Daily: 18/03/2018

Preliminary Results Project Putin’s Re-election, Amid Allegations of Voter Fraud

Russians turned up at polling stations Sunday in an election few voters had any doubts about who would emerge the winner.

Soon after the polls closed in the enclave of Kaliningrad, preliminary results indicated incumbent President Vladimir Putin had secured victory in an election critics say was stage-managed.

According to Russia’s election commission, Putin was heading to secure 71.9 percent of the vote, but it was unclear whether voter turnout had reached 70 percent, a Kremlin goal. But Kremlin aides insisted the final result would show it had.

There were reports of hundreds of ballot violations at polling stations across the country, which Russian election officials downplayed but said they were investigating.

Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin was Putin’s nearest rival, securing a likely 15.9 percent, according to preliminary results.

Facing weak candidates — some likely encouraged to run by a Kremlin eager to give the election a veneer of competitiveness — Putin, who has held power since succeeding Boris Yeltsin in 1999, had always been guaranteed victory in an election timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Putin’s only credible challenger, blogger and activist Boris Navalny, was barred from running because of a fraud conviction he said was designed to exclude him from electoral politics. Navalny and his supporters said Sunday voters had been bussed in across Russia to the polls.

The deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Election Commission dismissed allegations of irregularities, tweeting: “There is not a single other country in the world that has the level of transparency that we are demonstrating today.”

Nonetheless, activists posted videos online showing blatant violations. In a polling station in the republic of Sakha, an official is seen stuffing the ballot box, as genuine voters waited patiently in line to cast their votes. In Dagestan, an observer was beaten after refusing to stop filming ineligible voters. In another video, a young woman is seen stuffing a box while observers are distracted.

The big question as Russians headed to polling stations was: What percentage of the population would turn out to vote?

Kremlin officials clearly had been determined to produce an outsized vote for Putin as a demonstration of his legitimacy — and by lunchtime, seven hours before the polls closed, election officials projected the turnout would be 70 percent.

Kremlin insiders said before polling day the desired outcome would be 70/70 — 70 percent of the vote for Putin from a 70 percent turnout.

At 5 p.m. Moscow time, the Central Election Commission declared over half of all Russian adults had already voted, with authorities reporting a higher turnout than the last election in 2012.

Some analysts said the March 4 nerve-agent poisoning on British soil of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, which the British blame on Russia, was timed to engineer a confrontation with the West and boost a patriotic turnout for Putin.

That suggestion was vehemently denied in the run-up to the polls by Putin aides, who said Russia was not involved in the nerve-agent attack. Some officials allege the British made up the incident.

Some voters had the rupture in Anglo-Russian relations on their minds. At a polling station at Moscow’s School 1520,  private business owner Alexei said, “I think the British government has made all of the allegations up. I think that no one has poisoned Skripal. Our country hasn’t poisoned anyone.”

Across from the school, police milled around to deter any flash protests, which had been promised in the capital but did not materialize. They stood outside the Barbershop School of Moscow with its marketing slogan, “Ideal Place for an Ideal Man.”

Most voters encountered by VOA in Moscow said Putin was the ideal candidate. Some voters said they backed him because he had restored Russian strength, transforming the country from being a regional power to a global one.

Putin emphasized in the run-up to the polls that Russia’s power had been restored, notably in his annual state of the nation address in which he said the world was now forced to listen to Russia.

Other voters were focused on domestic issues, saying things had improved since the 1990s under Putin’s leadership.

“Foreign policy is hard for me to understand, and I don’t want to go into that,” said Galiaya, a mother of two and a businesswoman at School 2123.

“We have voted for Putin,” she said, including her 13-year-old daughter who stood smiling by her side. “At the moment, it seems he represents stability without anarchy. I am more afraid of anarchy, instability and war. I don’t want either. I think he will stabilize the situation in the country, improve the economy and politics.”

But not all voters were as enthusiastic at School 2123. Some who voted for Putin said they did so reluctantly because there was no real alternative.

“Of course, I voted for Sobchak,” said a pensioner who declined to give his name. He was referring to 37-year-old Ksenia Sobchak, a former socialite and broadcaster, once famous for a raunchy reality television show. She was one of Putin’s seven electoral challengers.

“Let the young people start running the country. We don’t want another war, and with Sobchak, there won’t be a war,” he said.

The pensioner said he didn’t like the way some Russians referred to Putin as “father.”

