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World News

    The president-elect of Ukraine does not have a political record that foreign governments and companies can search for clues. For now, a 51-episode TV sitcom might offer the clearest view of what kind of leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy will be. Zelenskiy, a career comedian, foretold his future when he took the starring role in 'Servant of the People.' The series, created by Zelenskiy's production company, follows a high school teacher who finds himself elected to Ukraine's highest office thanks to a recorded rant that goes viral. The show, which premiered in 2015, is the first Ukrainian series bought by Netflix. In an interview earlier this year, Zelenskiy told foreign journalists he wanted to put 'a dream country' on the small screen. The latest season was filmed and aired after Zelenskiy declared his candidacy for the real presidency on New Year's Eve. Further blurring the line between fiction and reality, he named his political party 'Servant of the People.' The TV character and the first-time candidate also overlapped at times on the campaign trail: SEPARATISM AND THE WAR IN THE EAST The dispute over Russia's annexation of Crimea and a deadly separatist war in eastern Ukraine are likely to dominate Zelenskiy's agenda. Zelenskiy, a Russian speaker from central Ukraine, said earlier this year he doesn't see military force as an option for bringing either area back under Kiev's wing. He said the government should reach out to welcome the eastern territories to a new Ukraine. 'We need to send a message that we are all Ukrainians,...that you're one of us,' he said. In the latest season of 'Servant of the People,' Zelenskiy's character, Vasyl Holoborodko, assumes the presidency of a country split into 28 independent states, some of which resemble actual separatist fiefdoms in eastern Ukraine. 'Enough with the old slogans: north, west, south. We're one country, we're all Ukrainians,' the fictional President Holoborodko tells two separatist leaders in one episode of the TV show. Holoborodko rejects the idea of bribing or intimidating the separatists into reuniting. At the end of the latest season, Ukraine's east and west come back together following a joint effort to help coal miners trapped underground. ___ OVERHAUL OF GOVERNMENT After an exit poll predicted he won nearly three out of every four votes, Zelenskiy on Sunday reiterated a campaign promise to fire Ukraine's prosecutor general for an appointee of his own. He called the chief prosecutor part of 'the old team.' In the first season of 'Servant of the People,' the president character pushes out existing officials with reputations for corruption and abusing power. 'You and your allies have been at the helm for nearly a quarter of the century,' Holoborodko tells the fictional prime minister in Episode 6. 'And what changes do we see? Zero. Zero changes, zero reforms.' But Holoborodko is despondent because he can't find a single honest professional to appoint. He ends up putting his school friends in top posts, attracting accusations of cronyism. During an actual presidential debate Friday, Zelenskiy was surrounded by literally the same people - the actors who played his Cabinet ministers on TV. The president-elect has not announced who he wants to appoint, but no peers from acting or comedy have shown interest in following Zelenskiy into politics. ___ PERKS AND PRIVILEDGES FOR OFFICIALS Zelenskiy said as early election returns came in that he would cut the presidential administration budget, get rid of the perks that come with public office and move the seat of government out of central Kiev so 'there is no traffic.' 'I would like to find a place in Kiev or outside Kiev so that there would be no motorcades, and I would like to get rid of the motorcades altogether,' the comedian said. The scripted president of 'Servant of the People' gives up his motorcade in Season 1 and takes the bus or taxis to work. He pushes through a bill to relocate executive branch offices to a Soviet-era pavilion on Kiev's outskirts. 'We will free the center of Kiev from those traffic jams.' Holoborodko tells lawmakers. The character ends up hiring back the bodyguard he fired and being driven in a car after he narrowly escapes a group of taxi drivers angry about his crackdown on gypsy cabs. RELATIONS WITH OUTGOING LEADER Zelenskiy spent a huge portion of his campaign lambasting traditional politicians for alleged corruption, the topic of the viral video that put his TV character in office. At Friday's debate in front of nearly 60,000 people, Zelenskiy called incumbent Poroshenko 'a wolf in sheep's clothing' and accused him of abusing power for personal enrichment. Poroshenko tweeted that the Kremlin would be 'celebrating' the election of a 'new, inexperienced Ukrainian president,' but also called Zelenskiy later Sunday to concede defeat and offer his assistance. Likewise, Zelenskiy on Sunday refrained from attacking Poroshenko and said of the president's offer to help, 'if I really need to call him, I will.' In the fourth episode of 'Servant of the People,' the teacher-turned-president must deal with a crestfallen predecessor who locks himself in his office, gets drunk and refuses to come out. 'They've stolen the country from me, an entire country,' the fictional outgoing president says. In the end, the new president convinces the outgoing leader to go peacefully.