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State and Regional News

    An Oklahoma mother has been charged with child neglect, accused of starving her children and feeding them dog feces. The Tulsa World reports that 34-year-old Mary Elizabeth Moore was charged in Delaware County court this month. The children, aged 5 and 3, are severely malnourished and have been placed on a special diet with nasal feeding tubes. They are in state custody. An affidavit says the older child told Department of Human Services workers that she ate dog feces. The arresting officer noted the child had parasitic pinworms. The girl also told investigators that her mother's boyfriend 'throws bottles' at her younger sibling. The affidavit says Moore denied starving her children and feeding them dog feces. Her court-appointed attorney, Lee Griffin, didn't immediately return a phone call Saturday seeking comment. ___ Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
  • A Kansas couple is turning the concept of covered wagons that pioneers once used to journey west into a luxury experience for campers who want to enjoy nature without sacrificing the comforts of electricity and spacious beds. Dennis and Donna Steinman have built their first 26- by 10-foot (8- by 3-meter) wagon to accommodate those interested in high-end glamour camping, or 'glamping,' the Lawrence Journal-World reported . The Douglas County couple's canvas-covered wagons will be able to fit a king- or queen-sized bed, a bunk bed and a glass-topped wagon wheel table. Their PlainsCraft Conestoga Wagons are also equipped with electrical outlets and the couple is looking into how to heat and cool the interiors. 'The idea is to go camping and not give up the amenities,' said Dennis Steinman. He envisions the wagons being parked at wineries, ranches, state and national parks, hunting lodges and resorts. 'They are like sleeping in a motel room,' Donna Steinman added. The couple shares a love for pioneer history. Dennis Steinman said he has fond memories of riding in a small covered wagon that his dad built in his youth. 'Today, there is a real trend growing in glamping. So I started doing research. These wagons would fit in perfectly,' he said. The Steinmans' first wagon is parked at their rural home between Lawrence and Lecompton. They have received orders for two wagons to be used for guest housing at an Oklahoma ranch. Dennis Steinman hopes to build 20 wagons in their business' first year. 'We're just getting started,' he said. ___ Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com
  • The stars have been stars in these playoffs. Kyrie Irving has Boston on the cusp of sweeping away Indiana Pacers. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Golden State are coming off a game against the Los Angeles Clippers where the Warriors looked very much like the NBA champions again. Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook are going at each other big-time in the Portland-Oklahoma City series. And then there's Pascal Siakam. Toronto's surprise story is no surprise anymore. Siakam has been perhaps the biggest breakout player in these playoffs, adding to his breakout season for the Raptors — who lead the Orlando Magic 2-1 in their first-round matchup thanks largely to the 25-year-old from Cameroon and his 24.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in the series. It's easy to forget that Siakam only started playing organized basketball seven years ago. 'Seriously?' Raptors guard Danny Green asked, unaware of his teammate's unique background. Seriously. Raptors coach Nick Nurse was amused by a recent question suggesting the Siakam was the team's third option offensively behind Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Nurse said the way Toronto sees it, Siakam — 'Spicy P' is what they call him in Toronto, and the team sent out bottles of hot sauce with his face on the box to NBA awards voters as part of his Most Improved Player campaign — has really been the second option all season. At times in these playoffs, he's been the first option. In other words, a star is being born. 'Hey, look, he was terrific,' Magic coach Steve Clifford said after Siakam's 30-point, 11-rebound effort in Game 3. There's four games on tap Sunday: Boston has a 3-0 lead and can become the first team to advance to the second round if it wins at Indiana. All three other series on the schedule — Golden State at the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto at Orlando and Portland at Oklahoma City — have the road teams leading 2-1 and in position to all go home for potential closeout wins if they get victories on Sunday. Here's a look at Sunday's games: CELTICS AT PACERS Celtics lead 3-0. Game 4, 1 p.m. EDT, ABC NEED TO KNOW: Boston is seeking its first series sweep since 2011, when it rolled past the Knicks. The Celtics' other 4-0 sweeps came in 1959, 1980, 1981 and 1986. The Pacers are trying to avoid a fourth straight first-round exit and their second 4-0 loss in three years. KEEP AN EYE ON: Pacers starting forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young will be free agents this summer. Might this be their finales in Indiana? INJURY WATCH: Pacers star Victor Oladipo, out since January with a right knee injury, is expected to be at Game 4. He was going to fly in for Game 3, but was delayed by weather. PRESSURE IS ON: Boston. There's no pressure on Indiana; no one has come from 3-0 down to win a series, so the Pacers won't be expected to change that. Boston is playing for more rest before facing the Milwaukee-Detroit winner. WARRIORS AT CLIPPERS Warriors lead 2-1. Game 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT, ABC NEED TO KNOW: Golden State sent a very clear message in Game 3, blowing out Los Angeles by 27 with only one starter logging more than 30 minutes. And the Clippers have allowed a staggering 129.7 points in their last six games (going 2-4). KEEP AN EYE ON: The Clippers' first unit. