held on the 8th of June.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The Tory leader sought a popular mandate to boost her majority in Parliament and negotiating hand in Brexit talks about leaving the European Union.

    She began with an overwhelming lead, but then came a series of campaign missteps, and a pair of deadly terror attacks, on a concert in Manchester last month and around London Bridge last weekend.

    Some Conservative supporters in May’s constituency west of London were anxious.

    LORRAINE PATTON, Conservative Voter: Previously to last weekend, I thought that she’d be doing quite well, but I’m not so sure that she shot herself in the foot now. I’m hoping not, but who knows which way the cookie crumbles.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Meanwhile, Borough Market, where terrorists fatally stabbed people on Saturday, remained closed as voters went to the local polling station.

    Conservatives were not expected to do well here. Labor supporters clung to the hope that young voters, energized by Corbyn, might propel him to an unexpected victory nationwide.

    SOPHIE STOWERS, Student: If you look at him in comparison with Theresa May, he’s such a principled person. He does what he believes. He follows the politics of unification, not division, and I just prefer so much that outlook.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: According to the joint British television exit polls, it looks as though the Conservatives have lost their overall majority, down from 330 seats to 314. Labor is projected to have gained 37 seats, up to 266 in total.

    Now these numbers could change as the official results come in. But as it stands right now, Theresa May’s gamble in calling the election seems to have failed. And political experts believe that she may be much diminished by the end of the night. It’s going to be a long and fascinating night — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Malcolm Brabant in London. And we are certainly going to continue to follow it.

    In Iran, authorities says five of the men who carried out attacks in Tehran were Islamic State members who’d fought in Syria and Iraq. ISIS claimed responsibility yesterday after gunmen and suicide bombers struck Parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. They killed 17 people and wounded 40. Six suspects are in custody, and Iran’s semi-official news agency reports that investigators are examining whether Saudi Arabia was involved.

    There’s word of a new atrocity by Islamic State fighters holding out in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The U.N. Human Rights Office reports that ISIS killed more than 200 civilians trying to flee last week, including children running for safety. It also says at least 50 people died in an airstrike in Mosul in late May. It’s unclear who launched the airstrike.

    North Korea has fired off another round of missiles, this time short-range anti-ship weapons. The South Korean military says that they flew some 125 miles today before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

    South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, had called for reaching out to the North, but, today, he demanded an end to the provocations.

    PRESIDENT MOON JAE-IN, South Korea (through interpreter): Our government, as I have already clarified multiple times, will not back off at all or compromise regarding national security and people’s safety. Also, the government will unwaveringly make efforts for complete denuclearization of North Korea’s nuclear weapons through both sanctions and dialogue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just yesterday, Moon postponed the full deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system. It’s meant to be a deterrent to North Korea.

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to dismantle much of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act. The bill would weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and undo many regulations imposed after the 2008 financial collapse. Republicans say it’s been a burden on small banks and has harmed economic growth. Democrats said it’s discouraged risky lending practices. The measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained about nine points to close at 21182. The Nasdaq rose 24, and the S&P 500 added a fraction.

    The post News Wrap: Exit polls show lead for U.K. Prime Minister May’s party appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to leave it here, as we look at this final piece of tape from today’s hearing.

    Russia and the president were not the only subject that made news today. Senators again questioned Director — former Director Comey about his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail and what pushed him to take the unusual step to discuss it publicly last summer, which you all have brought up.

    Here, again, committee Chair Senator Richard Burr.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.: Let me go back, if I can, very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, Bill Clinton?

    JAMES COMEY, Former Director, FBI: Yes.

    In, ultimately, a conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR: Were there other things that contributed to that, that you can describe in open session?

    JAMES COMEY: There were other things that contributed to that.

    One significant item I can’t, but I know the committee’s been briefed on — there’s been some public accounts of it, which are nonsense — but I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts.

    Probably, the only other consideration that I guess I can talk about in open setting is that at one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Carrie Cordero, this is the one part of today’s hearing that looked back at the Clinton e-mail story, which, of course, went on for months and months.

    How do we read what Director Comey is saying here about the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch?

    CARRIE CORDERO: So, I think the former director has take a really bad rap on this July decision to go public with his finding.

    In my view, the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, put him in an extraordinarily difficult position. She didn’t officially recuse from the decision, which she could have done after the tarmac meeting, nor did she say, I’m going to make the decision and I own it.

    And because she did neither of those things, either said she was going to make the prosecutorial decision and own that decision, or officially recuse and say, Sally Yates is in charge, she left this sort of middle ground where she just said, well, I’m going to accept the decision of the prosecutors.

    And, therefore, I think that what the former director was saying is, he felt then that that would have tainted any future decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think some people — George Terwilliger, some people who are close to the former attorney general are saying that this came up more innocuously, that it wasn’t an order, stop using the term investigation, call it a matter.

    Be that as it may, Comey has left out there being very critical of the former attorney general.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Yes, I’m sort of troubled by this aspect of that exchange and what we heard today.

    I can understand the point that Carrie makes that Comey felt like the decision-making process at the Justice Department appeared corrupted because of the tarmac visit and so forth. But there’s other remedies to that.

    And to point to a discussion with the attorney general, I mean, I sat in the attorney general’s office. I was the acting attorney general. I’m sure I had discussions with subordinate officials about whether to call something a matter or an investigation. And I’m not saying this wasn’t significant.

    But it seems to me it kind of got blown out of proportion, if that’s the justification for the July proceeding.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Carlin, how do you see this?

