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Notes of Investigators Fill in Details of Key Events Examined by Mueller

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WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, told federal investigators that another lawyer representing Mr. Trump dismissed his warnings that a letter to Congress describing discussions between Russian officials and representatives of the Trump Organization about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow omitted key details, newly released memos show.

“Cohen said there were more communications with Russia and more communications with Trump than” what was documented in his letter, one memo said, noting that among them was a conversation he had had with a “woman from the Kremlin” whom he had told the president about.

The memo cites Mr. Cohen quoting the other lawyer, Jay Sekulow, saying the details did not need to be included in the letter to Congress because the Moscow project never moved forward.

Mr. Cohen’s letter to Congress was sent in August 2017. Twelve months later, he pleaded guilty to a range of financial crimes and a campaign finance-related charge stemming from his payments to a pornographic film actress who had claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

The timing of the Trump Tower discussions was significant to investigators because the proposal represented a business interest that Mr. Trump would have had in Russia during the campaign.

Another matter detailed in the 302s — the 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer who had claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton — was scrutinized closely by investigators as a possible instance of conspiracy between the campaign and Russia.

The memos were among nearly 300 pages of documents released by the Justice Department in response to being sued by BuzzFeed and CNN. They include summaries of interviews with Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director.

The interview summaries do not change the understanding of events that was documented in the report Mr. Mueller submitted to the Justice Department, and many of them are heavily redacted.

But they help paint a clearer picture of activities by the Trump campaign and by White House aides. And some describe a pattern of behavior by the president that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.

In one summary, Mr. Lewandowski described Mr. Trump directing him to deliver a statement to Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, that he wanted Mr. Sessions to release in his own name.

Mr. Sessions had recused himself from matters related to the Russia investigation after it was reported that at his confirmation hearings, he had not revealed the extent of his own contacts related to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Mueller was appointed as a result.

The recusal infuriated Mr. Trump, and according to the summary of Mr. Lewandowksi’s interview, he wanted Mr. Sessions to say that Mr. Trump “didn’t do anything wrong” and that the existence of the special prosecutor was “unfair” to Mr. Sessions.

The statement was also supposed to say that Mr. Sessions would meet with Mr. Mueller and tell him how unfair the investigation was to the president. Mr. Trump, according to the interview summary, believed that issuing such a statement would get Mr. Sessions “back on track.”

Mr. Lewandowski never delivered the message to Mr. Sessions, according to Mr. Mueller’s report.

In other interviews with investigators, Ms. Hicks described in detail her discussions with the president about a meeting that his son Donald Trump Jr., in search of dirt to use against Mrs. Clinton in June 2016, agreed to hold with an associate who wanted to bring a Kremlin-connected lawyer to Trump Tower in New York.

Ms. Hicks recalled joining Mr. Trump and his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, in the White House residence shortly after the meeting, when the Mueller inquiry was a few weeks old.

Mr. Kushner said they had discovered something that Mr. Trump should be aware of but was “not a big deal.” He then told his father-in-law that he, Donald Trump Jr. and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had attended the meeting at Trump Tower.

Mr. Kushner started to open a folder full of documents, Ms. Hicks recalled, but Mr. Trump “stopped him and said he did not want to know about it.”

A week later, the group met again, this time to discuss emails related to the meeting that had been discovered between the younger Mr. Trump and others. Ms. Hicks proposed a “softball interview” to get ahead of the story.

Mr. Kushner again said it was “not a big deal, just a meeting about Russian adoption,” according to the interview summaries.

Mr. Trump said that “they should not do anything, asked why so many people had the emails, and that they needed to let the lawyers deal with it,” according to the summaries.

At another point, Ms. Hicks told interviewers that she knew the news coverage of the emails would be “really bad,” and that her impression was that Mr. Trump did not believe that they would ever become public.

Other memos recount Ms. Hicks’s recollection of working on a statement to provide to The New York Times when the newspaper learned of the meeting between the younger Mr. Trump and the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, who had links to the Kremlin. She presented the statement to the president as they were traveling on Air Force One, but he told her it contained too much information, according to the interview summary.

The statement that was eventually released by Donald Trump Jr., the parameters of which were dictated by his father, said the meeting had been “primarily” about Russian adoptions — a reference to an anticorruption measure passed in the United States in 2012 that banned adoptions from Russia — and did not mention the promise of information about Mrs. Clinton.

Another set of summaries describe how Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who wrote a memo that became the justification for firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey in 2017, was conflicted about what he had done.

The day before Mr. Comey was fired, Mr. Rosenstein was called to the White House to meet with the president and others and told to write a memo summarizing his concerns about Mr. Comey.

“I knew when I left Director Comey would be fired,” Mr. Rosenstein is quoted as saying. After it happened the next day, Mr. Rosenstein said he felt “angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed.”

Recounting his feelings for Mr. Comey, Mr. Rosenstein then “paused a moment, appearing to have been overcome by emotion, but quickly recovered and apologized,” investigators wrote.



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Measles outbreak in Samoa kills 72, most of them children

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The Samoa measles outbreak has not slowed down, prompting the government to extend a state of emergency on Saturday to December 29. Over 5,100 measles cases have been reported since the outbreak, with 74 recorded in a recent 24-hour period alone, according to Samoa‘s government. 

More than two percent of the island nation’s population has been infected, and 72 measles-related deaths have been recorded. Most of those who have died have been under five-years-old, according to the United Nations.

The highly infectious disease is preventable through vaccination, but only 31 percent of Samoans were vaccinated when the outbreak was officially declared in October, according to Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Samoan authorities declared a state of emergency in November.

The low vaccination rate this year was caused in part by a distrust of vaccinations that spread last year when two infants died after nurses incorrectly mixed their vaccines with another medicine. The accident compounded the worldwide spread of misinformation about vaccines. 