“I have never in my life pronounced the word father.’ I was born in 1938, and my father was killed in 1942. I was three years old. I have never had a father.”

He said he hoped Sobchak, who some Putin critics suspect was encouraged by the Russian president to run, would form a new party after the election.

Elsewhere, the independent monitoring group Golos said there had been reports of voters being pressured to vote. Several villages in Kamchatka and Chukotka reported turnout of 100 percent. The group said it received more than 2,000 alleged violations, including claims ballot boxes had been positioned out of sight of observation cameras.

Sunday’s election spanned 11 time zones, starting with the Far East, and ending with the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, where Friday police arrested several people for trying to organize election boycott rallies. There were other arrests reported in St. Petersburg and Sochi.

Nearly 109 million people were registered to cast ballots. State-owned polling company VCIOM projected a turnout of 71 percent. But the Russian nongovernmental research organization, Levada Center, conducted a survey in December that indicated 58 percent of voters planned to boycott the elections.

Casting his ballot in Moscow Sunday, Putin said “any” result that allowed him to continue as president would be a “success.”

“I am sure the program I am offering is the right one,” he told reporters.

Putin has been in power either as president or prime minister for more than 18 years. He switched between the two roles once to circumvent a law banning him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.

Now, the question is: What will happen when his new term expires in six years? Will someone else take the helm, or will he change the constitution?

Some analysts say the uncertainty could trigger power struggles within the Kremlin, as possible successors jockey and maneuver against each other in case Putin decides to name a successor.

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Trump Assails Special Counsel Mueller as Politically Biased in Russia Probe

U.S. President Donald Trump is assailing special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing him of political bias in his investigation of Trump’s 2016 election campaign links to Russia and whether the president obstructed justice in trying to thwart the probe.

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?  Another Dem recently added … does anyone think this is fair?  And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”  Trump said in one of a string of Twitter remarks over the weekend recalling his defeat of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and his negative view of the investigations in the year and a half since then.

Trump ignored noting that at least at one point Mueller was a registered Trump ignored noting that at least at one point Mueller was a registered Republican voter and is generally viewed in Washington as an apolitical prosecutor, whose investigation of the Trump campaign is supported by Democrats and key Republicans who voiced their support on Sunday news shows for Mueller’s handling of the probe.

The U.S. leader also attacked two former ousted FBI officials, former director James Comey, fired by Trump last May, and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, dismissed at Trump’s urging late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 26 hours before McCabe was set to retire and collect his full pension.  Trump contended that Comey’s and McCabe’s personal written recollections of their conversations he had with them are fabricated.

Trump said he “spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me.  I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey.  Can we call them Fake Memos?”  In another tweet, Trump referred to the one-time FBI chief as “Sanctimonious James Comey” and said he made McCabe “look like a choirboy.” 

Sessions dismissed McCabe after concurring with an internal Justice Department investigation that McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions,” a news leak McCabe said Comey knew about while they served together at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

Trump tweeted about a segment he watched on his favorite morning news show, Fox and Friends, “Wow, watch Comey lie under oath” at a Senate hearing, “when asked “have you ever been an anonymous source … or known someone else to be an anonymous source …?”  He said strongly “never, no.”  He lied as shown clearly …”

Trump said, “the Fake News,” Trump’s epithet for the national news media, “is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired … How many lies?  How many leaks?  Comey knew it all, and much more!”   

The president contended “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.  It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary” and the Democratic National Committee, “and improperly used” by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “for surveillance of my campaign.  WITCH HUNT!”  

John Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer, praised Sessions on Saturday for firing McCabe, and then suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel, “bring an end” to Mueller’s investigation.

Shortly after McCabe was fired, the president praised the decision on Twitter, calling it a “great day for Democracy.”

On Sunday, Senator Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key Trump supporter, told CNN that Mueller “needs to be able to do his job without interference.”  Graham said that if Trump were to attempt to fire Mueller it would be “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

Congressman Trey Gowdy, another South Carolina Republican, told Fox News, “I think the president’s lawyer does a disservice when he says that and frames the investigation that way … Russia attacked our country, let special counsel Mueller figure that out.”

Gowdy was part of the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee that concluded a week ago that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but said in the television interview, “You should want Special Counsel Mueller to take all the time and have all the independence he needs to do his job.”

Trump said, “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.  As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.  Drain The Swamp.”  

