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Saudis Shocked by Official Flip-Flop on Khashoggi…




Saudis Shocked by Official Flip-Flop on Khashoggi...

(Third column, 2nd story, link)


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Big numbers of illegals arriving at AZ border…


PHOENIX (AP) – Large groups of Central American migrants continue to surrender to Border Patrol agents in Arizona with the arrival of one recent group numbering 108 captured in dramatic video images, authorities said Friday.

The agency said camera operators monitoring movement Thursday afternoon along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Yuma area captured images of a large number of people being dropped over the border wall east of the San Luis Port of Entry.

It said the smugglers never crossed the border while they helped migrants over the wall in four places. The group was comprised of 100 Guatemalans and eight Hondurans. They included 52 children, nine of them 5 years and younger.

The mass crossing occurred while another drama was being played out much farther south as a caravan of several thousand Central American migrants traveled northbound, prompting President Donald Trump to warn Mexico to stop them from reaching the U.S. border.

Arizona Border Patrol agents for weeks have been overwhelmed by the arrival of large numbers of Central American migrants traveling in families.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona earlier this month began releasing hundreds of people to await court dates, saying it didn’t have the capacity to hold an “incredibly high volume” of migrant families showing up at the border.

“Coordinated smuggling of large numbers of Central Americans is taking place daily here,” Yuma Sector Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Porvaznik said in a written statement.

Before the arrival of the latest group, authorities said that collectively more than 1,400 migrants had been left by smugglers in the broiling desert – or in one case in a drenching thunderstorm – in remote areas by Arizona’s border with Mexico since Aug. 20. One group was as large as 275 people.

Unlike Texas, where people turn themselves in on the banks of the Rio Grande, the smugglers near Arizona have been dumping groups of migrant families near Yuma, or farther to the east on a remote dirt road running along the southern limit of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near the Lukeville Port of Entry.

While Mexican men traveling without relatives once made up the bulk of the migrants, Guatemalans and other Central Americans traveling in families or as unaccompanied minors are now the norm.



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'Oldest Working Man In Texas' Turns 101…


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Considered the oldest man still working in Texas, Chester Hollingsworth celebrated his 101st birthday today.

“Today is my birthday. October the 18th 1917,” he said with a smile.

The World War II veteran, Dallas entrepreneur and beloved friend and family man received a special birthday message from his company.

Hollingsworth helped start what’s now known as the Dallas Flooring Warehouse. He tried retiring twice before, but kept coming back and now spends two days a week working there.

101 bday Oldest Working Man In Texas Turns 101, Still Drinks 2 Dr. Peppers A Day

Chester Hollingsworth is a World War II veteran, Dallas entrepreneur and beloved friend and family man. (photo credit: CBS 11 News)

“I just like to be with people. I don’t mind working,” said Hollingsworth affectionately.

Born and raised on a farm near Greenville, Hollingsworth helped his family raise cotton.

“We had a Model T Ford, and it was a terrible way to get around.”

As a young man Hollingsworth went on to sign up for the Navy a day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He eventually wound up out west.

“About a month later I got a notice in the mail with a train ticket to go to San Diego, California.”

Hollingsworth has had a storied life… no doubt, and he said the secret for him is a simple one.

“Dr. Pepper,” he laughed.

That’s right, Hollingsworth drinks a Dr. Pepper twice a day.

But perhaps the real key for a long and healthy life and career is one he shared with all those at his birthday party.

“If you can get a job, where you love your job and love to go to work that’s what you want.”



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Magnitude 4.0 earthquake shakes Texas, Oklahoma panhandles…


Updated


AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — An earthquake has shaken parts of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 4.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 8:04 a.m. Saturday about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north-northeast of Amarillo. The temblor was recorded at a depth of 3 miles (5 kilometers).


There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Geologists say damage isn’t likely in quakes of magnitude 4.0.

Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years, with many linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. Scientists have also linked earthquakes in Kansas, Texas and other states to wastewater injection.

Oklahoma regulators have directed several oil and gas producers in the state to close injection wells and reduce volumes in others.