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are great off the bench and play starters' minutes, so this is somewhat misleading, but Doc Rivers can't have just one starter in double figures — as was the case in Game 2. INJURY WATCH: Andrew Bogut had eight points, 14 rebounds and five assists in his first game as DeMarcus Cousins' replacement for the Warriors. PRESSURE IS ON: Patrick Beverley. The Clippers' point guard is unquestionably tough, but four fouls and five shots in 18 minutes — like he had in Game 3 on Thursday — won't cut it again. RAPTORS AT MAGIC Raptors lead 2-1. Game 4, 7 p.m. EDT, TNT NEED TO KNOW: Entering Saturday, three players in these playoffs — Stephen Curry, James Harden and Pascal Siakam — had a 30-point double-double. Curry and Harden made a combined $68 million this season. Siakam made about $1.5 million. KEEP AN EYE ON: Orlando guard Evan Fournier is 12 for 42 in this series and was 1 for 12 in Game 3. Among players with at least 10 shot attempts, there's been only five instances in Magic history where someone shot worse in a home game. INJURY WATCH: Bad news for Orlando: Toronto's Kawhi Leonard was ailing for Game 3 with an illness, which may explain some of his 6-for-19 shooting effort. He's expected to feel better Sunday. PRESSURE IS ON: Orlando's starters. Toronto opened on an 11-0 run (and 16-2) in Game 2 and a 10-0 run in Game 3. Another occurrence of that in Game 4 would be trouble. TRAIL BLAZERS AT THUNDER Trail Blazers lead 2-1. Game 4, 9:30 p.m. EDT, TNT NEED TO KNOW: Oklahoma City clearly got its swagger back in Game 3. And Portland needs to buck this history: The Trail Blazers are 0-7 in their last seven playoff games immediately following a loss. KEEP AN EYE ON: The Damian Lillard-Russell Westbrook matchup is the premier head-to-head tussle so far in these playoffs. Lillard's 25-point third quarter in Game 3 was phenomenal, but the Thunder held him to seven points in the other three quarters. INJURY WATCH: Thunder forward Paul George struggled with his shot again in Game 3 — a season-worst 3 for 16, raising questions about his troublesome right shoulder. But he got to the line 17 times, making 14, so he's clearly not shying from contact. PRESSURE IS ON: Portland's defense. Trail Blazer fouls sent the Thunder on the foul line 39 times in Game 3. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Police in Oklahoma City say a police pursuit has ended in the deaths of two people, including a child. Authorities say the victims died Friday when their vehicle was struck by a stolen pickup truck being pursued by police on the city's southwest side. Officers say the pursuit began when the driver of the pickup refused to pull over for a traffic stop. It ended then the truck's driver ran a red light and crashed into the victims' vehicle. A woman and child in the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene. They haven't been identified. Authorities say a third person in that vehicle as well as the driver and a passenger in the pickup were hospitalized following the collision. Police say they found drugs and guns in the pickup.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt's appointment of an Oklahoma businessman to fill a vacant seat on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has raised concerns among some members of the state Senate. Stitt has nominated Oklahoma businessman Gary Pierson to fill the seat, which requires Senate approval. Pierson is president and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company, which oversaw The Oklahoman newspaper until it was sold to GateHouse Media in 2018. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said he is skeptical of the appointment due to Pierson's involvement with Step Up Oklahoma, a coalition of businesses that last year supported unsuccessful tax increases and government reform measures. 'I did tell the governor's office that it wouldn't be a cakewalk, but that's just a gut reaction,' Treat told The Oklahoman . Multiple lawmakers who spoke with The Oklahoman but did not want to speak on the record said there was lingering resentment about the Step Up coalition, with some characterizing the group as trying to strong-arm lawmakers on budget decisions. The Legislature did not approve the coalition's proposal. Pierson said he was not aware of any concerns over his appointment. Pierson said he hoped his confirmation would be 'based on merit and not politics.' The governor's office has said Stitt planned to continue forward with Pierson's nomination. Stitt's relationship with the Legislature has been largely cooperative as he has been successful with other nominees and achieved major policy priorities. Earlier this month, the Senate approved Stitt's nomination of Eric Stevenson to the OU Board of Regents, the first African American to serve on the board in 20 years. ___ Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
  • Legislation that increases speed limits on Oklahoma turnpikes and some state highways has been signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The bill signed by Stitt Thursday increases turnpike speed limits from 75 to 80 mph and from 70 to 75 mph on certain state highways. Rep. Daniel Pae of Lawton authored the bill and says he worked with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He says the new speed limits will be implemented gradually and safely. Pae says lawmakers worked to ensure the safety of Oklahoma drivers while increasing highway speed limits. He says officials will use traffic and engineering studies on issues like traffic density and infrastructure quality to determine where speed limits can safely be increased.
