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Pelosi Nominated by Democrats for US House Speaker

Nancy Pelosi was nominated by fellow House Democrats to be speaker on Wednesday, but she still faces a showdown vote when the full House convenes in January. 

Pelosi entered the closed-door caucus election in an unusual position — running unopposed despite the clamor by some Democrats for new leadership. Votes were still being counted, but she was assured of victory. 

“Are there dissenters? Yes,” the California Democrat told reporters as voting was underway. “But I expect to have a powerful vote going forward.”

Pelosi was nominated as her party’s choice for speaker by Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, with no fewer than eight colleagues set to second the choice, including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights leader, and three newly elected lawmakers.

As House Democrats met in private in the Capitol, they faced a simple “yes” or “no” choice on the ballots. 

A sign of the party’s mood emerged early as the House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York as caucus chairman, elevating the charismatic 48-year-old from the Congressional Black Caucus as a new generation of leaders pushes to the forefront. 

His slim victory in that race, 123-113, over veteran Rep. Barbara Lee of California, another influential member of the Black Caucus, offered a window into the shifting landscape. Flanked by top progressive leaders, Lee made her pitch during the closed session, drawing on the record number of women, including minority women, who ran for office and are entering the new Congress.

The majority, though, went to Jeffries who used his speech to remind Democrats of their core accomplishments — from passage of the Civil Rights Act to the Affordable Care Act — before pivoting to his vision for the future. 

“I’m focused on standing up for everyone — white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American — every single American deserves us, here in the United States Congress to work, Democrats and Republicans, on their behalf to make their life better,” he said afterward.

Democrats regrouped for an afternoon session, and voting that includes various caucus positions could stretch on for hours. 

In a letter to colleagues ahead of voting, Pelosi gave a nod to those clamoring for change.

“We all agree that history is in a hurry, and we need to accelerate the pace of change in Congress,” she wrote, noting the “historic” class of new first-term lawmakers, the largest since Watergate, who led Democrats to the majority in the midterm election.

“My responsibility is to recognize the myriad of talent and tools at our disposal to take us in to the future by showcasing the idealism, intellect and imagination of our caucus,” she wrote.

Pelosi’s opponents had pledged to usher in a new era for Democrats. But one by one, the powerful California congresswoman picked off the would-be challengers and smoothed skeptics. In the end, there was no one willing, or able, to mount a serious campaign against her bid to reclaim the speaker’s job, which she held from 2007 to 2011, before the GOP took back the majority.

Pelosi still lacks the vote tally she’ll need in January, when the new Congress convenes, to ascend to the post.

“You can’t beat someone with no one,” said Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., who explained in a statement that she came to Washington eager to hear from colleagues and “hopeful that many candidates would step up to the plate.”

But “the only person that declared their intentions, spoke to me about their vision and asked me for my vote is Nancy Pelosi.”

Democrats were poised to return their entire top leadership team, including Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland in the No. 2 spot as majority leader and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina in the No. 3 spot as whip. They were running unopposed.

Plenty of newcomers were set to fill the down-ballot slots

Those trying to oust Pelosi say they always knew the internal caucus election would fall in her favor. She only needed a simple majority of Democrats, who have a 233-seat majority, with several races still undecided, to win the nomination.

But she’ll need 218 votes in January, half the full 435-seat House, which is harder, if all Republicans vote against her, as is likely — though she could win with fewer votes if some lawmakers are absent or vote present.

Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., played down the significance of Wednesday’s caucus vote and said the true fight for House speaker will occur in January.

“We’re not going to make a big play of it,” he said. “It’s Jan. 3.”

Several factions within the Democratic caucus in the House worked against Pelosi, but they failed to gain ground in recent days. Still, there seem to be more than enough votes to stop Pelosi in January. Some say only with a floor fight in view will new leaders emerge. They say there are plenty of Democrats on the bench who could step up to the job.

But Pelosi’s ability to stand unopposed Wednesday, despite the threats from within and reams of attack ads against her, showed the staying power of her brand of machine politics.

