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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Burr arrives inside Hart Senate Office Building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) arrives inside the Hart Senate Office Building before former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen testified behind closed doors before the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 19, 2019

By Mark Hosenball and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, known as perhaps Congress’ most bipartisan panel, is split along party lines over whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, sources told Reuters.

The division is unsurprising in Washington’s bitterly partisan climate but raises a broader question: If the Senate intelligence panel cannot produce a consensus view of what happened with Trump and the Russians, what committee can?

It would in turn stir doubts about whether congressional investigations into Trump will result in lawmakers trying to start impeachment proceedings against the Republican president.

At least six congressional committees are probing whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow in its efforts to sway U.S. voters to support Trump in 2016; whether Trump has tried to obstruct investigations; whether his businesses have ties to Moscow; and whether he has used his office to enrich himself.

The inquiries have months to go and much could change, especially with a long-running probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller not yet completed and many hours of congressional hearings, both open and closed, still to play out.

But at the moment, sources said, Intelligence Committee members have been considering the production of dueling final reports, one from the committee’s eight Republicans and one from its seven Democrats, reaching different conclusions.

Congressional sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that both Republicans and Democrats on Senate Intelligence agreed there was a lack of direct evidence pointing to collusion. The two sides disagree on circumstantial evidence.

The Democrats say there is enough circumstantial evidence to support a finding of collusion in the committee’s final report. Trump’s fellow Republicans on the panel say there is not.

“There is no hard evidence of collusion,” a Democratic source said, but “plenty of circumstantial evidence.”

Senate Intelligence oversees America’s spy agencies, from the CIA to the intelligence-related functions of the FBI.

Led by Republican Chairman Richard Burr, the panel’s members also include Republicans Marco Rubio and Susan Collins, as well as Democrats Mark Warner, Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden.

A spokeswoman for Burr declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Wyden, a senior committee Democrat.

Burr told CBS last month that the committee, at that time, had found no proof that Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

Trump denies any collusion occurred and has repeatedly blasted such inquiries as a “witch hunt.”

DUELING REPORTS

If Senate Intelligence, and possibly other committees in Congress, end up producing conflicting reports, Americans looking to Congress for explanations about links between Moscow and the Trump campaign are likely to be disappointed.

Moreover, experts said, such an outcome could reduce the odds of an eventual Trump impeachment. Under the Constitution, the impeachment process would begin in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but it would fall to the Republican-led Senate to decide whether to remove Trump from office.

“This may indicate that Republicans don’t think there’s a smoking gun, nothing that ties the president to a conspiracy,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.

“It leaves things with no impeachment, probably. … If the Republicans are saying: ‘Uh uh, this is not impeachable,’ then I don’t think it’s going to happen,” she said.

Entrusted with some of the most sensitive U.S. secrets, Senate Intelligence began its Trump-Russia probe shortly after Trump took office. It is now moving to re-interview key witnesses, with senators joining staff investigators in the questioning for the first time, the sources said.

The committee will assess a January 2017 report from the U.S. spy agencies that found Russia interfered in the 2016 election in various ways. Russia denies any meddling.

Also being scrutinized by the panel are the role of social media in the 2016 campaign, the security of U.S. voting systems and steps former President Barack Obama’s administration took – or did not take – after initial reports of Russian interference.

But the central topic of the committee’s probe will be the question of collusion.

Bipartisan oversight on those questions is crucial, said Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“If there is a bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, assuming it’s a full exposition, that would make a difference, even if Burr and Warner had different interpretations,” he said.

Separate, partisan reports would tell a more familiar story, he said. “Then we’re back to the dynamic where Republicans will believe the Burr report, while Democrats, the mainstream media, the intellectual community and the Never-Trumpers are going to believe the Warner report,” Ornstein said.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels
FILE PHOTO: Mar 7, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) runs to third base after hitting a triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

March 19, 2019

Mike Trout is on the verge of a 12-year, $430 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Angels, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Trout, 27, is a two-time American League Most Valuable Player and was scheduled to become a free agent in 2020. The agreement, per ESPN, tacks on 10 years to the final two seasons remaining on Trout’s $144.5 million agreement with the Angels.