McCabe, in a statement after his firing, called his ouster “retribution,” saying, “I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of [former FBI Director] James Comey.”  U.S. news accounts said he had written contemporaneous accounts of his conversations with Trump.

His firing, barely a day ahead of his 50th birthday on Sunday, could cost McCabe thousands of dollars in retirement benefits.  

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У Болгарії відбувся протест проти російських виборів в окупованому Криму

У Болгарії кількадесят активістів прийшли 18 березня до посольства Росії в цій країні. Ці люди висловили протест проти виборів, які Москва організувала в окупованому нею Криму.

«Зупинити гібридну війну Росії проти Болгарії! Ні незаконним виборам Росії в окупованому нею Криму! Крим – це Україна» – про такі гасла демонстрантів повідомила у Facebook учасниця заходу Олена Коцева.

В іншому повідомленні вона відзначила, що акція відбулася, попри дощ, який іде в столиці Болгарії Софії.

Акції протесту проти незаконних виборів у Криму відбулися також у кількох містах України, а в Києві, Одесі, Львові та Харкові активісти й поліція не допустили до російських дипломатичних установ осіб, охочих проголосувати.

16 березня Міністерство внутрішніх справ України заявило, що 18 березня, в день проведення в Росії президентських виборів, на територію російських дипломатичних представництв в Україні (посольства в Києві, генеральних консульств у Львові, Одесі і Харкові) громадяни Росії допускатися не будуть, за винятком осіб із дипломатичним статусом.

У Росії у відповідь звинуватили Україну в «порушенні міжнародних зобов’язань і міжнародного права» і навіть у «втручанні у внутрішні справи Росії» – не згадуючи про юридичну кваліфікацію дій самої Росії, яка 2014 року окупувала український Крим, а нині намагається провести на цій окупованій частині української території вибори свого президента, всупереч нормам і вимогам міжнародного права.

Міністр закордонних справ України Павло Клімкін іще 23 лютого повідомляв, що українська сторона надіслала ноту до МЗС Росії, в якій висловила «рішучий протест проти виборів президента Росії на території окупованого Криму», що також Україна застерегла від спроб організації виборів на території окупованого Донбасу і наголосила, що не може бути ніяких виборів у диппредставництвах Росії в Україні «без повного виконання перших двох умов». Ні про які реакції на це російської сторони повідомлень не було, Москва давала знати, що відкриє в Україні в день виборів чотири дільниці для голосування.

Україна закликала світ не визнавати незаконних виборів президента Росії в окупованому українському Криму. Низка окремих країн і міждержавних об’єднань, зокрема Європейський союз, уже підтвердила, що не буде визнавати цих результатів.

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У Запоріжжі протестували проти проведення виборів президента Росії в окупованому Криму

На майдані Героїв Революції Гідності у Запоріжжі 18 березня відбулася акція на знак протесту проти проведення виборів президента Росії в окупованому Криму.

Організатором заходу стала Запорізька рада ветеранів АТО. До акції також долучилися представники товариств національних меншин регіону. Активісти принесли з собою українські та кримськотатарські прапори та плакати з написами «Крим – це Україна», «Свободу Криму! Свободу політв’язням!», «Ні виборам президента Росії в Криму» тощо.

«Незалежно від того, хто там зараз обирає президента сусідньої держави, Крим залишається українським, і ми нагадуємо про це. Гадаю, варто нагадувати не лише в цей день, а й регулярно, що Крим – це дійсно Україна. Там в мене багато знайомих кримських татар, взагалі жителів Криму, які живуть зараз під цим ковпаком і мусять терпіти все це», – розповів один з учасників акції, волонтер Костянтин Мороз.

Організатори акції також нагадали учасникам заходу про сторіччя звільнення Криму від більшовиків навесні 1918 року, коли війська УНР під командуванням Петра Болбочана прорвали більшовицькі укріплення на Чонгарі і після цього звільнили півострів.

На завершення акції учасники зібрали символічну карту України з пазлів-областей.

Вибори президента Росії проводять 18 березня 2018 року, в четверту річницю російської анексії Криму. Спеціально для того, щоб дві дати збіглися, в Росії змінили виборче законодавство – раніше передбачалося, що вибори мали відбутися в останню неділю березня, тобто 25 числа.