    JOHN CARLIN: I’m going to move to where Carrie started, which is, we know the Russians are going to attack us again. They tried to undermine confidence in the integrity of our election.

    It was reaffirmed today. It’s been reaffirmed by every national security official. And they’re going to do it as early as 2018.

    Right now, when you think about the decisions last summer about the Clinton investigation, about the Russian investigation, it is extraordinarily difficult for the political appointees to make a decision calling out investigations, particularly when they have to do with the interference in an election.

    What I worry about going into 2018 is, we’re in far worse shape right now in having a credible official who can call out Russian meddling in our elections. And so I think we should think seriously about which career — nonpartisan career officials do we give the task of calling out if the Russians attack our electoral system again in 2018?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In about 20 seconds, Greg Craig, you get to weigh in here, final word.

    GREGORY CRAIG: Well, on the Comey press conference in July, I do have views on that. I think he violated guidelines and practices in the Justice Department. And he went beyond that and commented on her conduct. And it was unacceptable. And it was a mistake, a terrible mistake.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that one, I don’t think we’re going to resolve as we sit here this evening.

    But thank you all for being here. Greg Craig, Carrie Cordero, John Carlin, George Terwilliger, thank you all very much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the rest of this day’s news.

    The post Assessing Comey’s justifications for Clinton email actions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, perhaps the biggest question, one of the biggest questions swirling around, has the president or have other White House officials in any way obstructed justice? We have had that question raised here.

    Let’s listen to how a couple of senators pressed Comey on that point today.

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.Va.: Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversation with the president?

    JAMES COMEY, Former Director, FBI: It never occurred to me until the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are. And I will consent to the release of …

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN: So, both of you are — both of you are in the same findings here. You both hope there’s tapes and recordings?

    JAMES COMEY: Well all I can do is hope. The president surely knows if he taped me. And if he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release the entire — release all the tapes. I’m good with it.

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice?

    JAMES COMEY: I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out.

    SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH, D-N.M.: A lot of this comes down to, who should we believe? Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?

    JAMES COMEY: My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself, so I’m not going to. I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony, because, as I used to say to juries, when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry-pick it. You can’t say, I like these things he said, but, on this, he’s a dirty, rotten liar.

    You have got to take it all together. And I’ve tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate.

    A really significant fact to me is, so why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? Why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? And so that, to me, as an investigator, is a very significant fact.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Greg Craig, are we any closer to knowing whether the president in any way committed obstruction of justice in here?

    GREGORY CRAIG: I think he’s on very, very thin ice.

    First of all, I think you have got a credible, plausible, believable witness in Jim Comey. And if you were betting between a swearing match between the president of the United States and Jim Comey, my money would be on Comey. Most jurors, most prosecutors would give him a good deal of faith in the truth of his testimony.

    Secondly, the real issue here when it comes to a criminal prosecution is whether he falls within a Title 18 United States Code provision that almost word for word describes what some people would think Donald Trump has engaged in.

    And most prosecutors that had that kind of evidence against an individual wouldn’t hesitate to bring a prosecution. It is, I believe, right now an indictable offense. But there’s no way in which you can bring that kind of case against a sitting president, so then you move to the question of whether this conduct rises to the level of an impeachable offense, because that’s the exclusive way that the Constitution lays out for limiting or removing the power of a president, a sitting president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that how you’re thinking about this, Carrie Cordero?

    CARRIE CORDERO: Well, I think, certainly, there is a difference between the criminal aspect, and what this is actually going to move to is whether or not obstruction can be found as a political matter.

    But I think the other piece is that I think observers are looking for what’s the one act that is going to make the obstruction case? And I think, when they look at this, what we’re going to find is, there’s a timeline and there’s a series of events.

    It was some of the conversations. It was the dinner meeting. It was the will you be loyal to me at the same time of discussing job security. It was the tweets, some of the tweets that exposed the investigation. It was the firing. And then it was the tweet sort of threatening that there are tapes.

    And so I think when people look back at this, they’re going to look and they’re going to find a timeline that will eventually move towards the political consideration of obstruction.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GREGORY CRAIG: Can I just add that the president of the United States has also said that the reason he fired Comey was because of the Russian …

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: And that’s perfectly legal, because the president can’t obstruct justice by telling the director of the FBI to do or not do a particular investigation. It’s a unitary executive. The president is in charge of the executive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does unitary executive mean?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: It means that the entire branch of government is embodied in one person, and that’s the president. So the president can give direction as to what should happen with cases.

    And Carrie raises just the right point, that the resolution of the issue of — if there is an issue about the president’s action is political, not legal. The talk of obstruction of justice as a legal matter is meaningless. It might make for an interesting academic debate.

    The president cannot obstruct justice by telling the director of the FBI, stop that investigation. There may be grand political consequences to doing so, but there’s no legal consequences.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Greg — we just heard Greg say you then move on to the question of impeachment.

    But, John Carlin, what about — is obstruction of justice as a question still on the table?

    JOHN CARLIN: Look, the — it’s an important question.

    The referral or saying it’s in the hands of the special counsel in that sense isn’t quite right. So, what the special counsel could do and approach it like a prosecutor and an investigator and say, is there a corrupt intent when the act was taken? Here, the act would be the firing.

    I disagree with George on whether or not that would constitute the criminal offense. The guidance — the Justice Department guidance says not that you can’t commit a crime as president, but that you can’t be indicted while you’re the sitting president. So they could build out the facts. They could make out the elements of the case.

    But then I do agree what there has been less focus on is, what happens with the special counsel’s report? Under the old statute, you knew that would go to Congress with a referral if they thought a crime would be committed.