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Afghanistan's president over the weekend to express Washington's disappointment over the indefinite postponement of Afghan talks with the Taliban, according to a statement released Monday. The talks were scheduled to start this coming Friday in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an office, but were scuttled after a falling-out between the two sides over who should attend. The gathering would have marked the first time that Taliban and Kabul government officials sat together, a potential milestone in efforts to reach a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan, America's longest, and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. The State Department said that in his call with President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday, Pompeo encouraged both sides to come together to agree on participants, saying the talks are Afghanistan's best chance for peace. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has met on several occasions with the Taliban and has pressed for Afghan-to-Afghan talks, had expressed hope the Qatar meeting would bring the sides closer to a 'roadmap' for a future Afghanistan. In a second statement released Monday, the U.S. State Department said Khalilzad would travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Qatar, as well as Russia and the United Kingdom, for further talks. It said the multi-country trip began Monday and will end May 11. It said that in Kabul, Khalilzad will 'consult with the Afghan government and other Afghans to encourage all parties to work towards intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations to determine a final peace settlement.' In Qatar, Khalilzad will meet again with the Taliban to focus on 'national security issues,' an apparent reference to guarantees Washington is seeking that Afghanistan will not again be used as a staging area for terrorist attacks. The two sides have also been discussing a timetable for the withdrawal of an estimated 14,000 U.S. troops, a longstanding Taliban demand. Khalilzad has said they reached a draft agreement on both issues, without elaborating. The statement said Khalilzad will also press the Taliban to participate in 'inclusive' Afghan-to-Afghan talks. The U.S.-backed government in Kabul has been sidelined for months from the talks with the Taliban because the insurgents refuse to meet with government officials. The Taliban have said they will only meet with Afghans as private individuals and not as government representatives. Kabul had offered to send a massive delegation of some 250 representatives, including government officials, opposition figures and other prominent Afghans. But the hosts in Doha, at the urging of the Taliban, came back with a revised list that drastically reduced the number of women in the delegation and eliminated all government ministers. Each side blamed the other for scuttling the talks as violence continued. On the ground, Afghan government forces face not only a resurgent Taliban — who now hold sway over nearly half the country — but also militants from the Islamic State group, who attacked the heavily-guarded Telecommunications Ministry in Kabul on Saturday, killing seven people. A prominent figure on the Kabul list for the talks in Qatar said several senior participants had received calls from the president's office warning them not to express personal opinions at the talks with the Taliban, and to only speak on behalf of the state. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the sensitive negotiations. In another bid to project unity, Ghani is organizing a Loya Jirga — a traditional gathering of elders and prominent Afghans — to be held next week in Kabul. But Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and others have refused to attend. Both leaders, who have served in a power-sharing government since disputed elections in 2014, are running in presidential elections planned for September. Ghani's envoy, Omar Daudzai, said the council would lay out the government's negotiating position for future talks with the Taliban. The council will be asked to formulate its position on a host of issues, including women's rights, Daudzai told The Associated Press on Monday. Whatever the council decides, 'that will be our position in negotiations with the Taliban,' he said. Some 2,500 people are to attend the Loya Jirga, including lawmakers and others chosen by district and provincial councils. The elections are non-negotiable and will be held in September, Daudzai said, even though Washington may be worried the vote could further undermine chances of a peace deal with the Taliban. 'A sustainable peace deal after presidential elections is very much possible, but it is close to impossible before presidential elections,' Daudzai said.
  • Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, driven from power and now languishing in a prison where his opponents were once jailed and tortured, is more vulnerable than ever to a decade-old international arrest warrant for war crimes committed in Darfur. But the military, which forced him from power after four months of mass protests, says it won't extradite him to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Even many of al-Bashir's opponents are reluctant to hand him over to the ICC, saying they prefer to bring him to justice in Sudan. Any attempt to hold him and other top officials accountable could pose risks to the transition to civilian rule sought by the protesters. The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, eventually killing an estimated 300,000 people and displacing some 2.7 million.
