Trump hails ‘Alexander the Great’ Ovechkin as Caps bring Stanley Cup to the WH


US President Donald Trump has heaped praise on Russian NHL star Alex Ovechkin, as the Washington Capitals’ captain joined his teammates and league bosses on a much-anticipated visit to the White House on Monday.

Trump welcomed the first-time and reigning Stanley Cup winners to the Oval Office, where the team was led by Ovechkin, who seemed never to take his hand off the coveted trophy while standing by Trump’s side.

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Congratulating the team on their maiden title and on an impressive performance throughout the last season, Trump singled out Ovechkin, who became the playoff MVP.

“And this guy. I have no choice but to be his fan, because he is something special. Look at his hands. A special guy. A special athlete, player, they all are,” Trump said.

Going off-script, Trump asked where his daughter Ivanka was, who he said was a “tremendous fan.” As they celebrated the victory in Washington last year, Ovechkin and his fellow Caps stumbled into the president’s daughter and took a photo with her.

“Alexander the Great, they call him, has spent his entire 13-year NHL career with Washington Capitals and his hard work and loyalty has paid off last season. He outscored every player in the league with 64 goals,” Trump said, in praise of the Russian-born great.

Trump said he believes the Caps, who are currently in first place in the Metropolitan division, have a fairly good chance of bringing it home for a second time in a row.

“Thousands of adoring fans greeted you. They were all over the place. And I have a feeling you’re going to be doing it again. You’re champions. You have a champion’s heart,” he said.

As he took the floor from Trump, a smartly-dressed Ovechkin promised to deliver, saying that it was a “huge honor” for him and his teammates to be welcome in the White House and to meet Trump in person.

“We’re going to try to win it again. We have the same team, experienced team, very good group of guys and we’re going to try to do it again.”

As the official part of the ceremony ended and camera shutters clicked, Ovechkin and Trump had a brief chit-chat off the mic. It’s unclear what the two were talking about or whether the Russian-born hockey star got to raise the issue of Russia-US relations, having said before that he would.

“I would chat for a while, take a photo with the president and ask when the relationship with Russia is going to improve,” Ovechkin said back in February of the anticipated visit.

Nevertheless, the photo-op and, perhaps, the timing of the meeting or the lavish praise Trump extended to the Washington Capitals’ captain gave rise to a torrent of collusion jokes.

Wow, Alex Ovechkin (a Russian) is visiting Trump today?? At the White House in front of everyone??

So much collusion

— Last Burning Man (@burning_last) March 25, 2019

Ovechkin & Trump even wearing matching suit & ties. JFC just hang the Russian flag from the White House balcony already.

— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) March 25, 2019

Ovechkin, who set up a ‘Putin Team’ movement in the run-up to the presidential elections in Russia last year, has recently said he has been staying “away from politics.”

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‘Porn lawyer’ Avenatti arrested, charged with plot to extort $20 million from NIKE


US lawyer Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with bank fraud and extortion. Prosecutors claim Avenatti threatened to shake down sportswear giant Nike for $20 million.

Avenatti, known among his detractors as “creepy porn lawyer” for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in a defamation case against US President Donald Trump, was due to hold a press conference on Tuesday, during which he would outline a legal case against Nike and claim the company had been involved in a high school basketball bribery scandal.

Instead, the hotshot lawyer found himself slapped in cuffs and arrested in Manhattan on Monday, at the offices of a law firm where he was due to meet with representatives of Nike to discuss his demands. Avenatti is accused of criminal conduct in two separate cases in New York and California.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York say Avenatti had threatened to harm Nike’s public image unless the sportswear firm paid him more than $20 million in hush money.

“I’m not f***ing around with this,” Avenatti allegedly told a Nike lawyer last week, in a phone call monitored by the FBI. “I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap….a few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me.”

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the SDNY, said that Avenatti did not act as a lawyer, but engaged in an “old-fashioned shakedown.” Mark Geragos, a CNN legal analyst and lawyer for alleged hate-crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett is believed to be Avenatti’s unidentified co-conspirator, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In California, Avenatti is accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay for his own debts and the debts of his coffee store business, Global Baristas. He also allegedly used bogus tax returns to secure millions of dollars in loans from a Mississippi bank to cover Global Baristas’ expenses.

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“A lawyer has a basic duty not to steal from his client,” Nick Hanna, US Attorney for the Central District of California said. Hanna called Avenatti “a corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interests by misappropriating close to a million dollars that rightfully belonged to one of his clients.”