The deal would smash the massive contract signed by Bryce Harper — 13 years, $330 million with the Philadelphia Phillies — on March 2.

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke had the MLB record annual average salary at $34.4 million. Trout would eclipse that mark with $36 million AAV.

Boxer Canelo Alvarez signed a contract with DAZN worth a minimum of $365 million.

Trout has a staggering 64.3 Wins Above Replacement through his age-26 season, which is far beyond any player at his age in Major League Baseball history.

The 24th pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Trout has made the playoffs only once with the Angels in eight seasons. Speculation built that he could bounce to the Phillies when his contract expired — Trout grew up less than an hour away in New Jersey — but the Angels declared their commitment to the superstar.

Trout, who has a career .307 batting average with 240 home runs, 648 RBIs, 793 runs and 189 stolen bases in 1,065 career games, also finished second in the MVP voting four times.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained the first of three search warrants for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s email accounts in July 2017, much earlier than previously known.

Mueller’s office sought evidence of money laundering, bank fraud and that Cohen acted as an unregistered foreign agent, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Beryl Howell granted the warrants. The first was granted on July 18, 2017, two months after Mueller was appointed special counsel.

Mueller’s office on Feb. 8, 2018 handed over some of the seized material to prosecutors in Manhattan who were investigating Cohen over various financial crimes. Prosecutors there executed search warrants on Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on April 9, 2018.

The former Trump fixer pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2018 to bank fraud, tax evasion and making an illegal campaign contribution in the form of a payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cohen pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe on Nov. 29, 2018 to making false statements to Congress regarding the extent of his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen testified in 2017 that he ended those negotiations in January 2016, before the start of the Republican presidential primaries. In his plea, Cohen admitted he continued working to build the Russian skyscraper through June 2016.

Mueller’s search warrants sought information from two of Cohen’s Gmail accounts and another account by a company called 1&1 Internet, Inc. The first warrant sought information stretching back to Jan. 1, 2016.

Cohen will begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6.

Mueller’s search for evidence that Cohen acted as a foreign agent is perhaps the most intriguing revelation in the heavily redacted documents. Mueller’s investigation, which began on May 17, 2017, initially focused on whether Trump associates conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. Cohen is accused in the Steele dossier of visiting Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian officials regarding the hacking of Democrats’ emails.

Cohen has not faced any charges related to collusion or acting as a foreign agent. He took on several foreign clients after Trump won the election, but there is no evidence that he worked directly for foreign governments.

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Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Julia Roberts took a firm stance against the actions of those involved in the college admissions scandal.

The “Pretty Woman” actress weighed in on the scandal while promoting her new drama “Ben Is Back” in the U.K.

“That to me is so sad, because I feel, [as] an outsider, that it says a little bit ‘I don’t have enough faith in you,” Roberts told ITV in a report published Monday by Entertainment Tonight.

Roberts and her husband have three kids together, 14-year old twins and an 11-year old son. They try to keep the experience relatively normal for their kids, Roberts said.

“My husband and I are very aligned on that front, I think that we live a very normal experience with our children. Obviously we have advantages that we didn’t have as children,” Roberts told ITV. “But I think that’s the unique part of it, coming from the childhood I have. You do need to know how to make your bed and do your laundry and make one meal. These are important life skills.”

“They have to run their own race,” she continued. “They have to have their own experience.” (RELATED: Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Loses Sephora Collaboration Amid College Admissions Scandal)

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were both charged in the massive admissions scandal for allegedly paying for their children to gain admission to certain colleges. Loughlin allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes so her daughters could secure admissions to the University of Southern California. Huffman reportedly paid $15,000 to have someone take the SAT test for her daughter.

