US President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday over the apparent leak of a list of questions special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to ask him in the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and the president’s possible obstruction of the probe, according to Yahoo News.
“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media,” Trump tweeted. “No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see … you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”
The president added: “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”
According to federal law, someone can obstruct an investigation of a potential crime even if that inquiry ultimately finds no crime was committed. In other words, someone only has to interfere with a federal investigation to be guilty of obstructing justice.
On Monday night, the New York Times published a report including more than 40 questions that Mueller would like to ask Trump. The Times said it obtained the questions, which were given to the president’s lawyers, from a person outside of Trump’s legal team.
Mueller, who has reportedly been seeking an interview with Trump for months, appears to want to know about a broad array of issues, including Trump’s thinking surrounding the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey.
The questions also address Trump’s attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as the president’s knowledge of his campaign’s interactions with figures tied to the Kremlin. In particular, the special counsel is interested in the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower — arranged by Donald Trump Jr. — with a Russian lawyer who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
“When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?” Mueller reportedly wants to ask Trump, according to the Times.
The questions also indicate that Mueller is interested in what Trump meant when he declared in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he had been thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Comey.
“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” Trump told Holt shortly after Comey was ousted. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
Mueller also reportedly wants to know what Trump’s purpose was for his tweet warning Comey of “tapes” of their conversations.
Iran Calls Netanyahu ‘Infamous Liar’ over Nuclear Allegations
*Netanyahu’s claims fail to convince deal proponents
Iran on Tuesday branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “infamous liar” over his allegations of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme, AFP reported.
Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi called the accusations that Tehran lied about its nuclear ambitions “worn-out, useless and shameful”.
Netanyahu’s comments came from a “broke and infamous liar who has had nothing to offer except lies and deceits,” Ghasemi said in a statement.
“Netanyahu and the notorious, child-killing Zionist regime must have reached the basic understanding that the people of the world have enough awareness and cognisance,” he added.
Netanyahu said in an elaborate televised presentation on Monday that he had new “proof” of an Iranian nuclear weapons plan that could be activated at any time.
But he did not provide evidence that Israel’s main enemy had actively worked to obtain an atomic weapon since the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six world powers.
His accusations came as the United States considers whether to pull out of the atomic accord with Tehran.
Iran has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic programme was for civilian purposes.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s televised unveiling of an intelligence trove on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions led to scepticism Tuesday from backers of a landmark 2015 accord, with European nations saying it showed the deal’s importance.
The IAEA, the United Nations atomic watchdog, said it would evaluate any new relevant information, but cited its assessment from three years ago that it had no “credible indications” of an Iranian nuclear weapons pursuit after 2009.
Some analysts and proponents of the nuclear agreement also said Netanyahu had presented previously known details and failed to produce evidence that showed Iran was not abiding by the accord.
“The Israeli prime minister’s presentation on Iran’s past research into nuclear weapons technology underlines the importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deal’s constraints on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
Johnson said the agreement was not “based on trust about Iran’s intentions; rather it is based on tough verification” by the IAEA.
European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said “I have not seen from Prime Minister Netanyahu arguments for the moment on non-compliance, meaning violation by Iran of its nuclear commitments under the deal.”
“And again, the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.”
France also said Netanyahu’s claims reinforced the importance of the nuclear deal.
Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday in an interview with CNN, defended his presentation but also refused to respond to questions over Israel’s nuclear capabilities.
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East, but it has never acknowledged the capability.
French Riot Police Use Tear Gas Against Anarchists in May Day Rally
French riot police used water cannon and teargas on Tuesday against hundreds of hooded protesters after they smashed shop windows and hurled petrol bombs at the start of an annual May Day rally in Paris, according to Reuters.
Police had warned on Monday of possible clashes with far-left anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs, after a call on social media to make Tuesday a “Revolutionary Day”.
Authorities said some 1,200 hooded and masked protesters dressed in black had turned up on the sidelines of the annual planned demonstration by labour unions. More than 200 anarchists were arrested, the head of Paris’ police department, Michel Delpuech, told a news conference.
The protesters smashed the windows of businesses, including a Renault garage and McDonalds restaurant near the Austerlitz station in eastern Paris. They also ransacked shops, torched cars and scrawled anti-capitalist graffiti on walls.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb condemned the violence and said everything was being done to arrest the culprits.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering up their faces.
“When you have sincere convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked,” he said. “Those who wear hoods are the enemies of democracy.”
The protesters chanted anti-fascist slogans, waved Soviet flags and anti-government banners and threw firecrackers. Some started to erect barricades.
Armenia Crisis: Opposition Leader Pashinyan Fails in Bid to Be PM
Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has failed in his bid to become interim prime minister, according to BBC.
MPs narrowly voted against the move, even though Mr Pashinyan is the only candidate for the post.
Addressing parliament moments before the vote, he told his supporters he would join them in the centre of the capital Yerevan to resume protests.
Mr Pashinyan has led weeks of anti-government protests that forced former PM Serzh Sargsyan to resign.
He had earlier warned MPs of a “political tsunami” if they did not back him.
Armenia’s ruling Republican Party had said it would not put up a candidate, in a bid to ease tensions.
But the protest leader warned there were moves aimed at halting his bid and he urged protesters to stay on the streets to prevent the Republican Party from “stealing the people’s victory”.
In his address to MPs, Mr Pashinyan accused the Republicans of declaring “war on the Armenian people” when it became clear they would not support him.
He received 45 votes but needed 53 to secure a majority in the 105-seat chamber.
Mr Sargsyan, who had served 10 years as president, stepped down last month days after being sworn in as PM. He had been accused of trying to cling to power.