“The reality is there is no alternative,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who had signed on to the letter opposing her but reversed course after Pelosi tapped him to lead his effort to expand Medicare options to those age 50 to 65.

She was the female speaker and hopes to return to a role few men have had twice — most recently, legendary Speaker Sam Rayburn a half-century ago.

Between now and January, Pelosi will work the levers of power by doling out the many committee seat assignments, subcommittee chairmanships and other perks she is able to offer, or withhold, as incentives to win over supporters.

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Rwandan Dissident Draws US Congressional Support

U.S. congressional lawmakers are pressing Rwanda’s government against incarcerating dissident politician Diane Rwigara, who faces up to 22 years in prison after being convicted of inciting insurrection and forgery.

Diane Rwigara, a former presidential candidate, is scheduled to be sentenced December 6, along with her mother, Adeline Rwigara. Both women were tried November 7, with the elder Rwigara convicted of insurrection and promoting ethnic hatred. They had been detained by police in October 2017 and jailed for a year but released on bail last month, prior to trial. They remain at home in Kigali, the capital city, under travel restrictions.

“Peaceful political expression is not a crime. Running for office is not a crime,” the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission — a bipartisan congressional caucus named for its co-founder — said in a tweet posted earlier Monday.

The commission, which defends and promotes human rights internationally, has scheduled a December 4 briefing on Rwanda’s treatment of human rights and political prisoners, including the Rwigaras.

Diane Rwigara ran for president in 2017, challenging incumbent Paul Kagame, but was disqualified after election officials alleged that some signatures needed for her candidacy had been falsified.

In July 2017, the activist started the People Salvation Movement to “encourage Rwandans to hold their government accountable,” as she told CNN. She later was arrested on charges of incitement and fraud. Her mother also was arrested for criticizing the government in a WhatsApp exchange with another relative living outside Rwanda. 

Diane Rwigara denied the charges, saying Kagame was trying to prevent her from speaking out against injustice. In an interview with VOA after her October release, she called for the release of political prisoners and others unjustly detained.     

Kagame oversaw the central African country’s reconciliation after the 1994 genocide, but rights groups have accused him and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front of increasingly clamping down on dissent.

This report originated in VOA’s Central Africa Service.

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Rwandan Dissident Draws US Congressional Support

U.S. congressional lawmakers are pressing Rwanda’s government against incarcerating dissident politician Diane Rwigara, who faces up to 22 years in prison after being convicted of inciting insurrection and forgery.

Diane Rwigara, a former presidential candidate, is scheduled to be sentenced December 6, along with her mother, Adeline Rwigara. Both women were tried November 7, with the elder Rwigara convicted of insurrection and promoting ethnic hatred. They had been detained by police in October 2017 and jailed for a year but released on bail last month, prior to trial. They remain at home in Kigali, the capital city, under travel restrictions.

“Peaceful political expression is not a crime. Running for office is not a crime,” the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission — a bipartisan congressional caucus named for its co-founder — said in a tweet posted earlier Monday.

The commission, which defends and promotes human rights internationally, has scheduled a December 4 briefing on Rwanda’s treatment of human rights and political prisoners, including the Rwigaras.

Diane Rwigara ran for president in 2017, challenging incumbent Paul Kagame, but was disqualified after election officials alleged that some signatures needed for her candidacy had been falsified.

In July 2017, the activist started the People Salvation Movement to “encourage Rwandans to hold their government accountable,” as she told CNN. She later was arrested on charges of incitement and fraud. Her mother also was arrested for criticizing the government in a WhatsApp exchange with another relative living outside Rwanda. 

Diane Rwigara denied the charges, saying Kagame was trying to prevent her from speaking out against injustice. In an interview with VOA after her October release, she called for the release of political prisoners and others unjustly detained.     

Kagame oversaw the central African country’s reconciliation after the 1994 genocide, but rights groups have accused him and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front of increasingly clamping down on dissent.

This report originated in VOA’s Central Africa Service.

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Trump Says Manafort Pardon ‘Not Off the Table’

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a pardon for his onetime 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is facing years in prison for financial fraud, was “not off the table.” 

