Justice Dept. Report: Fired FBI Deputy Director Misled Investigators

A Justice Department report accuses fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe of lacking candor and misleading investigators.

The report by the Justice Department inspector general’s office claims that McCabe misled investigators about his role in a news media disclosure about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton just days before the 2016 election.

McCabe was fired last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the recommendation of FBI officials who had knowledge of the inspector general’s findings.

The report, released to lawmakers and the public Friday, alleges that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak with a Wall Street Journal reporter about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. It said McCabe later misled FBI officials when questioned about his actions.

McCabe denies misleading investigators.

McCabe says when he believed his answers to the inspector general were misunderstood, he went back and tried to correct them. His lawyer says the inspector general unfairly tried to conclude its work before McCabe could retire with a full pension.

In a statement Friday, an attorney for McCabe disputed the Justice Department findings and said the rush to fire him was “unprecedented, unseemly and cruel.”

McCabe was fired two days before he was planning to retire, potentially denying him part or all of his pension.

McCabe is close to former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump in May 2017. McCabe has called his firing “retribution” and said he was singled out because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath” of Comey’s firing.

Trump has publicly criticized McCabe for “lies and corruption” and wrote on Twitter that his firing was a “great day for Democracy.”

On Friday, Trump tweeted that “McCabe was totally controlled by Comey” and that the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia was “made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”

McCabe has fired back, saying his dismissal was part of the Trump administration’s “ongoing war” on the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Mueller, who was appointed after Comey was fired, is investigating whether Russia attempted to meddle in the election. He also is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including firing Comey, constitute obstruction of justice.

Some information is this report was provided by The Associated Press.

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Ambassador Haley: Trump Not Yet Decided on Syria Response

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Friday that President Donald Trump is still weighing options in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria that Washington believes President Bashar al-Assad carried out.

“Our president has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria,” Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “But should the United States and our allies decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree. It will be in defense of a bedrock international norm that benefits all nations.”

Haley told reporters on her way into the council session that she would be returning to Washington on Friday for more meetings on a potential response.

“I am unbelievably proud of how President Trump has looked at the information, analyzed, not let anyone rush him into this, because he has said from the beginning — we have to know when we’re right, we have to know all the information, we have to know that there’s proof and we have to know that we’re taking every precaution necessary should we take action,” she told reporters.

At least 40 people were killed and hundreds sickened in last week’s attack in Douma, in eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.

“At some point, you have to do something,” Haley said. “At some point, you have to say enough.”

Syria has denied using chemical weapons, but Haley criticized the Syrian president for the repeated use of chlorine and sarin gas on civilians.

“Let’s be clear: Assad’s most recent use of poison gas against the people of Douma was not his first, second, third, or even 49th use of chemical weapons,” the U.N. ambassador said. “The United States estimates that Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times. Public estimates are as high as 200.”

Russia

She chastised Russia for steadfastly protecting Assad from accountability with its Security Council veto and for not living up to its obligations in making sure Syria gave up all of its chemical weapons under a 2013 deal.

“Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and its cover-ups,” Haley said.

Russia called Friday’s Security Council meeting, the fourth day this week it has discussed Syria. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said his government has worked “robustly and fully” to de-escalate tensions in international relations. He said Moscow sponsored and supported the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sending a fact-finding mission to Douma to investigate, but the U.S., Britain and France had rejected it.

“Thereby, these countries have demonstrated they have no interest in an investigation,” Nebenzia said. “The sole thing they have an interest in is to oust the Syrian government and, more broadly, to deter and contain the Russian Federation.”

A measure put forward by Moscow supporting an OPCW investigation, but not a mechanism to attribute blame for chemical attacks, failed to pass the Security Council on Tuesday, garnering support from six of the 15 council members.

OPCW inspectors have arrived in Syria and are scheduled to begin collecting samples Saturday in Douma.

Britain, France

The United States has been in close consultations with allies Britain and France on what response it should take.

French envoy Francois Delattre said Assad’s government had “reached a point of no return” with its most recent chemical weapons attack.

“This is a situation to which the world must provide robust, united and steadfast response and this is our responsibility,” Delattre told the council Friday.

He said France would “shoulder its responsibility to end an intolerable threat to our collective security,” and ensure respect for international law and Security Council resolutions.

“The use of chemical weapons cannot be allowed to go unchallenged,” said British Ambassador Karen Pierce. “The British Cabinet has agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, and we will continue to work with our friends and allies to coordinate an international response to that end.”

As the international community waits to see if there will be a military response, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the dangers of escalation.

“Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation,” he said. “In my contacts with you — especially with the Permanent Members of the Security Council — I have been reiterating my deep concerns about the risks of the current impasse and stressed the need to avoid the situation spiraling out of control.”

Guterres added that the situation in Syria is now the “most serious threat to international peace and security.”

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Ambassador Haley: Trump Not Yet Decided on Syria Response

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Friday that President Donald Trump is still weighing options in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria that Washington believes President Bashar al-Assad carried out.

“Our president has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria,” Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “But should the United States and our allies decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree. It will be in defense of a bedrock international norm that benefits all nations.”

Haley told reporters on her way into the council session that she would be returning to Washington on Friday for more meetings on a potential response.

“I am unbelievably proud of how President Trump has looked at the information, analyzed, not let anyone rush him into this, because he has said from the beginning — we have to know when we’re right, we have to know all the information, we have to know that there’s proof and we have to know that we’re taking every precaution necessary should we take action,” she told reporters.

At least 40 people were killed and hundreds sickened in last week’s attack in Douma, in eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.

“At some point, you have to do something,” Haley said. “At some point, you have to say enough.”

Syria has denied using chemical weapons, but Haley criticized the Syrian president for the repeated use of chlorine and sarin gas on civilians.

“Let’s be clear: Assad’s most recent use of poison gas against the people of Douma was not his first, second, third, or even 49th use of chemical weapons,” the U.N. ambassador said. “The United States estimates that Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times. Public estimates are as high as 200.”

Russia

She chastised Russia for steadfastly protecting Assad from accountability with its Security Council veto and for not living up to its obligations in making sure Syria gave up all of its chemical weapons under a 2013 deal.

“Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and its cover-ups,” Haley said.

Russia called Friday’s Security Council meeting, the fourth day this week it has discussed Syria. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said his government has worked “robustly and fully” to de-escalate tensions in international relations. He said Moscow sponsored and supported the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sending a fact-finding mission to Douma to investigate, but the U.S., Britain and France had rejected it.

“Thereby, these countries have demonstrated they have no interest in an investigation,” Nebenzia said. “The sole thing they have an interest in is to oust the Syrian government and, more broadly, to deter and contain the Russian Federation.”

A measure put forward by Moscow supporting an OPCW investigation, but not a mechanism to attribute blame for chemical attacks, failed to pass the Security Council on Tuesday, garnering support from six of the 15 council members.

OPCW inspectors have arrived in Syria and are scheduled to begin collecting samples Saturday in Douma.

Britain, France

The United States has been in close consultations with allies Britain and France on what response it should take.

French envoy Francois Delattre said Assad’s government had “reached a point of no return” with its most recent chemical weapons attack.

“This is a situation to which the world must provide robust, united and steadfast response and this is our responsibility,” Delattre told the council Friday.

He said France would “shoulder its responsibility to end an intolerable threat to our collective security,” and ensure respect for international law and Security Council resolutions.

“The use of chemical weapons cannot be allowed to go unchallenged,” said British Ambassador Karen Pierce. “The British Cabinet has agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, and we will continue to work with our friends and allies to coordinate an international response to that end.”

As the international community waits to see if there will be a military response, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the dangers of escalation.

“Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation,” he said. “In my contacts with you — especially with the Permanent Members of the Security Council — I have been reiterating my deep concerns about the risks of the current impasse and stressed the need to avoid the situation spiraling out of control.”

Guterres added that the situation in Syria is now the “most serious threat to international peace and security.”

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What Does Japan Expect from Talks with US Next Week?

Trade and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs will be the key topics for Japan during U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week.

Earlier this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke on Japan’s priorities for the upcoming meeting. He said addressing how to handle the North Korean missile situation is high on the agenda, as is trade.

“We anticipate discussions on the importance of free trade — since that is of interest to us,” he said.

Trump hit Japan and many other countries with aluminum and steel trade restrictions last month. Japan has been asking that the restrictions to be lifted.

“The U.S. wants Japan to complain about the tariff and then wants to talk about a bilateral treaty,” said Hajime Izumi, professor of international relations at Tokyo International University. “From the Japan side, they aren’t interested in doing a bilateral FTA [Free Trade Agreement]. This is not going to be easy.”

That’s because Japan has just signed on to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other countries. Critics say Abe is unlikely to coax Trump to reconsider joining the trade pact, and Trump may see similar results on a bilateral proposal.

Another key topic: the North Korea missile situation. Critics say Japan will remind Trump to negotiate on all types of missiles, and not just long-range missiles that would reach American soil.