    Under the current terms, it actually is not clear. At the end of the day, the acting attorney general, which is Rod Rosenstein, needs to make a report to Congress. What’s in that report isn’t clear.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: George, you shook your head.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Yes.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: It’s not a matter of Justice Department guidance or procedure. It’s the Constitution.

    The Constitution places the president in charge of the executive branch. I’m not trying to defend the decision, but the fact of the matter is, the president has complete and utter legal authority to fire the director of the FBI, including for pursuing a particular investigation.

    The post Did Comey testimony shed light on whether Trump obstructed justice? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, let’s look now at another exchange that was notable.

    Here’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. She’s asking Comey about President Trump’s request to drop the criminal investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: Now, here’s the question. You’re big. You’re strong. I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong, I cannot discuss this with you?

    JAMES COMEY, Former Director, FBI: It’s a great question. Maybe, if I were stronger, I would have.

    I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. And the only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? That’s why I very carefully chose the words.

    Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

    I remember saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you just asked me to do.”

    Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. But that was — that’s how I conducted myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe, if I did it again, I’d do it better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you — Carrie Cordero, listening to that, how did he handle that?

    CARRIE CORDERO: The difficulty is that there really was, at least from the way that the former director testified today, he felt like there was nobody else that he could go to in the administration to talk to about this.

    He had Attorney General Sessions, who is somehow implicated in the investigation in some way, to the extent that he would have to be recused. This is the president who, as the FBI director in his executive capacity, he does have to provide him with information if the president asks for it.

    So, he was in a position, I think, where there was nobody else that he could really discuss this with, given the lack of confirmed leadership positions in the Department of Justice at the time, and given the fact that he is directly reporting to the attorney general and ultimately to the president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: George Terwilliger, how do you read this? You have the senator saying, why didn’t he just speak up in the moment?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Exactly.

    And, frankly, I can’t buy the argument that there was no one he could go to. Dana Boente, a career assistant United States attorney and United States attorney, an Obama appointee…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Who was then acting…

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: … was the acting deputy attorney general at the time, and was perfectly available for Mr. Comey to talk to.

    Comey had served with Dana when Dana was a United States attorney for several years. So, I don’t buy that explanation. And it’s part of a pattern of Mr. Comey resorting to self-help because he feels like he’s the lone ranger who is out there carrying the sword of righteousness forward.

    Jim has served this country honorably for a very long time, but I really think, Judy, he made some mistakes last July when he usurped the function of the Department of Justice in deciding about the Hillary Clinton e-mail case.

    He made a major mistake at that time in, in essence, indicting Hillary Clinton in the court of public opinion, and everything since then has flowed the wrong way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see that continuum, John Carlin?

    JOHN CARLIN: Well, look, if true, it’s hard to even describe how unusual it would be for a president of the United States, whether it’s President Bush or President Obama, to have a meeting, order everyone out of the room, leave the FBI director in the room, have a private conversation with him, and essentially say, can you end an investigation into someone who used to work for me?

    And I can’t — we didn’t — there was no situation that came even close. If someone from the White House called over to the FBI and said that they wanted the director to come to the White House with full staff, that would cause huge consternation, calls to the department, coordination, lawyers.

    So, I can see in that context being shell-shocked, he’s described. If it’s true, I think that that would be a serious moment about the separation between our Department of Justice, the ability to conduct investigations free from political interference. That’s a principle that’s been strongly shared by both parties.

    So it’s important to figure out whether that happened.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greg Craig, how else could he have handled it, or was there another way?

    GREGORY CRAIG: Well, I have to say, it’s hard for me to blame Jim Comey, when the president puts him in that situation. That’s really — I agree with you, John, that’s a very unusual situation.

    The director comes over prepared to talk about topics A, B, C, D, and E with a group of other people, and then suddenly it turns into a topic that’s really toxic and dangerous, and he’s there by himself with the president.

    So, first of all, I’m sympathetic, and I’m willing to be somewhat more forgiving of Jim Comey because he’s in that situation, which is unprecedented and unexpected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we can’t — I’m trying to think of another moment that we know of where a president called in an FBI director and had this kind of a conversation.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Judy, I think one of the things we have to keep in mind is the concept of the independence of FBI from the authority of the attorney general and indeed from the president is not quite the premise that some believe and that perhaps Jim Comey operated on.

    If you think back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, J. Edgar Hoover had a lot of independence from the Justice Department and from presidents, and it resulted in a very unhealthy situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, Comey raised the name of J. Edgar Hoover today.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: I heard that.

    The post Should Comey have spoken up against Trump’s request? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now let’s get some analysis from four people with extensive experience in government and the law.

    George Terwilliger served as deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. Greg Craig, former White House counsel to President Obama and President Clinton, where he led the team defending Mr. Clinton against impeachment. John Carlin served as assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice from 2014 until October of last year. And Carrie Cordero served in the Justice Department under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, where she worked on matters of national security.

    And we thank all four of you for being here.

    And we’re going to take a closer look now at some of the revelations today from these hearings, beginning — we have already a little bit of what was said.

    But I want to look now at what Director Comey said he couldn’t talk about publicly. And this starts with a question from the committee chairman, Senator Burr.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.: In the public domain is this question of the Steele dossier, a document that has been around out in for over a year. I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it.

    At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR: And when you read the dossier, what was your reaction, given that it was 100 percent directed at the president-elect?

    JAMES COMEY: Not a question I can answer in open setting, Mr. Chairman.