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Mass rally in London for new Brexit vote…


The crowds stretched so far back that plenty of people never even made it to the rally.

Masses overflowed through the streets of London for more than a mile, from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square, as an estimated 670,000 protesters took their demand for a fresh Brexit referendum right to Theresa May’s doorstep.

They came from every corner of the UK, in what is believed to be the largest demonstration since the Iraq War march in 2003, when more than a million people turned out in the capital to oppose the conflict.

Amid the swathes of EU flags and banners, there was also a growing sense that campaigners, MPs and activists were realising, perhaps for the first time, that this was a battle that could be won.

“We were the few, and now we are the many,” Tory MP Anna Soubry told the crowds crammed into Parliament Square.

“We are winning the argument and we are winning the argument most importantly against those who voted Leave.”

She said: “We will not walk away. We will take responsibility and sort out this mess with a people’s vote.”

Speaking to The Independent beforehand, she said many Tory MPs were privately supportive of a second referendum amid bitter divisions in the party.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said the sheer scale of the event showed that “confidence is growing” in the fight for a fresh vote.

To huge cheers, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the march marked a “historic moment in our democracy”.

He told protestors: “We’ve heard some complain that a public vote would be undemocratic and unpatriotic. But the opposite is true.

“There’s nothing more democratic – nothing more British – than trusting the people to have the final say on our future.”

MPs from across the political spectrum addressed the rally, including Green MP Caroline Lucas, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who drew huge cheers when she compared Brexit to a botched operation.

Christian Broughton, editor of The Independent, told the crowds: “Theresa May says that the Final Say referendum will be a politicians’ vote, not a people’s vote, but we can all remember what some politicians told us in 2016.

“We, the people, can all now see what’s really coming. And from where I’m standing it looks like a people’s vote to me.”

He revealed that The Independent’s petition for a Final Say had achieved more than 940,000 signatures, adding: “We have to keep on showing up and signing up.”

People did show up in their thousands for the march, which was extremely cheerful, except for a handful of Ukip protestors who screamed “Losers” at passers-by from outside Downing Street.

An army of students, college pupils and young activists led the march in a sign of the impact of the Brexit vote on the younger generation, some 1.4 million of whom have become eligible to vote since the referendum.

Femi Oluwole, from the youth group Our Future Our Choice, told The Independent: “What we are trying to do is bring people together, as nobody has any confidence in what the government is doing.”

He said young people were going to be hit hardest by Brexit, both economically and in the opportunities to live and work abroad.

Among the crowds was Piero Passet, a 71-year-old restaurant owner from Turin, said he was marching because he was concerned for the future of the younger generation.

He said: “I’ve lived in London for 49 years but I am more concerned about my children and my grandchildren.

“I still have my Italian passport but I don’t want to be stuck at Gatwick airport in long queues.”

Mr Passet said he was already struggling to recruit staff, as many eastern European and Spanish workers no longer felt welcome in the UK.

Ruby Savins, 13, had travelled from Brighton with her parents Nick and Celia.

She said: “I’ve come because of my future. I think Brexit is wrong and I think we should stop it altogether. 

“We all think that it is wrong and we think we should remain together.”

Jo Law, 31, and her partner Phuong La, 23, came to protest about how Brexit was creating a toxic atmosphere.

Ms Law, from south London, said: “I’m here because of my girlfriend. Trying to get a visa for her is just impossible.

“It’s all about immigration.”

Corinna Lewis, a 37-year-old German student, had travelled from her home in Canterbury to show her support for a Final Say vote, as she was not eligible to vote during the 2016 referendum.

She said: “I’ve been in England for 10 years but I couldn’t vote. I don’t think that’s fair.


Editor of The Independent Christian Broughton speaks at the People’s Vote march in London

“I think there are lots of people who are absolutely engaged but were excluded from the vote.” 

Also among the crowds was Lord Of The Rings actor Andy Serkis, who described it as “one of the most, if not the most important march of a generation”.

Other famous faces included Sir Bob Geldof, TV presenter Richard Bacon, Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, comedian Jenny Eclair and Holby City actors Catherine Russell and Hugh Quarshie.