  • Russell Westbrook called his play in Game 2 'unacceptable.' It was more than acceptable in Game 3. He had 33 points and 11 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 on Friday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1. Paul George added 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder. They will host Game 4 on Sunday night. Damian Lillard scored 32 points, but he had just three in the fourth quarter after scoring 25 in the third. C.J. McCollum had 21 and Enes Kanter added 19. Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead. Lillard was held to four points on 2 -or-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers shot 37.5% in the half. George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City's lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook brought out his 'rock the baby' celebration, then made the free throw to put Oklahoma City up by 15. Lillard scored 23 points the rest of the quarter to help cut Oklahoma City's lead to 86-82 at the end of the period. McCollum hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 early in the fourth. Oklahoma City regained control, then kept it. Westbrook's jumper with just over two minutes remaining put the Thunder up 10. TIP-INS Trail Blazers: Westbrook usually says 'Next question' when Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel asks him anything. During the pregame media session, Portland coach Terry Stotts went up to the podium with a smile, looked at Tramel and said, 'Go ahead, Berry. I'll answer your question,' drawing laughter from the reporters. ... F Maurice Harkless was called for a technical in the final minute for throwing his headband. Thunder: Derek Williamson of Midwest City, Oklahoma had 24 seconds to make a halfcourt shot for $20,000 from Mid-First Bank. He drained his last try. Later on, Jesse Norman of Prague, Oklahoma, made one later for another $20,000. ... Grant hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute after missing his first eight in the series. ... Westbrook was called for a technical in the final minute. ___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Russell Westbrook called his play in Game 2 'unacceptable.' It was more than acceptable in Game 3. He had 33 points and 11 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 on Friday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1. Thunder forward Paul George called Westbrook a man of his word. 'He led, we got behind him and he put us on his back,' George said. George scored 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder. They will host Game 4 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday night. Damian Lillard scored 32 points, but he had just three in the fourth quarter after scoring 25 in the third. He made 8 of 11 shots in the third quarter, but missed all four of his field goals in the fourth. 'Their defense pretty much stayed the same,' Lillard said of Oklahoma City's fourth-quarter strategy. 'They got a little more aggressive on the ball. Instead of just trying to stay in front of me, they were coming up a little higher.' C.J. McCollum had 21 points and Enes Kanter added 19 for the Trail Blazers. Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead. Lillard was held to four points on 2 -for-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers shot 37.5% in the half. George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City's lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook brought out his 'rock the baby' celebration, then made the free throw to put Oklahoma City up by 15. 'I didn't even see him do it,' Lillard said. 'A lot of times, I'm waiting for the ball to be inbounded, so I'm not looking at what's going on the other way. So rock the baby on a jump shot? I mean, you can do that all day.' Whether Lillard was inspired or not, he scored 23 points the rest of the quarter to help cut Oklahoma City's lead to 86-82 at the end of the period. McCollum hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 early in the fourth. Oklahoma City regained control, then kept it. Westbrook hit a wild 26-foot 3-pointer over Lillard with 1:20 to go that put the Thunder up by 14, then he told Lillard all about it. TIP-INS Trail Blazers: Westbrook usually says 'Next question' when Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel asks him anything. During the pregame media session, Portland coach Terry Stotts went up to the podium with a smile, looked at Tramel and said, 'Go ahead, Berry. I'll answer your question,' drawing laughter from the reporters. Westbrook gave Tramel his typical response after the game. ... F Maurice Harkless was called for a technical in the final minute for throwing his headband. Thunder: Derek Williamson of Midwest City, Oklahoma, had 24 seconds to make a half-court shot for $20,000 from MidFirst Bank. He drained his last try. Later, Jesse Norman of Prague, Oklahoma, made one for another $20,000. ... Grant hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute after missing his first eight in the series. ... Westbrook was called for a technical in the final minute. CONTROVERSIAL DUNK George threw down a monster dunk right after time expired that didn't count. Lillard wasn't impressed. 'Typically people say you shouldn't do stuff like that, but honestly, I really couldn't care less,' he said. 'The game had been decided. If that's something that they needed to do to make themselves feel more dominant or feel better, then so be it.' REVERSING COURSE The Thunder made 10 of 61 3-pointers in the first two games in Portland. They made 15 of 29 in Game 3. Grant made 4 of 5 3s and guard Terrance Ferguson made 3 of 4 attempts. 'They've been hitting shots all year,' Westbrook said. 'I'm going to make the right play. The guys on the floor made the right play and I'm going to continue to trust my teammates.' ___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Harkless 3-9 1-2 7, Aminu 3-9 0-0 9, Kanter 9-14 1-2 19, Lillard 10-21 9-10 32, McCollum 7-16 2-4 21, Layman 0-0 0-0 0, Collins 2-2 0-0 4, Leonard 4-5 0-0 8, Curry 0-0 3-3 3, Turner 0-2 0-0 0, Simons 0-1 2-3 2, Hood 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 39-83 18-24 108. George 3-16 14-17 22, Grant 6-7 2-2 18, Adams 5-6 0-0 10, Westbrook 11-22 7-8 33, Ferguson 3-5 0-0 9, Nader 0-0 0-0 0, Noel 2-2 0-2 4, Morris 2-6 3-4 7, Schroder 5-11 5-6 17, Felton 0-2 0-0 0, Burton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-77 31-39 120. 3-Point Goals_Portland 12-31 (McCollum 5-8, Aminu 3-7, Lillard 3-9, Hood 1-3, Kanter 0-1, Leonard 0-1, Harkless 0-2), Oklahoma City 15-29 (Grant 4-5, Westbrook 4-6, Ferguson 3-4, Schroder 2-3, George 2-7, Felton 0-1, Adams 0-1, Morris 0-2). Fouled Out_Harkless. Rebounds_Portland 41 (Aminu 9), Oklahoma City 37 (Adams 7). Assists_Portland 18 (McCollum 7), Oklahoma City 27 (Westbrook 11). Total Fouls_Portland 33, Oklahoma City 24. Technicals_Portland coach Terry Stotts, Harkless, Westbrook. Ejected_Harkless. A_18,203 (18,203).