The anti-vaccination movement made the list of the World Health Organization’s top threats to global health in 2019. 

The World Health Organization has described the fact that children are dying from a vaccine-preventable disease a “collective failure” to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.

The measles vaccine is now mandatory in Samoa. Overwhelmed health providers have been working furiously to vaccinate the population. As of Friday, 93 percent of Samoans had been vaccinated, according to the Samoan government.

Samoan Measles Deaths Reach 70
Hawaii aid workers help out with MMR vaccinations on December 6, 2019 in Apia, Samoa. 

Getty Images/Getty Images


On December 6, the government appealed for $10.7 million in aide to contain the public health threat. The United Nations announced earlier this week it would release emergency funding to the small Pacific island, meaning nearly $2.6 million will be made available. On Saturday, New Zealand announced $640,700 to help combat the disease in the Pacific region.

The United Nations funds will be used by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to provide emergency vaccinations, obstetric and neonatal care for mothers and newborns infected with measles, according to Laerke.

“Prevention through vaccination is the most effective way of avoiding illness and a costly health emergency,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement announcing the funding.

Samoa isn’t alone in its outbreak. The disease started appearing en masse earlier this year in the New Zealand city of Auckland, a popular stopover for small South Pacific islands, and measles epidemics have cropped up this year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine. 

Last year, measles killed 140,000 people, mostly children. This year is expected to be worse, according to the World Health Organization. Compared with the same period last year, 2019 provisional data up to November shows a three-fold increase in measles infections worldwide.





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Don Ness, former Duluth mayor, primes the political pump

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– Don Ness stood opposite the dais where he served for years. Peering down at him were seven students just a few years younger than the former mayor was when he first won a seat on the Duluth City Council.

On this December night, however, Ness adopted a different persona, as did the 19 students enrolled in the local government course he teaches at the University of Minnesota Duluth. For a few hours, the third-floor chamber in Duluth’s City Hall was home to a mock gathering of the citizens and elected officials of the imaginary town of Springfield who met to debate a fictional development proposal.

Ness — aka Richard Bankman, a brash billionaire hedge fund manager who grew up in Springfield and moved away — implored the mock council members to approve a deal that would use city dollars to subsidize the development of a multimillion-dollar athletic facility.

Students had to consider the interests and concerns of their assigned characters as they weighed in on the issue, an exercise Ness hoped gave them insight into the dynamics at play in local government.

“It’s really evident that students today have a pretty sophisticated understanding of national politics,” he said. “But there’s a huge gap to understanding what’s happening in local government.”

Ness has taught a course at the university each semester since 2016, the year he finished his second term as Duluth’s mayor after deciding not to seek re-election. His weekly class focuses in part on educating young people in how to navigate the political spheres where he thinks they have the best chance of making “a very direct and outsized impact.”

Ness, a lifelong Duluthian, was 25 when he joined the City Council. One of his current students, senior Mike Mayou, spent the first half of the semester campaigning for one of the at-large council seats, a race he narrowly lost in November.

“This is where we can effect change in a way that’s less and less possible, certainly, at a national level, and I think increasingly at a state level,” Ness said.

While the students’ meeting was more colorful than the average Duluth council session, the questions and concerns raised and debated were much the same. Junior Christian Olson, playing a local home renter, said he worried the development would cause market values to spike so much that he would be forced to move out of his neighborhood. Junior Morgan Campbell, acting as a labor leader, praised the athletic-facility project for creating more union construction jobs.

“We were born and raised in this town. Why not make Springfield better than it is right now?” mock Council Member Hunter Dunteman asked passionately.

After deliberating issues such as the income gap, the dangers of gentrification, environmental ramifications and potential economic effects, Joel Sipress, who serves as Duluth’s District 2 council member, called roll for the vote on the proposed resolution.

Ness’ class was broken into two mock sessions, and the second group considered a motion to table the measure so that council members could get more information from the developer.

“This is turning into the plastic bag debate,” said senior Kelsey Soderberg, breaking out of character for a moment to refer to an ordinance Duluth’s City Council passed recently after more than a month of drawn-out debate.

In a conclusion fitting for those seeking a taste of the true local government experience, the motion passed and the resolution was tabled, leaving the city of Springfield to wait another day to see whether it would get its new sports complex.

 

 

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Greta Thunberg says she ‘needs a rest’ as she heads home to Sweden after year of global climate activism. Teen campaigner, this week named Time’s Person of the Year, is currently in Italy leading a ‘Fridays for Future’ demonstration : worldnews

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Being contrarian is a huge draw to a lot of people, especially in online formats with controversial issues.

That is – If there’s something popular, people will find ways to take the other side.

So when people can point out her boat uses emissions or trying to claim she’s achieved nothing, they see it as some “gotcha” moment to discredit her. That person then feels smarter than the majority (the hivemind) for seeing something “everyone else is blind to” or some nonsense.

..These same people would never shit on, let’s say, David Attenborough for being a wealthy climate activist. “How much fossil fuel does Attenborough use!?” “Anyone can travel the world if they are rich” – Strange you don’t see those comments often on r/worldnews, right? The fact that she’s young makes people insecure and more prone to criticism.

A lot of her critics are climate deniers who are predisposed to criticizing her, and they are conspiratorial by nature. So they can see that she has wealthy parents or a PR team, and make wild claims that she’s some puppet being used to further someone’s agenda.

It’s not all genuine or in good-faith either. A lot of people argue or try to criticize her for the sport of it, since they have a keyboard and an anonymous account to hide behind, they feel the right to play.

There’s no better place to witness it than reddit. I honestly worry for her safety because of what I’ve seen on this website.



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