Source: The Daily Caller

Honduran migrant Ariel, 19, who is waiting for his court hearing for asylum seekers returned to Mexico to wait out their legal proceedings under a new policy change by the U.S. government, is pictured after an interview with Reuters in Tijuana
Honduran migrant Ariel, 19, who is waiting for his court hearing for asylum seekers returned to Mexico to wait out their legal proceedings under a new policy change by the U.S. government, is pictured after an interview with Reuters in Tijuana, Mexico March 18, 2019. Picture taken March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

March 19, 2019

By Lizbeth Diaz and Mica Rosenberg

TIJUANA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A group of asylum seekers sent back to Mexico was set to cross the border on Tuesday for their first hearings in U.S. immigration court in an early test of a controversial new policy from the Trump administration.

The U.S. program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), turns people seeking protection in the United States around to wait out their U.S. court proceedings in Mexican border towns. Some 240 people – including families – have been returned since late January, according to U.S. officials.

Court officials in San Diego referred questions about the number of hearings being held on Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond to a request for comment. But attorneys representing a handful of clients were preparing to appear in court.

Migrants like 19-year-old Ariel, who said he left Honduras because of gang death threats against himself and his family, were preparing to line up at the San Ysidro port of entry first thing Tuesday morning.

Ariel, who asked to use only his middle name because of fears of reprisals in his home country, was among the first group of asylum-seeking migrants sent back to Mexico on Jan. 30 and given a notice to appear in U.S. court in San Diego.

“God willing everything will move ahead and I will be able to prove that if I am sent back to Honduras, I’ll be killed,” Ariel said.

While awaiting his U.S. hearing, Ariel said he was unable to get a legal work permit in Mexico but found a job as a restaurant busboy in Tijuana, which does not pay him enough to move out of a shelter.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocacy groups are suing in federal court to halt the MPP program, which is part of a series of measures the administration of President Donald Trump has taken to try to curb the flow of mostly Central American migrants trying to enter the United States.

The Trump administration says most asylum claims, especially for Central Americans, are ultimately rejected, but because of crushing immigration court backlogs people are often released pending resolution of their cases and live in the United States for years. The government has said the new program is aimed at ending “the exploitation of our generous immigration laws.”

Critics of the program say it violates U.S. law and international norms since migrants are sent back to often dangerous towns in Mexico in precarious living situations where it is difficult to get notice about changes to U.S. court dates and to find legal help.

Immigration advocates are closely watching how the proceedings will be carried out this week, especially after scheduling glitches created confusion around three hearings last week, according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which runs U.S. immigration courts under the Department of Justice, said only that it uses its regular court scheduling system for the MPP hearings and did not respond to a question about the reported scheduling problems.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said there are real concerns about the difficulties of carrying out this major shift in U.S. immigration policy.

“The government did not have its shoes tied when they introduced this program,” he said.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial at the courthouse in Lyon
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial, charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese, at the courthouse in Lyon, France, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

March 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted this month of failing to report sexual abuse allegations, said on Tuesday that Pope Francis had turned down his offer to resign.

“On Monday morning, I put forward my resignation to the hands of the Holy Father. Invoking the presumption of innocence, he declined to accept this resignation,” said Barbarin in a statement set by France’s Lyon Catholic Church.

Barbarin is appealing the verdict against him.

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • Activists are blaming global warming for historic flooding in the Midwest, however, the science behind their claim is weak and not in line with the latest National Climate Assessment.
  • Hundreds of homes are inundated with water and at least three people have been killed in floods.
  • Thousands of people across four states were forced to evacuate because river flooding breached nearly 200 miles of levees.

Some environmentalists and scientists are blaming global warming for the historic flooding across the Midwest, adding to the long list of disasters eager activists link to climate change.

But is the scientific connection between historic Midwest floods and global warming very strong? No, it’s not.