Trump told the New York Post in a White House interview that he had never discussed pardoning the 69-year-old longtime lobbyist. 

“But I wouldn’t take it off the table,” Trump said. “Why would I take it off the table?” 

In August, a jury in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, found Manafort guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine that predated six months of work, including three as chairman, on Trump’s successful 2016 run for the White House. 

Manafort later pleaded guilty in Washington to two new counts — conspiracy against the U.S., which involved financial crimes, and conspiracy to obstruct justice — and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump campaign links to Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice to try to thwart the probe. 

As part of his plea deal with Mueller, Manafort agreed to “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” of interest to the government. 

But in an abrupt twist this week, Mueller accused Manafort of breaching the plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an allegation Manafort’s lawyers rejected. Prosecutors did not describe what Manafort lied about but said they would spell it out in a court filing. 

Trump has for months derided Mueller’s 18-month investigation as an unending “witch hunt,” one that he suggested in the interview “can go on for the rest of [Mueller’s] life.” 

Trump claimed in the interview with the New York tabloid that Mueller had asked Manafort, former Trump political adviser Roger Stone and Stone’s associate, Jerome Corsi, to lie about their roles in the 2016 political campaign in order to implicate others in the Trump orbit. 

“If you told the truth, you go to jail,” Trump said of the prosecutors’ pressure on witnesses. 

“You know, this flipping stuff is terrible,” Trump said of witnesses asked to implicate higher-ups. “You flip and you lie and you get — the prosecutors will tell you 99 percent of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t. 

“But I had three people: Manafort, Corsi — I don’t know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded — Manafort, Corsi and Roger Stone,” Trump said. 

Corsi this week broke off negotiations on a plea deal with Mueller’s investigators. Corsi and Stone have both suggested Mueller might indict them for criminal offenses related to the 2016 campaign. 

“It’s actually very brave,” Trump said of Manafort, Stone and Corsi. “But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing.” 

Trump last week provided written answers to about two dozen questions posed by Mueller about his own actions and recollections of the campaign as he shifted from his life as a New York real estate mogul to that of a first-time candidate for public office. But it is not known whether Mueller will seek to follow up with more questions for Trump, now nearly halfway through his first term in the White House. 

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Trump Says Manafort Pardon ‘Not Off the Table’

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a pardon for his onetime 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is facing years in prison for financial fraud, was “not off the table.” 

Trump told the New York Post in a White House interview that he had never discussed pardoning the 69-year-old longtime lobbyist. 

“But I wouldn’t take it off the table,” Trump said. “Why would I take it off the table?” 

In August, a jury in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, found Manafort guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine that predated six months of work, including three as chairman, on Trump’s successful 2016 run for the White House. 

Manafort later pleaded guilty in Washington to two new counts — conspiracy against the U.S., which involved financial crimes, and conspiracy to obstruct justice — and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump campaign links to Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice to try to thwart the probe. 

As part of his plea deal with Mueller, Manafort agreed to “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” of interest to the government. 

But in an abrupt twist this week, Mueller accused Manafort of breaching the plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an allegation Manafort’s lawyers rejected. Prosecutors did not describe what Manafort lied about but said they would spell it out in a court filing. 

Trump has for months derided Mueller’s 18-month investigation as an unending “witch hunt,” one that he suggested in the interview “can go on for the rest of [Mueller’s] life.” 

Trump claimed in the interview with the New York tabloid that Mueller had asked Manafort, former Trump political adviser Roger Stone and Stone’s associate, Jerome Corsi, to lie about their roles in the 2016 political campaign in order to implicate others in the Trump orbit. 

“If you told the truth, you go to jail,” Trump said of the prosecutors’ pressure on witnesses. 

“You know, this flipping stuff is terrible,” Trump said of witnesses asked to implicate higher-ups. “You flip and you lie and you get — the prosecutors will tell you 99 percent of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t. 

“But I had three people: Manafort, Corsi — I don’t know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded — Manafort, Corsi and Roger Stone,” Trump said. 

