All posts by MPolitics

US Judge Denies Motion by Trump Ex-Campaign Chief to Move Virginia Trial

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday denied a motion by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to move a trial set to start next week from the Washington suburb of Alexandria to the city of Roanoke, Virginia.

Manafort had requested a change of venue on the grounds that local publicity about the case would make it hard to get a fair trial. But U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis denied the request, saying a questionnaire would ensure that a panel of impartial jurors could be selected.

The trial is one of two at which Manafort must defend himself against a number of charges ranging from bank fraud to failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

Manafort’s prosecution arose out of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. One trial is set for July 25 in Alexandria, Virginia, and the second case in Washington has a Sept. 17 trial date.

Judge Ellis, who is overseeing the Alexandria case, has yet to rule on Manafort’s motion to postpone proceedings until after the Washington trial is done.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mueller filed a series of sealed motions calling for immunity for five potential witnesses in the Alexandria trial.

Ellis last week denied Manafort’s bid to stay at a jail in rural Virginia where he said he was being treated like a “VIP,” and ordered him moved to a jail in Alexandria closer to his attorneys and his home.

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EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

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EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

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Obama Urges World to Follow Mandela’s Example

Former U.S. president Barack Obama Tuesday delivered the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. He urged people in South Africa and elsewhere to follow the late Nobel Peace Prize winner’s example and combat the politics of fear and division.

In his speech, Obama bemoaned what he described as the return of the old order of things. He said there is evidence of continued racism in both the U.S. and South Africa despite Mandela’s 67 years in confronting the issue.

Turning to diminishing democracy in some parts of the world, Obama urged leaders to follow the example Mandela set.

“Madiba guided this nation through negotiation, painstakingly, reconciliation, its first fair and free elections,” Obama said, referring to Mandela by his tribal name. “We all witnessed the grace, the generosity with which he embraced former enemies, the wisdom for him to step away from power once he felt his job was complete.”

Obama said it was sad that new wealth has compounded inequalities, with the captains of industry growing increasingly detached from the people around them.

He also reflected on global events, saying America’s interference in the Middle East and the growing influence of Russia and China were some of the worrying developments.

Obama sounded a warning, saying the politics of fear, resentment and retrenchment are growing stronger at a pace never seen before. However, he said, all hope was not lost.

I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision…. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Obama’s speech was welcomed with applause, cheers and ululation.

Godfree Moketsi traveled 400 kilometers from the Limpopo Province to Johannesburg to see and hear Obama speak.

“Yah, Obama is on point,” he said. “He has been talking about capitalists who are enriching themselves. They forget about the poor and it’s not the reflection of Madiba. Economical radical transformation is what we want now and Obama touched those kinds of things.”

The other speakers of the day thanked Obama, saying he was a great inspiration to young people across the African continent.

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Obama Urges World to Follow Mandela’s Example

Former U.S. president Barack Obama Tuesday delivered the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. He urged people in South Africa and elsewhere to follow the late Nobel Peace Prize winner’s example and combat the politics of fear and division.

In his speech, Obama bemoaned what he described as the return of the old order of things. He said there is evidence of continued racism in both the U.S. and South Africa despite Mandela’s 67 years in confronting the issue.

Turning to diminishing democracy in some parts of the world, Obama urged leaders to follow the example Mandela set.

“Madiba guided this nation through negotiation, painstakingly, reconciliation, its first fair and free elections,” Obama said, referring to Mandela by his tribal name. “We all witnessed the grace, the generosity with which he embraced former enemies, the wisdom for him to step away from power once he felt his job was complete.”

Obama said it was sad that new wealth has compounded inequalities, with the captains of industry growing increasingly detached from the people around them.

He also reflected on global events, saying America’s interference in the Middle East and the growing influence of Russia and China were some of the worrying developments.

Obama sounded a warning, saying the politics of fear, resentment and retrenchment are growing stronger at a pace never seen before. However, he said, all hope was not lost.

I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision…. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Obama’s speech was welcomed with applause, cheers and ululation.

Godfree Moketsi traveled 400 kilometers from the Limpopo Province to Johannesburg to see and hear Obama speak.

“Yah, Obama is on point,” he said. “He has been talking about capitalists who are enriching themselves. They forget about the poor and it’s not the reflection of Madiba. Economical radical transformation is what we want now and Obama touched those kinds of things.”

The other speakers of the day thanked Obama, saying he was a great inspiration to young people across the African continent.

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US Muslim Candidates Run in Record Numbers But Face Backlash

A liberal woman of color with zero name recognition and little funding takes down a powerful, long serving congressman from her own political party.

When Tahirah Amatul-Wadud heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last month, the first-time candidate saw parallels with her own longshot campaign for Congress in western Massachusetts.

The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said she wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.

“We could barely stay on top of the residual love,” said Amatul-Wadud, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s lone challenger in the state’s Sept. 4 Democratic primary. “It sent a message to all of our volunteers, voters and supporters that winning is very possible.” 