    SEN. RON WYDEN,  D-Ore.: Let me turn to the attorney general. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the president’s actions with Attorney General Sessions, even though he had not recused himself.

    What was it about the attorney general’s interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?

    JAMES COMEY: Well, our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.

    SEN. RON WYDEN: How would you characterize Attorney General Sessions’s adherence to his recusal, in particular, with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation?

    JAMES COMEY: That’s a question I can’t answer. I think it is a reasonable question. If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don’t know. And so I don’t have an answer for the question.

    SEN. TOM COTTON, R-Ark.: Let’s turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here. Russia’s hacking of those e-mails and the allegation of collusion. Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?

    JAMES COMEY: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an opening setting. As I said, when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation, I think.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: George Terwilliger, you have been hearing all of this. What do you take away from the fact that the former FBI director says he can’t get into those areas?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER, Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General: I’m saddened by this entire spectacle that we saw today, and really going back to last July, beginning with the original speech by the then-director on the Hillary Clinton e-mail case, and up to today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: There is a thrusting that results from this of the Justice Department and the FBI into the middle of political affairs that seems to follow Mr. Comey around.

    He’s become kind of a one-man wrecking ball as to accusations and recriminations against several other major government figures, candidates, presidents, attorneys general. And I hope that all of this will get dialed back.

    I would much rather see the Intelligence Committee and Bob Mueller continue their investigations and come to some conclusions, and then let’s talk publicly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greg Craig, a one-man wrecking ball?

    GREGORY CRAIG, Former White House Counsel: Well, I think, if he’d had the choice, Director Comey would have preferred not to have been fired.

    So I think it’s hard to blame his being thrust into the forefront of this discussion and this debate because he was fired. And that was the decision of President Trump.

    And that’s the core issue of obstruction, George, it seems to me, whether the firing was the product of a decision to try to end the investigation by the president or not.

    And I think the meaning, Judy, of what happened today was, you got testimony about exchanges between the director of the FBI and the president of the United States that give you flavor and texture and information about what went into the decision to fire Mr. Comey, which is the obstruction in this case.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Carrie Cordero, and what about just specifically on those three answers, sets of answers that Mr. Comey gave? I mean, should we read something nefarious into that?

    CARRIE CORDERO, Former Justice Department Official: Well, so, I do have a slightly different take, which is that the number of times that former Director Comey was referring to items that could not be discussed in open session alludes to the fact that there is an ongoing investigation, and there’s a whole bunch of classified stuff and classified investigation that’s taking place that he could only feel comfortable and would only be appropriate to discuss in a closed session.

    And what wasn’t part of the clips, but what he also said in his testimony today is that, unequivocally, there was Russian interference in the election. And with all this soap opera related back and forth that we focus on so much, I feel like that aspect sometimes gets lost, that there really was Russian interference, and former Director Comey was absolutely crystal clear about that fact today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And he — in effect, he was confirming what the president himself, John Carlin, has been saying in all this.

    But, again, getting back to this, and particularly on the attorney general, when he was asked about the attorney general’s role in this, he said, there are aspects of that I can’t talk about here.

    How are we to read that?

    JOHN CARLIN, Former Justice Department Official: Well, there’s three, I think, possibilities, three areas that he would be very careful not to testify about in public.

    One would be if it’s classified information, if it’s collected through sensitive sources and methods. That’s what they do in a closed hearing. Number two, information that was collected through the grand jury process. But number three in this instance would be if he thought it would interfere with the ability of the special counsel, Bob Mueller, my former boss, to conduct his investigation.

    I think it’s unclear here which of the three buckets that it might fall into, but any time he says that, that’s what I’m thinking in my head. It’s fallen into one of those three areas.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, let’s look now at another exchange that was notable.

    Here’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. She’s asking Comey about President Trump’s request to drop the criminal investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: Now, here’s the question. You’re big. You’re strong. I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong, I cannot discuss this with you?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: It’s a great question. Maybe, if I were stronger, I would have.

    I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. And the only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? That’s why I very carefully chose the words.

    Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

    I remember saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you just asked me to do.”

    Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. But that was — that’s how I conducted myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe, if I did it again, I’d do it better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you — Carrie Cordero, listening to that, how did he handle that?

    CARRIE CORDERO: The difficulty is that there really was, at least from the way that the former director testified today, he felt like there was nobody else that he could go to in the administration to talk to about this.

    He had Attorney General Sessions, who is somehow implicated in the investigation in some way, to the extent that he would have to be recused. This is the president who, as the FBI director in his executive capacity, he does have to provide him with information if the president asks for it.

    So, he was in a position, I think, where there was nobody else that he could really discuss this with, given the lack of confirmed leadership positions in the Department of Justice at the time, and given the fact that he is directly reporting to the attorney general and ultimately to the president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: George Terwilliger, how do you read this? You have the senator saying, why didn’t he just speak up in the moment?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Exactly.

    And, frankly, I can’t buy the argument that there was no one he could go to. Dana Boente, a career assistant United States attorney and United States attorney, an Obama appointee…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Who was then acting …

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: … was the acting deputy attorney general at the time, and was perfectly available for Mr. Comey to talk to.

    Comey had served with Dana when Dana was a United States attorney for several years. So, I don’t buy that explanation. And it’s part of a pattern of Mr. Comey resorting to self-help because he feels like he’s the lone ranger who is out there carrying the sword of righteousness forward.

    Jim has served this country honorably for a very long time, but I really think, Judy, he made some mistakes last July when he usurped the function of the Department of Justice in deciding about the Hillary Clinton e-mail case.