Corsi this week broke off negotiations on a plea deal with Mueller’s investigators. Corsi and Stone have both suggested Mueller might indict them for criminal offenses related to the 2016 campaign. 

“It’s actually very brave,” Trump said of Manafort, Stone and Corsi. “But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing.” 

Trump last week provided written answers to about two dozen questions posed by Mueller about his own actions and recollections of the campaign as he shifted from his life as a New York real estate mogul to that of a first-time candidate for public office. But it is not known whether Mueller will seek to follow up with more questions for Trump, now nearly halfway through his first term in the White House. 

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Manafort Allegations Throw New Uncertainty into Russia Probe

The breakdown of a plea deal with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an explosive British news report about alleged contacts he may have had with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threw a new element of uncertainty into the Trump-Russia investigation on Tuesday.

 

A day after prosecutors accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to them, trashing his agreement to tell all in return for a lighter sentence, he adamantly denied a report in the Guardian that he had met secretly with Assange in March 2016. That’s the same month he joined the Trump campaign and that Russian hackers began an effort to penetrate the email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

 

The developments thrust Manafort back into the investigation spotlight, raising new questions about what he knows and what prosecutors say he might be attempting to conceal as they probe Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates in the campaign that sent the celebrity businessman to the White House.

 

At the same time, other figures entangled in the investigation, including Trump himself, have been scrambling to escalate attacks and allegations against prosecutors who have spent weeks working quietly behind the scenes.

 

Besides denying he’d ever met Assange, Manafort, who is currently in jail, said he’d told special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors the truth in weeks of questioning. And WikiLeaks said Manafort had never met with Assange, offering to bet London’s Guardian newspaper “a million dollars and its editor’s head.”

 

Assange, whose organization published thousands of emails stolen from Clinton’s campaign in 2016, is in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London under a claim of asylum.

 

It is unclear what prosecutors contend Manafort lied about, though they’re expected to make a public filing ahead of sentencing that could offer answers.

 

Dissolution of the plea deal could be a devastating outcome for a defendant who suddenly admitted guilt last September after months of maintaining his innocence and who bet on his cooperation getting him a shorter sentence. But it’s also a potentially major setback for investigators given that Manafort steered the campaign during a vital stretch of 2016, including a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

 

The prosecutors’ terse three-page filing underscored their exasperation not only at Manafort’s alleged deception but also at the loss of an important witness present for key moments under investigation, including a Trump Tower meeting at which Trump’s oldest son expected to receive “dirt” about Democrat Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

 

“The fact is, they wanted his cooperation. They wanted him to truthfully reveal what he knew, so they’re not getting what they wanted,”said Washington defense lawyer Peter Zeidenberg. “This isn’t like a good development where they’re clapping their hands and saying, ‘Now we get to crush this guy.'”

 

Manafort’s motivation, if indeed he lied to Mueller’s team, also was unclear.

 

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a telephone interview that Trump and his lawyers agree a presidential pardon should not be considered “now.”

 

However, he added, “The president could consider it at an appropriate time as Manafort has the same rights as any American.”

The Monday night revelation of the Mueller filing on Manafort came at a delicate time for investigators, who have gone months without any new charges and continue to probe possible links between Trump associates and WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that released tens of thousands of Democratic emails stolen by Russian spies during the 2016 campaign.

 

As Trump continues raging against the investigation — he tweeted Tuesday that Mueller was doing “TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice system” — others in the crosshairs have filled the vacuum of Mueller’s recent silence by publicly declaring their innocence, accusing prosecutors of coercing testimony or tempting fate by turning aside negotiations.

An associate of Trump confidant Roger Stone is contesting a grand jury subpoena in court. Jerome Corsi said Monday he was rejecting a plea offer and told CNN that being questioned was like being “interrogated as a POW in the Korean War.”

Stone, under investigation himself for connections to WikiLeaks, has repeatedly disparaged Mueller’s investigation and said Monday his friend Corsi was at risk for prosecution “not for lying but for refusing to lie.”

 

That statement called to mind a Trump tweet from earlier this month in which he stated without evidence that Mueller’s investigators were “screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.”