  • The winning numbers in Friday evening's drawing of the 'Mega Millions' game were: 18-25-43-44-57, Mega Ball: 25, Megaplier: 4 (eighteen, twenty-five, forty-three, forty-four, fifty-seven; Mega Ball: twenty-five; Megaplier: four) Estimated jackpot: $175 million
  • Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation establishing guidelines for producing commercial hemp in the state on Thursday.  The bill authorizes the state Department of Agriculture to develop and manage a hemp production program under the 2018 federal farm bill.  The measure received bipartisan support in the state House and Senate. State leaders expect rules to be in place to allow for planting of industrial hemp in the 2020 crop year. 
  • When Roger and Marcia Altis’ family business didn’t quite work out as planned — especially after Roger’s first heart attack — they decided to file for bankruptcy. Medical and other bills had piled up. The Internal Revenue Service came calling, demanding tax money. So the Eureka couple hired a Wichita attorney who they thought would help shepherd them through the financial mess. Instead, that attorney, Christopher O’Brien, made it worse — by stealing money meant to pay down the Altises’ debt. O’Brien, 69, last month pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement in the case — and agreed to pay nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in restitution to the Altises and two other clients who accused him of thievery. He’s set for sentencing at the federal courthouse in Wichita on June 3, according to court records. What’s already been a horrible ordeal for the Altises has taken another difficult turn. The couple is now at risk of losing their home over unpaid property tax they thought the estate would handle, the Wichita Eagle reported. In March, they received notice that they had only a short period of time to come up with more than $24,000 to pay to Greenwood County — or what’s left of their land, where their house and garden sit, will be sold to the highest bidder at a sheriff’s auction.
  • A large fire broke out at a midtown Tulsa apartment complex Friday, damaging or destroying more than a dozen units. It happened at the Cobblestone Apartments, west of 51st Street and Memorial Road, about 9:30 a.m. No one was hurt in the fire, as management acted quickly to notify residents they needed to evacuate.  Fire investigators say early on, it appears a smouldering cigarette or cigar left on a balcony was the source of ignition. KRMG spoke with a resident at the scene who was visibly upset because her pet was missing.  “The manager, Andy, knocked on the door and said to get out because the building was on fire,” Elizabeth told KRMG, “and I couldn’t find my cat.”  “I just want my baby!” she sobbed, as a friend tried to offer encouragement.  Firefighters did pull other pets from the building safely.  TFD spokesman Andy Little said the department’s response included five engines and four ladder trucks.  “It’s under control right now,” he said about 10:00 a.m., “but we still  have a lot of work to do.”  He said when firefighters arrived, “fire was coming out of the balcony and up onto the roof. Within minutes, it was through the roof so it was going pretty good when we got here.” The Red Cross responded to the scene to help residents.
  • Two hit sitcoms from the 1970s are coming back for a live, one-night-only event. Archie, Edith, George and Weezy from “All in the Family,” and its spin-off “The Jeffersons” will air next month on ABC for a prime-time special, The Associated Press reported. Woody Harrelson will play Archie Bunker, Marisa Tomei will portray his wife Edith. Jamie Foxx will play Archie’s former neighbor George Jefferson and Wanda Sykes will play his wife Louise. >> Read more trending news  Ellie Kemper, Justina Machado and Will Ferrell will also star in the event with more stars expected to be announced later, the AP reported. But why bring back such classic shows, ones that hit many hot button topics like racism and women’s rights head on? Norman Lear, who created both programs said in a statement, people say “These two shows were meant for the ‘70s and would not work today. We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’ the timelessness of human nature.” The show, “Live in front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All In The Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’” will air May 22, 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET, Deadline reported.
  • There’s another turn of events in the murder a rape case involving 17-year-old Deonte Green. Green is charged with murder, rape and other felonies following a 2017 string of crimes in Tulsa. The teenager pleaded guilty March 13 to first-degree murder and 19 other counts in a blind plea, meaning it was entered without a sentencing agreement with prosecutors. Attorneys for Green later filed to withdraw the pleas, arguing in part that Green didn't know what the word 'guilty' meant.  Green withdrew that request during a court hearing Thursday. Green was 16 when he was accused of killing Broken Arrow middle school teacher Shane Anderson and raping an 81-year-old woman in a separate incident.  He faces a possible sentence of life in prison when he's sentenced in July.