Росіяни можуть проголосувати за вісьмох кандидатів, але аналітики вважають, що ці вибори є фактичним перезатвердженням на новий шестирічний термін чинного російського лідера Володимира Путіна, який перебуває при владі вже 18 років. До виборів не був допущений Олексій Навальний – єдиний кандидат, який вів свою кампанію понад рік, ще від кінця 2016 року.

У січні голова Меджлісу кримськотатарського народу Рефат Чубаров закликав кримчан усіх національностей бойкотувати вибори президента Росії.

Призначений Кремлем голова Криму Сергій Аксьонов погрожував звільненням чиновникам, які закликають підлеглих не йти на вибори президента Росії.

16 лютого президент України Петро Порошенко закликав світову спільноту не визнавати результати виборів президента Росії в анексованому Криму.

Про невизнання виборів президента Росії в Криму йдеться в декларації верховного представника ЄС із закордонних справ і політики безпеки Федеріки Моґеріні.

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Lawmakers Say UK Should Consider Postponing Brexit

Britain should consider postponing Brexit because there may not be enough time to strike a deal with the European Union before the U.K. leaves the bloc a year from now, a key committee of British lawmakers said Sunday.

 

The House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee said if major aspects of the future relationship with the EU remain unsettled by October, Britain should seek a “limited extension” of its EU membership.

 

Britain and the EU want a deal on future relations settled by the fall so national parliaments can approve it before Britain officially leaves the 28-nation bloc on March 29, 2019.

 

In a report published Sunday, the lawmakers said a proposed transition period of about two years should be able to be extended if needed. The two sides have agreed in principle that Britain will continue to remain part of the bloc’s structures and rules until the end of 2020.

 

Seven pro-Brexit members of the 21-member, all-party committee refused to back the report, preparing an alternative version that took a more uncompromising tone toward the EU.

 

The majority-backed report said it is worrying that there has been “little progress” in solving the key issue of how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

 

Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other infrastructure along the all-but-invisible border, but the committee said Britain has yet to put forward credible proposals for how this could work.

 

“We know of no international border, other than the internal borders of the EU, that operates without checks and physical infrastructure,” said the committee’s chairman, Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn.

 

The pro-Brexit dissenters’ alternative document accused the EU of taking an unhelpful approach to the border issue. They suggested that new technology and “streamlined” customs arrangements can deliver a frictionless border.

 

Rather than having Britain seek to extend its EU membership, the minority group said the U.K should walk away without a deal if talks bog down.

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Putin Expected to Easily Win Russian Presidential Vote

Russians are going to the polls Sunday for a presidential election that is certain to allow incumbent Vladimir Putin to retain his grip on power and the presidency. Putin has been in a position of leadership in Russia for 18 years.

He faces seven challengers but no real threats from any of the contenders. Each of the other candidates — a reality star and an ultranationalist among them — is expected to draw very few ballots. Putin is expected to bring in more than 50 percent of the vote, but his election team is hoping for 70 percent.

Sunday’s election spans 11 time zones, starting with the far east and ending with the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Nearly 109 million people are registered to cast ballots. State-owned polling company VCIOM projects a turnout of 71 percent.

Yet, the Russian non-governmental research organization Levada Center conducted a survey in December that indicated 58 percent of voters planned to boycott the elections.

Putin’s closest rival was opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but he was disqualified from running in the election when he was convicted for embezzlement in December. Given a five-year suspended sentence, he says the conviction was politically motivated, to keep him out of the race.

Navalny is leading the boycott effort, while Russian election organizers are hoping for a high voter turnout to legitimize an election long seen to have a foregone conclusion.

In Crimea, the territory Russia says it has annexed from Ukraine, a few European politicians who are friendly with Putin are acting as election observers. The European Union and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have refused to send election monitors to Crimea, fearing it would be seen to legitimize the Russian occupation.

Opposition leader Navalny told VOA’s Russian service on Thursday that Putin’s observers in Crimea are political cronies, not objective observers. Among them are Andreas Mauere of the German far-left party Die Linke, and Hendrik Weber, founder of a Norwegian public organization called People Diplomacy Norway.

“All those so-called “European observers — they are as much observers as other candidates in these elections are ‘rivals’ to Putin,” Navalny told VOA. “Of course this is an absolute fake. It’s ridiculous and unpleasant to look at how Putin corrupted and turned into his puppets a significant part of the European establishment.”

Putin has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999. He has switched back and forth between the two roles to circumvent a Russian law banning him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.