A “bomb cyclone” led to sudden, devastating floods across the Midwest and Great Plains that left at least three people dead, according to reports. Officials say it’s the worst flooding in 50 years.

While most in the media largely stayed away from connecting Midwest flooding to climate change, environmentalists were quick to make the connection, claiming the science was on their side.

Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who made headlines protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, proclaimed “[s]cientists confirm climate change” was at work in the historic Midwest flooding.

An aerial view of the flooding at the Camp Ashland in Nebraska

Flooded Camp Ashland, Army National Guard facility, is seen in this aerial photo taken in Ashland, Nebraska, U.S., March 17, 2019. Picture taken March 17, 2019. Courtesy Herschel Talley/Nebraska National Guard/Handout via REUTERS.

The article McKibben linked to, however, only mentions a “changing climate” once, but does discuss the myriad of other, likely more important factors, that contributed to the massive flooding, like rainfall piling up over frozen ground. (RELATED: DC Opens Door To Private Investors Financing Its Climate Change Case Against Exxon, Lawyer Says)

The liberal blog ThinkProgress claimed Midwest floods were a “terrifying preview of climate impacts to come,” though the article relied heavily on comment from environmental activists.

“This level of flooding is becoming the new normal,” John Hickey, Sierra Club’s Missouri chapter director, told ThinkProgress.

Other environmental activists attacked major media outlets, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, for not linking Midwest flooding to global warming.

Environmental policy experts were quick to point out the lack of science behind such claims.

An aerial view of Spencer Dam after a storm triggered historic flooding, near Bristow, Nebraska

An aerial view of Spencer Dam after a storm triggered historic flooding, near Bristow, Nebraska, U.S. March 16, 2019. Office of Governor Pete Ricketts/Handout via REUTERS.

The 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) found that “formal attribution approaches have not established a significant connection of increased riverine flooding to human-induced climate change.”

Likewise, the NCA noted that “a variety of other compounding factors, including local land use, land-cover changes, and water management also play important roles.”

Land-cover was an extremely important factor in the Midwest floods. Heavy rain fell onto snow-covered, frozen ground. Rain and snowmelt ran off into already ice-covered rivers, which rose and sent massive chunks of ice downstream, breaking infrastructure and damming up the river.

More than 70 cities across Nebraska declared emergencies amid historic floods. Thousands of people across four states were forced to evacuate because river flooding breached nearly 200 miles of levees, CBS News reported.

The Mississippi and Missouri rivers also saw widespread flooding. Residents in western Illinois saw the worst floods in 50 years, according to The Chicago Tribune. Many homes in Holt County, Missouri were sitting in up to 7 feet of water from river flooding, The Associated Press reported.

Flooded apartments are seen over Elkhorn River after a storm triggered historic flooding in Nebraska

Flooded apartments are seen over Elkhorn River after a storm triggered historic flooding in Nebraska, U.S. March 16, 2019. Office of Governor Pete Ricketts/Handout via REUTERS.

Oddly enough, the Nebraska-based Omaha World-Herald got comments from two scientists who gave rather broad statements on the connection between global warming and extreme rainfall.

Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen said “the strongest storms are getting stronger with global warming” because warmer air has more moisture. Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann, creator of the controversial “hockey stick graph,” told the World-Herald that some studies show factors behind “bomb cyclones” are increasing due to climate change.

“There is evidence now in modeling studies that climate change is increasing these factors, supporting the development of more intense bomb cyclones and Nor’easters, packing tropical storm-scale winds and dumping huge amounts of precipitation (often in the form of huge snowfalls),” Mann said.

However, atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue shot back, saying that Hansen and Mann were giving generalized explanations of modeled climate impacts instead of gathering actual data on the flood event.

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David Hookstead | Reporter

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry behaved like a child Monday night in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Curry behaved like a spoiled brat when he was called for a foul at the end of the third quarter. He ran around the court, yelled at the refs and resembled a kid on prom night who has been told to drink a little less and doesn’t take it well.