All 47 opposition members of parliament had pledged to vote for Mr Pashinyan, but he needed votes from six Republican Party deputies to win the majority he needs in the 105-seat house. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999.
Mr Pashinyan, who has said he will rid Armenia of corruption, poverty and nepotism, called on his supporters to rally as parliament convened.
Air Strikes Kill 23 Civilians in IS-held Area in Syria – Monitor
Air strikes killed at least 23 civilians including 10 children in a village held by the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria Tuesday, AFP reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor as saying.
“We don’t know for the moment if the US-led international coalition or Iraqi forces carried out the strike” on the village of Al-Qasr in Hasakeh province, the Observatory said.
The Britain-based monitor relies on a network of sources on the ground for its information.
The US-led coalition is backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance that has been fighting IS in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq.
Iraq has also previously carried out strikes against IS jihadists in Syria, including a raid last month in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
The jihadists have lost much of the territory they once controlled in Syria and Iraq since declaring a cross-border caliphate there in 2014.
In Syria, they have faced two separate offensives — one by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance and a second by Russia-backed regime fighters.
In February, US-led coalition air raids killed 25 civilians including seven children in the village of Shaafah in Deir Ezzor province and surrounding areas, according to the Observatory.
The coalition says it takes every precaution to avoid civilian casualties.
Last week, it acknowledged the deaths of 28 civilians in Iraq and Syria in 2017.
That increased its overall death toll of non-fighters killed in coalition strikes since 2014 in both countries to at least 883.
Monitoring group Airwars says the true toll of the bombing campaign is much higher, estimating that at least 6,259 civilians have been killed.
Zuckerberg: ‘This Has Been an Intense Year’
Facebook’s chief has said that 2018 has been an “intense year” for his firm, but that he was committed to taking a “broader view” of its responsibilities, BBC reported.
Mr Zuckerberg was speaking at his firm’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California.
It marks the latest effort to deal with a privacy scandal involving a political consultancy.
Cambridge Analytica gained access to millions of users’ personal details that had been harvested via an app.
Mr Zuckerberg described this as a “major breach of trust” that must never happen again.
As part of its efforts to tackle the issue, the social network is carrying out an audit of other apps and has restricted developers’ access to some of its data.
But that in turn has caused frustration among Facebook app creators whose products no longer worked properly as a consequence.
Ahead of the event, the firm announced it was building a new Clear History tool to address users’ desire to have more control over how their information is used.
It said the feature would:
• let members see which third-party sites and apps Facebook collects data from
• provide the ability to delete the information
• prevent Facebook from being able to add such details to their profile in the future
However, the firm added that it would take a few months to add the facility, and that it would still need to retain related information in “rare cases” for security reasons.
Mr Zuckerberg referenced the forthcoming feature in his speech, adding: “We will have a lot more like this to talk about soon.”
In a separate development, some US-based users have reported that a new prompt has appeared beneath posts on their News Feed asking them if the messages contain hate speech.
Missile Strikes on Syria Kill 26, Mostly Iranian, Forces
Twenty-six pro-regime fighters, most of whom were Iranians, have been killed by missile strikes on central Syria in a raid that bore the hallmarks of Tehran’s arch-foe Israel, the Agence France Presse news agency reported a monitor as saying Monday.
The Syrian regime, which denounced a “fresh aggression” after the strikes, meanwhile continued to flush out armed groups from the capital with more deals to transfer fighters to the country’s north.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, missile strikes hit two military targets in Aleppo and Hama provinces late Sunday.
The strike on Hama province hit a base known as the 47th Brigade where pro-regime fighters are stationed. Both hits destroyed surface-to-surface missiles, the monitor said.
“At least 26 fighters were killed, including four Syrians,” in the Hama strike, said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based monitoring group.
“The others are foreign fighters, a vast majority of them Iranians,” he told AFP. “Given the nature of the target, it is likely to have been an Israeli strike.”
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told army radio on Monday morning that he was “not aware” of the latest strikes.
But, he said, “all the violence and instability in Syria is the result of Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence there. Israel will not allow the opening of a northern front in Syria.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to speak later Monday about a “significant development” on the Iran nuclear deal, his office said.
His main US ally, which led an unprecedented wave of missile strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure on April, is considering pulling out of the landmark deal.
Syria President Bashar al-Assad, whose main allies are Russia and Iran did not explicitly mention the overnight strikes but said that “hostile countries have shifted to a stage of direct aggression”.
Britain’s May Names New Minister to End Immigration Scandal
*UK government defeated as Lords back powers to block or change EU exit deal
British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a former banker of South Asian origin as interior minister on Monday, trying to draw a line under an immigration scandal threatening her authority as she negotiates Brexit, Reuters reported .
Sajid Javid, the son of immigrants from Pakistan, replaces Amber Rudd, who quit as Home Secretary after acknowledging she had “inadvertently misled” parliament by denying the government had targets for the number of illegal migrants Britain deports.
British ministers have struggled for two weeks to explain why some descendants of the so-called “Windrush generation”, invited to Britain from its former colonies to plug labor shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, were denied basic rights.
Also, Britain’s House of Lords voted on Monday to give parliament powers to block or delay the final deal on the country’s departure from the European Union, defeating Prime Minister May’s government, Reuters reported.
Lords, who sit in parliament’s upper chamber, voted 335 to 244 in favor of an amendment that could allow parliament to send Britain back to the negotiating table in Brussels or even halt the Brexit process.
The amendment is opposed by the government and can be overturned in parliament’s lower chamber, where May has a slim majority.