Washington Insider

  • The newly released report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections rejected the claims of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that he received leaked emails from a young employee at the Democratic National Committee, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller said Assange used the murder of DNC worker Seth Rich in an effort to cover up the fact that Russian Intelligence had hacked the DNC emails, and transferred them to WikiLeaks. 'As reports attributing the DNC and DCCC hacks to the Russian government emerged, WikiLeaks and Assange made several public statements apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing,' the Mueller report stated, referring to Assange's claim that Rich was involved. 'The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails,' the report added on page 56 of the 448 page document released on Thursday by the Justice Department. The redacted version of the Mueller Report reiterated what had been alleged in a previous indictment of a group of Russian Intelligence agents, that they had hacked into a DNC email server starting in May 2016, and posing as 'Guccifer 2.0,' sent an encrypted attachment, 'wk dnc link1.txt.gpg' to WikiLeaks. For the Rich family, it was confirmation that Assange's claim - which had readily been embraced by familiar Republican voices, Fox News, and conservative talk radio - was indeed false, and had created 'unimaginable pain.' The Mueller report said WikiLeaks did not receive the hacked DNC emails and documents from GRU officers until July 14 - four days after Rich had been murdered. 'The file-transfer evidence described above and other information uncovered during the investigation discredit WikiLeaks's claims about the source of material that it posted,' the Mueller report stated. During the campaign, in an August 25, 2016 interview with Fox News cited by Mueller, Assange asserted that Rich - who was murdered on July 10, 2016 - was a 'potential' source of emails from inside the Democratic National Committee. WikiLeaks stuck to that story, even as U.S. investigators began to focus more and more on the ties between Assange and Russian GRU hackers, as WikiLeaks increased the reward for clues to Rich's murder to $130,000 the day before President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January of 2017. Not only did WikiLeaks push the Seth Rich angle - along with Fox News, Infowars, and various conservative talk radio hosts - but so too did the Russians; this tweet was from the Russian Embassy in London in May of 2017. Two days after that tweet from the Russian government, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used an appearance on 'Fox and Friends' to further spread the theory that Rich had been murdered after giving WikiLeaks thousands of hacked documents from the DNC, as the matter quickly gained the attention of talk radio and conservative commentators. Soon after that Gingrich interview in May of 2017, Fox News retracted the network's original report tying Rich to the leak of materials to WikiLeaks. In the end, investigators concluded all signs pointed to Moscow and Assange, as the Mueller Report said the mentions of Rich were 'designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing,' that being the Russians. Like the Pizzagate conspiracy theory - which claimed that a supporter of Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a neighborhood pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. - no evidence was ever offered up by Assange and WikiLeaks to support the Rich claim.
  • Thursday's release of a 448 page redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections certainly did not end the questions about the investigation, as President Donald Trump labeled it, 'PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!' and Democrats demanded even more answers about what was in the report. First, you can find a link to the report on the website of the Department of Justice. The report is divided into two parts. The first deals with questions of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia - the Special Counsel found evidence of 'numerous' contacts between them, but not enough to merit charges for any illegal activity. The second part of the report deals with questions about obstruction of justice. In that portion, investigators found that top aides, advisers, and friends of the President routinely ignored his orders to fire people like the Special Counsel and more. Here's more from the fine print of the Mueller report: 1. The first part of the collusion statement used by Barr. The release of the Mueller report allowed a full review of a sentence fragment employed by Attorney General William Barr in his late March letter, which (accurately) said, 'the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. Many reporters had wondered what was in the first part of that statement and why it was not included in Barr's letter. And, starting on page nine, it seemed clear. 'The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,' the Mueller report concluded. Then adding the start of the sentence used by Barr: 'Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benfeit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts...' 2. It wasn't just Comey writing memos after talks with Trump. After getting fired as FBI Director, James Comey made public memos which he had written after various talks with President Trump. It's also been reported that former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe did the same thing. Now the Mueller report shows others did, too. Deputy National Security Director K.T. McFarland saved a contemporaneous memo after a discussion with the President in which the Mr. Trump asked McFarland to 'write an internal email denying that the President had directed Flynn to discuss sanctions' with the Russian Ambassador, when McFarland knew the real answer was that Mr. Trump had done exactly that. Then there were top officials at the National Security Agency, who were so alarmed by a phone call with Mr. Trump - they wrote a memo and put it in an NSA safe - with the deputy NSA chief saying it was 'the most unusual thing he had experienced in 40 years of government service.' 3. Aides, advisers, friends, regularly ignore Trump requests. Whether it was on big items like firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, forcing out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or sending messages to top officials, the Mueller report is chock full of examples where the President tells people to do something - and they refuse to do it - worried it's the wrong move. White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus wouldn't tell Sessions he should leave. Corey Lewandowski wouldn't send a message for the President to Sessions, and even tried to get a White House aide to do it - but he also refused. Then there was this tidbit from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had lunch with President Trump, and was told to send along a message to James Comey. This was the same day that Mr. Trump told Comey - after clearing the Oval Office of other officials - that he wanted the feds to 'let this go' when it came to legal issues for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 4. Rosenstein threatened to 'tell the truth' on Comey firing. After using a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a pretext to fire FBI Director James Comey - the White House pressed Rosenstein to further explain why Comey had been fired, 'to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein's idea to fire Comey.' Rosenstein said that was a 'false story,' and after President Trump called on the phone to ask the Deputy A.G. to do a press conference about the Comey firing, the report says Rosenstein said he would 'tell the truth that Comey's firing was not his idea.' The Mueller report goes along with testimony released by Republicans in recent weeks which depicted Rosenstein as furious with the White House over the Comey firing, convinced that he was 'used' to get rid of the FBI Director. 5. Sarah Huckabee Sanders comments 'not founded on anything.' After President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017, the White House repeatedly defended the move by saying that ousting Comey was supported by 'countless members of the FBI,' though the White House produced no evidence to reporters back up that assertion. Fast forward a bit over a year to July of 2018, when Sanders was interviewed by investigators, she admitted there was no truth to her assertion from the podium. 'Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from 'countless members of the FBI' was a 'slip of the tongue,'' the report stated. Asked about a comment in another press interview about how FBI agents had supposedly lost confidence in Comey, 'Sanders acknowledged to investigators that her comments were not founded on anything.'  