From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, say Muslim groups and political observers.

Many, like Amatul-Wadud, hope to ride the surge of progressive activism within the Democratic Party that delivered Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely win and could help propel the Democrats back to power in November. 

Still, the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong anti-Muslim backlash.

In Michigan, Democrat candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed continues to face unfounded claims from a GOP rival that he has ties to the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, even though Republican and Democratic politicians alike have denounced the accusations as “conspiracy theories.”

In Rochester, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa has notified authorities of at least two instances where anti-Muslim threats were posted on her social media accounts. 

And in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook last July that prompted outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican lawmaker Abboud is hoping to replace, to come to her defense on Twitter.

“I’m a strong believer that we have to face this rhetoric,” said Abboud, who has also had right-wing militant groups the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys stage armed protests her campaign events. “We can’t ignore it or pretend like it’s a fringe element anymore. We have to let the ugly face show so that we can decide if that is us.”

There were as many as 90 Muslim-Americans running for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups say was unprecedented, at least in the post-9/11 era.

But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50, a number that still far exceeds the dozen or so that ran in 2016, said Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim-American candidates.

Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in last month’s primary for state insurance commissioner, despite raising more than $1 million. And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress, despite an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Nine candidates for Congress are still in the running, according to Jetpac’s tally. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and 10 more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor and city council. Even more are running for more modest offices like local planning board and school committee.

The next critical stretch of primaries is in August. 

In Michigan, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the Aug. 7 ballot, including El-Sayed, who could become the nation’s first Muslim governor.

In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist.

But historic wins in those and other races are far from assured, cautions Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Omar’s chances of emerging from a field of five Democratic candidates in Minnesota’s Aug. 14 primary was bolstered by a recent endorsement from the state Democratic Party, but El-Sayed is an underdog in his gubernatorial race, he said.

Other Muslim-American candidates might fare better in Michigan, which has one of the nation’s largest Arab-American populations, Skelley added.

There, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has raised more money than her Democratic rivals in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Obama administration official Fayrouz Saad is also running as a Democrat in the wide open race to succeed Republican Rep. David Trott, who isn’t seeking re-election. 

Either could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, which has only ever had two Muslim members: outgoing Ellison and Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat seeking re-election.

Saad, who served most recently as director of Detroit’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, recognizes the importance of representing her community in an era of rising Islamophobia. 

The 35-year-old broke from the conservative Republican politics of her Lebanese immigrant parents following the 9/11 attacks because she felt Arabs and Muslims were unfairly targeted. 

“I felt the way to push back against that was to be at the table,” said Saad, adding that her parents’ political leanings have also since moved to the left. “We have to step up and be voices for our communities and not wait for others to speak on behalf of us.”

But not all Muslim candidates feel that way.

In San Diego, California, 37-year-old Republican congressional candidate Omar Qudrat declined to comment on how Islamophobia has impacted his campaign, including instances when his faith have been called into question by members of his own political party.

Instead, the political newcomer, who is one of at least three Muslim Republicans running nationwide this year, provided a statement touting his main campaign issues as faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters in November: addressing San Diego’s high number of homeless military veterans, improving public education and expanding economic opportunities for city residents.

“Running for public office is about advancing the interests of your constituents and the American people,” Qudrat’s statement reads. “Nothing else.”

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US Muslim Candidates Run in Record Numbers But Face Backlash

A liberal woman of color with zero name recognition and little funding takes down a powerful, long serving congressman from her own political party.

When Tahirah Amatul-Wadud heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last month, the first-time candidate saw parallels with her own longshot campaign for Congress in western Massachusetts.

The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said she wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.

“We could barely stay on top of the residual love,” said Amatul-Wadud, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s lone challenger in the state’s Sept. 4 Democratic primary. “It sent a message to all of our volunteers, voters and supporters that winning is very possible.” 

From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, say Muslim groups and political observers.

Many, like Amatul-Wadud, hope to ride the surge of progressive activism within the Democratic Party that delivered Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely win and could help propel the Democrats back to power in November. 

Still, the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong anti-Muslim backlash.

In Michigan, Democrat candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed continues to face unfounded claims from a GOP rival that he has ties to the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, even though Republican and Democratic politicians alike have denounced the accusations as “conspiracy theories.”

In Rochester, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa has notified authorities of at least two instances where anti-Muslim threats were posted on her social media accounts. 

And in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook last July that prompted outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican lawmaker Abboud is hoping to replace, to come to her defense on Twitter.

“I’m a strong believer that we have to face this rhetoric,” said Abboud, who has also had right-wing militant groups the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys stage armed protests her campaign events. “We can’t ignore it or pretend like it’s a fringe element anymore. We have to let the ugly face show so that we can decide if that is us.”