If convicted of both fraud charges in California, Hanna said Avenatti will face a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Avenatti, having shot to fame representing Stormy Daniels against President Trump, secured hundreds of appearances on news networks and attained household name status with his unrelenting criticism of Trump. He was at one point even talked about as a serious contender for the presidency in 2020.

A failed attempt to block the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last fall set the stage for his fall from grace, however, and Avenatti’s arrest was met with cheers and jeers from his former opponents and critics, most notably President Trump’s son Donald Jr.

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Trump’s Golan Heights recognition is a ‘move towards further isolation’ for the US


The US move to recognize the Israeli claim to the occupied Golan Heights will unlikely result in legal repercussions for Washington, but will further set it apart from the rest of the international community, analysts told RT.

US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and formally annexed by the Jewish state in 1981, has drawn condemnation from the UN, the Arab League, Russia and Turkey.

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The backlash is likely to be limited to verbal censure, since the US is a member of the UN Security Council and would quash any attempt to rein in it, experts have told RT. However, the move, in violation of UN resolutions, is bound to alienate the US further from the international community, said Huwaida Arraf, a Civil and Human Rights Attorney with the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement.

For Washington to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is “just further isolating the US as Trump has been doing since he took power,” Arraf said. She added that the international community needs to stand up to the formal recognition and show that it “leaves the United States with its extremist policy, that stands in violation of international law and international order.”

READ MORE: Trump’s Golan Heights recognition ‘an act of brigandry’ – George Galloway

Kamal Hawwash of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign noted the long record of the US abusing its veto powers to shield Israel, calling it a “rogue state.”

“The international community’s tools for dealing with rogue states, as Israel is one, has been paralyzed by the United States,” he said.

‘Timing was best, as no one dares openly side with Assad’

The US decision to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory has been decried by Damascus as a “flagrant violation” of sovereignty. While the US move might be illegal under international law, the fact that it’s the Syrian government that is the victim may stop many nations from voicing their protest, Middle East analyst Ceng Sagnic told RT.

“Any action that would be opposing the US decision will be strategically selected not to mean support for the Syrian government,” Sagnic said. “Therefore, it was the best time for the US and Israel to move to legalize the Israeli presence on the Golan Heights,” he said.

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‘Attack on sovereignty & territorial integrity’ – Syria reacts to Trump’s Golan Heights move

Sagnic argues that Israel’s land grab is “the legitimization of the de-facto status” which has, in fact, benefited the region.

“Since 1981 Israel has been investing in those areas and turned the Golan Heights into a touristic region, not only the military bastion for potential attacks from Syria or Lebanon.”

‘Making the place less secure’

Contrary to Israeli assertions, the US decision will only inflame the tense security situation in the region, Hawwash said. He argued that the move will trigger the Syrian government and its people, who will now be thinking about ways to reclaim the territory.

“It’ll make the place less secure, because the people of Syria, who say the Golan Heights are part of their country, are now entitled to say: ‘We don’t recognize this decision by America and, in time, we’ll take our land back.’”

“And they have every right to do that because it’s Syrian land,” he said.

Arraf also dismissed the Israeli notion that American recognition would make the disputed area more secure. She argued that Israel’s goal is not to protect its people but to snatch the territory’s vast natural resources.

“It is not for security, as Israel has been saying, because Syria has not launched an attack on Israel since 1973, but Israel has been launching attacks on its neighbors. But Israel wants this territory because of its resources, and in line with its expansionist policy of taking over territory by force,” she explained.

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UK opposition demands end to support for Saudis after special forces casualties in Yemen


A UK opposition coalition has demanded an end to arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen after five British special forces men were reportedly wounded in combat in which they weren’t officially participating.

It is morally reprehensible that the UK government is not only not considering changing its policy, but is actively lobbying other foreign governments, as it did with Germany, to resume arms sales to Saudi,” read the letter to foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, signed by representatives of the Labour, Scottish National, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Green parties on the fourth anniversary of the grinding war.

The elite Special Boat Service troops’ combat role in Yemen had been a well-kept secret until reports emerged Saturday that five soldiers had sustained injuries while fighting Houthis in Sa’dah in the north. The 30-strong marine unit was ostensibly deployed to “advise” the Saudis, “mainly training and mentoring,” according to an unnamed SBS source quoted in the Daily Mail, but “on occasions they have found themselves in firefights and some British troops have been shot.” 

