Mueller reveals Trump's attempts to choke off Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller's report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller's removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.
Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel's appointment in May 2017. Those efforts "were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," Mueller wrote.
After nearly two years, the two-volume, 448-page redacted report made for riveting reading.
In one particularly dramatic moment, Mueller reported that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel's appointment on May 17, 2017, that he slumped back in his chair and declared: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f---ed."
With that, Trump set out to save himself.
A beleaguered Trump feared 'the end of my presidency'
WASHINGTON (AP) — At the moment two years ago when Donald Trump learned a special counsel had been appointed to investigate his campaign and Russia, the president responded with profane fury — and something resembling panic.
He feared his presidency, then only a few months old, was over. He berated aides for not protecting him. His cocky assurance was nowhere in sight.
The Oval Office scene that day is vividly reconstructed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, released Thursday. Mueller traces how, at perilous turns in the Russia episode, aides took the brunt of Trump's rage yet acted to save the president from himself — at times by letting his orders go unheeded and, at least in one instance, declining an entreaty to lie on his behalf.
On May 17, 2017, Trump was in the Oval Office with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, Sessions' chief of staff Jody Hunt and White House lawyer Don McGahn, conducting interviews for a new FBI director to replace James Comey, whom Trump had fired eight days earlier. Sessions left the room to take a call from his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, and returned to tell the president that Rosenstein had informed him of the special counsel appointment.
"The President slumped back in his chair," Mueller wrote in his report, "and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm f---ed. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.'" (Mueller quotes the full profanity.)
Key takeaways from Robert Mueller's Russia report
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump may not have obstructed justice, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
Robert Mueller's 448-page report takes the American public inside the room with Trump as he expressed fear that the special counsel would end his presidency and made several attempts to get the people around him to curtail the probe into his campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Ultimately, Mueller found Trump's inner circle saved him from himself. They refused to carry out orders that could have crossed the line into obstructing justice.
Some key takeaways from the report:
TRUMP TRIED TO INFLUENCE THE RUSSIA PROBE
The 10 instances of possible obstruction in Mueller report
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election identified 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed a crime or that he hadn't.
A look at the 10 instances:
PRESSURE ON COMEY TO END PROBE OF MICHAEL FLYNN
This includes the president's statement to then-FBI Director James Comey regarding the investigation of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump told Comey: "I hope you can see your way to letting this go."
Police official: Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire
PARIS (AP) — Paris police investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, a police official said Thursday, as France paid a daylong tribute to the firefighters who saved the world-renowned landmark.
A judicial police official told The Associated Press that investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral Wednesday but don't have a green light to search Notre Dame's charred interior because of ongoing safety hazards.
The cathedral's fragile walls were being shored up with wooden planks, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak by name about an ongoing investigation.
Investigators so far believe the fire was accidental, and are questioning both cathedral staff and workers who were carrying out renovations. Some 40 people had been questioned by Thursday, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.
The police official would not comment on an unsourced report in Le Parisian newspaper that investigators are looking at whether the fire could have been linked to a computer glitch or the temporary elevators used in the renovation work, among other things. The prosecutor's office said only that "all leads must be explored."
Commission: New NAFTA would deliver modest economic gains
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's new North America trade agreement would give the U.S. economy only a modest boost, an independent federal agency has found.
The International Trade Commission said Thursday that Trump's U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement would lift the U.S. economy by 0.35%, or $68.2 billion, and add 176,000 jobs six years after it takes effect. That's barely a ripple in a $21 trillion-a-year economy and a job market of almost 151 million people.
The commission's analysis is required by law and is expected to kick off a contentious congressional debate on the regional trade pact designed to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
NAFTA tore down most trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico, leading to a surge in regional trade. But critics, including Trump, said the pact encouraged manufacturers to pull out of the United States, relocate to low-wage Mexico and ship products back across the border duty free.
The revised version, signed by the three countries last year but awaiting approval by each of their legislatures, is designed to encourage factories to move back to the United States. For instance, one provision says that in order for a car to quality for duty-free treatment under the agreement, 40% of its content must be produced in North American factories where workers earn an average of at least $16 an hour -- that is, not Mexico.
