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‘We’re allies in fight against terrorism’ — Trump congratulates Nigeria at independence

President Donald Trump has congratulated the Nigerian government on the nation’s 59th independence anniversary.

In a statement issued on Monday, Trump said Nigeria is one of its strongest partners and wished the country success in its endeavours.

Trump said the US and Nigeria are allies in the fight against terrorism and expressed his wish to see Boko Haram and other insurgent groups dismantled in Nigeria.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend our warmest greetings and congratulate you on the 59th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence,” the statement read.

“Nigeria is among our strongest partners in Africa. We share common goals of expanding trade and growing our economic relationship.

“We are allies in the global battle against terrorism, and we want to see Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa driven out of the region and other insurgencies like them dismantled.

“The United States welcomes efforts by your administration to diversify opportunities for your talented, creative, and hardworking people to the benefit of both our countries, Africa and the world.

“I am pleased that following our meeting last year, our Vice Presidents are also building on our longstanding history of cooperation.

“I wish the people of Nigeria continued success as you mark another year of independence.”

 

Trump sacks national security adviser John Bolton

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he had asked John Bolton, his national security adviser, to resign, citing strong differences of opinion with his hawkish assistant.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration,” Trump tweeted.

“I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” the president said, adding that he was aiming to announce a replacement next week.

Bolton seemed to take a parting shot at his boss, immediately responding on Twitter: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’”

Bolton also texted U.S. media outlets to say he resigned on his own.

The move came as a surprise, with the White House putting out an advisory just an hour before the Trump announcement saying that Bolton would be taking part in a media briefing along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Bolton also continued to post administration policy on social media right up until the Trump announcement.

However, Trump has previously hinted at his disagreements with Bolton on foreign policy, and observers had regularly noted that the two made an odd couple, with the president more isolationist and the national security adviser an interventionist.

“John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him, he’d take on the whole world at one time.

“But that doesn’t matter because I want both sides,” Trump told broadcaster NBC in June.

Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser, appeared to be waging numerous battles within the White House, most recently over Afghanistan and North Korea, that seemed at odds with the president’s wishes.

Bolton was also behind the hard-line approach to countries such as Iran and Venezuela.

The national security advisor comes from the wing of the Republican Party more aligned with the policies of the George W Bush administration, in which he also served. He is often seen as a proponent and even an architect of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

When not in government, Bolton has worked for conservative think tanks.

While Trump himself has led recent policies on Iran, and to some extent Venezuela, he is more reluctant to deploy U.S. troops abroad and is actively seeking to reduce the military’s presence in places like Afghanistan and Syria.

U.S. media reported in recent weeks that Bolton and Trump were bitterly fighting over the approach to Afghanistan, as the president tried to work out a peace deal with the Taliban.

That process has since broken down, with Trump calling it “dead”.

Trump has also sought better relations with Russia, against the advice of establishment figures, though ties with Moscow are tense and the current administration has actually increased sanctions on the rival power.

Mira Ricardel, who served as a deputy to Bolton until late last year, was also sacked from her job after she got into a disagreement with first lady Melania Trump, in a highly unusual public spat between the wife of the president and a top-level security official.

The Trump administration’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is currently tied up in legal battles over lying to the FBI about contacts with Russian officials and is due to face sentencing in December.

Bolton is the latest figure to exit the White House amid disputes with the president.

Notably, Jim Mattis quit as defence secretary last year over disagreements on Syria, and Trump abruptly fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state as well as his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The president is on his seventh communications chief and has also pushed out two chiefs of staff. The current chief of staff is only in an acting role.

Trump, John Legend, wife, Chrissy Teigen fight on Twitter

US president, Donald Trump on Sunday called the model Chrissy Teigen “filthy-mouthed” and her husband, musician, John Legend “boring” in tweets on Sunday night, while lauding his achievements in criminal justice reform, prompting them to fire back.

Mr. Legend called on the First Lady, Melania to intervene, tweeting, “Imagine being president of a whole country and spending your Sunday night hate-watching MSNBC hoping somebody–ANYBODY–will praise you. Melania, please praise this man. He needs you. Your country needs you, Melania.”

His wife laced her tweets with vulgarities.

The couple, who are married, are both frequent critics of the president.