While the UK’s official line on the conflict is to seek a “sustainable political solution,” the increasingly dire humanitarian situation among Yemeni civilians – millions of whom are reportedly on the brink of starvation – as well as reports that British soldiers have found themselves fighting alongside child mercenaries hired by the Saudis to do the hard work of waging war, have provoked outrage, both at home and internationally.

The UK government is on the wrong side of history,” Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford told the Guardian. 

The opposition’s letter calls on Hunt to suspend all arms sales to the Saudis until an independent investigation into the “reckless and barbaric” conduct of the coalition can be conducted. The Saudis and their Emirati allies stand accused of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure and committing myriad war crimes – atrocities enabled by military and logistical support from the UK and the US.

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Earlier this month, Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster admitted that in addition to arms sales, Royal Air Force personnel provided engineering and “generic training” to the Saudi Air Force. However, he insisted RAF troops were not involved in the loading of weapons for operational sorties in Yemen.

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UK MPs vote to take control of Brexit process through ‘indicative votes’


UK lawmakers have decided to take the Brexit process out of PM Theresa May’s hands, voting to accept an amendment that would break the ongoing parliamentary deadlock by changing the rules.

Parliament backed the amendment, by 329 to 302, to allow time for “indicative votes” on the finer points of the beleaguered Brexit deal. The measure was proposed by Oliver Letwin, a member of Theresa May’s Conservative party, and must be passed before it takes effect.

On Monday, May gave up mid-way through her third attempt to push a Brexit deal through, leaving the UK staring down the barrel of a no-deal Brexit, a situation Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called a “national embarrassment.” In a last-ditch effort to force consensus, May has reportedly even offered to resign if the pro-Brexit contingent will just back her plan.

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A second amendment, seeking parliamentary approval for a no-deal Brexit should one be looming less than a week away – and with an option to delay the separation still further in an effort to negotiate around the impasse – was rejected 314 to 311.

Another amendment, proposed by Corbyn, was withdrawn without a vote. The Labour leader suggested the government provide “parliamentary time” for a majority to come to an agreement on an alternate Brexit approach, such as a second referendum or a customs union with the EU.

The British government called the parliamentary power grab “disappointing” and pleaded with the lawmakers to be “realistic” – and not to drag the process out so long it ran into European parliamentary elections.

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An EU statement released earlier on Monday revealed that while they “hope that it will not be the case,” they have completed preparations for a no-deal Brexit on April 12, including a detailed contingency plan and even a dedicated hotline for panicked Brits to call.

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‘One of the greatest hoaxes in US history’: Russiagate narrative’s peddlers to be held accountable?


The Democrats and mass media should be held accountable for weaponizing the Mueller probe against Trump, ruining US-Russia ties and the lives of many Americans, ‘collusion skeptics’ tell RT, after suffering years of vilification.

“All of us were also exonerated, not just the president,” Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 US election.

“It was a witch hunt. [Trump] knew it was a witch hunt… perhaps one of the greatest hoaxes in US history,” McAdams said, stressing that all Trump supporters suffered greatly for their criticism of the two-year-long probe.

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“We were demonized, we were vilified for two years, called all manner of names,” while the Democrats and most of America’s mass media were engaged in pushing a false narrative about Trump’s conspiracy with Russia.

At the end of the day, there should be a real reckoning from this.

“Now that these people have pushed this false narrative, and have damaged lives, and have damaged careers – is this where it’s going to end? Are they going to have to pay for their crimes?”

‘Death row for US mass media’

The American establishment and mass media not only wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars “fomenting and stoking tensions” between world nuclear superpowers, but also undermining any remaining trust in them, political analyst Charles Ortel told RT. Americans will have to be looking elsewhere for alternative news sources to avoid being duped any further by the chorus of disinformation from the mainstream media, he added.

“Any of these outlets that have been subjecting the world to all this… this is going to mark a death row for a lot of traditional media complexes, and magazines, and newspapers, etc,” he said. “Many Americans are sick and tired of this baloney. And we’re going to tune it out, we’re going to be rejecting them. We’re going to be looking for our news in a different way.”

Whoever decided to take us down this rat hole cannot be allowed to escape without intense scrutiny.