Shortages hit Cuba, raising fears of new economic crisis
BAUTA, Cuba (AP) — Just after 8 a.m., Pura Castell got in line behind about 100 other people waiting for a chance to buy frozen chicken legs. For two hours she leaned on her cane watching people leave the state-run market with their 5-pound limit.
The chicken ran out at 10 a.m. while the 80-year-old Castell still had 20 people in front of her. She returned the next morning, but no chicken. Then, relief. A neighbour told her that chicken had arrived at the government store that distributes heavily subsidized monthly food rations. Her household of three was due three pieces, either thighs or drumsticks.
"I've taken care of myself my whole life," said Castell, a retired janitor. "I don't just sit on my hands. I'm worn out but I walk all over town."
After two decades of relative stability fueled by cheap Venezuelan oil, shortages of food and medicine have once again become a serious daily problem for millions of Cubans. A plunge in aid from Venezuela, the end of a medical services deal with Brazil and poor performances in sectors including nickel mining, sugar and tourism have left the communist state $1.5 billion in debt to the vendors that supply products ranging from frozen chicken to equipment for grinding grain into flour, according to former Economy Minister José Luis Rodríguez.
Stores no longer routinely stock eggs, flour, chicken, cooking oil, rice, powdered milk and ground turkey, among other products. These basics disappear for days or weeks. Hours-long lines appear within minutes of trucks showing up with new supplies. Shelves are empty again within hours.
For school shooting survivors, trauma has no time limit
PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rozenblat can still hear the cries of a wounded boy calling for help as she hid from the gunfire that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Talking to therapists at the school in Parkland, Florida, didn't help. Each session had a different counsellor, and she found herself rehashing traumas she had already expressed. She would rather turn to her friends, who understand what she went through.
"There is slight pressure to get better as quickly as you can, and since it's been a year, everyone thinks that you are better," the 16-year-old said.
The mental health resources after a school shooting range from therapy dogs and grief counsellors at school to support groups, art therapy and in-home counselling. But there is no blueprint for dealing with the trauma because each tragedy, survivor and community is different. Many survivors don't get counselling right away — sometimes waiting years — making it difficult to understand the full impact.
The struggle is getting them to seek help in the first place. In the two decades since the Columbine High School massacre, a network of survivors has emerged, reaching out to the newest victims to offer support that many say they prefer to traditional therapy.
St Patrick's suspect previously arrested at other cathedral
NEW YORK (AP) — A college philosophy teacher arrested after entering St. Patrick's Cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters had also been arrested at a New Jersey cathedral this week and had booked a Thursday flight to Rome, the New York Police Department said.
Marc Lamparello, 37, is facing charges including attempted arson and reckless endangerment after his arrest Wednesday night at the New York City landmark, said John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
It happened just days after Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was ravaged by a fire that investigators said Thursday was most likely electrical. Miller would not discuss anything Lamparello told investigators after his arrest but stressed that there "doesn't appear to be any connection to any terrorist group or any terrorist-related intent here."
Before going to St. Patrick's on Wednesday, Miller said, Lamparello booked a $2,800 ticket on a 5:20 p.m. Thursday flight to Italy. Asked if Lamparello indicated what he planned to do in Rome, Miller said, "I'm not going to get into that right now."
Lamparello remained in police custody Thursday and had not been arraigned.
Kodak Black arrested on drug, gun charge at Canadian border
LEWISTON, N.Y. (AP) — Kodak Black was arrested on drug and weapons charges as the rapper tried to cross from Canada into the United States near Niagara Falls, law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Black, whose legal name is Bill Kapri, was driving two other people in a Cadillac Escalade with temporary California registration across the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to New York state police. It was unclear where the men in the Escalade and a second car were headed, but Black had been scheduled to perform that night in Boston, about 400 miles (640 kilometres) east.
The men told border agents that they had marijuana and firearms, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in an emailed statement. State police, who were called in, said that Black was found to have marijuana, and a loaded Glock 9mm pistol was discovered in the vehicle. No one in the car had a permit for the pistol.
The 21-year-old rapper from Miramar, Florida, was arrested on charges of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Black, who also faces a charge in South Carolina of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct on allegations he raped a woman after a 2016 concert, was arraigned in a town court and remanded to county jail.