Ahead of the march, a Downing Street spokeswoman told The Independent that people had a right to speak out, but that the prime minister had made clear her position in regards to a new referendum.

While the protestors gathered, Ms May visited an exhibition in her constituency, entitled Maidenhead And Me, featuring work by local artists.


The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

Sign our petition here



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King asserts authority…


DUBAI (Reuters) – So grave is the fallout from the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that King Salman has felt compelled to intervene, five sources with links to the Saudi royal family said.

Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the king dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to Istanbul to try to defuse the crisis.

World leaders were demanding an explanation and concern was growing in parts of the royal court that the king’s son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to whom he has delegated vast powers, was struggling to contain the fallout, the sources said.

During Prince Khaled’s visit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. The king subsequently ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to open an inquiry based on its findings.

“The selection of Khaled, a senior royal with high status, is telling as he is the king’s personal adviser, his right hand man and has had very strong ties and a friendship with (Turkish President) Erdogan,” said a Saudi source with links to government circles.

Since the meeting between Prince Khaled and Erdogan, King Salman has been “asserting himself” in managing the affair, according to a different source, a Saudi businessman who lives abroad but is close to royal circles.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to Reuters questions about the king’s involvement in helping to supervise the crisis. A spokesman for Prince Khaled referred Reuters to government representatives in Riyadh.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and leading critic of Prince Mohammed, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say they believe the Saudi journalist was murdered there and his body removed, allegations which Saudi Arabia has strongly denied.

Initially the king, who has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to his son, commonly known as MbS, was unaware of the extent of the crisis, according to two of the sources with knowledge of the Saudi royal court. That was partly because MbS aides had been directing the king to glowing news about the country on Saudi TV channels, the sources said.

That changed as the crisis grew.

“Even if MbS wanted to keep this away from the king he couldn’t because the story about Khashoggi’s disappearance was on all the Arab and Saudi TV channels watched by the king,” one of the five sources said.

“The king started asking aides and MbS about it. MbS had to tell him and asked him to intervene when Khashoggi’s case became a global crisis,” this source said.

Since he acceded to the throne in January 2015, the king has given MbS, his favorite son, increasing authority to run Saudi Arabia. But the king’s latest intervention reflects growing disquiet among some members of the royal court about MbS’s fitness to govern, the five sources said.

MbS, 33, has implemented a series of high-profile social and economic reforms since his father’s accession, including ending a ban on women driving and opening cinemas in the conservative kingdom.

But he has also marginalized senior members of the royal family and consolidated control over Saudi’s security and intelligence agencies.

His reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and businessmen on corruption charges, and a costly war in Yemen.

Khashoggi’s disappearance has further tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, deepening questions among Western allies and some Saudis about his leadership.

“Even if he is his favorite son, the king needs to have a comprehensive view for his survival and the survival of the royal family,” said a fourth Saudi source with links to the royal court.

“In the end it will snowball on all of them.”

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

MISCALCULATION

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But the sources familiar with the royal court said the reaction from the United States, an ally for decades, had contributed to the king’s intervention.

“When the situation got out of control and there was an uproar in the United States, MbS informed his father that there was a problem and that they have to face it,” another source with knowledge of the royal court said.

The crown prince and his aides had initially thought the crisis would pass but they “miscalculated its repercussions”, this source said.

Turkish officials have made clear they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and two Turkish sources have told Reuters police have audio recordings to back up that assertion.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to President Donald Trump, on Tuesday accused MbS of ordering Khashoggi’s murder and called him a “wrecking ball” who is jeopardizing relations with the United States. He did not say what evidence he was basing the allegation on.

Trump said on Thursday he presumed Khashoggi was dead but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. Asked what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has previously said “rogue killers” may have been responsible and has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. On Tuesday, Trump said he had spoken with MbS and that the crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the consulate where Khashoggi went missing.

The case poses a dilemma for the United States, as well as Britain and other Western nations. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter, spends lavishly on Western arms and is an ally in efforts to contain the influence of Iran.

