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Trump fires FBI Director Comey

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James Comey
  • Trump fires FBI Director Comey

Donald Trump has fired James Comey as FBI director in a move that has raised concerns over the independence of the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run-up to last year’s US presidential election.

The president cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason behind his decision, but Democrats were quick to cry foul, and there were vociferous demands for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the Russia inquiry. One Senate Democrat described the move as “Nixonian”.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser at the centre of the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the election. If confirmed, the report suggests that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump camp’s links with Moscow has entered a significant new phase.

In a letter to Comey, the president wrote: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

The dismissal of America’s top law enforcement official came days after he testified on Capitol Hill about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state and the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Comey incorrectly testified that former Clinton aide Huma Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information. On Tuesday, the FBI informed the Senate judiciary committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there, while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.

In a recent interview, Clinton partly blamed Comey’s letter in late October notifying Congress that the FBI was studying the emails on the laptop, for costing her the presidential election.

Comey had also been fiercely criticised for holding a press conference last July in which he said Clinton would not be charged but criticised her as “extremely careless”. The move was seen as infringing on the role of the justice department and attorney general.

The timing of Comey’s dismissal was related to the recent confirmation of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, according to the White House. In a memo released on Tuesday, Rosenstein wrote: “The director was wrong to usurp the attorney general’s authority on 5 July 2016, and announce his conclusion that the [Clinton] case should be closed without prosecution.”

The memo added: “Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation … the director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial.

“It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

A statement from the White House said: “Today, President Donald J Trump informed FBI director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

The search for the next head of “our crown jewel of law enforcement” will begin immediately, the statement said. Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, takes over in the interim.

Comey, 56, who was nominated by Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term, reportedly found out he had been fired from breaking news alerts on TV screens as he delivered a speech to FBI staff in Los Angeles. He was “caught flat-footed” but carried on talking to the agents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Soon after, in another bizarre turn, a letter was hand delivered to FBI headquarters in Washington by Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard who worked for Trump’s security team for nearly two decades before joining the administration.

The last US president to fire an FBI director was Bill Clinton, who dismissed William Sessions in 1993 over financial irregularities.

Comey’s dismissal raises questions over the future of the FBI’s investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the presidential election.
Analysis How Comey became tangled in the US election – and why it led to his downfall
Tasked with overseeing an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the now-fired FBI director earned the chagrin of both parties
Read more

While the Republican majorities in the House and Senate could hold back congressional investigations and a new FBI director to kill off its counter-intelligence investigation, a grand jury is not under Trump’s control. He may not be able to stop the Russian collusion affair from going to court.

Under US law, grand juries (which are larger than normal 12-person court juries) have sweeping powers to compel witnesses to appear, to call for the presentation of documents and to issue indictments.

Most Republicans backed the president, including the Senate judiciary committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, who said: “The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI …The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.”

But broad condemnation from Democrats and dissent from some Republicans is likely to intensify pressure for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.” He described the justification given in Trump’s letter to Comey as “bizarre”.

Democrat Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said: “The same president who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation.

Analysis ‘You are terminated.’ The three letters that ended James Comey’s career

“It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed.”

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said: “This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation … this investigation must be independent and thorough in order to uphold our nation’s system of justice.”

Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said he told Trump, who called to notify him before making the firing public, “you’re making a very big mistake.”

He added: “If deputy attorney general Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

Schumer has taken the unusual move of asking all Democratic Senators to be in their seats at 9.30am on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News reported.

Trump accused Schumer of hypocrisy. He fired back on Twitter: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp”

Civil society groups also expressed alarm at the day’s events. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.”

The president only has one publicly scheduled item on his agenda on Wednesday: a meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday for Democracy Day Celebration

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The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, June 12, a public holiday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

The announcement was made in a statement signed by Aishetu Ndayako, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior.

The statement urged Nigerians to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers and to ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secure, peaceful, and indivisible entity.

“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us all reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secured, peaceful, and indivisible entity,” the statement read.

A Historic Shift

The designation of June 12 as Democracy Day dates back to June 7, 2018, when former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the day would henceforth be celebrated as Democracy Day.

Prior to this declaration, Democracy Day was observed on May 29, the date marking the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

President Buhari’s decision was rooted in the historical significance of June 12, 1993, the day of what is widely regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.

Despite the election’s annulment by the then-military government, Buhari emphasized that the democratic credentials of the process should be honored.

Honoring a Legacy

To further commemorate the significance of June 12, Buhari posthumously awarded Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election, with the nation’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

The statement from the Ministry of Interior also highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to implementing positive reforms aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy and enhancing national security.

A Call for Unity

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, called on all citizens and friends of Nigeria to appreciate the progress that has been made in the country’s democratic journey and to look forward to a brighter future.

“As we celebrate Democracy Day, we must appreciate the progress that has been made and remain hopeful for a better future for Nigeria’s democracy,” the minister said.

This year’s Democracy Day comes at a crucial time as Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges and security concerns. The public holiday on June 12 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the importance of democracy and the ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions.

As the nation prepares to observe the public holiday, there is a sense of anticipation and hope that the values of democracy will continue to guide Nigeria towards a prosperous and harmonious future.

The government’s declaration serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of June 12 and the importance of upholding democratic principles.

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Guilty on All 34 Counts: Trump Convicted in Hush Money Case

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donald-trump

In a historic and unprecedented legal decision, former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts in his “hush money” trial, making him the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Wednesday, concluding a six-week trial in Manhattan.

The charges against Trump centered around falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

The jury found Trump guilty on all counts, concluding that he authorized a scheme to falsify checks and related documents to keep the alleged affair from becoming public knowledge.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing that the conspiracy to cover up the payment began during Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into his first year in the White House.

They argued that Trump, along with his associates, created false records to mislead voters and conceal the payment.

Trump, who has consistently denied having any sexual encounter with Daniels, responded angrily to the verdict. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, he called the trial “a disgrace” and accused the judge of bias.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump stated.

He vowed to continue fighting the verdict, saying, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here. We’ll fight to the end.”

The conviction comes at a critical time for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 election. Despite the conviction, there is no constitutional barrier preventing him from running for office again.

Legal experts note that the Constitution’s requirements for presidential candidates—being at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a U.S. resident for 14 years—do not include any disqualification for being a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The defense has until June 13 to submit any motions, with the prosecution required to respond by June 27.

Trump’s legal team indicated they would prefer a sentencing date in mid to late July.

Trump’s conviction adds to the already intense political climate as the nation prepares for the 2024 elections. The trial has drawn significant media attention and public scrutiny, reflecting deep divisions within American society.

The trial highlighted broader issues regarding campaign finance and the use of hush money in politics. It also raises questions about the integrity of presidential candidates and the lengths to which they might go to protect their public image.

As the legal and political ramifications of this verdict unfold, Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts marks a significant chapter in U.S. history.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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