By Monday morning, the expletives used by Ms. Teigen — including one that Mr. Trump famously used in a recording that surfaced shortly before his election in 2016 — were part of a trending hashtag on Twitter. A related hashtag, #filthymouthedwife, was also trending, reports The New York Times.

In his tweets shortly after 11 p.m. on Sunday, Mr. Trump appeared to be responding to Mr. Legend’s appearance at a criminal justice town hall that was hosted by the “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt at the Sing Sing prison in Ossining, N.Y., and aired on MSNBC at 10 p.m. that night.

The president began by pointing to the criminal justice reform legislation he passed last year.

“Now that it is passed, people that had virtually nothing to do with it are taking the praise,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Guys like boring musician @johnlegend, and his filthy mouthed wife, are talking now about how great it is — but I didn’t see them around when we needed help getting it passed.”

He did not name Ms. Teigen, which she noted in her response. “Tagged everyone but me,” she wrote. “An honor, mister president.” She added that she had not been mentioned in the MSNBC special that Mr. Trump appeared to have watched.

Mr. Legend also jumped into the fray, and he called on the first lady to intervene.

“Imagine being president of a whole country and spending your Sunday night hate-watching MSNBC hoping somebody — ANYBODY — will praise you,” he said. “Melania, please praise this man. He needs you.”

G7 summit: Trump agrees to meet Iranian leader

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he was prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani within weeks, after talks about Tehran’s nuclear programme at the G7 summit in France.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had made a surprise appearance on the sidelines of the summit in Biarritz on Sunday at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron said the “conditions for a meeting” between Trump and Rouhani “in the next few weeks” had been created through intensive diplomacy and consultations.

“If the circumstances were correct, I would certainly agree to that,” Trump said at a press conference with Macron at the end of three days of talks.

Asked if he thought the timeline proposed by his French counterpart was realistic, Trump replied: “It does”, adding he thought Rouhani would also be in favour.

“I think he’s going to want to meet. I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out,” he added.

Trump has put in place a policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme via crippling sanctions that are seen as raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

The US president last year unilaterally pulled out of a landmark 2015 international deal that placed limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for trade, investment and sanctions relief.

– ‘Real progress’ –

Macron has urged the US administration to offer some sort of relief to Iran, such as lifting sanctions on oil sales to China and India, and has raised the possibility of a new credit line to enable exports.

In return, Iran would return to complying with the 2015 deal.

Commenting on the talks about Iran at the G7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “It’s a big step forward. Now there is an atmosphere in which talks are welcomed.”

Macron and Trump hailed the common ground found by G7 leaders at their summit, which was dominated by the Iranian nuclear crisis, global trade tensions and fires in the Amazon.

“We have managed to find real points of convergence, unprecedented, very positive, that will allow us to go forward in a very useful way,” Macron told the press conference.

Trump said Macron had done a “fantastic job” at the G7.

“This was a very special, a very unified two and a half days and I want to thank you,”.

Just a few weeks ago, Trump lambasted Macron for sending “mixed signals” on Iran, and at the end of July the US administration imposed sanctions on Zarif.

Macron acknowledged there had been “nervousness” ahead of the summit because of tensions between the US and Europe on a host of issues.

(AFP)

Putin warns Trump: We’ll develop new nuclear missiles if you do

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that Moscow would be forced to start developing short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear missiles if the U.S. started doing so after the demise of a landmark arms control treaty.

The U.S. formally left the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia on Friday after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty and had already deployed at least one banned type of missile, an accusation the Kremlin denies.

The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 miles and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike on short notice.

Putin on Monday held a meeting with his Security Council after which he ordered the defence and foreign ministries and Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service to closely monitor any steps the U.S. took to develop, produce or deploy missiles banned under the defunct treaty.

“If Russia obtains reliable information that the U.S. has finished developing these systems and started to produce them Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles,” Putin said in a statement.

In the meantime, he said Russia’s arsenal of air and sea-launched missiles combined with its work on developing hypersonic missiles meant it was well placed to offset any threat emanating from the U.S.

It was now essential, he added, for Moscow and Washington to resume arms control talks to prevent what he described as an “unfettered” arms race breaking out.

“In order to avoid chaos with no rules, restrictions or laws, we need to once more weigh up all the dangerous consequences and launch a serious and meaningful dialogue free from any ambiguity,” Putin said.