“While the U.S. is trying to address the issue of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, from the Japanese perspective, what is more important is the medium-range ballistic missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers, capable of reaching most parts of Japan, including Tokyo,” said Narushige Michishita, professor of securities and international studies, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

Meanwhile, some Japanese analysts observed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last month indicated North Korea’s nervousness about the upcoming talks with Washington.

“Eventually, [the U.S. and North Korea] may conclude that all the diplomatic efforts have been exhausted,” said Kunihiko Miyake, president of the Foreign Policy Institute in Tokyo. “That’s when the Americans might or could contemplate a possibly harsher, more physical measure against North Korea. That’s what North Koreans are most concerned about.”

Miyake raises the possibility of a meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as indicated in an envoy meeting with top Russian diplomats April 10.

“[North Korea is] fully aware of the military disadvantages vis-à-vis against the Americans,” said Miyake. “That’s why [North Korea needs] to talk to the Russians and Chinese to prevent that kind of worst-case scenario from happening.”

Miyake said North Koreans had nothing to offer to Russia or China but “their existence, as a buffer against the U.S. control over the Korean peninsula.”

Abduction issue

Many critics say a sure topic will be the Japan abduction issue, a domestic priority rivaling the North Korean missiles in importance.

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted in 2002 that its agents had abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970 and ’80s. Several were returned, but Tokyo has since demanded more information.

“There is a possibility some of [the abductees are] still there, living in North Korea,” said Michishita. “So we have to take them back. It’s a real issue.”

Another point critics are betting on is that true denuclearization of North Korea will be a long way away, even if a Trump-Kim meeting happens and even if North Korea says it will denuclearize.

“Trump must have been informed or convinced by now that the word ‘denuclearization’ has many meanings,” Miyake said. “Denuclearization of the North means dismantling North Korean missiles, but denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — which was agreed upon with China — means they want to basically kick the U.S. out of the Korean peninsula.”

Trump and Abe are expected to agree to continue applying maximum pressure against North Korea until talks produce meaningful progress.

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What Does Japan Expect from Talks with US Next Week?

Trade and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs will be the key topics for Japan during U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week.

Earlier this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke on Japan’s priorities for the upcoming meeting. He said addressing how to handle the North Korean missile situation is high on the agenda, as is trade.

“We anticipate discussions on the importance of free trade — since that is of interest to us,” he said.

Trump hit Japan and many other countries with aluminum and steel trade restrictions last month. Japan has been asking that the restrictions to be lifted.

“The U.S. wants Japan to complain about the tariff and then wants to talk about a bilateral treaty,” said Hajime Izumi, professor of international relations at Tokyo International University. “From the Japan side, they aren’t interested in doing a bilateral FTA [Free Trade Agreement]. This is not going to be easy.”

That’s because Japan has just signed on to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other countries. Critics say Abe is unlikely to coax Trump to reconsider joining the trade pact, and Trump may see similar results on a bilateral proposal.

Another key topic: the North Korea missile situation. Critics say Japan will remind Trump to negotiate on all types of missiles, and not just long-range missiles that would reach American soil.

“While the U.S. is trying to address the issue of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, from the Japanese perspective, what is more important is the medium-range ballistic missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers, capable of reaching most parts of Japan, including Tokyo,” said Narushige Michishita, professor of securities and international studies, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

Meanwhile, some Japanese analysts observed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last month indicated North Korea’s nervousness about the upcoming talks with Washington.

“Eventually, [the U.S. and North Korea] may conclude that all the diplomatic efforts have been exhausted,” said Kunihiko Miyake, president of the Foreign Policy Institute in Tokyo. “That’s when the Americans might or could contemplate a possibly harsher, more physical measure against North Korea. That’s what North Koreans are most concerned about.”

Miyake raises the possibility of a meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as indicated in an envoy meeting with top Russian diplomats April 10.

“[North Korea is] fully aware of the military disadvantages vis-à-vis against the Americans,” said Miyake. “That’s why [North Korea needs] to talk to the Russians and Chinese to prevent that kind of worst-case scenario from happening.”

Miyake said North Koreans had nothing to offer to Russia or China but “their existence, as a buffer against the U.S. control over the Korean peninsula.”

Abduction issue

Many critics say a sure topic will be the Japan abduction issue, a domestic priority rivaling the North Korean missiles in importance.

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted in 2002 that its agents had abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970 and ’80s. Several were returned, but Tokyo has since demanded more information.

“There is a possibility some of [the abductees are] still there, living in North Korea,” said Michishita. “So we have to take them back. It’s a real issue.”

Another point critics are betting on is that true denuclearization of North Korea will be a long way away, even if a Trump-Kim meeting happens and even if North Korea says it will denuclearize.