6. A series of unknown Mueller cases are still active. While Attorney General William Barr told Congress last month that the Mueller report 'does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public,' the details show a slightly different story. At the end of the report, there are lists of cases transferred to other prosecutors, and information on other matters - uncovered by Mueller - but referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. In those two lists, a series of cases were redacted - two cases transferred by Mueller - and 12 other cases in which referrals were made. All of them were redacted for the reason that publicity could damage ongoing investigations, what was officially known as, 'Harm to Ongoing Matter.' Maybe they are cases which have nothing to do with the Russia investigation or with President Trump. But one of the referrals which was not redacted involved Mr. Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Technically, these aren't Mueller cases - but they're also still secret. 7. Mueller discredits Wikileaks claim of Seth Rich DNC leak. Along with Pizzagate, the claim by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that a former DNC staffer was the source of leaked Democratic Party emails was one of the biggest conspiracy theories to emerge from the 2016 campaign. In the report, Mueller's team says file transfer evidence linking Wikileaks to Russian Intelligence lays waste to the claim that Seth Rich had leaked materials to Assange - and may have been murdered as a result. Assange has repeatedly denied any ties to Russian agents, but U.S. Intelligence has long regarded Wikileaks as a 'fence' for Russian Intelligence, and that the two tied themselves together to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. 8. Mueller says witnesses deleted potential evidence. In laying out the evidence put forward in the report, the Special Counsel's office made clear that the Russia probe was hampered because of information which could not be obtained - making it clear that some people under investigation had deleted texts and other electronic communications, 'including some associated with the Trump Campaign.' One example was between former White House aide Steve Bannon and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who were questioned about a secretive meeting in the Seychelles, which involved Russian figures. Bannon and Prince told different stories - but investigators couldn't see their text messages, because they had simply disappeared from their phones, as both men denied deleting the messages. 'Prince's phone contained no text messages prior to March 2017, though provider records indicate that he and Bannon exchanged dozens of messages,' the report stated. 9. Mueller Report redactions - 'lightly redacted' or more? The evening before the release of the report, officials told a variety of news organizations that the report was 'lightly redacted.' One group looked at it and found redactions of over 170 pages, as there were examples where entire pages were blacked out. The very first redactions in the document came in the Table of Contents - and had to do wtih the 'Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials,' dealing with stolen Democratic Party emails and Wikileaks. Some items were redacted for grand jury information, investigative techniques, harm to ongoing matters, and third person privacy concerns. 10. Trump's answers to Mueller questions. At the end of the Mueller report, you can read the President's answers to a series of written questions posed by the Special Counsel's office, after they were unable to get the President to sit for an interview, in person. Critics of the President noted derisively that there was a theme in many of his answers. 'I don't recall,' or 'I don't remember,' were phrases found. 'I have no recollection,' and 'I do not remember.' 'I do not recall being aware during the campaign' of any contacts with Wikileaks, the President testified. 'I have no recollection' that any foreign government or entity wanted to support the campaign, Mr. Trump said. 'I have no recollection of being told during the campaign that Vladimir Putin' supported my bid for the White House, the President added.
  • In a redacted 448 page report delivered to Congress Thursday by Attorney General William Barr, Special Counsel Robert Mueller detailed a series of actions by President Donald Trump to rein in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, clearly stating that while Mr. Trump tried to undermine the Russia investigation, his efforts were stymied mainly because top aides and other government officials ignored his demands for action. Prime among them was White House Counsel Don McGahn, who told investigators that the President ordered him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in June of 2017, soon after press reports emerged that the President was under investigation for possible obstruction of justice. 'McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,' referring to the  episode in the Watergate investigation where President Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Later, when press reports emerged stating that the President has ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, the report says the President then 'directed White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed.' McGahn again refused to follow the President's order - defying him in an Oval Office meeting. 'McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle,' the report concluded. There were other stories of top aides similarly ignoring the President, such as Corey Lewandowski, who was told by Mr. Trump to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to publicly state that the Russia investigation was 'very unfair' to Mr. Trump. First in June of 2017, then again a month later, Mr. Trump used a private meeting to press Lewandowski - an outside adviser - to get Sessions 'to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference.' But like the White House Counsel, Lewandowski balked, and refused to follow the President's request, going so far as to ask a senior White House official - Rich Dearborn - to do the dirty work for him. 'Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through,' the report stated. The report also details how the President tried to lobby senior leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community to help him limit the Russia probe, as Mr. Trump complained to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, his daily intelligence briefers, and top officials at the National Security Agency. In late March of 2017, the President complained directly to DNI Coats, who counseled that it would be best to allow the investigations to 'run their course,' and not interfere with the work of FBI Director James Comey. While Coats did not tell investigators that he felt directly pressured to act, his top aides told a different story, that 'Coats was upset because the President has asked him to contact Comey to convince him there was nothing to the Russia investigation.' Mr. Trump also called the head of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, to weigh in on the Russia investigation - a conversation that so alarmed Rogers and a top deputy that they immediately drafted a memo, and placed it in an NSA safe to memorialize the communications with the President, much as Comey had done after his own meetings with Mr. Trump. Intelligence officials also said the President complained about the Russia investigation during his daily briefings, and asking for messages of support in the news media. 'On at least two occasions, the President began Presidential Daily Briefings by stating that there was no collusion with Russia and he hoped a press statement to that effect could be issued,' the report said. NSA chief Rogers recalled a private talk with Mr. Trump where the President vented his frustration, 'and said something like the 'Russia thing has got to go away.'' In another example from July of 2017, President Trump was ready to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but encountered resistance from White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. 'Even though Priebus did not intend to carry out the President's directive, he told the President he would get Sessions to resign,' the report stated. Priebus later told the President that Sessions could not be ousted, because other top officials - including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand would also resign - setting off a Saturday Night Massacre type of situation for President Trump. In the end, the Mueller investigation found that top aides to the President had saved Mr. Trump from possible legal jeopardy, mainly by ignoring his demands on the Russia investigation. 'The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,' the Mueller report concluded. Top Democrats in Congress immediately made clear they want more information about the obstruction matters. 'As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. Not surprisingly, the White House saw things differently, as the redacted version of the Mueller report was issued. On the issue of collusion, the Mueller report stated the investigation 'identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign' - but that there was no evidence that the campaign had 'conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.' Mueller seems likely to be asked directly about his investigation in May, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said he would ask Mueller to testify next month. Attorney General Barr is already scheduled for two days of testimony before the House and Senate on May 1 and May 2.