  • Jim Irsay believes he is a lucky man who made the grade. That’s because the Indianapolis Colts owner is now the owner of the piano John Lennon used to compose songs from the Beatles’ 1967 classic album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the Indianapolis Star reported. >> Read more trending news  Irsay tweeted Saturday that he won the piano in an auction hosted by GottaHaveRockandRoll.com.  'I’m elated to now be the steward of John’s “Sgt. Pepper” upright piano,' Irsay tweeted. 'It’s a responsibility I take seriously, with future generations in mind. #GettingThemBackTogether #Beatles' According to the auction’s website, there was only one bid on the elaborately painted upright piano, and the winning price was $575,000. According to TMZ Sports, however, the price was $718,750. It is not clear whether either price includes the buyer’s premium. >> Photos: John Lennon through the years The piano also features a plaque that says, 'On this piano was written: A Day in the Life, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Good Morning, Good Morning, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite and Many others. John Lennon. 1971.' “A Day in the Life,” which was partially about “a lucky man who made the grade,” was a piano-inspired song that was the final cut on the Beatles’ 1967 album. It ends with a slammed piano chord that ominously lingered for more than 30 seconds. The piano was made by John Broadwood & Sons and dates to around 1872, The Washington Post reported. The auction site said Lennon acquired the piano in 1966, just as the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions were beginning. Lennon, the founding member of the Beatles, was shot to death Dec. 9, 1980, outside his New York City apartment. He was 40. Irsay’s musical collection also includes an electric guitar used by Prince, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger” guitar, and the Fender Stratocaster guitar used by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, the Star reported.
  • A hospitalized Palestinian teen said Monday he was shot in his thighs by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed and blindfolded — the latest in what a leading rights group portrayed as a series of unjustified shootings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. The military said it was investigating last week's incident, which it said took place as Palestinian youths were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Osama Hajahjeh, 16, said he was trying to run from soldiers when he was shot Thursday. He said the incident began after a funeral for a school teacher in his village of Tekoa, who had been hit by a car driven by an Israeli while walking at a busy intersection. Hajahjeh said school was let out early for students to attend the funeral. After the burial, he said he was tackled by a soldier who jumped out of an olive grove and forced him to the ground. He said his hands were cuffed and his eyes covered with a cloth blindfold. After the arrest, he said he could hear Palestinian youths shouting at the soldiers, while soldiers yelled back in Arabic and Hebrew. 'I got confused' and stood up, he said. 'Immediately, I was shot in my right leg. Then I tried to run, and I was shot in my left leg and fell on the ground,' he said, speaking from his hospital bed in the West Bank town of Beit Jala south of Jerusalem. Doctors said he is in stable condition. A photo captured by a local photographer shows soldiers appearing to pursue a fleeing Hajahjeh with his eyes covered and hands tied behind his back. The shooting set off a chaotic scene. Soldiers and Palestinians shouted at each other as the teen lay on the ground. One soldier took off the teen's belt and used it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Amateur video shows a masked soldier screaming and pointing a pistol at a group of anguished Palestinians as the teen lies on the ground. Later, a soldier scuffles with residents as another soldier fires into the air. A soldier and two Palestinian men then carry away the teen to medical care. In a statement, the military said the teen had been arrested after participating in 'massive stone throwing' at Israeli forces. 'The detainee was held at a nearby spot and began running away from the force. The soldiers chased him, during which they fired toward his lower abdomen,' it said. The statement did not say anything about him being blindfolded or cuffed, but said the military offered medical treatment after the shooting and was investigating the event. Hajahjeh's father, Ali, said he was thankful a soldier gave his son medical care. But he said his son never should have been shot to begin with. 'Only a sick person would shoot a blindfolded boy,' he said. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the incident was the latest in a series of what it called unjustified shootings on Palestinian teens and young men. It says four Palestinians in their late teens or early twenties have been killed in the West Bank since early March. The army has challenged the Palestinian witness accounts, but also frequently announces investigations into disputed cases. B'Tselem has long criticized military investigations, saying they rarely result in punishments and alleging they're used to whitewash abuses by troops. 'Like the previous four cases we investigated, this is an example of Israel's reckless use of lethal fire, and the fact that the human lives of Palestinians count very little in the eyes of the army,' said Roy Yellin, a spokesman for the group. ___ AP correspondent Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem contributed reporting.
