U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday appeared to end his probe without bringing criminal charges against several individuals he had investigated, including advisers and family members of President Donald Trump accused by Democratic lawmakers of not fully disclosing contacts with Russians.
Mueller handed in a confidential report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who will decide how much of it to make public.
Mueller’s two-year investigation led to criminal charges against 34 individuals in total, including six of Trump’s associates and several Russian nationals. He did not recommend any further indictments, a senior Justice Department official said.
Trump has repeatedly called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and denies any collusion with Russia. Russia denies interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Following are some individuals who came under scrutiny during the investigation but appear to have avoided criminal charges.
DONALD TRUMP JR.
Trump’s eldest son met in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York with a Russian lawyer to hear what he hoped was damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “If it’s what you say I love it,” he wrote to Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who arranged the meeting.
U.S. prosecutors said the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was an agent for the Kremlin.
When the meeting became public in June 2017, Trump Jr. initially said the meeting was about U.S. sanctions on Russia, not the presidential election.
Trump Jr. also communicated during the campaign with WikiLeaks, the website that released stolen emails from the Clinton campaign.
President Trump’s son-in-law played a central role in the 2016 election and now serves as a senior White House adviser.
Kushner also attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. He said he arrived late and tried to leave early after concluding the meeting was a “waste of time.”
In December 2016, after Trump won the election, Kushner asked Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to set up a secure communications channel at the Russian embassy. He also met that month with Sergei Gorkov, a Russian espionage officer who heads Vneshconombank, a Russian state-owned bank that is under U.S. sanctions. Kushner said no specific policies were discussed, nor was there any discussion about U.S. sanctions on Russia.
Trump’s first attorney general told Congress he was unaware of any communications between the campaign and Russia, before admitting that he met with Kislyak at least twice during the campaign. That led Sessions, a former Republican senator, to recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation, drawing the ire of Trump.
Sessions also told Congress that during the campaign he resisted a proposal by then-foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulous to meet with Russian officials. But three people who were in the room for the discussion told Reuters that Sessions expressed no objections to the idea. All three have given their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators.
Mueller was investigating Deripaska, a Russian metals magnate, because of his close ties to the Kremlin and his relationship with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison for witness tampering, tax and bank fraud, and other crimes.
Manafort offered to share information about the campaign with Deripaska, a major lobbying client, but there was no evidence Deripaska ever accepted the offer.
The U.S. Treasury Department hit Deripaska’s businesses with economic sanctions in April 2018, alleging he was profiting from his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and from the country’s “malign activity” around the world.
Deripaska sued the U.S. government earlier this month, alleging it unfairly accused him of involvement in Russian government activities.
Corsi, a right-wing political commentator and conspiracy theorist, came under scrutiny because longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone sought to use him as an intermediary to communicate with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the election.
Corsi said in November that he had received an offer from Mueller’s office to plead guilty to one felony count of providing false information to them in return for a lighter sentence.
He said he rejected the deal because he never intentionally lied during his 40 hours of interviews with Mueller’s team.
A foreign-policy adviser during the campaign, Page drew scrutiny from the FBI, which said in legal filings in 2016 that it believed he had been “collaborating and conspiring” with the Kremlin. Page met with several Russian government officials during a trip to Moscow in July 2016 and said he kept campaign officials up to date about his activities there.
Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Andy Sullivan;Editing by Leslie Adler
US House of Representatives kills attempt to impeach Trump
The U.S. House of Representatives by a wide margin just voted to not take action on a resolution to consider impeaching President Donald Trump over his racist remarks. The forced vote, which is still ongoing, currently stands at 331 in favor of "tabling," or putting aside, the motion, and 93 voting against tabling, meaning 93 voting to consider the motion.
The motion was brought by Democratic Congressman Al Green, who has been trying to impeach President Trump.This is the first time the House has weighed in officially on the issue.
Some who support impeachment voted against the motion, saying it needs to go through proper channels, generally the House Judiciary Committee.
‘Fat people don’t wear shorts’: North Carolina girl goes viral after being body shamed in church
On Wednesday, WCTI News Channel 12 reported on a viral video circulating of a girl in North Carolina being body-shamed at her own church by a community leader.
"She had came [sic] in and said you're too fat to wear those shorts, fat girls don't wear shorts," said 19-year-old Jenna Munger, describing the encounter, which happened as she was visiting the restroom while singing in the church choir.
On the video, which has already gathered more than 5 million views, the woman can be heard saying, "She's a chubby girl, but she's got a dress on that's appropriate; it comes down to the top of her knees."
Trump administration diverts development aid meant for Guatemala and Honduras to boost Venezuela’s Guaido
President Donald Trump's administration is diverting nearly $42 million intended for development aid in Guatemala and Honduras to support Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido, including staff salaries, an internal document showed.
In a memo obtained by AFP, the US Agency for International Development called Venezuela's political crisis "a significant, exigent event in the US national interest" that required a switch in $41.9 million in funds.
The United States and more than 50 other countries recognize Guaido as president of Venezuela, but leftist leader Nicolas Maduro remains in power despite nearly half a year of international efforts.