But in a sign of the damage, a succession of international banking and business chiefs, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Chairman Bill Ford, have pulled out of a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday also abandoned plans to attend, as did Britain’s trade minister and the French and Dutch finance ministers, putting the event in question.

Saudi officials have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25, despite the wave of cancellations.

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud is seen during a meeting with U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. March 27, 2018. To match Insight SAUDI-POLITICS/KING REUTERS/Amir Levy/File Photo

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend and did not comment on whether concerns about the disappearance of Khashoggi were a factor.

Lagarde had previously said she was “horrified” by media reports about Khashoggi’s disappearance. An IMF spokesperson did not give a reason for her deferring her trip to the Middle East.

TAKING CONTROL

Before the king’s intervention, Saudi authorities had been striking a defiant tone, threatening on Sunday to retaliate with greater action against the U.S. and others if sanctions are imposed over Khashoggi’s disappearance. A Saudi-owned media outlet warned the result would be disruption in Saudi oil production and a sharp rise in world oil prices.

“Reaction and threats to the possible sanctions of the last 24 hours were still (coming) from the crown prince,” the businessman close to royal circles said on Monday. “The king is now holding the file personally … and the tone is very different.”

The king has spoken directly with Erdogan and Trump in recent days. Both the king and his son met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited Riyadh on Tuesday.

King Salman, 82, spent decades as part of the inner circle of the Al Saud dynasty, which long ruled by consensus. In four decades as governor of Riyadh, he earned a reputation as a royal enforcer who punished princes who were out of line.

Whether he is willing or able to resume that role in this crisis remains unclear, palace insiders say. One source with links to the royal court said the king was “captivated” by MbS and ultimately would protect him.

Still, there is precedent for the king’s intervention.

He stepped in this year to shelve the planned listing of national oil company Saudi Aramco, the brainchild of MbS and a cornerstone of his economic reforms, three sources with ties to government insiders told Reuters in August. Saudi officials have said the government remains committed to the plans.

And when MbS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction, reaffirming Riyadh’s commitment to the Arab and Muslim identity of the city.

Despite these rare instances of pushback, several of the sources close to the royal family said that King Salman had grown increasingly detached from decisions taken by MbS.

“He has been living in an artificially-created bubble,” said one of the sources. Lately, though, the king’s advisers have grown frustrated and begun warning him of the risks of leaving the crown prince’s power unchecked.

“The people around him are starting to tell him to wake up to what’s happening,” the source said.

Reporting by Reuters correspondents; Editing by Nick Tattersall

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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White privilege symposium will feature 'racial justice' board game…


Board game ‘supports and encourages cross-cultural understanding’

A community college will host a “white privilege symposium” today and tomorrow that will explore such topics as “constructive white conversations” and “the n!gga(er) word” as well as a “racial justice” board game.

North Shore Community College’s Power, Privilege, Progress: Awareness to Action event is billed as an “engaging, deep learning experience with an exchanging of ideas on the issues of privilege and power in the history of our country.”

Attendees of the event will hear from keynote speakers and participate in workshops such as “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys” and “Ten Reasons Why America Can’t Talk about Race.” The cost of attendance is $75; students will pay $50 and North Shore Community College students will attend free.

One workshop at the event will be devoted to a play-through of the board game “Road to Racial Justice,” which, according to the game’s website, “supports and encourages cross-cultural understanding and compassionate action in order to help create a more loving and just world.” The board game was created by Kesa Kivel, “a Los Angeles-based educator, artist and activist engaged in social justice issues.”

Some of the game’s discussion prompts include situations such as: “The mascot for your school’s football team is a person dressed up as a warlike Native American” and “Under U.S. law, farmworkers — who are mostly Latino — have no right to overtime pay, and children as young as 12 are allowed to work in the fields.”

One scenario the game provides for the farmworker prompt is: “Find out which stores and restaurants buy fruits and vegetables from unethical farmers, and encourage your friends and family to boycott these places.”