  • Official Washington is focused primarily today on the release of a redacted version of a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed almost two years ago by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 elections, a probe which has generated fierce criticism since the outset by President Donald Trump and many of his political allies. First, this is the link to the 448 page Mueller report. There are two parts to the report - Volume 1 covers questions about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  Volume 2 covers matters related to possible obstruction of justice by the President on the Russia probe. Here's where we stand: + 1:20 pm - The Mueller report raises the specter that associates of the Trump campaign and/or allies of the President may have deleted emails and other electronic evidence, which impeded the Mueller investigation. + 1:10 pm - While the Special Counsel was never able to get an in-person interview with the President, this report does include his written answers to questions submitted by the Mueller legal team. + 1:00 pm - The report goes into a lot of detail about the interactions between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, which ultimately resulted in Comey's firing in May of 2017.   + 12:50 pm - While Attorney General Barr talked earlier today of all the cooperation that the White House had provided in the investigation, the Mueller reports paints a different picture, especially when it comes to the question of getting testimony from President Trump.  The Special Counsel's office determined that an effort to subpoena the President would require an enormous amount of legal effort and time, even though simple written responses from President Trump were viewed as insufficient.  “We viewed the written answers to be inadequate,” the report stated. + 12:30 pm - The report details a number of contacts and calls made by the President to top intelligence officials, asking for their help in refuting the Trump-Russia story.  Top officials at the National Security Agency were so alarmed that they immediately wrote out a memo after the conversation, and put it in a safe.   Like White House aides, intelligence officials basically ignored the President's demand for help. + 12:10 pm - The Mueller report basically says that because top aides to the President consistently refused to carry out his orders to rein in - or even terminate - the Russia investigation, they saved the President from committing illegal acts, and obstruction of justice. + 12:00 pm - As mentioned earlier, President Trump had ordered his White House Counsel to fire Robert Mueller.  Don McGahn had refused.  Months later, the issue surfaced in the press, and the Mueller report says the President then demanded that McGahn deny the reports.  McGahn refused. + 11:55 am - The Mueller report says President Trump personally intervened to change a statement from his son, Donald Trump, Jr., about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, deleting a reference to how the meeting was to offer information about Hillary Clinton, and instead saying the meeting was about adoption policies.  + 11:50 am - After telling the White House Counsel to fire Mueller in June of 2017, President Trump kept pressing aides to help limit the Russia probe.  He asked Corey Lewandowski to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to publicly declare the Russia probe, “very unfair.”  Lewandowski said he would do that, but refused - and tried to get another aide to do the same thing, who also refused. + 11:40 am - As the Mueller report was being released, President Trump was making comments about it during a White House event with wounded warriors.  + 11:35 am - In testimony from White House Counsel Don McGahn, the Mueller report spells out how President Trump ordered his top lawyer to fire the Special Counsel in 2017, once stories emerged that the President was under investigation for possible obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. + 11:30 am - A reminder in the report from the Special Counsel that a number of people connected to the Trump campaign lied about their contacts during and after the election when questioned by the feds. + 11:25 am - Here is the conclusion of Special Counsel Mueller when it comes to whether President Trump should have been charged with Obstruction of Justice: + 11:20 am - While there were indications the report was 'lightly redacted,' that's not the case in some areas, where entire pages were blacked out. + 11:10 am - The redactions give us little new information on links between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks. + 11:06 am - The first redaction is in the table of contents, dealing with materials linked to Wikileaks and the Trump Campaign. + 11:05 am - The Mueller report has been released.  It is 448 pages. + 11:00 am - Don't forget, this report is not just about President Trump.  It also will spill into the race among Democrats to try to replace him. + 10:55 am - My ten year old kid asks me, “Have they released the Mueller report yet?”  Soon, I tell him. + 10:50 am - President Trump's scheduled 10:30 am event with Wounder Warriors at the White House still has not started.  With the Mueller report scheduled to be delivered to Congress at 11 am, it will be interesting to see if the President is speaking at that moment.  A President has the power to dominate the airwaves in a way that no other person can in the United States. + 10:45 am - As we await the exact details of the Mueller report, it is a good time to remember how important actual documents are in any investigation, and how politicians deal with public discussion of that material.  This from one House Democrat from Florida: + 10:40 am - Donald Trump Jr. did not mention his initial reaction to the offer of 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton, which he welcomed.  + 10:35 am - President Trump's son is echoing the declarations of his father as the Mueller report is released. + 10:30 am - Democrats are furious about the news conference of Attorney General Barr, claiming it was nothing more than Barr acting like President Trump's defense lawyer. + 10:25 am - Not long after the Attorney General said he had no opposition to the idea, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are now officially asking for public testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. + 10:20 am - Here is how the Barr news conference ended. + 10:15 am - The Trump White House is ready for today.  