US Supreme Court approves funding for Trump’s border wall

The US Supreme Court has said that President Donald Trump can use $2.5 billion (£2 billion) of Pentagon funds for a section of wall on the southern border.

The court ruled by five votes to four to block a ruling by a federal judge in California that barred the president from spending the money on the wall.

The wall, dividing the US and Mexico, was Mr. Trump’s major campaign promise during the 2016 election.

It is fiercely opposed by Democrats.

The decision by the Supreme Court means that the money will be used for wall projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The court in California had argued that Congress had not specifically authorised the funds to be used for constructing the wall.

In a tweet, Mr. Trump described the ruling as a “big victory”.
On Friday, the US and Guatemala signed a deal, under which migrants from Honduras and El Salvador who pass through Guatemala will be required to stop and seek asylum there first, rather than continuing and trying to enter the United States.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “This evening’s Supreme Court ruling allowing Donald Trump to steal military funds to spend on a wasteful, ineffective border wall rejected by Congress is deeply flawed. Our Founders designed a democracy governed by the people – not a monarchy.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has vowed to seek an expedited decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall.”

Gloria Smith, an attorney with environmental group the Sierra Club, which sued to block the funds said: “Today’s decision to permit the diversion of military funds for border wall construction will wall off and destroy communities, public lands, and waters in California, New Mexico, and Arizona.”

Mr. Trump declared an emergency earlier this year, saying he needed $6.7bn to build the wall as a matter of national security. However this figure is far short of the estimated $23bn cost of a barrier along the whole 2,000 miles (3,200km) of border.

Democrats claimed Mr. Trump’s decision to declare an emergency exceeded his powers under the US constitution.

About 20 states, along with groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed lawsuits to try and stop the president using the emergency declaration to bypass Congress.

Environmental groups have also campaigned against building the wall claiming that it could have a negative impact on wildlife.

Brexit: Trump calls Theresa May ‘foolish’

President Trump on Tuesday said Prime Minister Theresa May was “foolish” in her handling of Brexit, as he doubled down on the feud with Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch — whom he called “wacky,” “stupid” and a “pompous fool.”

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” he tweeted.

He then turned his ire toward May, who is leaving office later this month after resigning over her handling of Britain’s departure from the E.U. Britain was scheduled to leave the bloc in March, but that timeline has been pushed back until October amid repeated failures to get her withdrawal agreement, negotiated with European leaders, through Parliament.

“I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!” Trump said, apparently referring to past advice that she sue the E.U. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

The outburst came amid an escalating diplomatic spat over the leak of diplomatic cables in which Darroch called Trump’s administration “diplomatically clumsy and inept” and said he doubted it would become “substantially more normal.”

The memo was one of several cables published by the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday in which Darroch made negative statements about the U.S. government, in which he said that Trump could be at the mercy of “dodgy Russians,” and that Trump’s presidency could “crash and burn” and be at “the beginning of a downward spiral.” He also reportedly indicated that Trump could win re-election, warning that he could shrug off scandals and “emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of ‘The Terminator.”

We’ll no longer deal with British envoy to US, Trump says

US President Donald Trump declared on Monday he would have no further contact with Britain’s ambassador to Washington, following the leak of diplomatic cables in which the envoy described him as “inept.”

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S,” Trump tweeted of Kim Darroch, as Britain scrambled to stem the damage to relations caused by the incident.

“We will no longer deal with him,” added Trump, who hit out in a series of tweets at Theresa May and her “representatives,” and welcomed the prime minister’s impending departure from office.

(AFP)

Trump invites Kim Jong Un to White House after historic trip to North Korea

President Donald Trump has invited Kim Jong Un, North Korea leader, to the White House, the seat of power in America.

Trump extended the invitation to the North Korean leader on Sunday when he made history as the first sitting American president to visit the Asian country.

Trump met with Jong Un at the demilitarised zone (DMZ), separating North Korea and South Korea after leaving Osaka, Japan, at the end of the G20 summit.

The US president initiated the visit via Twitter.

“Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place,” Jong Un told Trump as both men shook hands.

Trump announced after the meeting that lasted about an hour that both countries would resume negotiations.

“Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!” he wrote on Twitter.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!