“Players will become more aware that racism exists in many everyday situations (interpersonal and institutional), learn why the situations are racist (stereotyping, tokenism, cultural appropriation, etc.), and acquire tools to interrupt these kinds of situations,” the website says of the board game.

Other workshops scheduled for the symposium include “Unpacking The N!gga(er) Word,” “Constructive White Conversations” and “Completely Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack: The Liabilities of White Privilege How White Privilege Hurts White Peopl [sic].”

The event’s website states: “This is not about blame; it is about listening deeply, talking with each other, and increasing our awareness bringing us closer to the understanding we all desire.”

Laurie Carlson, listed as a contact for the event on the school’s website, did not respond to requests for comment on the expected attendance at the symposium or the content of its workshops. As of Thursday evening, 22 guests indicated they are attending on the symposium’s Facebook event page.

The symposium is organized in part by the Privilege Institute, which states that its mission it to “equip and empower people, organizations, institutions, and communities committed to action and accountability related to issues of diversity, power, privilege and leadership.” The Privilege Institute also organizes the larger White Privilege Conference, begun twenty years ago at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

While costs for the event were not readily available, at least one speaker, Claudia Fox Tree, who is hosting a panel titled “Whose History Matters? A Reflection on First Nations Stereotypes and Myths,” charges between $1500 and $2500 to speak in the Concord, MA area.

MORE: ‘White Privilege Symposium’ allows people to play ‘social justice’ video game

MORE: University workshops help white people develop ‘positive white racial identity’

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First case of Mad Cow in decade on UK farm…


Scotland’s government says a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, had been discovered on a farm in Aberdeenshire, in Scotland.

The disease was discovered after the animal died.

Four others in the herd were destroyed as a precaution.

The government said other precautionary movement restrictions have been put in place at the farm, while further investigations are carried out to identify the origin of the disease.

“I have activated the Scottish government’s response plan to protect our valuable farming industry, including establishing a precautionary movement ban being placed on the farm,” Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s farming minister, said in a statement.

It’s the first case of the disease in Scotland in 10 years, the BBC reports.

© RAW 2018



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Assembles team of cooperators…


Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has assembled a list of figures cooperating with his Russia investigation that could provide him with substantial insight into the workings of the Trump campaign.

Mueller’s ability to turn associates of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration ‘clamped down’ on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE into cooperators has been a key facet of his investigation, lending both strength to a probe that has pressed on for nearly a year and a half amid withering public scrutiny.

Legal analysts expect former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Mueller’s team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report MORE and other recruits to bring the special counsel closer to getting to the bottom of whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though doing so may hinge on Mueller striking deals with even more figures.

With Mueller’s probe advancing behind closed doors, it is impossible for onlookers to judge the value or extent of any one witness’s cooperation.

At the same time, observers say the deals Mueller has struck signal he believes their cooperation to have significant value.

“If they have struck a deal where they’re going to cooperate, then that’s a pretty good indication that special counsel’s office believes they have something worth cooperating over,” said Jack Sharman, a former special counsel to Congress for the Whitewater investigation.

In Manafort, the newest cooperator, the special counsel has a window into the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a lawyer with connections to the Russian government.

The key question surrounding the Trump Tower meeting and other key events is whether members of the campaign conspired with Russia to damage Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller’s team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report O’Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate GOP pollster says polls didn’t pick up on movement in week before 2016 election MORE’s presidential ambitions, and to what level any such conspiracy rose in the campaign.

One-time national security adviser Michael Flynn is also viewed as valuable to Mueller’s investigation because of his role in the campaign and, briefly, the administration, and because of his own contacts with Russians.

Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to FBI investigators about his discussions with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions on Moscow during the presidential transition. Court documents show he also talked about those conversations with other members of the Trump campaign.

Mueller asked a federal court to move forward with Flynn’s sentencing last month, a signal the special counsel believes he has gleaned all the information he can from the former adviser, and a sentencing date has been set for Dec. 18.

Other campaign associates also have been ensnared in the investigation.

Richard Gates, Manafort’s longtime business partner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements charges in February and began to cooperate with Mueller’s team in their case against Manafort related to illegal foreign lobbying.