“Trump must have been informed or convinced by now that the word ‘denuclearization’ has many meanings,” Miyake said. “Denuclearization of the North means dismantling North Korean missiles, but denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — which was agreed upon with China — means they want to basically kick the U.S. out of the Korean peninsula.”

Trump and Abe are expected to agree to continue applying maximum pressure against North Korea until talks produce meaningful progress.

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Trump, Cohen Lawyers Fight to Shield Items Seized in FBI Raid

Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge in New York on Friday that they believe some of the documents and devices seized from Cohen during an FBI raid are protected by attorney-client privilege, and they want a chance to review the items before prosecutors get to examine them.

In the hour-long court hearing, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said Cohen’s lawyers have asked to “take the first cut at identifying documents that are relevant or not relevant to the investigation.”

An attorney for the president, Joanna Hendon, appeared as well, telling the judge Trump has “an acute interest in this matter.”

“This is of most concern to him. I think the public is a close second. And anyone who has ever hired a lawyer a close third,” she said.

Federal agents seized records on a variety of subjects in raids Monday on Cohen’s Manhattan office, apartment and hotel room, including payments that were made in 2016 to women who might have damaging information about Trump.

The court hearing Friday didn’t provide new insight into why agents seized the items, but the judge, prosecutors and the attorneys all spoke openly about an investigation that previously has been shrouded in secrecy.

Wood adjourned the hearing until 2 p.m. It was unclear whether that session will be open or closed to the public. The judge said sealing the proceedings might be needed to protect “the privacy interests of potentially innocent people.”

FBI and Justice Department officials have refused to say what crimes they are investigating, but people familiar with the investigation have told The Associated Press the search warrant used in the raids sought bank records, business records on Cohen’s dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen’s communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments made to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, and a porn actress, Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. Both women say they had affairs with Trump.

Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was in the audience for the court session and asked the judge to be heard at 2 p.m.

“We have every reason to believe that some of the documents seized relate to my client,” he said.

Cohen has denied wrongdoing.

Trump has called the raids a “witch hunt,” “an attack on our country,” and a violation of rules that ordinarily make attorney client communications confidential.

Those confidentiality rules can be set aside under certain circumstances if investigators have evidence that a crime has been committed.

Public corruption prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan are trying to determine, according to one person familiar with the investigation, if there was any fraud related to payments to McDougal and Clifford.

McDougal was paid $150,000 in the summer of 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer under an agreement that gave it the exclusive rights to her story, which it never published.Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump.

The White House has consistently said Trump denies either affair.

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Trump, Cohen Lawyers Fight to Shield Items Seized in FBI Raid

Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge in New York on Friday that they believe some of the documents and devices seized from Cohen during an FBI raid are protected by attorney-client privilege, and they want a chance to review the items before prosecutors get to examine them.

In the hour-long court hearing, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said Cohen’s lawyers have asked to “take the first cut at identifying documents that are relevant or not relevant to the investigation.”

An attorney for the president, Joanna Hendon, appeared as well, telling the judge Trump has “an acute interest in this matter.”

“This is of most concern to him. I think the public is a close second. And anyone who has ever hired a lawyer a close third,” she said.

Federal agents seized records on a variety of subjects in raids Monday on Cohen’s Manhattan office, apartment and hotel room, including payments that were made in 2016 to women who might have damaging information about Trump.

The court hearing Friday didn’t provide new insight into why agents seized the items, but the judge, prosecutors and the attorneys all spoke openly about an investigation that previously has been shrouded in secrecy.

Wood adjourned the hearing until 2 p.m. It was unclear whether that session will be open or closed to the public. The judge said sealing the proceedings might be needed to protect “the privacy interests of potentially innocent people.”

FBI and Justice Department officials have refused to say what crimes they are investigating, but people familiar with the investigation have told The Associated Press the search warrant used in the raids sought bank records, business records on Cohen’s dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen’s communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments made to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, and a porn actress, Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. Both women say they had affairs with Trump.

Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was in the audience for the court session and asked the judge to be heard at 2 p.m.

“We have every reason to believe that some of the documents seized relate to my client,” he said.

Cohen has denied wrongdoing.

Trump has called the raids a “witch hunt,” “an attack on our country,” and a violation of rules that ordinarily make attorney client communications confidential.

Those confidentiality rules can be set aside under certain circumstances if investigators have evidence that a crime has been committed.

Public corruption prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan are trying to determine, according to one person familiar with the investigation, if there was any fraud related to payments to McDougal and Clifford.

McDougal was paid $150,000 in the summer of 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer under an agreement that gave it the exclusive rights to her story, which it never published.Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump.

The White House has consistently said Trump denies either affair.

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