Daily Archives: December 3, 2017

Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump denied on Sunday having asked then FBI director James Comey to stop investigating ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn, as the Russia meddling probe darkened what would otherwise have been a victorious week for the Republican president.

Trump appeared to be backtracking furiously from a tweet on Saturday that deepened suspicions that he engaged in obstruction of justice, an impeachable offence — in the Russia scandal haunting his presidency.

In that Twitter post, Trump said he had fired Flynn in February for lying not just to the vice president but also to Comey’s FBI, which was probing Flynn over his pre-inauguration contacts with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions imposed by Barack Obama against Russia for interfering in the US election.

Comey has testified under oath to lawmakers that a day after firing Flynn, Trump asked him to drop the Flynn probe.

If Comey is to be believed, the Saturday tweet suggests Trump asked the FBI to lay off someone in his administration that Trump now acknowledges he knew had committed a felony — lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But on Sunday, Trump insisted, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

Trump fired Comey in May and has said he did so with the Russia probe in mind.

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence committee, said on Sunday that suspicions of obstruction of justice by Trump are growing.

Schiff argued that if the evidence shows that Trump knew about and directed Flynn’s Russia contacts, and then asked Comey to drop the matter after his lies to the FBI came to light, “Then you get the case of obstruction of justice.”

“I think that’s the significance of this context in which the president was intervening,” he said on ABC’s This Week.

Senator Diane Feinstein told NBC: “I think what we are beginning to see is a case of obstruction of justice.”

“Clearly he is making progress,” Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In an ominous turn for the president, Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with Mueller.

White House officials told The New York Times that in his tweet Saturday Trump was only referencing Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd told ABC News that he had drafted the tweet and had done so in a “sloppy” manner.

Mueller’s focus goes beyond possible collusion with Russia to business dealings and whether Trump himself tried to thwart the investigation.

Trump also expressed anger Sunday over word that a senior FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, was removed from the Russia investigation over the summer for sending text messages critical of Trump.

Strzok had also worked on the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

“ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE” Now it all starts to make sense!” Trump wrote.

As he left for a day trip to New York on Saturday, Trump again insisted his team had not plotted with Moscow to sway the election in his favor over Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost the all-important electoral college count.

“What has been shown is no collusion. There’s been absolutely no collusion. So we’re very happy,” Trump said.

Comey himself seemed to be addressing the latest developments in an Instagram message: “To paraphrase the Buddha — Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun; the moon; and the truth.”

The explosive new developments in the Russia probe have overshadowed a major legislative win for Trump: the Senate’s passage of the most significant US tax overhaul in 31 years.

Both the Senate and House versions lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, and include more modest tax cuts aimed at individuals across all income levels.

Democrats argue that the plan is too expensive and will accommodate only the rich, and that it could ultimately impact cherished US entitlement programs like Medicare.

The Senate bill was, just 24 hours earlier, on the brink of collapse when a handful of Republican deficit hawks balked at the plan’s $1.5 trillion price tag for 10 years.

Trump hopes to sign a final bill before Christmas. That would be a much-needed victory for the president, who has delivered on hardly any of his major legislative promises, including repealing the health care law known as Obamacare.

ISL 4: Mumbai City FC hold Kerala Blasters to a 1-1 draw

Kerala Blasters’ winless streak continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw in their third home match of the Indian Super League season four.

There’s nothing like playing hockey in India: Arthur Van Doren

For Belgian defender Arthur Van Doren playing in India isn’t a new experience. He has played in the Hockey India League for Uttar Pradesh Wizards but for him the opportunity to play in the country is unique which is unmatched.

Jordan begins diplomatic offensive ahead of Trump move on Jerusalem

AMMAN: Jordan has begun consultations on convening an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) before an expected move this week by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a senior Jordanian source said.

A senior US administration official said on Friday that Trump was likely to make the controversial declaration in a speech on Wednesday. Recognising Jerusalem would upend decades of American policy and possibly inflame tensions in the Middle East.

Jordan, the current president of the Arab summit, would invite members of the two bodies to convene if the recognition is extended, to “discuss ways of dealing with the consequences of such a decision that raised alarm and concern”, the senior Jordanian diplomatic source told Reuters.

“It could ultimately hamper all efforts to get the peace process moving and holds a very high risk of provoking Arab and Muslim countries and Muslim communities in the West,” said the diplomatic source, asking not to be named.

King Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Amman sensitive to any changes of status of the disputed city.

Word of Trump’s planned announcement, which would deviate from previous U.S. presidents who have insisted the Jerusalem’s status must be decided in negotiations, drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority and was sure to anger the broader Arab world.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the international community does not recognise Israel’s claim on all of the city, home to sites holy to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions.

Jordan lost East Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and says the city’s fate should only be decided only at the end of a final settlement. “It is essential no unilateral decisions are made that would change the historic status quo of Jerusalem as an occupied city whose fate needs to be determined in final status talks within an overall peace package,” the senior Jordanian diplomatic source added.

HWL Final: Argentina leave it late for thrilling 3-3 draw vs Netherlands

It was a match that would have been expected of between the current Olympic champions Argentina and the European champions Netherlands. The nearly full Kalinga Stadium crowd witnessed a breathtakingly finale as Argentina came from behind, twice, to hold Netherlands 3-3.

Deepika bags bronze for India in Indoor Archery World Cup

Deepika, seeded third, defeated 13th seeded Sayana Tsyrempilova of Russia 7-3 in the women’s recurve bronze play-off to bring some smile to the camp after the men’s top seed Atanu Das crashed out in round two.

Narinder Batra, Anil Khanna in fray for IOA president post

There will be a straight two-way fight between International Hockey Federation president Narinder Batra and top tennis official Anil Khanna for the post of Indian Olympic Association president in the December 14 polls.

ISL 4: Sereno leads Chennaiyin FC to victory over Pune City

Chennaiyin FC got the better of FC Pune City by a solitary goal in the Indian Super League season four clash to move to the second spot at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi Stadium on Sunday.

HWL Final: Belgium go top of pool A after crushing Spain 5-0

After the high of stunning Netherlands, Spain came crashing down on Sunday as Belgium bossed over them in a one-sided contest of the Hockey World League Final to record their second consecutive win. With a 5-0 win, Belgium moved to the top of the standing in Pool A with six points from two games.

HWL Final: Belgium go top of pool A after crushing Spain 5-0

After the high of stunning Netherlands, Spain came crashing down on Sunday as Belgium bossed over them in a one-sided contest of the Hockey World League Final to record their second consecutive win. With a 5-0 win, Belgium moved to the top of the standing in Pool A with six points from two games.