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US Justice Department drops case against Russian firm accused of 2016 election meddling

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The US Justice Department abruptly dropped its criminal case Monday against the company controlled by a confident of Russian President Vladimir Putin that allegedly funded the campaign to meddle in the 2016 elections.

Just weeks before the trial was to begin, the Justice department announced it was withdrawing the eight-count indictment of Concord Management and Consulting, a company owned by close Putin ally Yevgeniy Prigozhin.

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Concord, which funds the St. Petersburg-based troll factory the Internet Research Agency, was part of an indictment against 13 Russian individuals and three companies — one of the major outcomes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 vote.

The Internet Research Agency, Mueller charged, actively pumped disinformation, memes and fake news into social media through false accounts to influence US voters and tilt the election four years ago to help President Donald Trump.

Like Mueller, US intelligence chiefs concluded that the Concord-run operation was one half of a sweeping campaign overseen by Putin — the other half was hacking by Russian intelligence — to help Trump and hurt his rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In a filing in Washington federal district court, the Justice Department said that Concord’s tactics of trying to use US law and court procedure to pry out classified intelligence related to the evidence against it was a threat to national security.

“The government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” it said.

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Concord was the only one of 25 Russians and three Russian companies charged by Mueller to be brought to trial. The rest are considered out of reach of US law, but the charges against them — including Prigozhin– remain in place.

The Justice Department said recent rules changes regarding evidence based on classified US intelligence made it harder to proceed in the case without exposing secrets


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This Europe country is housing quarantined coronavirus patients in a five-star hotel

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An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine.

"Good morning! How are you? My name is Enrique Aranda and I am probably the first non health care worker you see in several days," says the director of the five-star Melia Sarria hotel, peering into the ambulance.

It took just three days to convert the hotel, which features contemporary decor and bathrooms with marble finishing, into a clinic.

"Some patients arrive thinking that they were taken out of hospital to be left to die, many people are frightened. I try to make them forget all that," said Aranda, wearing mask and gloves.

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UK Labour to unveil new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn

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Britain's main opposition Labour party on Saturday unveils a new leader who will take the helm of a defeated and divided party in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Keir Starmer, a former director of state prosecutions and Labour's Brexit spokesman, is the runaway favourite to win the ballot of around 500,000 party members and succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The announcement will be a low-key affair, with a planned special conference cancelled due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the result will be put out in a press release mid-morning -- and candidates have been asked to pre-record their victory speeches.

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‘Trump fires people for telling the truth’: President blasted for ‘dead of night decision’ to fire intel watchdog

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President Donald Trump was harshly criticized on Friday for firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intel Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) were among the lawmakers who took to Twitter to criticize Trump on his favorite social media platform.

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's decision:

Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.

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