  • Turkey's interior minister says nine people have been detained in the assault of an opposition party leader, who was hit during a soldier's funeral. Several protesters threw punches at Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu at the funeral outside Ankara on Sunday. Kilicdaroglu was not injured. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Monday nine people were detained for questioning. The soldier was killed Saturday in clashes with Kurdish rebels. Soylu appeared to justify Kilicdaroglu's assault by referring to the support a pro-Kurdish gave the opposition during Turkey's March 31 municipal elections. Soylu said: 'Everyone must take sides against the (rebels).' The Republican People's Party won the mayoral elections in Ankara and Istanbul, supplanting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party. Erdogan led a divisive campaign, equating opposition parties with terrorists.
  • Kosovo families waited Monday outside a shelter, trying to talk with relatives who have been repatriated from Syria and are eager to get home. On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were brought back home with the assistance of the United States. The return of such a big group is a first for Europe. Experts say getting the families reintegrated into the society will be a hard challenge for Kosovo authorities and the families themselves. Hidajete Delia waited for hours Monday morning to meet up with her sister Dafina, 23, and her sister's two little children at the camp in Vranidoll, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Pristina, the capital. She says her sister calls the six years she spent in Syria 'hell.' 'When she was 17, my sister was deceived to go there. She has a daughter and a son,' said Delia. 'She is back and we are so happy. I do not know how to describe our happiness.' She would not discuss Dafina's husband, except to say that she knew he was killed. Other people waiting at the main entrance to the camp were not ready to talk Monday. The four alleged foreign fighters have been arrested and sent to a high-security prison. They are charged with joining war zone conflicts and are awaiting trial. Authorities say the woman and children will be released from the camp in the next few days. Inside the camp, which was guarded by special police forces, medical personnel were seen intensively working with the returnees, while groups of children played behind the wire fences. Nine of the children from Syria are orphans. Prosecutors say so far they have charged 119 people from Kosovo for joining extremist groups in Syria and Iraq as foreign fighters, which means they could face up to 15 years in jail. Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri, head of a task force handling the operation, has said authorities plan to rehabilitate and reintegrate the returnees into society. Tahiri says the government will 'strongly continue to prevent and fight violent extremism and terrorism ... (and) not allow our citizens to turn into a threat to the Western world.' The U.S. embassy in Pristina has praised Kosovo's government for setting 'an important example' in taking back its citizens from conflict zones. Since 2012, more than 400 people have left Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim nation, to join extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, but authorities say no one has left in the past three years. Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria: 30 men who are still actively supporting militant groups and 49 women and eight children related to them. ___ Llazar Semini contributed from Tirana, Albania. ___ Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini
  • British police say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since mass climate change protests began in London one week ago. Police said Monday the arrest total stands at 1,065 since Extinction Rebellion set out to paralyze parts of central London to emphasize the need for sharp reductions in carbon use. Only 53 of those people have been formally charged with criminal offenses. Police say Waterloo Bridge was reopened to vehicles overnight, having been occupied by the demonstrators since last Monday. Officials say protest sites at Oxford Street and Parliament Square had been cleared the day before. The non-violent protest group is seeking negotiations with the government on its demand to make slowing climate change a top priority.