And just for future reference: documenting the falsehoods, baseless conspiracies, and deceitful narratives being peddled without dissent by the major corporate media isn’t “blogging” or “media criticism.” It’s journalism. It’s reporting. And it’s vital.

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 24, 2019

If you’re just going to let stuff like this go – unexamined, unacknowledged, and unaccounted for – don’t expect anyone to be remotely sympathetic to the fact that public trust in big media is nonexistent and politicians benefit by making journalists their enemies:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 24, 2019

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‘Trump is still bad!’ Media & Dems refuse to swallow Mueller’s red pill, grasp at obstruction straw


With a summary of the long-awaited Mueller report published at last, the #Resistance’s media-political axis are doing their best to spin it as proof that Trump is guilty of SOMETHING – and that the full report will vindicate them.

Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the still-unpublished special counsel report poured cold water on most of the lingering Russiagate embers, stating that not only was there no evidence the Trump campaign conspired or collaborated with the Russian government, but that there was insufficient evidence the president obstructed justice – leaving a tiny window of possibility through which the #Resistance immediately began cramming itself.

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And cram they did. The media was afire with desperate attempts to spin the unspinnable.

The AP subtly arranged its headline for maximum effect, while the BBC had passed on to the “acceptance” stage of grieving.

Trump just said it is a “complete and total exoneration.”

Barr, literally quoting from Mueller: “While the report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 24, 2019

Barr’s letter is careful to say he does not believe there is proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of acts of obstruction with a nexus to an official investigation & corrupt intent. That is how he couches his obstruction finding & it leaves a lot of gray area Congress should explore.

— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) March 24, 2019

Most pundits clung to the gray area implied by “evidence not sufficient.

Let me be clear, I CONCEDE NOTHING! If #MuellerReport didn’t look into Trump’s business ties with the Russians before the elections and didn’t look into his secret meetings with them after the election, then this is an epic debacle that looked into the exact wrong things.

— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) March 24, 2019

The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur lamented that Mueller had focused on the wrong things the whole time – it wasn’t about the election, dummies, it was about before and after the election!

A dour-looking Rep. Maxine Waters suggested that Trump had actually hypnotized his “sycophants” by repeating the “no collusion” line. “This is not the end of anything!” the congresswoman defiantly told Joy Reid. “There’s so much that needs to be – you know – taken a look at this point.”

The Department of Justice has suggested it cannot provide Congress with evidence as to people not indicted.

Not true. It can, and it has, when the need for transparency is strong.

The DOJ gave us more than 880k pages from the Clinton email probe. It must now do the same here.

— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) March 24, 2019

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wouldn’t let go of his impeachment dreams, demanding the release of all the evidence Mueller collected. “We know that the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president, and we ought to see what evidence he produced,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, threatening to sue the Justice Department if it didn’t cough up the goods.

In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 24, 2019

House Judicial Committee chair Jerry Nadler thought that was a great idea, announcing his committee would haul Barr in to testify to exactly what he meant with that “does not exonerate” line the media chose to latch onto.

Barr made it clear before he was nominated that he didn’t think Trump committed obstruction of justice. That’s why Trump made him AG.

If Mueller did present arguments and evidence for why the President of the United States obstructed justice, they need to be made public. Now.

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) March 24, 2019

Sen. Ron Wyden blamed Barr for letting Trump get away, suggesting Mueller had dropped the ball by not indicting the president for obstruction himself – evidence be damned.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also released a statement demanding the release of the full report along with “underlying documentation.” After a 19-month investigation, there was surely a needle in this haystack, and the American people deserved to have a look.

Perhaps the best response came from former FBI director James Comey, whose firing triggered the appointment of Mueller as special counsel in the first place. What did it all mean? Why are we here? When a manufactured conspiracy falls in the forest, does it make a sound?

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‘NATO bombing of Yugoslavia paved way for 1 million civilian casualties worldwide’


Carried out under a false pretext and in disregard of the UN, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 paved the way for similar US-led operations in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere and over a million were killed, an analyst has told RT.

NATO’s attack 20 years ago, which was launched “without declaring war and without any permission from the UN Security Council, was a transformative act which has changed the world ever since,” Marko Gasic, commenter on international affairs, said.

“This formula… that you don’t need UN Security Council authorization was then implemented at the expense of Iraq and Libya and elsewhere. So far, the decision to bomb Yugoslavia has led to over a million casualties worldwide; and rising.”