    He made a major mistake at that time in, in essence, indicting Hillary Clinton in the court of public opinion, and everything since then has flowed the wrong way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see that continuum, John Carlin?

    JOHN CARLIN: Well, look, if true, it’s hard to even describe how unusual it would be for a president of the United States, whether it’s President Bush or President Obama, to have a meeting, order everyone out of the room, leave the FBI director in the room, have a private conversation with him, and essentially say, can you end an investigation into someone who used to work for me?

    And I can’t — we didn’t — there was no situation that came even close. If someone from the White House called over to the FBI and said that they wanted the director to come to the White House with full staff, that would cause huge consternation, calls to the department, coordination, lawyers.

    So, I can see in that context being shell-shocked, he’s described. If it’s true, I think that that would be a serious moment about the separation between our Department of Justice, the ability to conduct investigations free from political interference. That’s a principle that’s been strongly shared by both parties.

    So it’s important to figure out whether that happened.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greg Craig, how else could he have handled it, or was there another way?

    GREGORY CRAIG: Well, I have to say, it’s hard for me to blame Jim Comey, when the president puts him in that situation. That’s really — I agree with you, John, that’s a very unusual situation.

    The director comes over prepared to talk about topics A, B, C, D, and E with a group of other people, and then suddenly it turns into a topic that’s really toxic and dangerous, and he’s there by himself with the president.

    So, first of all, I’m sympathetic, and I’m willing to be somewhat more forgiving of Jim Comey because he’s in that situation, which is unprecedented and unexpected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we can’t — I’m trying to think of another moment that we know of where a president called in an FBI director and had this kind of a conversation.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Judy, I think one of the things we have to keep in mind is the concept of the independence of FBI from the authority of the attorney general and indeed from the president is not quite the premise that some believe and that perhaps Jim Comey operated on.

    If you think back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, J. Edgar Hoover had a lot of independence from the Justice Department and from presidents, and it resulted in a very unhealthy situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, Comey raised the name of J. Edgar Hoover today.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: I heard that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, perhaps the biggest question, one of the biggest questions swirling around, has the president or have other White House officials in any way obstructed justice? We have had that question raised here.

    Let’s listen to how a couple of senators pressed Comey on that point today.

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.Va.: Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversation with the president?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: It never occurred to me until the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are. And I will consent to the release of…

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN: So, both of you are — both of you are in the same findings here. You both hope there’s tapes and recordings?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: Well all I can do is hope. The president surely knows if he taped me. And if he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release the entire — release all the tapes. I’m good with it.

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice?

    FORMER DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out.

    SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH,  D-N.M.: A lot of this comes down to, who should we believe? Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself, so I’m not going to. I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony, because, as I used to say to juries, when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry-pick it. You can’t say, I like these things he said, but, on this, he’s a dirty, rotten liar.

    You have got to take it all together. And I’ve tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate.

    A really significant fact to me is, so why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? Why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? And so that, to me, as an investigator, is a very significant fact.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Greg Craig, are we any closer to knowing whether the president in any way committed obstruction of justice in here?

    GREGORY CRAIG: I think he’s on very, very thin ice.

    First of all, I think you have got a credible, plausible, believable witness in Jim Comey. And if you were betting between a swearing match between the president of the United States and Jim Comey, my money would be on Comey. Most jurors, most prosecutors would give him a good deal of faith in the truth of his testimony.

    Secondly, the real issue here when it comes to a criminal prosecution is whether he falls within a Title 18 United States Code provision that almost word for word describes what some people would think Donald Trump has engaged in.

    And most prosecutors that had that kind of evidence against an individual wouldn’t hesitate to bring a prosecution. It is, I believe, right now an indictable offense. But there’s no way in which you can bring that kind of case against a sitting president, so then you move to the question of whether this conduct rises to the level of an impeachable offense, because that’s the exclusive way that the Constitution lays out for limiting or removing the power of a president, a sitting president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that how you’re thinking about this, Carrie Cordero?

    CARRIE CORDERO: Well, I think, certainly, there is a difference between the criminal aspect, and what this is actually going to move to is whether or not obstruction can be found as a political matter.

    But I think the other piece is that I think observers are looking for what’s the one act that is going to make the obstruction case? And I think, when they look at this, what we’re going to find is, there’s a timeline and there’s a series of events.

    It was some of the conversations. It was the dinner meeting. It was the will you be loyal to me at the same time of discussing job security. It was the tweets, some of the tweets that exposed the investigation. It was the firing. And then it was the tweet sort of threatening that there are tapes.

    And so I think when people look back at this, they’re going to look and they’re going to find a timeline that will eventually move towards the political consideration of obstruction.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GREGORY CRAIG: Can I just add that the president of the United States has also said that the reason he fired Comey was because of the Russian …

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: And that’s perfectly legal, because the president can’t obstruct justice by telling the director of the FBI to do or not do a particular investigation. It’s a unitary executive. The president is in charge of the executive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does unitary executive mean?

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: It means that the entire branch of government is embodied in one person, and that’s the president. So the president can give direction as to what should happen with cases.

    And Carrie raises just the right point, that the resolution of the issue of — if there is an issue about the president’s action is political, not legal. The talk of obstruction of justice as a legal matter is meaningless. It might make for an interesting academic debate.

    The president cannot obstruct justice by telling the director of the FBI, stop that investigation. There may be grand political consequences to doing so, but there’s no legal consequences.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Greg — we just heard Greg say you then move on to the question of impeachment.

    But, John Carlin, what about — is obstruction of justice as a question still on the table?

    JOHN CARLIN: Look, the — it’s an important question.