 

Manafort, for his part, had been quiet in public since pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy against the United States. He has met repeatedly since then with investigators.

 

He remained in the spotlight Tuesday when the Guardian newspaper published a report saying he had secretly met Assange within days or weeks of being brought aboard the Trump campaign. The report suggested a direct connection between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.

The Guardian, which did not identify the sources for its reporting, said Manafort met with Assange “around March 2016” — the same month that Russian hackers began their all-out effort to steal emails from the Clinton campaign.

 

Manafort called the story “totally false and deliberately libelous,” saying in a statement that he had never met Assange or anyone close to him.

The Guardian cited unidentified sources as saying Manafort first met Assange at the embassy in 2013, a year after Assange took refuge there to avoid being extradited to Sweden over sex crime allegations.

 

The newspaper said Manafort returned in 2015 and 2016 and that its sources had “tentatively dated” the final visit to March.

 

There was no detail on what might have been discussed.

 

The Trump campaign announced Manafort’s hiring on March 29, 2016, and he served as the convention manager tasked with lining up delegates for the Republican National Convention. He was promoted to chairman that May.

An AP investigation into Russian hacking showed that government-aligned cyberspies began an aggressive effort to penetrate the Clinton campaign’s email accounts on March 10, 2016.

 

Justice Department prosecutors in Virginia recently inadvertently disclosed the existence of sealed criminal charges against Assange, though it’s unclear what the case involves. Prosecutors were in court Tuesday arguing against unsealing any charge.

 

Meanwhile, a judge may soon set a sentencing date for Manafort whose hopes for leniency now appear dashed.

 

“The cooperating defendant usually is very aware of what’s at stake,” said Shanlon Wu, who represented Manafort’s onetime co-defendant Rick Gates. “What I always say to any client of mine who’s contemplating that — there is no going back.”

 

“It’s like being a little bit pregnant,” he added. “There’s no such thing.”

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Manafort Allegations Throw New Uncertainty into Russia Probe

The breakdown of a plea deal with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an explosive British news report about alleged contacts he may have had with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threw a new element of uncertainty into the Trump-Russia investigation on Tuesday.

 

A day after prosecutors accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to them, trashing his agreement to tell all in return for a lighter sentence, he adamantly denied a report in the Guardian that he had met secretly with Assange in March 2016. That’s the same month he joined the Trump campaign and that Russian hackers began an effort to penetrate the email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

 

The developments thrust Manafort back into the investigation spotlight, raising new questions about what he knows and what prosecutors say he might be attempting to conceal as they probe Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates in the campaign that sent the celebrity businessman to the White House.

 

At the same time, other figures entangled in the investigation, including Trump himself, have been scrambling to escalate attacks and allegations against prosecutors who have spent weeks working quietly behind the scenes.

 

Besides denying he’d ever met Assange, Manafort, who is currently in jail, said he’d told special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors the truth in weeks of questioning. And WikiLeaks said Manafort had never met with Assange, offering to bet London’s Guardian newspaper “a million dollars and its editor’s head.”

 

Assange, whose organization published thousands of emails stolen from Clinton’s campaign in 2016, is in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London under a claim of asylum.

 

It is unclear what prosecutors contend Manafort lied about, though they’re expected to make a public filing ahead of sentencing that could offer answers.

 

Dissolution of the plea deal could be a devastating outcome for a defendant who suddenly admitted guilt last September after months of maintaining his innocence and who bet on his cooperation getting him a shorter sentence. But it’s also a potentially major setback for investigators given that Manafort steered the campaign during a vital stretch of 2016, including a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

 

The prosecutors’ terse three-page filing underscored their exasperation not only at Manafort’s alleged deception but also at the loss of an important witness present for key moments under investigation, including a Trump Tower meeting at which Trump’s oldest son expected to receive “dirt” about Democrat Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

 

“The fact is, they wanted his cooperation. They wanted him to truthfully reveal what he knew, so they’re not getting what they wanted,”said Washington defense lawyer Peter Zeidenberg. “This isn’t like a good development where they’re clapping their hands and saying, ‘Now we get to crush this guy.'”