32.2K people are talking about this

Both men had in January 2018 over possession of and threats to use nuclear weapons by North Korea.

Though the leaders signed an agreement committing to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”,  little progress has been made.

They met again in June 2018 where Trump said the tmeeting went better than expected.

Their last meeting in February ended in a no-deal. It held in Hanoi, Vietnam capital.

U.S. will not impose more tariff on China says Trump

The United States will not impose any new tariffs on China for now, President Donald Trump said on Saturday after high-stakes talks with his Chinese counterpart on the bruising trade war.

“At least for the time being,” Washington will not impose new tariffs or remove existing ones, Trump said at a press conference after the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka. “We will be continuing to

AFP

Trump to announce re-election bid at Florida rally

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to announce his candidacy for a second four-year term at a rally in Florida.

Trump’s campaign for re-election in 2020 chose the 20,000-seat Amway Centre in the centre of the state to make the announcement on Tuesday.

The event is scheduled to start at 8 p.m (0000 GMT).

Trump has been touting the rally in tweets, claiming there has been a large demand for tickets.

“Big rally tomorrow night in Orlando, Florida, looks to be setting records, we are building large movie screens outside to take care of everybody,’’ Trump tweeted on Monday.

New polls of potential voters indicate Trump will need all their support on Election Day, which isn’t until Nov. 3, 2020.

A poll conducted on Sunday by Fox News showed Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden, the front-runner among a crowded field of Democrats, by 10 points.

The poll also shows him nine points behind Senator Bernie Sanders, another leading contender.

Trump tweeted about the polls on Monday, suggesting they were fake.

“Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that. Much work to do! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The president is expected to use Tuesday’s rally to highlight strengths in the U.S. economy and the fulfillment of campaign promises made during his 2016 campaign.

Trump underestimates Huawei’s strength says founder, Ren Zhengfei

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on Tuesday shrugged off US attempts to block his company’s global ambitions, saying the United States underestimates the company’s strength.

Ren spoke to Chinese media days after President Donald Trump issued orders aimed at thwarting Huawei’s business in the United States, the latest salvo in a months-long effort to stop the company’s charge to the top of the leaderboard in next-generation 5G technology.

“The current practice of US politicians underestimates our strength,” Ren said, according to transcripts from state-run media.

“Huawei’s 5G will absolutely not be affected. In terms of 5G technologies, others won’t be able to catch up with Huawei in two or three years,” he said.

Last week, Trump declared a “national emergency” empowering him to blacklist companies seen as “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States” — a move analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei.

At the same time, the US Commerce Department announced an effective ban on American companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei.

US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said this week it was beginning to cut ties with Huawei in light of the ban.

The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the telecoms giant will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services — which include the Gmail and Google Maps apps — a source close to the matter told AFP.

But the Commerce Department on Monday issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban on the transfer of technology by allowing temporary licences.

“The US 90-day temporary licence does not have much impact on us, we are ready,” Ren said.

Huawei has sought to ease customers’ concerns over the Google announcement.

Ren said Huawei and Google are discussing how to respond to the ban, calling the US firm a “highly responsible company”.

A company spokesman in Australia said the US actions “will not impact consumers” with a Huawei tablet or smartphone in the country, or those planning to buy a device in the future.

As for Huawei’s access to key components, Ren said half of chips used in the company’s equipment come from the United States and the other half it makes itself.

“We cannot be isolated from the world,” Ren said.

“We can also make the same chips as the US chips, but it doesn’t mean we won’t buy them,” he said.

He denied reports that German chipmaker Infineon has halted shipments to Huawei.

But analysts say the ban threatens the company’s very survival as it heavily relies on US components.

“If the ban continues, Huawei will be damaged for sure, particularly in smartphones but also in the datacenter and networking markets,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

The Huawei confrontation has been building for years, as the company has raced to a huge advantage over rivals in next-generation 5G mobile technology.

US intelligence believes Huawei is backed by the Chinese military and that its equipment could provide Beijing’s intelligence services with a backdoor into the communications networks of rival countries.

For that reason, Washington has pushed its closest allies to reject Huawei technology, a significant challenge given the few alternatives for 5G.

While Australia has also banned Huawei from its 5G plans, the US has struggled to sway some countries, with Britain having reportedly approved a limited role for the Chinese company to help build a 5G network in the country.