    The referral or saying it’s in the hands of the special counsel in that sense isn’t quite right. So, what the special counsel could do and approach it like a prosecutor and an investigator and say, is there a corrupt intent when the act was taken? Here, the act would be the firing.

    I disagree with George on whether or not that would constitute the criminal offense. The guidance — the Justice Department guidance says not that you can’t commit a crime as president, but that you can’t be indicted while you’re the sitting president. So they could build out the facts. They could make out the elements of the case.

    But then I do agree what there has been less focus on is, what happens with the special counsel’s report? Under the old statute, you knew that would go to Congress with a referral if they thought a crime would be committed.

    Under the current terms, it actually is not clear. At the end of the day, the acting attorney general, which is Rod Rosenstein, needs to make a report to Congress. What’s in that report isn’t clear.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: George, you shook your head.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Yes.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: It’s not a matter of Justice Department guidance or procedure. It’s the Constitution.

    The Constitution places the president in charge of the executive branch. I’m not trying to defend the decision, but the fact of the matter is, the president has complete and utter legal authority to fire the director of the FBI, including for pursuing a particular investigation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to leave it here, as we look at this final piece of tape from today’s hearing.

    Russia and the president were not the only subject that made news today. Senators again questioned Director — former Director Comey about his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail and what pushed him to take the unusual step to discuss it publicly last summer, which you all have brought up.

    Here, again, committee Chair Senator Richard Burr.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR: Let me go back, if I can, very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, Bill Clinton?

    FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: Yes.

    In, ultimately, a conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department.

    SEN. RICHARD BURR: Were there other things that contributed to that, that you can describe in open session?

    JAMES COMEY: There were other things that contributed to that.

    One significant item I can’t, but I know the committee’s been briefed on — there’s been some public accounts of it, which are nonsense — but I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts.

    Probably, the only other consideration that I guess I can talk about in open setting is that at one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Carrie Cordero, this is the one part of today’s hearing that looked back at the Clinton e-mail story, which, of course, went on for months and months.

    How do we read what Director Comey is saying here about the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch?

    CARRIE CORDERO: So, I think the former director has take a really bad rap on this July decision to go public with his finding.

    In my view, the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, put him in an extraordinarily difficult position. She didn’t officially recuse from the decision, which she could have done after the tarmac meeting, nor did she say, I’m going to make the decision and I own it.

    And because she did neither of those things, either said she was going to make the prosecutorial decision and own that decision, or officially recuse and say, Sally Yates is in charge, she left this sort of middle ground where she just said, well, I’m going to accept the decision of the prosecutors.

    And, therefore, I think that what the former director was saying is, he felt then that that would have tainted any future decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think some people — George Terwilliger, some people who are close to the former attorney general are saying that this came up more innocuously, that it wasn’t an order, stop using the term investigation, call it a matter.

    Be that as it may, Comey has left out there being very critical of the former attorney general.

    GEORGE TERWILLIGER: Yes, I’m sort of troubled by this aspect of that exchange and what we heard today.

    I can understand the point that Carrie makes that Comey felt like the decision-making process at the Justice Department appeared corrupted because of the tarmac visit and so forth. But there’s other remedies to that.

    And to point to a discussion with the attorney general, I mean, I sat in the attorney general’s office. I was the acting attorney general. I’m sure I had discussions with subordinate officials about whether to call something a matter or an investigation. And I’m not saying this wasn’t significant.

    But it seems to me it kind of got blown out of proportion, if that’s the justification for the July proceeding.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Carlin, how do you see this?

    JOHN CARLIN: I’m going to move to where Carrie started, which is, we know the Russians are going to attack us again. They tried to undermine confidence in the integrity of our election.

    It was reaffirmed today. It’s been reaffirmed by every national security official. And they’re going to do it as early as 2018.

    Right now, when you think about the decisions last summer about the Clinton investigation, about the Russian investigation, it is extraordinarily difficult for the political appointees to make a decision calling out investigations, particularly when they have to do with the interference in an election.

    What I worry about going into 2018 is, we’re in far worse shape right now in having a credible official who can call out Russian meddling in our elections. And so I think we should think seriously about which career — nonpartisan career officials do we give the task of calling out if the Russians attack our electoral system again in 2018?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In about 20 seconds, Greg Craig, you get to weigh in here, final word.

    GREGORY CRAIG: Well, on the Comey press conference in July, I do have views on that. I think he violated guidelines and practices in the Justice Department. And he went beyond that and commented on her conduct. And it was unacceptable. And it was a mistake, a terrible mistake.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that one, I don’t think we’re going to resolve as we sit here this evening.

    But thank you all for being here. Greg Craig, Carrie Cordero, John Carlin, George Terwilliger, thank you all very much.

    The post The questions James Comey didn’t answer in the Senate hearing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From James Comey today, a raft of revelations.

    With the nation watching in his first public experience since being fired, the former FBI director told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he made notes to guard against President Trump lying right after each of their discussions, and leaked some of those memos after he was fired.

    He assured the president several times that he wasn’t under investigation. And he concluded that Mr. Trump wanted to pressure him to end the FBI probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his Russian contacts.

    Comey told Committee Vice Chairman Senator John (sic) Warner that he began writing everything down after an initial meeting last January.

    SEN. MARK WARNER,  D-Va.: You’ve had extensive experience at the Department of Justice and at the FBI. You’ve worked under presidents of both parties.

    What was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?

    JAMES COMEY, Former Director, FBI: A combination of things, I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with.

    Circumstances, first, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter, I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility, and that relate to the president, president-elect personally, and then the nature of the person.