Opinion polls show he has far more support than any of his rivals, who run the gamut from far-right populist to far-left communist. With another Putin win practically guaranteed, Navalny and other experts say Russian authorities could try to use inflated voter turnout numbers to prove the election was a success.

VOA Russian service contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

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Активісти розбирають конструкції на майдані Незалежності в Києві (трансляція)

Учасники мітингу, організованого партією «Рух нових сил» 18 березня в центрі Києва, розбирають конструкції, встановлені з нагоди річниці окупацією Росією Криму. Це відбувається водночас із мітингом, у якому беруть участь кілька тисяч людей.

Вони вимагають відставки президента України Петра Порошенка.

Мистецьку інсталяцію, присвячену річниці окупацією Росією Криму, було встановлено напередодні 18 березня, річниці незаконного «референдуму», за результатами якого Москва проголосила півострів частиною своєї території. На розтяжках містилися написи на кшталт «Ялта – наш» та подібні, які є алюзією російського гасла 2014 року «Крим – наш».

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US Investigates Deaths in Hyundai-Kia Cars When Air Bags Failed

Air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead. Now the U.S. government’s road safety agency wants to know why.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s investigating problems that affect an estimated 425,000 cars made by the Korean automakers. The agency also is looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies.

In documents posted on its website Saturday , the safety agency says the probe covers 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize cars and 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars. Four people died and six were injured.

Electrical circuits 

The problem has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in air bag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW. NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer.

On Feb. 27, Hyundai recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas because of air bag failures, which the company blamed on the short circuits.Hyundai’s sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, has yet to issue a recall.

In a statement Saturday, Kia said that it has not confirmed any air bag non-deployments in its 2002-2013 Kia Forte models arising from “the potential chip issue.” The company said it will work with NHTSA investigators.

“Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate,” the company said.

But a consumer complaint cited in NHTSA’s investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland in which air bags failed to deploy and a passenger was killed.

In October 2015, the complainant told NHTSA that a 2012 Forte was involved in a serious front-end crash that occurred in July 2013. A passenger was killed and the driver was injured. According to the complaint, Kia was notified, the air bag computer was tested and it was “found not to be working.”

Kia spokesman James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company’s statement.

Hyundai recall

In addition, no deaths or injuries were disclosed in Hyundai’s recall documents, which were posted by NHTSA in early March.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says the problem occurred in rare high-speed head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. “It’s very unusual to have that kind of collision,” he said Saturday.

Dealers will consider offering loaner cars to owners until the problem can be repaired, he said. “We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers,” Trainor said.

Hyundai said in a statement that the air bag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes and a fourth crash is under investigation.

ZF-TRW said in a statement that it is prevented by confidentiality agreements from identifying other automakers that bought its air bag control computers. The company said it is working with customers and supports the NHTSA investigation.

According to NHTSA, Hyundai investigated and found the problem was “electrical overstress” in the computers. The company didn’t have a fix developed at the time but said it was investigating the problem with ZF-TRW. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. The problem also can stop the seat belts from tightening before a crash.

In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW. The agency noted a 2016 recall involving more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and SUVs that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy. Agency documents show those vehicles had air bag computers made by ZF-TRW.

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Women ‘Weed Warriors’ Leading the Way in US Pot Revolution

The pot revolution is alive and well in the state of Colorado where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014. While the full impact of legal marijuana in Colorado has yet to be determined, what is clear is that cannabis has become a giant moneymaker for the state. And as Paula Vargas reports from Denver, women entrepreneurs — weed warriors, as some have called them — are leading the way.

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Analysts: Iraq War Legacy Marked by Failure, Some Success

March 20 marks the 15th anniversary of U.S. President George W. Bush announcing the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with air strikes and ground troops deployed to target long-time dictator Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders. But the mission and its complicated legacy have not been without controversy. VOA’s Jill Craig has more from Washington.

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AP Fact Check: Trump Wrong on Russia Collusion Question, McCabe Timeline

In a series of blistering tweets, President Donald Trump falsely asserted that the House Intelligence Committee has concluded there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.

Trump in his Saturday tweets lashed out at his perceived foes tied to the Russia investigation and exulted in the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, once a leader of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices. The FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton infuriated Trump at the time, and still does.

TRUMP: “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.” — Trump tweet.

 

THE FACTS: He’s wrong. That conclusion came from Republicans on the committee; it was not a committee finding. Democrats on the committee sharply dispute the Republican conclusions and will issue their own.