I’ll not let Iran have nuclear weapons – Trump

 

Hours after threatening the “official end” of Iran if it starts a war with the United States, Donald Trump kept up his uncompromising rhetoric, vowing not to let Iran develop nuclear weapons.

“I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons, you just can’t let that happen,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Fox News late on Sunday.

Before becoming US president, Mr Trump was a vocal critic of both the Iraq war and the Libya intervention. Last year, he pulled the US out of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, an agreement that was designed to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

On Sunday, he said that “with all of everything that’s going on, and I’m not one that believes, you know, I’m not somebody that wants to go into war, because war hurts economies, war kills people most importantly, by far the most importantly”.

Mr Trump again took credit for ending the nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama signed in 2015 and indicated that the strategy of isolation and sanctions is working by devastating the Iranian economy.

“I had no idea it was going to be as strong as it was … the country is devastated from the standpoint of the economy,” he said.

The US wants Iran to come to the table, and according to CNN, the White House has passed a phone number via Switzerland to Tehran. That call has not been placed yet.

There are growing concerns in Washington that if Iran backs away from its commitments under the nuclear deal in July, it could increase enrichment levels – capped under the 2015 agreement, officially called the JCPOA – to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Before his interview was aired, Mr Trump threatened Tehran that if it “wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran”.

“Never threaten the United States again!” he said.

The escalation in rhetoric comes as a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, four days after Washington ordered the withdrawal of all non-essential staff from Iraq because of fears of attacks by Iranian proxies.

It also coincides with mounting tension in the Gulf of Oman with two US warships arriving in the region. Last week, two attacks, one sabotaging tankers at sea near the UAE and one against Saudi oil pumping stations near Riyadh, occurred within 48 hours of each other.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of ordering the drone attack through the Houthis, while the UAE is conducting an investigation into what happened off its coast.

Gulf states have also increased maritime patrols to deter Iran.

Trump to make state visit to UK in June

President Donald Trump has accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.

Trump and his wife Melania will make the trip from June 3 to June 5, the palace said, adding that further details would be announced in due course.

Trump will hold a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street and the trip also coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War Two.

“The UK and U.S. have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests,” May said in a statement.

“The State Visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead.”

The Trumps met the queen for tea at Windsor Castle on their last trip to Britain in July, which was not deemed a state visit.

Similarly, Trump and his wife will travel to France on June 6, where Trump will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday. (Reuters/NAN)

Mueller details extensive Trump campaign-Russia contacts

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may not have found evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but his report details extensive contacts between the campaign and Russian operatives who sought to influence the election.

Mueller said in his report released on Thursday that he found “numerous links” and that the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit” from Russia’s effort to tilt the ballot in Trump’s favour.

Ultimately, Mueller determined the various contacts either didn’t amount to criminal behaviour or would be difficult to prove in court, even if people in Trump’s orbit sometimes displayed a willingness to accept Russian help, the report showed.

Trump and his allies, who derided the Mueller probe as a political “witch hunt”, portrayed the report as vindication. “No collusion. No obstruction. For all the haters and the radical left Democrats, game over,” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

“The bottom line is the president is exonerated and the campaign is exonerated of collusion,” said Michael Caputo, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.

Some legal experts and political strategists were more circumspect, saying the report confirmed the Russian government was attempting to help Trump with the election.

“I think that’s a pretty extraordinary finding of historical significance, whether or not there’s a crime,” said Matthew Jacobs, a former federal prosecutor who is now a San Francisco-based lawyer.

Many of the contacts in the report were already known. They included former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations in late 2016 with Sergei Kislyak, Russia ambassador at the time, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a political consultant who the FBI has determined has ties to Russian intelligence.

But the report contained fresh details on the range of official and unofficial dealings Trump campaign advisers and supporters had with Russians before and after the 2016 election.

For example, the report says that Manafort, shortly after he joined the campaign in the spring of 2016, directed his deputy to share internal polling data with Kilimnik with the understanding it would be passed on to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch known to have close ties to the Kremlin.

Lawyers for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kilimnik did not reply to an email seeking comment.

A Washington-based attorney for Deripsaka said he could not comment. In a statement to Reuters in January, representatives for Deripaska said he has never had any communication with Kilimnik.