  • Dozens of public housing advocates protested outside the gutted Notre Dame in Paris Monday to demand that France's poorest be remembered after donors pledged $1 billion to rebuild the cathedral and its destroyed roof. Around 50 people from a French homeless association gathered with placards reading '1 billion in 24 hours.' They chanted slogans directed at Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury group LVMH, who last week pledged 200 million euros ($226 million). Some chanted 'Notre Dame needs a roof, we need a roof too!' 'We are here ... to somewhat denounce these billionaires who show off by funding Notre Dame's rebuilding,' Jean-Baptiste Eyraut, the spokesman for the Right To Housing association, told The Associated Press. Paris police monitored the peaceful protest on the central Paris island on which Notre Dame is located but didn't intervene, and the protest dispersed after several hours. In addition to Arnault's pledge, another billionaire, Francois Pinault, and his son pledged 100 million euros for the reconstruction effort from their holding company Artemis, which owns the Christie's auction house and is the main shareholder in Gucci. After Easter Mass on Sunday, Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said authorities ought to 'rethink the whole island and make a place for the poor.' He added: 'The poor and the homeless are at home here (in Notre Dame)... They can always go and get warm in a church and they know they won't be kicked out.' ___ Milos Krivokapic contributed to this report
  • Greek authorities say dozens of asylum-seekers have turned up at the home address of European border agency employees helping police the border with Turkey. Police say 61 men, women and children who had just crossed illegally from Turkey headed straight for the rented flats of German and Dutch employees of the Frontex agency in the town of Orestiada before dawn Monday, and started ringing doorbells. The migrants said they were from Syria and Iraq and wanted to register for asylum. Greek police were called to handle the process. Police said it was unclear how the migrants found the Frontex employees' home address, and why they didn't go directly to a police station. Syrian and Iraqi refugees have little trouble securing asylum in Greece.
  • Two decades have passed since the Columbine High School shootings -- a tragedy that left 12 students and one teacher dead, and changed the national conversation on school violence. On April 20, 1999, two Columbine seniors arrived at the school, armed with guns, knives and homemade explosives. The pair went on a shooting rampage before taking their own lives, according to a timeline of events. In the end, 12 students (not including the shooters) and one teacher perished. Twenty-three others were wounded, some of whom were paralyzed. Many of those who weren’t physically injured suffered emotional wounds. The shooting rocked the normally sleepy community of Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, then-Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis. The tragedy ranks as one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history as well as one of the deadliest episodes of school violence. 'At times, it seems like it was just yesterday, and then other times, it seems like it was in a far distance,' DeAngelis told KUSA-TV. Friday evening, hundreds of mourners gathered at the Columbine Memorial, which stands in a park near the school, to honor those who lost their lives, KMGH-TV reported. Survivors and victims’ families have spoken to local and national media about the lasting impact the shootings have had on their lives. One of those survivors is Patrick Ireland. Now a 37-year-old father of three, Ireland was a 17-year-old student at the time of the shooting, KUSA-TV reported. He was shot and badly wounded in the school’s library. Ireland recalled to the news station the support he received after the shooting. “So many of my strong bonds and relationships were formed from everything that we went through at Columbine,” he said. “There was no playbook written for how a community should respond to this. People just opened up their hearts and their homes and were able to create that sense of belonging that really bonded the community together.” Cori Sanders lost her father, teacher Dave Sanders, in the shooting. Dave Sanders is credited with saving the lives of dozens of students as he put himself between them and the gunmen, according to KUSA-TV. 'My older daughter for many, many years would say Grandpa was in the wrong place at the wrong time,' Sanders said. 'Ten years ago, without prompting, she said he was at the right place at the right time, and I think that was really an important shift for our entire family.' DeAngelis recalled to CNN the “enormous burden” he felt to rebuild the Columbine community in the wake of the shooting. 'I tried to do everything to protect what I call the Columbine family,' he said. 'But when I would come home, I just wanted to be left alone … It cost me my marriage. My wife was saying, 'You're not the same person I married. You've changed.' And I did. I felt so much guilt.' Today, DeAngelis works with the Principal Recovery Network to provide support to school administrators and staff who have experienced gun violence on the job. He said he remains in contact with the “Columbine family.” He said years of therapy have helped him in the two decades since the shooting. 'He (the therapist) made me realize that Columbine is not going to define me. And that helped a lot,' DeAngelis said. 'I've just got to get it in my mind that it's OK.
  • 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.

