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Trump’s first CIA director has already examined the origins of the Russia probe — and found no evidence of anti-Trump bias

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Attorney General William Barr has ordered an investigation into the origins and conclusions of the CIA assessment of President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia — but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo already did that shortly after the inauguration.

Pompeo conducted a personal review of the CIA’s findings shortly after taking over as the spy agency’s director in 2017, and ultimately found no evidence that analysts had faced political pressure to determine that Russia had tried to get Trump elected, reported Politico.

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Three sources familiar with the matter said Pompeo grilled and challenged analysts on their findings and their work with the FBI to investigate the 2016 election, but ultimately found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

“This wasn’t just a briefing,” said one source. “This was a challenging back and forth, in which Pompeo asked the officers tough questions about their work and how they determined Putin’s specific objectives.”

Pompeo and his deputies never gave any indication to lawmakers, even privately, that the CIA had acted improperly or drawn inaccurate conclusions about Russia’s efforts to elect Trump.

The intelligence community’s assessment about Russia was also reaffirmed by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

But the attorney general still has appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine Trump’s denials of Russian influence and his claims that his campaign was targeted by biased investigators and analysts.

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Legal and intelligence experts said the Justice Department doesn’t have the background or training to judge the quality of intelligence analysis, and they worried that Barr’s probe would undermine efforts to gather that type of data going forward.

“Because they’re prosecutors, when they come knocking on an analyst’s door and say, ‘We want to talk to you about your judgment,’ it has a chilling effect,” said Michael Morell, the former acting CIA director. “Analysts might think twice in the future about making a tough call.”


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WATCH: New Zealand prime minister unfazed as quake hits during an interview

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A moderate 5.6-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand's North Island early Monday but failed to crack Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's trademark composure as she conducted a live television interview.

The quake struck just off the coast before 8:00 am local time (2000 Sunday GMT) at a depth of about 52 kilometres (32 miles) near Levin, about 90 kilometres north of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said.

St John Ambulance and New Zealand Police both said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage. There was no tsunami warning.

But there was sustained shaking in Wellington, where Ardern was being interviewed on breakfast television from parliament's Beehive building, which is designed to absorb seismic forces by swaying slightly on its foundations.

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US farmers are starting to worry as crop prices dip during COVID-19 crisis: ‘It’s kind of glum’

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Dave Burrier steered his tractor through a field, following a GPS map as he tried to plant as much corn as possible amid the yellow and green rye covering the ground.

Striving to get a massive yield out of his crops in rural Maryland is how Burrier hopes to make it through yet another uncertain year, beset by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.

"We've had so much price erosion that we're basically at below the cost of production. We've got to figure out how to manage and turn a profit," Burrier told AFP.

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‘It’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months’: Trump makes excuses for golfing during coronavirus pandemic

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President Donald Trump was blasted on Sunday for playing golf during the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic economic recession and after proclaiming churches "essential."

Instead of joining his voters sitting in the pews, Trump went for the links, which drew criticisms for the hypocrisy.

"Sleepy Joe’s representatives have just put out an ad saying that I went to play golf (exercise) today. They think I should stay in the White House at all times. What they didn’t say is that it’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months, that Biden was constantly vacationing, relaxing & making shady deals with other countries, & that Barack was always playing golf, doing much of his traveling in a fume spewing 747 to play golf in Hawaii - Once even teeing off immediately after announcing the gruesome death of a great young man by ISIS!" tweeted Trump.

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