It was Gates’ testimony that ultimately helped prosecutors secure a guilty verdict against Manafort on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in Virginia federal court over the summer. Manafort was due to begin a second trial in D.C. in September, but instead agreed to plead guilty and work with prosecutors.

Others who have agreed to assist the special counsel but are not considered key figures.

Richard Pinedo, a California man who pleaded guilty and cooperated in the case against the Russian troll farm, was sentenced to six months in prison. Mueller also secured an obscure cooperator in Sam Patten, a GOP operative and former Manafort associate. Neither was involved in the Trump campaign.

The first person known to be cooperating with Mueller’s probe was George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Calif. man ensnared in Mueller probe sentenced to 6 months in prison The Mueller investigation: Where it stands at the midterms MORE.

Mueller’s team, however, has signaled that it gleaned little from the former campaign adviser, whose guilty plea made headlines last October when it revealed he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” — before WikiLeaks began releasing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.

“It was at best begrudging efforts to cooperate and we don’t think they were substantial or significant in any regard,” Andrew Goldstein, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, said at Papadopoulos’s sentencing hearing last month.

Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for lying to FBI agents about his Russia contacts. He subsequently told CNN he has “no recollection” of sharing information about emails possessed by the Russians but couldn’t “guarantee” it.

Mueller’s team has also reportedly interviewed Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, though no formal agreement cementing his cooperation has been publicly released. 

Sharman said the value of various people now talking to Mueller’s team could vary depending on what offenses they are looking into, and who they are considering charging with crimes.

He also acknowledged the opacity of the matter, something exacerbated by the fact that Mueller never speaks to the press.

“Nobody knows outside of that office and outside of the grand jury, what the substance of anyone’s cooperation is,” Sharman said.

Trump has long scorned the Mueller investigation as a witch-hunt and claimed charges against Manafort and others have nothing to do with his presidential run.

He acknowledged in August, however, that the Trump Tower meeting was predicated on getting “information on an opponent,” undermining a statement by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Election Countdown: O’Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia MORE, last year that it primarily focused on American adoptions of Russian children. The participants have said that the meeting did not ultimately bear fruit.

“My son’s a good young guy. He did what every other person in Congress would do if somebody came up to them, said, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent,’” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. “There was nothing wrong with having an opposition research meeting and nothing happened from the meeting.”

Manafort, who attended the meeting along with Trump Jr. and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Secret Service: Agent who blocked reporter questioning Kushner reacted to ‘abrupt movement’ Kushner and Saudi crown prince communicated informally on WhatsApp: report MORE, would have been privy to discussions concerning the meeting and could potentially speak to Trump’s knowledge of it. The president claims he had no advanced knowledge of the meeting.

“He can talk about the conversations that took place before, during and after,” said Seth Waxman, a former federal prosecutor in D.C.

“I would put Manafort leaps and bounds above everyone else simply because of the time and effort the government put in to flip him,” Waxman said. “When the government goes as hard and as deep on someone like Manafort, it’s because they want him for a purpose and they believe he has very valuable information.”

Manafort’s value extends beyond his involvement in the Trump Tower affair. Having spent five months as campaign chairman, Manafort could answer questions about the softening of language in the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine and any possible accords with the Russians.

Former federal prosecutors also expect Mueller’s team to question Manafort on whether the campaign had advanced knowledge of Democratic emails hacked by Russia.

Court filings and proceedings have offered glimpses of the information provided by other players.

It was not initially clear whether Gates, who also worked on the Trump campaign and later on the transition, was cooperating beyond the Manafort case. However, a recent filing from his attorney suggests he is helping Mueller on other aspects of the investigation.

In a motion asking the court to remove Gates’ GPS tracker and lift some of his travel restrictions last week, his attorney, Tom Green, wrote that Gates’ interviews with the special counsel’s team “have been numerous and they continue to this day.”

Neither Manafort nor Gates have been sentenced, though Manafort will appear in federal court in Virginia on Friday as Judge T.S. Ellis looks to move forward with his sentencing for the bank and tax fraud charges.