There were as many as 90 Muslim-Americans running for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups say was unprecedented, at least in the post-9/11 era.

But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50, a number that still far exceeds the dozen or so that ran in 2016, said Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim-American candidates.

Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in last month’s primary for state insurance commissioner, despite raising more than $1 million. And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress, despite an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Nine candidates for Congress are still in the running, according to Jetpac’s tally. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and 10 more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor and city council. Even more are running for more modest offices like local planning board and school committee.

The next critical stretch of primaries is in August. 

In Michigan, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the Aug. 7 ballot, including El-Sayed, who could become the nation’s first Muslim governor.

In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist.

But historic wins in those and other races are far from assured, cautions Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Omar’s chances of emerging from a field of five Democratic candidates in Minnesota’s Aug. 14 primary was bolstered by a recent endorsement from the state Democratic Party, but El-Sayed is an underdog in his gubernatorial race, he said.

Other Muslim-American candidates might fare better in Michigan, which has one of the nation’s largest Arab-American populations, Skelley added.

There, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has raised more money than her Democratic rivals in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Obama administration official Fayrouz Saad is also running as a Democrat in the wide open race to succeed Republican Rep. David Trott, who isn’t seeking re-election. 

Either could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, which has only ever had two Muslim members: outgoing Ellison and Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat seeking re-election.

Saad, who served most recently as director of Detroit’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, recognizes the importance of representing her community in an era of rising Islamophobia. 

The 35-year-old broke from the conservative Republican politics of her Lebanese immigrant parents following the 9/11 attacks because she felt Arabs and Muslims were unfairly targeted. 

“I felt the way to push back against that was to be at the table,” said Saad, adding that her parents’ political leanings have also since moved to the left. “We have to step up and be voices for our communities and not wait for others to speak on behalf of us.”

But not all Muslim candidates feel that way.

In San Diego, California, 37-year-old Republican congressional candidate Omar Qudrat declined to comment on how Islamophobia has impacted his campaign, including instances when his faith have been called into question by members of his own political party.

Instead, the political newcomer, who is one of at least three Muslim Republicans running nationwide this year, provided a statement touting his main campaign issues as faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters in November: addressing San Diego’s high number of homeless military veterans, improving public education and expanding economic opportunities for city residents.

“Running for public office is about advancing the interests of your constituents and the American people,” Qudrat’s statement reads. “Nothing else.”

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Putin Denies Having Compromising Info on Trump, Meddling in Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied having any compromising information on U.S. President Donald Trump and called the idea that Russia meddled in 2016 U.S. presidential elections “utterly ridiculous.”

During a contentious interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, Putin said, “Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States — do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?”

The interview, which aired Monday night, came shortly after the Russian leader met with Trump in Helsinki for a highly anticipated summit.

He also refused to engage with Wallace on the subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of a dozen Russian officials.

Wallace tried to offer Putin a copy of the indictment, which names 12 officials of the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. They are being accused of working to hack the servers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and emails associated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Putin neither commented on the indictment nor accepted a copy offered by Wallace.

Eventually, Putin questioned Mueller’s probe, questioning why the former FBI chief hadn’t reached out to the Russian government for help in the investigation, pointing to a treaty between the two countries regarding assistance in criminal investigations.

“Why wouldn’t special counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement?” Putin asked. “Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed?”

Putin also denied having “kompromat” or “compromising material” on Trump.

“I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this — and I may come as rude — but before he announced that he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us,” he said.

As for the summit, Putin pronounced it “the beginning of the path” back from the West’s past efforts to isolate Russia.

“I think you see for yourself that these efforts failed, and they were never bound to succeed,” he said.

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Putin Denies Having Compromising Info on Trump, Meddling in Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied having any compromising information on U.S. President Donald Trump and called the idea that Russia meddled in 2016 U.S. presidential elections “utterly ridiculous.”

During a contentious interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, Putin said, “Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States — do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?”

The interview, which aired Monday night, came shortly after the Russian leader met with Trump in Helsinki for a highly anticipated summit.

He also refused to engage with Wallace on the subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of a dozen Russian officials.

Wallace tried to offer Putin a copy of the indictment, which names 12 officials of the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. They are being accused of working to hack the servers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and emails associated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Putin neither commented on the indictment nor accepted a copy offered by Wallace.

Eventually, Putin questioned Mueller’s probe, questioning why the former FBI chief hadn’t reached out to the Russian government for help in the investigation, pointing to a treaty between the two countries regarding assistance in criminal investigations.

“Why wouldn’t special counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement?” Putin asked. “Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed?”

Putin also denied having “kompromat” or “compromising material” on Trump.

“I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this — and I may come as rude — but before he announced that he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us,” he said.

As for the summit, Putin pronounced it “the beginning of the path” back from the West’s past efforts to isolate Russia.

“I think you see for yourself that these efforts failed, and they were never bound to succeed,” he said.

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