    I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document. That combination of things, I had never experienced before, but it led me to believe I got to write it down and I got to write it down in a very detailed way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Apologies. That was, of course, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

    So, the men also met on Valentine’s Day, when, Comey says, the president asked him about the Michael Flynn investigation. He told Senator James Risch the intent was clear to him.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH, R-Idaho: There’s 28 words there that are in quotes.

    And it says — quote — “I hope” — this is the president speaking — “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

    Now, those are his exact words, is that correct?

    JAMES COMEY: Correct.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: And you wrote them here and you put them in quotes.

    JAMES COMEY: Correct.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: OK. Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

    JAMES COMEY: Not in his words, no.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: He did not order you to let it go?

    JAMES COMEY: Again, those words are not an order.

    And the reason I keep saying his words is, I took it as a direction.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: Right.

    JAMES COMEY: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying, I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said.

    JAMES COMEY: Correct.

    SEN. JAMES RISCH: He said, I hope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Comey’s accounts of these meetings first came out in the press last month, after President Trump dismissed him as FBI director.

    Today, Comey confirmed in answering a question from Senator Susan Collins that the leak came from him.

    SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine: Did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the Department of Justice?

    JAMES COMEY: Yes.

    SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: And to whom did you show copies?

    JAMES COMEY: I asked — the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes.

    I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might a tape. And my judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square.

    And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. But I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s dig into some of these main headlines from today’s hearing now with our own Lisa Desjardins. She was in the hearing room today. Our John Yang was at the White House.

    And, in a moment, we will be joined by Matt Apuzzo. He’s been reporting all this — on all this for The New York Times.

    John Yang, I’m going to come to you first.

    The president’s personal attorney was out today with the president’s response. Tell us about that and about what the White House is saying.

    JOHN YANG: That’s right, Judy.

    Of course, we didn’t hear from the president himself or from any White House official. They have delegated that task of responding to all these inquiries to the president’s personal attorney, as you say, Marc Kasowitz.

    He flatly denied that the president asked Comey either for his loyalty or to drop the Flynn investigation. And then he said something that I’m told we’re going to be hearing a lot more of over the coming days from supporters of the president. He used Comey’s admission that he got his version of events into the press, he used that to try to undermine Comey, to try to portray Comey as part of what Mr. Trump supporters see as a conspiracy among Washington, entrenched Washington insiders, what they call the deep state, a conspiracy to try to get Mr. Trump out of the White House.

    MARC KASOWITZ, Attorney for Donald Trump: 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.

    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.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John, you’re saying that the president’s attorney is suggesting that this is part of a much larger effort?

    JOHN YANG: This is something that the president’s supporters have been talking about, and the president’s — and inside the White House, people like Steve Bannon have been talking about — that entrenched Washington bureaucrats, as they say, what they call the deep state, is trying to get the president out with these leaks, not only on this case, but on other things about — involving intelligence throughout the government.

    As a matter of fact, just this afternoon, another fund-raising appeal went out to the president’s supporters from his campaign asking for money using not the specific Comey testimony, but using this idea of the deep state trying to get the president out to — as part of their fund-raising appeal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know there were ads being run by some of the president’s supporters in advance of this hearing critical of Director Comey.

    Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol, let me turn to you now. You had a chance — you were in the hearing room. You have had a chance to talk to some of the senators after the public hearing. And, of course, that was followed by a closed hearing.

    What are they telling you about their reaction to what they heard today?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, Judy, this was an extraordinary hearing.

    I counted 259 questions in just over two-and-a-half-hours to Mr. Comey, and after all of that, in the end, Judy, I have to say, overall, I came away with a feeling from senators that they are moving in a more bipartisan direction than they were a couple weeks ago.

    There were very few senators who were willing to take sides on this debate between Mr. Comey and President Trump and his attorney, not willing to say yet who they believe in that fight. Mostly, they’re deferring to Mr. Mueller and the upcoming — his special investigation.

    There were a few partisan hits. Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate, took to the floor and said the clouds over the White House have become darker. On the other hand, we have Roy Blunt of Missouri, Republican, who said he felt that today the president did better than worse.

    And another sign of that, Judy, talking to Ron Wyden, Democrat, who is one of the president’s sharpest critics, when asked about the idea of obstruction of justice and what he thought came from this hearing today on that front, he said, to him, obstruction of justice is a lawyer’s term. He thought there was instead a pattern of abuse of power.

    What that told me, Judy, was that they didn’t feel that they made any ground on that case for obstruction of justice.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, just to follow up, when you say your sense is that the senators, members of Congress may be moving in a more bipartisan fashion, why?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Senator after senator, including Republicans like Marco Rubio, Democrats like Mark Warner, who about a month ago seemed to be at odds with each other even about direction, and including Chairman Burr — there were accusations even within the Intelligence Committee, even on the Senate side — I don’t hear that anymore.

    Instead, I hear all these senators in a more unified voice saying they want to answer these questions later. They’re not going to make conclusions yet. They’re withholding judgment. They’re also unified on the idea that they need more information from the intelligence chief.

    And for news on that, Judy, I’m told by the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Burr, that they are planning to have a hearing, probably next week he says, closed-doors, with those intelligence chiefs, who they feel didn’t answer their questions yesterday.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Lisa.

    And we are also joined by Matt Apuzzo, reporter for The New York Times who broke many of the stories that frankly led up to what we have seen today.

    Matt, you have done — you have spent so much time looking into all of this. How did what Director Comey, former Director Comey, had to say today square with what you had learned beforehand?