The report also says that Manafort told Kilimnik in August 2017 about the campaign’s efforts to win the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Trump ended up winning three of those states in the November election.

Mueller’s investigation did not find a connection between Manafort’s sharing of polling data and Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election or that he otherwise coordinated with Russia.

Frank Montoya, a former senior FBI official, said he was nonetheless bothered by the interactions between Manafort and Kilimnik, especially their talking about battleground states.

“As a longtime counterintelligence investigator it makes the hair stand on the back of my neck,” Montoya said.

The report detailed a meeting in December 2016 between Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Sergei Gorkov, the head of a Russian state-owned bank under U.S. sanctions. Gorkov gave Kushner a painting and a bag of soil from the town in Belarus where Kushner’s family is from, the report says.

Mueller’s team said it could not resolve a conflict in the accounts of Kushner, who said the meeting was diplomatic in nature, and Gorkov, who said it was business related.

Kushner has said neither sanctions nor his business activities were discussed at the meeting. Kushner’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on Mueller’s report.

The report also provided new details about a meeting that campaign advisers Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, Kushner and Manafort held with a Russian lawyer at New York’s Trump Tower in June 2016. The meeting was set up after the advisers were promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic challenger for president.

Mueller’s team considered whether the advisers violated laws barring election contributions from foreigners. But, the report says, they ultimately decided there was not enough evidence to show they “wilfully” broke the law and they might have had problems proving the information offered on Clinton was really valuable.

When news of the Trump Tower meeting broke in July 2017, Trump Jr. issued a statement saying the meeting was set up to discuss adoption policy, not politics, before later admitting he had been expecting intelligence on Clinton.

Such interactions have broadly been referred to by Democratic congressional investigators as examples of possible “collusion”. But because collusion is not a legal term, Mueller’s team examined the Trump Tower meeting and other contacts through the lens of federal conspiracy law.

Mueller said his investigation was unable to establish that such contacts with Russians met the bar of criminality which required that the contacts “amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation” of U.S. laws, including those governing campaign finance and foreign agent registration.

Therefore, Mueller said his office “did not charge any individual associated with the Trump Campaign with conspiracy to commit a federal offense arising from Russia contacts.”

Trump fires Nielsen, Homeland Security Chief, announces replacement

U.S. President Donald Trump has fired his Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and has replaced her with Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner.

Her sack has brought to an end her turbulent tenure in charge of the border security agency that had at times made her the target of the president’s criticism.

Trump wrote on his twitter handle: “Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….

“….I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for . I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….

29.3K people are talking about this

The move comes just two days after Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly expressed anger at a rise in migrants at the southwestern border, withdrew his nominee to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction.

The president said in a tweet that Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will take over as the acting replacement for Ms. Nielsen, who took over the agency in late 2017.

The decision to replace Ms. Nielsen comes as little surprise.

She was long expected to be fired as Mr. Trump’s dissatisfaction grew over an increase of migrants illegally entering the United States at the southwestern border.

Last May — six months after taking over at the department — The New York Times reported that Ms. Nielsen had drafted a resignation letter after being berated for what the president called her failure to help stop illegal immigration.

Mr. Trump and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, have privately but regularly complained about Ms. Nielsen. They blamed her for a rise in migrants entering the United States and not finding more creative ways to secure the border.

Atiku congratulates Trump over Mueller report

Trump, Kim summit ends in fiasco

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach an agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula at their summit in Vietnam on Thursday, the White House said.

Earlier, both Trump and Kim had expressed hope for progress on improving relations and on the key issue of denuclearisation, in their talks in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearisation and economic driven concepts,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”

Trump had been scheduled to hold a “joint agreement signing ceremony” with Kim at the conclusion of their summit talks, according to an earlier White House announcement.

Both leaders left the venue of their talks, the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel, at 1.25 p.m. (0625), without attending a planned lunch together, and returned to their hotels.

News of the change in schedule sent South Korea’s currency lower and knocked regional stock markets.

Earlier Kim and Trump, seated across from each other at a conference table, appeared confident of progress.

“If I’m not willing to do that, I won’t be here right now,” Kim told reporters through an interpreter, when asked if he was ready to give up his nuclear weapons.