 

Manafort’s motivation, if indeed he lied to Mueller’s team, also was unclear.

 

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a telephone interview that Trump and his lawyers agree a presidential pardon should not be considered “now.”

 

However, he added, “The president could consider it at an appropriate time as Manafort has the same rights as any American.”

The Monday night revelation of the Mueller filing on Manafort came at a delicate time for investigators, who have gone months without any new charges and continue to probe possible links between Trump associates and WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that released tens of thousands of Democratic emails stolen by Russian spies during the 2016 campaign.

 

As Trump continues raging against the investigation — he tweeted Tuesday that Mueller was doing “TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice system” — others in the crosshairs have filled the vacuum of Mueller’s recent silence by publicly declaring their innocence, accusing prosecutors of coercing testimony or tempting fate by turning aside negotiations.

An associate of Trump confidant Roger Stone is contesting a grand jury subpoena in court. Jerome Corsi said Monday he was rejecting a plea offer and told CNN that being questioned was like being “interrogated as a POW in the Korean War.”

Stone, under investigation himself for connections to WikiLeaks, has repeatedly disparaged Mueller’s investigation and said Monday his friend Corsi was at risk for prosecution “not for lying but for refusing to lie.”

 

That statement called to mind a Trump tweet from earlier this month in which he stated without evidence that Mueller’s investigators were “screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.”

 

Manafort, for his part, had been quiet in public since pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy against the United States. He has met repeatedly since then with investigators.

 

He remained in the spotlight Tuesday when the Guardian newspaper published a report saying he had secretly met Assange within days or weeks of being brought aboard the Trump campaign. The report suggested a direct connection between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.

The Guardian, which did not identify the sources for its reporting, said Manafort met with Assange “around March 2016” — the same month that Russian hackers began their all-out effort to steal emails from the Clinton campaign.

 

Manafort called the story “totally false and deliberately libelous,” saying in a statement that he had never met Assange or anyone close to him.

The Guardian cited unidentified sources as saying Manafort first met Assange at the embassy in 2013, a year after Assange took refuge there to avoid being extradited to Sweden over sex crime allegations.

 

The newspaper said Manafort returned in 2015 and 2016 and that its sources had “tentatively dated” the final visit to March.

 

There was no detail on what might have been discussed.

 

The Trump campaign announced Manafort’s hiring on March 29, 2016, and he served as the convention manager tasked with lining up delegates for the Republican National Convention. He was promoted to chairman that May.

An AP investigation into Russian hacking showed that government-aligned cyberspies began an aggressive effort to penetrate the Clinton campaign’s email accounts on March 10, 2016.

 

Justice Department prosecutors in Virginia recently inadvertently disclosed the existence of sealed criminal charges against Assange, though it’s unclear what the case involves. Prosecutors were in court Tuesday arguing against unsealing any charge.

 

Meanwhile, a judge may soon set a sentencing date for Manafort whose hopes for leniency now appear dashed.

 

“The cooperating defendant usually is very aware of what’s at stake,” said Shanlon Wu, who represented Manafort’s onetime co-defendant Rick Gates. “What I always say to any client of mine who’s contemplating that — there is no going back.”

 

“It’s like being a little bit pregnant,” he added. “There’s no such thing.”

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Republican Hyde-Smith Wins Divisive Mississippi Runoff

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith won a divisive Mississippi runoff Tuesday, surviving a video-recorded remark decried as racist and defeating a former federal official who hoped to become the state’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

 

The runoff was rocked by the video, in which Hyde-Smith said of a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” A separate video showed her talking about “liberal folks” and making it “just a little more difficult” for them to vote.

 

The comments by Hyde-Smith, who is white, made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a theme of the runoff and spurred many black voters to return to the polls Tuesday.

 

In the aftermath of the video, Republicans worried they could face a repeat of last year’s special election in Alabama, in which a flawed Republican candidate handed Democrats a reliable GOP Senate seat in the Deep South. The GOP pumped resources into Mississippi, and President Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in Mississippi on Monday.