 

Whatever the findings of the committee, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the key investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. The probe has produced a number of charges and convictions, none to date alleging criminal collusion. But Mueller continues to explore whether collusion occurred and whether Trump or others may have obstructed justice. 

 

Trump did not specify what he meant in accusing the agencies of corruption. McCabe was fired in advance of an inspector general’s report that’s expected to conclude he was not forthcoming about matters related to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails.

TRUMP: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!” — Trump tweet.

 

THE FACTS: Some context is missing here. This is true: McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, ran as a Democrat for the Virginia state Senate in 2015, and the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave her campaign $500,000 during her race. McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Hillary Clinton, branded “Crooked H” by Trump. Jill McCabe lost the race.

 

Trump’s complaint, as he spelled it out in the past, is that Clinton-linked money went to “the wife of the FBI agent who was in charge of her investigation.” But that timeline is wrong. Andrew McCabe was elevated to deputy FBI director and didn’t become involved in the Clinton email probe until after his wife’s bid for office was over. The FBI said McCabe’s promotion and supervisory position in the email investigation happened three months after the campaign.

The bureau also said in a statement at the time that McCabe sought guidance from agency ethics officers and recused himself from “all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics” throughout his wife’s campaign.

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Lawmakers Say Britain Should Consider Longer EU Exit Process if Needed

Britain should consider a limited extension to its exit process from the European Union if needed to ensure details of its future relationship with the

bloc are agreed, a committee of lawmakers said in a report.

Prime Minister Theresa May formally notified the EU of Britain’s intention to leave by triggering Article 50 of the membership treaty on March 29, 2017, setting the clock ticking on a two-year exit process.

Britain has said it wants to have the basis of a trade deal set out with the EU by October, but the Exiting the EU Committee said in a report published Sunday that deadline would be tight.

“In the short time that remains, it is difficult to see how it will be possible to negotiate a full, bespoke trade and market access agreement, along with a range of other agreements, including on foreign affairs and defense cooperation,” the committee said.

“If substantial aspects of the future partnership remain to be agreed in October, the government should seek a limited extension to the Article 50 time to ensure that a political declaration on the future partnership that is sufficiently detailed and comprehensive can be concluded.”

The report also said it should be possible to prolong, if necessary, the length of any post-Brexit transition that’s agreed upon by Britain and the EU.

Britain has said it is confident it can reach a deal on the transition period at an EU summit this month. It expects the transition to last around two years after its departure date, although the European Union has said it should be shorter,

ending on Dec. 31, 2020.

The Exiting the EU committee, made up of lawmakers from all the main political parties, also called on the government to present a detailed plan on how a “frictionless” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would work.

The Irish border is a key sticking point in negotiations between the U.K. and the EU, as Britain has said it wants to leave the customs union but does not want a “hard” land border with customs checks.

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Північна Корея і Швеція завершили переговори у Стокгольмі

Міністри закордонних справ Північної Кореї і Швеції, яка представляє перед Пхеньяном інтереси США, завершили триденні переговори у шведській столиці Стокгольмі про ситуацію з безпекою на Корейському півострові, повідомило Міністерство закордонних справ Швецію.

Міністри Рі Йон Хо і Марґот Вальстрем «обговорили можливості і виклики щодо тривалих дипломатичних зусиль із метою досягти мирного вирішення конфлікту», мовиться в повідомленні.

Швеція, посольство якої у Пхеньяні представляє перед Північною Кореєю інтереси США, закликала Північну Корею відмовитися від ядерної зброї і від ракетної програми, відповідно до резолюцій Ради безпеки ООН, повідомило шведське МЗС.

Як додав речник Вальстрем, голова шведської дипломатії після цієї зустрічі вже 19 березня зустрінеться у Брюсселі з головою МЗС Південної Кореї.

Візит чільного північнокорейського дипломата до Стокгольма став першим значним дипломатичним кроком Пхеньяна від часу, коли президент США Дональд Трамп заявив раніше цього місяця, що хотів би зустрітися з керівником Північної Кореї Кім Чен Ином.

Північна Корея досі офіційно не коментувала можливості особистої зустрічі двох керівників, відколи Трамп прийняв запрошення Кіма з приводу такої зустрічі, яке йому усно передала делегація Південної Кореї.

Швецію вважають одним із можливих місць для такої зустрічі, якщо вона відбудеться.

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