Trump, responding to that, said: “That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.”

Kim did not elaborate on what “denuclearization” would entail, but asked if he was ready to take concrete steps, Kim said they had just been talking about that.

While the United States is demanding North Korea give up all of its nuclear and missile programs, the North wants to see the removal of a U.S. nuclear umbrella for its Asian allies such as South Korea and Japan.

The two leaders’ summit in Singapore in June, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, produced a vague statement in which Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

But there has been little progress since then.

Trump’s lawyer, Cohen says president is a conman, racist

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen called the US president a conman, a cheat and a racist in explosive congressional testimony on Wednesday, saying he was ashamed of a decade of working for the real estate billionaire.

Trump’s disgraced former fixer was giving evidence as Congress prepares for the final report from a probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia — and with the president in Vietnam for a second historic summit with North Korea.

Cohen — who is about to go to jail for three years after admitting financial crimes and lying to Congress — said Trump directed him in an illegal scheme to pay hush money to a porn star, and knew in advance in 2016 that WikiLeaks would publish dirt on Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s denials of both.

He also said Trump directed negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow through the 2016 election campaign even while denying any business ties with the Russians.

Cohen said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the project, and that White House lawyers “reviewed and edited” his testimony in 2017 when he lied to Congress about the Trump Tower negotiations.

But Cohen, 52, also said he had no direct evidence that Trump or his 2016 campaign colluded with Russians — the central focus of Justice Department and congressional investigations.

Cohen told lawmakers he was “ashamed” of his decade-long role as the president’s personal lawyer and “fixer” for sensitive problems.

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said.

“Today, I am here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump,” he said.

Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings said Cohen’s testimony was “deeply disturbing, and it should be troubling to all.

“If it is as explosive as it appears to be, I think that it is the beginning of an impeachment process,” Democratic Representative Jackie Speier, another member of the panel, told NPR radio early Wednesday.

Trump, in Hanoi for a second nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, responded to the early release of the testimony by trying to discredit Cohen.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately),” Trump tweeted.

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

– Republican threats –

Cohen appeared drawn as he began his testimony before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, the only open and televised hearing of three scheduled for him this week on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday he spent eight hours behind closed doors at the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s behavior.

On Thursday he will testify in a closed session at the House Intelligence Committee, also investigating Russian election interference, as well as Trump’s business relations with Russians.

Cohen’s testimony was greeted by a hail of counterattacks from Republicans.

Late Tuesday Representative Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally, tweeted a veiled threat addressed to Cohen.

“Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot,” Gaetz wrote.

Democrats expressed outrage at the tweet, accusing Gaetz of illegal witness intimidation.

– Focus on Trump and Russians –

Addressing a key focus of the federal and congressional investigations into Russian meddling, Cohen said he did not have “direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“But I have my suspicions,” he added.

He said he believes that Trump was informed ahead of time about a meeting between his campaign and a Russian lawyer peddling “dirt” on Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.

And he said he was present in mid-2016 when Republican campaign consultant Roger Stone called Trump to inform him that WikiLeaks was about to publish damaging information on Clinton that it got from Russian hackers.

“Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great,’” Cohen said.

On race, Cohen said America has seen Trump woo white supremacists and bigots but that in private “he is even worse.”

“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States,” Cohen said.

Atiku checks into Trump’s hotel in Washington DC

Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate,  Atiku Abubakar has checked into the upscale Trump International Hotel in Washington DC soon after his arrival in the US capital for talks with top political and business figures.

Abubakar who ended a 12 year travel ban to the US is due to meet with emwbers of the US Chamber of Commerce as part of itenery .

Opinions are divided over the significance of the former vice presidents trip as this was touted as a huge risk due to previous indictments on suspected money laundering activity.

The PDP camp see  this as a big boost to Atiku’campaign however, given that the US now seems to have adopted a more practical stance to the only viable alternative to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari,  as the general election approaches.

Diplomatic sources suggested that any negative action against Atiku at this time could have far reaching implications for political stability in Africa’s largest economy and key US partner on many fromts.

His opponents have dismissed the trip as showbaoting and inconcequntial to the election outcome.

Opponents of President Trump.have often accused him of favouring foreign entities and parties who patronize his many hotels and resorts in the US, an accusation, he denies.