Washington Insider

  • As reporters, politicians, legal experts, and members of both political parties spent the weekend going over the impact of the 448 page redacted version of the Mueller Report, it was obvious from the political and legal reactions that the fight over what Russia did in the 2016 elections - and how the Trump Campaign and President Donald Trump dealt with that - was not going to be ending anytime soon. 'There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday, as Republicans continue to press the case that the Mueller Report absolves the President of any and all wrongdoing. 'We need to go back and look at how this fake “Russia Collusion” narrative started,' said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as Republicans looked to move on from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and to focus on investigating the investigators. Meanwhile, Democrats were mulling over their own options, which certainly seem to include more hearings in Congress on what was revealed by the Mueller Report, tugging the story in the exact opposite direction. Democrats pointed to comments from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who said the Mueller Report showed a 'pervasiveness of dishonesty' inside the Trump White House. Here's some things which may get some attention in the weeks and months ahead: 1. GOP still wants answers on the Steele Dossier. If you were looking for the Special Counsel's office to detail how the Steele Dossier had factored into the Russia investigation, there was precious little in the Mueller Report. The dossier was directly mentioned 14 times, but there was no mention of it contributing anything directly to the findings of the report. The Special Counsel report says nothing about the dossier as the reason for starting a counter-intelligence investigation, instead making clear that it was information from Trump Campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos which was the genesis. 'On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government rep01ting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,' the report states on page 14. But the Mueller Report does not address one key question - was the Steele Dossier just another effort by Moscow to disrupt the 2016 elections? This is where Republicans say they want answers - they can hold hearings in the U.S. Senate, if they wish. 2. Michael Cohen again demands retraction over Prague story. One item in the Steele Dossier which has often caused a media furor is over the assertion that President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen went to the Czech Republic on some sort of mission for the President during the 2016 campaign. Cohen has always denied it, and repeated that in testimony before Congress earlier this year. 'Have you ever been to Prague?' Cohen was asked. 'I've never been to Prague,' Cohen responded without missing a beat. 'I've never been to the Czech Republic.' The Mueller Report was clear that Cohen was believed over Steele. 'Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false,' the report says on page 351. On Friday, Cohen again said he was still waiting for a retraction by McClatchy Newspapers. 3. Why did Donald Trump Jr. not answer questions from Mueller? While President Trump's son has steadfastly defended his father throughout the Mueller investigation, and testified to the Congress about the Russia probe, the Special Counsel report notes that Trump Jr. did not directly aid the Mueller investigation, specifically on the infamous Trump Tower meeting. 'The Office spoke to every participant except Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer) and Trump, Jr., the latter of whom declined to be interviewed by the Office' - then, the next two sentences are redacted, with the explanation on page 125 that grand jury information is responsible for the redacation. In a later discussion of how President Trump handled publicity about the Trump Tower meeting, there is a redaction which involves Trump Jr. on grand jury grounds - does it indicate again that Trump Jr. did not answer questions? It's not clear because of the blacked out material - but the President's son never seemingly answered questions from Mueller's team or a federal grand jury. 4. A Trump tweet that was redacted in the Mueller Report. This seems sort of crazy, but it's true. On page 363 of the report, Mueller discusses President Trump denouncing Michael Cohen, when his former personal attorney had moved to plead guilty and cooperate with the feds. 'He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion serve a full and complete sentence,' the President tweeted. Then there is a section which is blacked out under, 'Harm to Ongoing Matter.' But if you look at the footnote, it refers to a tweet by Mr. Trump, at 10:48 am on December 3, 2018. It's not hard to figure out which tweet that was, as it was one in which the President talks about Roger Stone not flipping and cooperating with the feds. I'm not a lawyer, so it makes no sense to me that printing that tweet could interfere with an ongoing case, but that's one of the redactions made by the Justice Department. 5. When will Robert Mueller talk in public? Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have already sent a letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller asking him to testify before Congress on his report. Last week, the Attorney General said he would have no opposition to Mueller testifying. Mueller operated in a much different way than previous high-profile independent prosecutors - go back to Watergate and you will see news conferences by Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski; Ken Starr spoke to the press during the Whitewater investigation. But Robert Mueller has been totally silent, ignoring questions on his few visits to Capitol Hill, doing no interviews and saying nothing in public. An effort to get some remarks from him on Sunday after church netted only a 'no comment' - which is pretty much the most we have heard from Mueller during his almost 22 months as Special Counsel.
  • 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.