This was tweeted out soon after the end of the Barr news conference. + 10:10 am - Even on Fox News, there were not universally good reviews for the Attorney General. + 10:05 am - Here's some of the Attorney General's news conference. + 10:00 am - The news conference ends on a somewhat testy note, as the Attorney General sparred with reporters over how he characterized the impact of the investigation on President Trump, labeling the probe an 'unprecedented situation.' + 9:55 am - Barr says he has no opposition to the idea of Special Counsel Mueller testifying before Congress. + 9:50 am - Barr confirms that the President's legal team was allowed to see the Mueller report before Congress. + 9:45 am - Here is a link to Barr's statement he is giving to reporters. + 9:40 am - In his news conference, the Attorney General keeps repeating a main theme over and over again - that there was no collusion or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.  “The Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy,” Barr says. “So, that's the bottom line.” + 9:35 am - Attorney General William Barr says the redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be delivered to Congress at 11 am, and then it will be posted on line for the public to read. + 9:25 am - As we wait for the news conference of Attorney General William Barr, Democrats are denouncing Barr, ridiculing his decision to hold this session with reporters before the report is even released. + 9:20 am - President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is making his own noise today, saying he's ready to fill in any of the blanks left by redactions in the Mueller report.  Cohen's lawyer - Lanny Davis - was emphasizing the same as well. + 9:10 am - A quick reminder of what we know so far about the Russia investigation.  We know the basics already from the charges brought - or not brought by the Special Counsel.  Russian intelligence agents hacked Democratic Party emails and documents, and gave them to Wikileaks during the campaign. There were numerous contacts between Russians and people affiliated with the Trump campaign, both before and after the elections. But we also know that no indictments were ever returned for any Trump-Russia conspiracy, or collusion.  + 9:05 am - Congress is not in session this week, but the miracle of social media will make it very easy for lawmakers to weigh in on today's events as they transpire.  Republicans are backing the President, while Democrats are raising questions about the actions of Attorney General William Barr, who is scheduled to hold a news conference at 9:30, before the release of the report. + 9:00 am - It's been a busy morning on Twitter for President Trump, who has been again voicing his displeasure with the Mueller investigation, and re-tweeting items related to Hillary Clinton and the investigation of her emails from her time as Secretary of State.
  • With a political battle ready to boil over at any minute on how much is going to be revealed to the public about the Russia investigation, and both political parties fully ready to press their case to the public on how to digest what's being released by the Trump Administration, the Justice Department on Thursday morning is set to release some of the details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 elections. Here's the basic run down on what to expect on Thursday: 1. Attorney General starts first with a news conference at 9:30 am EDT. Even before the redacted report from the Special Counsel is made public, U.S. Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference at the Justice Department. News organizations were told that Congress would get the report between 11 am and 12 noon - and around that time, the report will be posted on the website of the Special Counsel. President Trump also suggested that he might hold a news conference before he leaves for his Florida retreat to spend the Easter weekend. 2. Redactions are certain to be a big issue. There were reports Wednesday night that the redactions were not going to black out a significant part of the Mueller report, but no one will know that until we get to read the report with our own eyes. Four specific types of information would be redacted as spelled out by Attorney General William Barr - 1) Materials from grand jury proceedings, 2) Classified information, 3) information related to ongoing prosecutions, and 4) Materials which touch on third parties who are not directly involved in the Russia investigation. Barr says the redactions will be 'color coded,' allowing people to know why certain passages or words were not made public.  You can listen to Barr's explanation from his testimony to a House panel last week: 3. We already know a lot about the Russia investigation. Even before some of the details from the Mueller report are released to the public, the Special Counsel has put a lot on the record. There clearly was an effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections. Russian intelligence agents were indicted for hacking Democratic Party emails and documents, and providing those materials to Wikileaks. A series of people who worked for the campaign, or were foreign policy advisers, have come under scrutiny for contacts with Russians - both during and after the elections. A number of people have plead guilty to lying to the feds about such contacts. But the Special Counsel never tied it all together into any indictments which alleged coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, something the President has trumpeted repeatedly in recent days. 4. President Trump and the question of obstruction of justice. In his March 24 letter to Congress, the Attorney General clearly stated that Special Counsel Mueller did not make a final conclusion about whether President Trump obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. 'The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'' It will be interesting to see how the report deals with this matter, and how much of the Mueller evidence - and his own internal deliberations about obstruction - will be made public by the Attorney General. 5. Is Congress really getting the Mueller report on a CD? According to news organizations on Wednesday, the Justice Department is sending Congress the redacted version of the Mueller report on a CD. Needless to say, many of you reading this probably don't have a CD drive on your laptop or home computer - let alone on your cell phone. Many of you probably forgot that CD's could be used for something other than music. In 1998, Ken Starr's investigation delivered its report in both written form and - wait for it - on a CD. And of course, I still have my copy.