Back in 1999, the US and its allies launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia, after blaming Belgrade for “excessive and disproportionate use of force” in a conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency in Kosovo.

NATO warplanes carried out 900 sorties during the brutal 78-day bombing campaign, which officially claimed at least 758 civilian lives. But Serbian sources insist the actual death toll was twice as high.

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NATO had used depleted uranium in its air strikes on Yugoslavia. Despite the studies showing that children born there after the bombing are prone to cancer, “very little” has been or is being done to hold the bloc accountable, Gasic said.

The Yugoslav authorities tried suing NATO, but its “response was to create a ‘Color Revolution’ (in 2000) there and bring its own puppets to power… who abandoned the lawsuit.”

“The world community really needs to take NATO to task. And If Serbia is too weak to do it, we need other countries to take an interest. If they don’t defend Serbia – it’ll be their borders next that NATO will be coming for,” the analyst warned.

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‘Complete & total exoneration!’ Trump says it’s a shame US had to go through Mueller’s witch hunt


President Trump has enthusiastically greeted Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016, and called it a “Complete and Total EXONERATION.”

No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, after almost two years of investigation. Barr released a summary of the report on Sunday, explaining that Mueller found no evidence of ‘Russian collusion’ and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice.

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this,” Trump told reporters after Barr’s letter went public. “To be honest, it’s a shame your president had to go through this.”

“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” he continued.

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Trump had repeatedly criticized Mueller’s probe, calling it a politically-motivated “witch hunt,” and an “illegal and conflated investigation in search of a crime.” Trump had also called Mueller “out of control” and referred to his legal team as a “band of angry Democrats.”

With Mueller’s report finished, Trump’s opponents have shifted to pressuring Barr to release its underlying evidence. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that this evidence “may be even more important to the truth than the report itself.”

For Trump’s most ardent opponents, the report has seemingly done little to sate their desire to go after the President. California Rep. Adam Schiff (D), currently heading a House Intelligence Committee investigation into alleged ‘Russian collusion,’ told ABC News on Sunday that he believes “compelling” and “significant evidence of collusion” still exists.

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Mueller probe finds no collusion or conspiracy between Trump & Russia


Attorney General William Barr has released a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated report, finding no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.

After two years of investigation, Mueller’s report “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Barr wrote.

Despite the high-profile indictments of several key Trump associates, like former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former lawyer Michael Cohen and former adviser Roger Stone, none of these indictments were related to collusion, and no further indictments will be issued.

The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”

— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) March 24, 2019

Mueller’s report does claim that the Russian government sought to influence the 2016 election, but admits that no “US persons or Trump campaign officials” participated in this effort. 

The report accuses an organization, the Internet Research Agency, of conducting “disinformation and social media operations” to sow social discord, and alleges Russian hackers obtained the emails of Hillary Clinton’s associates and passed them to WikiLeaks.

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While searching for evidence of collusion was Mueller’s initial purview, the probe soon shifted to examining whether President Trump sought to obstruct the probe itself. Here, Mueller was ambiguous. While the report does not accuse Trump of obstruction, Mueller left it up to Barr to determine whether any of Trump’s acts could possibly constitute obstruction. In his letter, Barr said that the report detailed no such actions.

In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 24, 2019

Mueller’s report is the culmination of two years of investigation. Throughout that time 19 lawyers, assisted by around 40 FBI agents and analysts, issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants and interviewed around 500 witnesses. In total, the probe cost a reported $25.2 million.

Likely anticipating a flop, Democrats have in recent days turned to asking Barr to make the full report public, hoping for some morsel of damning information on the president. In his letter, Barr stated that he will release as much of the report as possible, “consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”

Aside from pressuring Barr to release the full report and underlying evidence –which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “may be even more important to the truth than the report itself”– the Democrats’ focus has now shifted to a raft of further investigations into the president.

A House Judiciary Committee investigation is currently examining in ever more excruciating detail whether Trump or his administration sought to obstruct justice or abuse power. An Oversight Committee is looking at claims that Trump had ordered ‘hush money’ payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and a House Intelligence Committee investigation is poring over the same evidence as Mueller, again looking for the specter of ‘Russian collusion.’

Despite Mueller’s conclusion, Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) told ABC News on Sunday that he believes “compelling” and “significant evidence of collusion” still exists. While Mueller’s report vindicates Trump, Schiff’s determination to find this mysterious evidence means the “witch hunt” so often derided by Trump is far from over.

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