    MATT APUZZO, The New York Times: Well, we had known obviously a lot of these individual meanings that Comey and Trump had been having in the several months that Trump’s been in office.

    We have known about those, but hearing it from the FBI director, who frankly has been really good in Senate testimony over the years — some of the Senate staff jokingly call him Senator Comey, because he’s really — he does a really good job.

    But this was a an unusual bit for Comey. He was obviously untethered and unrestrained by the limitations of a bureaucratic job now that he’s a private citizen. And we saw him more — we saw a more emotional, frankly, blunt former FBI director.

    Any time somebody in Washington says the word lie, you know they’re taking the gloves off, because everybody likes to soft-pedal that word around here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Matt, one other thing I want to ask you about quickly.

    And that is, there was a reference during the hearing. Director Comey was asked about a piece that you and two other The New York Times reporters wrote. It appeared back in February, on February the 14th.

    MATT APUZZO: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was really the first report of extensive contacts between the people around then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian officials.

    We heard James Comey today say that he didn’t think that there was much accurate in the article. What’s your version of that?

    MATT APUZZO: Yes, it’s obviously very hard to sort of get in a back-and-forth on classified information with a former FBI director, especially when he won’t say what’s inaccurate.

    The main point of the story, as you said, was that there were repeated contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and people tied to Russian intelligence. And, frankly, we only know more about that now. We know Carter Page. We know Jared Kushner was meeting with, you know, Sergey Gorkov from VEB. We know about a meeting in the Seychelles. We know all of these meetings that happened.

    We know Stone is talking to Guccifer 2.0, who is a front for Russian intelligence. So, it’s hard — that part, we know is true. It’s hard to say what he’s — what he is taking an issue with, whether he’s splitting hair on whether it’s a Russian intelligence officer or Russian intelligence agent, or whether he’s saying the — we said — we attributed this to intercepts and call logs, whether he is saying, no, no, no, it wasn’t intercepts and call logs, it was human intelligence.

    So, it’s hard to get into that back-and-forth. And we’re going to continue reporting. We did a story on this today. And doing this stuff, you want to try to be as transparent as possible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For sure.

    Matt Apuzzo with The New York Times, thank you for that.

    John Yang at the White House, Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol, thank you, all three.

    The post What does Comey’s testimony mean for the Russia probe? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party lost seats in the June 8 snap elections. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters

    British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party lost seats in the June 8 snap elections. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters

    A move intended to strengthen the hand of British Prime Minister Theresa May backfired Thursday when her party lost seats in the UK Parliament.

    May’s Conservative Party lost 12 seats but retained a slim majority in the 650-member House of Commons. The main opposition Labor Party gained 31 seats in Thursday’s snap elections.

    May had called for the early elections in the hopes of gaining a larger majority and a stronger mandate when negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, known as Brexit. The negotiations are set to begin on June 19.

    The results mean May will need to form a government even as Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the far-left Labor Party, called for her to resign. He tweeted a message to his followers, thanking them for their support:

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Corbyn’s Labor Party lobbied against Brexit but has indicated it will honor the results of the UK referendum to leave the EU.

    Early polls showed May’s party with a comfortable lead, but the gap closed during the seven-week campaign. As election results became clear early Friday morning, May called for a “period of stability” during the country’s challenging times.

    Those challenges include terrorism with recent attacks in Manchester and London prompting some polling stations to add armed guards. May said after the latest attacks that there was “far too much tolerance” for extremism in British society.

    View more photos of the UK election below.

    Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labor Party, votes in Islington, a borough in London, on June 8. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party, votes in Islington, a borough in London, on June 8. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    The recent terror attacks caused some polling sits to position armed guards outside. Photo by Hannah McKay/Reuters

    The recent terror attacks caused some polling sits to position armed guards outside. Photo by Hannah McKay/Reuters

    Nuns were among the voters in Britain's early elections. Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

    Nuns were among the voters in Britain’s early elections. Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

    Polling stations were in community centers, schools and pubs. Photo by Eddie Keogh/Reuters

    Polling stations were in community centers, schools and pubs. Photo by Eddie Keogh/Reuters

    Some voters brought their furry friends. Photo by Adam Holt/Reuters

    Some voters brought their furry friends. Photo by Adam Holt/Reuters

    The post Theresa May’s gamble fails in Britain’s snap elections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Friday’s joint press conference with President Donald Trump and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the White House’s Rose Garden.

    At a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday, dominated by questions about fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, President Donald Trump also decried terrorism and countries that support it.

    In particular, he called out Qatar for being “historically a funder of terrorism.”

    “No civilized nation can tolerate this violence,” President Trump said. “No more funding,” he emphasized.

    Trump said when he met with Arab and Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia last month, they asked him about confronting Qatar. He said they decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the military generals, that “the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding and extremist ideology.”

    The criticism of the Arab nation contrasted with remarks Tillerson made just a couple of hours before, in which he said the emir of Qatar was making an effort to halt financial support of extremist groups and to expel terrorist elements, though “he must do more and he must do it more quickly.”

    Tillerson beseeched Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar.

    You can watch Tillerson’s full statement here:

    “There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade,” he said. “We are seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school.”

    The blockade also is impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region, he continued, along with U.S. military operations and the campaign against the Islamic State extremist group.

    “We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors,” Tillerson said. “Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression from activism to violence.” He called on the Gulf states to work together to resolve their differences.

    The post WATCH: President Trump, Secretary Tillerson take different tacks on Qatar appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 1069 | 1070 | (Page 1071) | 1072 | 1073 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...