 

The contest caps a campaign season that exposed persistent racial divisions in America — and the willingness of some political candidates to exploit them to win elections. With Hyde-Smith’s victory, Republicans control 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats. The GOP lost control of the House, where Democrats will assume the majority in January.

 

In the final weeks of the runoff, Hyde-Smith’s campaign said the remark about making voting difficult was a joke. She said the “public hanging” comment was “an exaggerated expression of regard” for a fellow cattle rancher. During a televised debate nine days after the video was publicized, she apologized to “anyone that was offended by my comments,” but also said the remark was used as a “weapon” against her.

Democratic opponent Mike Espy, 64, a former U.S. agriculture secretary, replied: “I don’t know what’s in your heart, but I know what came out of your mouth.”

Addressing his supporters Tuesday night, Espy said: “While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi. We built the largest grassroots organization our state has seen in a generation.”

 

The “public hanging” comment also resonated with his supporters.

 

Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced.

 

Hyde-Smith was in her second term as Mississippi agriculture commissioner when Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to temporarily succeed GOP Sen. Thad Cochran. The longtime lawmaker retired in April amid health concerns.

 

The win makes Hyde-Smith, 59, the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

 

Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates Nov. 6 to advance to Tuesday’s runoff. Her win allows her to complete the final two years of Cochran’s six-year term.

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Republican Hyde-Smith Wins Divisive Mississippi Runoff

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith won a divisive Mississippi runoff Tuesday, surviving a video-recorded remark decried as racist and defeating a former federal official who hoped to become the state’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

 

The runoff was rocked by the video, in which Hyde-Smith said of a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” A separate video showed her talking about “liberal folks” and making it “just a little more difficult” for them to vote.

 

The comments by Hyde-Smith, who is white, made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a theme of the runoff and spurred many black voters to return to the polls Tuesday.

 

In the aftermath of the video, Republicans worried they could face a repeat of last year’s special election in Alabama, in which a flawed Republican candidate handed Democrats a reliable GOP Senate seat in the Deep South. The GOP pumped resources into Mississippi, and President Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in Mississippi on Monday.

 

The contest caps a campaign season that exposed persistent racial divisions in America — and the willingness of some political candidates to exploit them to win elections. With Hyde-Smith’s victory, Republicans control 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats. The GOP lost control of the House, where Democrats will assume the majority in January.

 

In the final weeks of the runoff, Hyde-Smith’s campaign said the remark about making voting difficult was a joke. She said the “public hanging” comment was “an exaggerated expression of regard” for a fellow cattle rancher. During a televised debate nine days after the video was publicized, she apologized to “anyone that was offended by my comments,” but also said the remark was used as a “weapon” against her.

Democratic opponent Mike Espy, 64, a former U.S. agriculture secretary, replied: “I don’t know what’s in your heart, but I know what came out of your mouth.”

Addressing his supporters Tuesday night, Espy said: “While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi. We built the largest grassroots organization our state has seen in a generation.”

 

The “public hanging” comment also resonated with his supporters.

 

Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced.

 

Hyde-Smith was in her second term as Mississippi agriculture commissioner when Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to temporarily succeed GOP Sen. Thad Cochran. The longtime lawmaker retired in April amid health concerns.

 

The win makes Hyde-Smith, 59, the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

 

Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates Nov. 6 to advance to Tuesday’s runoff. Her win allows her to complete the final two years of Cochran’s six-year term.

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Report: Trump Says ‘Not Even a Little Bit Happy’ with Fed’s Powell

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday kept up his criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, saying rising interest rates and other Fed policies were damaging the U.S. economy, the Washington Post said.

“So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay,” the Post quoted Trump as saying in an interview, referring to the man he picked last year to lead the Fed.

“Not even a little bit. And I’m not blaming anybody, but I’m just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”

In recent months, the Republican president has repeatedly criticized Powell and the Fed’s interest rate increases that he said was making it more expensive for his administration to finance its escalating deficits. Trump has called the Fed “crazy” and “ridiculous.”

“I’m doing deals, and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump told the Post on Tuesday. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

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