There is broad agreement that Mueller is unlikely to take major overt steps in the investigation before the midterm elections, reflecting what has become routine practice of Justice Department officials to avoid moves that could be construed as political close to an election.

Bloomberg, citing anonymous officials, reported Wednesday that Mueller is expected to issue findings on his inquiries into collusion and obstruction of justice after the elections, under pressure from Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein says Mueller probe is ‘appropriate and independent’ The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Trump requests Turkey’s evidence on missing journalist | Takeaways from Texas Senate debate | Key Mueller findings could be ready after midterms Mueller to present key findings related to Russia probe after midterms: report MORE to complete the probe as quickly as possible.

Trump said Tuesday that his legal team was reviewing a series of written questions that Mueller had submitted for him on the collusion inquiry.

“We are looking at certain questions having to do with the word collusion,” Trump told the AP. “Of course there was no collusion. So we are looking at that, and we’ll make a determination.”

Meanwhile, recent grand jury appearances by associates of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Mueller’s team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE suggest that Mueller is circling the longtime Trump ally, who has been scrutinized for his links to WikiLeaks.

It is possible that Mueller has brought other cooperators into the fold who are unknown to the public; this could include individuals who have plea agreements that are under seal, who have not yet been charged, or who have voluntarily agreed to cooperate.

“Your job as a prosecutor is to go as high up the chain of the organization as you can and prosecute the most culpable people and put an end of their criminal conduct,” said Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney in Alabama.

“He’ll want to keep going so that the people who he prosecutes are the people who are the most responsible for any criminal conduct he uncovers. No prosecutor wants to stop at the midway point, [though] sometimes you have to because you don’t acquire enough evidence to go higher,” Vance said.

 

 



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Newly published files confirm plan to move Assange to Russia…


LONDON (AP) — Julian Assange: Hacker. Journalist. Diplomat?

Newly released Ecuadorean government documents have laid bare an unorthodox attempt to extricate the WikiLeaks founder from his embassy hideaway in London by naming him as a political counselor to the country’s embassy in Moscow.

But the 47-year-old Australian’s new career in international affairs was nipped in the bud when British authorities vetoed his diplomatic status, effectively blocking him from taking up the post in Russia.

The files were made public late Tuesday by Ecuadorean opposition lawmaker Paola Vintimilla, who opposes her government’s decision to grant Assange nationality. They largely corroborate a recent Guardian newspaper report that Ecuador attempted the elaborate maneuver to get Assange to Moscow just before Christmas last year.

Russian diplomats called the Guardian’s story “fake news,” but the government files show Assange briefly was made “political counselor” to the Ecuadorean Embassy in Moscow and eligible for a monthly salary pegged at $2,000.

Ecuador also applied for a diplomatic ID card, the documents show, but the plan appears to have fallen apart with the British veto.

A letter dated December 21, 2017 from Britain’s Foreign Office said U.K. officials “do not consider Mr. Julian Assange to be an acceptable member of the mission.”

An eight-page memo to Vintimilla summing up the episode noted that Assange’s position as counselor was scrapped a few days later.

WikiLeaks did not return messages. The British Foreign Office and the Russian Embassy in London declined to comment.

Assange’s relationship with Russian authorities has been the subject of intense scrutiny following the 2016 U.S. election, when Russian spies are alleged to have handed WikiLeaks leaked emails from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a bid to help elect her rival, Donald Trump.

Assange has denied receiving the files from the Russian government or backing the Trump campaign, despite a growing body of evidence suggesting he received material directly from Russia’s military intelligence agency and coordinated media strategy with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

Last month, the AP published internal WikiLeaks files showing Assange tried to move to Russia as early as 2010.

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Online:

The Ecuadorean government’s letter to Vintimilla: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5004881-Carta-Canciller.html

Internal Ecuadorean government documents: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5004882-Annexes.html

The AP’s WikiLeaks files: https://www.documentcloud.org/search/projectid:40593-WikiLeaks

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Raphael Satter can be reached on: http://raphaelsatter.com



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