Mueller frustrated with Barr over portrayal of findings
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller expressed frustration to Attorney General William Barr last month about how the findings of his Russia investigation were being portrayed, saying he worried that a letter summarizing the main conclusions of the probe lacked the necessary context and was creating public confusion about his team's work, a Justice Department official said Tuesday night.
Mueller communicated his agitation in a letter to the Justice Department just days after Barr issued a four-page document that summarized the special counsel's conclusions about whether President Donald Trump's campaign had conspired with Russia and whether the president had tried to illegally obstruct the probe. Mueller and Barr then had a phone call on which the same concerns were addressed. The official was not authorized to discuss Mueller's letter by name.
The letter lays bare simmering tensions between the Justice Department and the special counsel about whether Barr's summary adequately conveyed the gravity of Mueller's findings , particularly on the key question of obstruction. The revelation is likely to sharpen attacks by Democrats who accuse Barr of unduly protecting the Republican president and of spinning Mueller's conclusions in Trump's favor. And it will almost certainly be a focus of Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which the attorney general will defend his handling of Mueller's report.
"After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller's letter, he called him to discuss it," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
"In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General's March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel's obstruction analysis," she added.
Trump depicted in Mueller report feared being tabbed a fraud
WASHINGTON (AP) — The fear was persistent.
As the Russia investigation heated up and threatened to shadow Donald Trump's presidency, he became increasingly concerned. But the portrait painted by special counsel Robert Mueller is not of a president who believed he or anyone on his campaign colluded with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.
Instead, the Trump of the Mueller report is gripped by fear that Americans would question the very legitimacy of his presidency. Would Trump, the man who put his name on skyscrapers and his imprint on television, be perceived as a cheater and a fraud?
To Trump, his victory over Hillary Clinton was both historic and overwhelming, though he won millions of votes less than did the Democratic candidate.
If people thought he'd won with the help of Russia, that glorious victory might be tainted.
Venezuela awaits more protests after a day of turmoil
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — He called it the moment for Venezuelans to reclaim their democracy once and for all. But as the hours dragged on, opposition leader Juan Guaidó stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising and settle Venezuela's agonizing power struggle.
Like past attempts to oust President Nicolas Maduro, the opposition seemed outmaneuvered again Tuesday. What Guaidó dubbed "Operation Freedom" triggered a familiar pattern of security forces using repressive tactics to crush small pockets of stone-throwing youths while millions of Venezuelans watched the drama unfold with a mix of fear and exasperation.
The opposition's hoped-for split in the military didn't emerge, a plane that the United States claimed was standing by to ferry Maduro into exile never took off and by nightfall one of the government's bravest opponents, who defied house arrest to join the insurrection, had quietly sought refuge with his family in a foreign embassy.
Guaidó, the telegenic 35-year-old leader of the opposition-dominated congress who is recognized by the U.S. and over 50 nations as Venezuela's rightful president, nonetheless pressed forward in calling for a new round of mass street protests Wednesday. Opposition forces are hoping that Venezuelans angered by broadcast images of armored vehicles plowing into protesters and fed up with their nation's dire humanitarian crisis will fill streets across the nation.
In one blow to Maduro, the head of Venezuela's feared intelligence agency announced that he was breaking ranks with the embattled socialist leader.
Vigil planned after 2 killed, 4 wounded in campus shooting
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A shooting that killed two and wounded four at a North Carolina university left students scrambling for shelter and prompted fresh calls for ways to keep campuses safe.
A vigil was planned for Wednesday on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where the shooting on Tuesday upended the last day of class. The governor vowed a hard look at what happened in order to prevent future shootings.
"A student should not have to fear for his or her life when they are on our campuses," Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters. "Parents should not have to worry about their students when they send them off to school. And I know that this violence has to stop. ... In the coming days we will take a hard look at all of this to see what we need to do going forward."
Campus Police Chief Jeff Baker said authorities received a call in the late afternoon that a suspect armed with a pistol had shot several students. Officers assembling nearby for a concert rushed to the classroom building and arrested the gunman in the room where the shooting took place.
"Our officers' actions definitely saved lives," Baker said at a news conference.
On 1st day as Japan's emperor, Naruhito vows to pursue peace
TOKYO (AP) — Emperor Naruhito inherited the sacred sword and jewel that signaled his succession and pledged in his first public address Wednesday to follow his father's example by devoting himself to peace and sharing the people's joys and sorrows.
Naruhito, the first modern emperor to have studied abroad and the first born after Japan's defeat in World War II, formally succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne at midnight after his father Akihito abdicated Tuesday.
"When I think about the important responsibility I have assumed, I am filled with a sense of solemnity," Naruhito said in his address.
While noting his father's devotion to praying for peace, Naruhito said he'll "reflect deeply" on the path trodden by Akihito and past emperors. He promised to abide by the constitution that stripped emperors of political power, and to fulfill his responsibility as a national symbol while "always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them."
"I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world," he said.