It was not at all what you’d expect to see out of a generally composed NBA star. Watch his pathetic antics below.

Imagine being a full-grown man, and behaving like that in front of the whole country. Hell, you shouldn’t behave like that if you’re in private.

You damn sure shouldn’t do it in front of TV cameras. It’s not like that was a bad call, either. It might not have been great, but it’s fair to say there was some contact there. (RELATED: Warriors Star Steph Curry Suffers Humiliating Fall During Dunk Attempt)

Why that reaction was necessary, we might never know.

Curry should take a long look in the mirror, and ask himself if that behavior is the standard we expect out of some of the best athletes in the world.

He’s out there acting like he just got accused of murder. Give it a rest. It’s one foul call in one game, and it was probably the right call.

Source: The Daily Caller

Turkish President Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul,
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul, Turkey March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

March 19, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman who killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques, warning that Turkey would make the attacker pay for his act if New Zealand did not.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at the two mosques during Muslim Friday prayers.

“You heinously killed 50 of our siblings. You will pay for this. If New Zealand doesn’t make you, we know how to make you pay one way or another,” Erdogan told an election rally of thousands in northern Turkey. He did not elaborate.

He said Turkey was wrong to have abolished the death penalty 15 years ago, and added that New Zealand should make legal arrangements so that the Christchurch gunman could face capital punishment.

“If the New Zealand parliament doesn’t make this decision I will continue to argue this with them constantly. The necessary action needs to be taken,” he said.

Erdogan is seeking to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March 31 local elections. At weekend election rallies he showed video footage of the shootings which the gunman had broadcast on Facebook, as well as extracts from a “manifesto” posted by the attacker and later taken down.

That earned a rebuke from New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said he told Turkey’s foreign minister and vice president that showing the video could endanger New Zealanders abroad.

Despite Peters’ intervention, an extract from the manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan’s rally again on Tuesday, as well as brief footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Erdogan has said the gunman issued threats against Turkey and the president himself, and wanted to drive Turks from Turkey’s northwestern, European region. Majority Muslim Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, is split between an Asian part east of the Bosphorus, and a European half to the west.

Erdogan’s AK Party, which has dominated Turkish politics for more than 16 years, is battling for votes as the economy tips into recession after years of strong growth. Erdogan has cast the local elections as a “matter of survival” in the face of threats including Kurdish militants, Islamophobia and incidents such as the New Zealand shootings.

A senior Turkish security source said Tarrant entered Turkey twice in 2016 – for a week in March and for more than a month in September. Turkish authorities have begun investigating everything from hotel records to camera footage to try to ascertain the reason for his visits, the source said.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump retaliated against George Conway for the lawyer’s tweets about his mental health on Tuesday, calling Conway a “total loser.”

Conway, who is married to Kellyanne Conway — one of Trump’s top advisers — has long expressed his anti-Trump sentiments on his personal Twitter account. Over the weekend, Conway’s ire at Trump seemed to reach a fever pitch as he repeatedly accused the president of being mentally ill.

Kellyanne Conway was forced to answer for her husband’s tweets, telling reporters, “No, I don’t share those concerns,” about the president’s mental health.

Trump weighed in on the situation Tuesday, quote-tweeting campaign manager Brad Parscale to assert that Conway is “a total loser!”

Parscale claimed in his tweet that Conway is simply jealous of his wife because “[Trump] turned down Mr. Kellyanne Conway for a job he desperately wanted.” (RELATED: Trump Campaign Manager Says He Knows Why Kellyanne Conway’s Husband Keeps Calling The President Crazy)

“He barely worked [at the Department of Justice] and was either fired/quit, didn’t want the scrutiny? Now he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success,” Parscale wrote. “POTUS doesn’t even know him!”

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Source: The Daily Caller


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