Thousands march on May Day, demand better working conditions
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of trade union members and activists were marking May Day on Wednesday by marching through Asia's capitals and demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights.
A major South Korean umbrella trade union also issued a joint statement with a North Korean workers' organization calling for the Koreas to push ahead with engagement commitments made during a series of inter-Korean summits last year. Many of the plans agreed to between the Koreas, including joint economic projects, have been held back by a lack of progress in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
May Day rallies were also being held in other parts of Asia, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Cambodia and Myanmar. Other parts of the world were set to have rallies as well.
In Sri Lanka, major political parties called off traditional May Day rallies due to security concerns following the Easter bombings that killed 253 people and were claimed by militants linked to the Islamic State group.
French authorities announced tight security measures for May Day demonstrations, with the interior minister saying there was a risk that "radical activists" could join anti-government yellow vest protesters and union workers in the streets of Paris and across the country. More than 7,400 police will be deployed, aided by drones to give them an overview of the protests and a quicker way to head off potential violence.
Mozambique church a refuge for Muslim cyclone survivors
PEMBA, Mozambique (AP) — Next to a marble pulpit inside a Catholic church, a young Muslim girl chases around with other children.
The church has become a home for her and nearly 1,000 others from different faiths as they wait out the aftermath of Mozambique's latest devastating cyclone.
Situated in the heart of this predominantly Muslim but diverse city ravaged by Cyclone Kenneth, the Maria Auxiliadora parish houses those displaced by the storm in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique's northernmost province.
"We don't ask about people's religions, human life is all we value," Father Ricardo Filipe Rosa Marques, the 41-year-old priest in charge, told The Associated Press.
The government has said 41 people have died after the cyclone made landfall on Thursday, and the humanitarian situation in Pemba and other areas is dire. More than 22 inches (55 centimeters) of rain have fallen in Pemba since Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai tore into central Mozambique.
Israel preserves Holocaust survivors' memorabilia for future
RAMAT GAN, Israel (AP) — Under a fluorescent light, an archivist from Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial snaps photos and scans into her mobile database the last remnant that a pair of elderly siblings have of their long-lost father — a 1943 postcard Samuel Akerman tossed in desperation out of the deportation train hurtling him toward his demise in the Majdanek death camp.
"It's what we have left from him," said Rachel Zeiger, his now 91-year-old daughter. "But this is not for the family. It is for the next generations."
With the world's community of aging Holocaust survivors rapidly shrinking, and their live testimonies soon to be a thing of the past, efforts such as these have become the forefront of preparing for a world without them.
Through its "Gathering the Fragments" program, Yad Vashem has collected some 250,000 items from survivors and their families in recent years to be stored for posterity and displayed online in hopes of preserving the memory of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, even after the last of the survivors has passed away.
Copious video testimonies have been filmed and even holograms have been produced to try to recreate the powerful impact of a survivor's recollection, which has been the staple of Holocaust commemoration for decades. This year, an Instagram account was created based on the real-life journal of a teenage Jewish victim to make her story more accessible to a younger generation.
For some, black Minneapolis officer's conviction no surprise
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After three weeks of testimony, a jury needed little more than a day to convict a black Minneapolis police officer of murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed white woman who had called 911 to report a possible crime, delivering a guilty verdict that immediately sparked questions about whether race played a role.
Mohamed Noor was also convicted Tuesday of manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond , a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia whose death bewildered and angered people in both countries.
Noor, 33, testified that he and his partner heard a loud bang on their squad car that startled them, and that he fired "to stop the threat" after he saw a woman appear at his partner's window raising her arm. Prosecutors questioned whether the bang happened and attacked Noor for not seeing a weapon or Damond's hands before he fired.
It's rare for police officers to be convicted after asserting they fired in a life-or-death situation, but some Minnesota community members said they saw it coming for Noor because he is Somali American.
"Officer Noor was going to jail no matter what because he's a black man who shot a white woman in the state of Minnesota," said John Thompson, an activist and friend of Philando Castile, a black man who was killed in 2016 by a Latino suburban police officer who was acquitted.
Hugs, tears mark taping of final 'Big Bang Theory' episode
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Hugs and tears punctuated the final taping of "The Big Bang Theory," a lovefest for its stars, crew and audience alike.
There were plenty of punchlines as well, as the true-to-form hit comedy about scientists and those who love them wrapped the two-part, hour-long finale that will air in mid-May on CBS.
"This show has touched so many hearts," an emotional Kaley Cuoco told the fans who filled a Warner Bros. soundstage Tuesday. She shared a comment made by series creator Chuck Lorre at a reading of the final script: "'The Big Bang Theory' will live on in our hearts forever."
Johnny Galecki, who plays husband Leonard Hofstadter to Cuoco's Penny, thanked the audience and called the top-rated comedy's 12-season run "a dream come true for all of us."
It was definitely a pinch-me moment for those lucky — and persistent — enough to be on hand for episode No. 279. Some, urged by audience warm-up comedian and emcee Mark Sweet, paid tribute to the series that turned the really smart set into unlikely crowd-pleasers.