By Robert A. Vella
One of Donald Trump’s dictator buddies, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has just given the U.S. president a lesson in how to destroy democracy. The Turkish strongman’s henchmen have invalidated an important election in which he had lost to the opposition. I’m sure the new election will be fair and reflect the will of Istanbul’s citizenry, don’t you? To those Lord Acton so eloquently spoke of many years ago (i.e. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”), real democracy is both an obstacle and a target to be eliminated. Don’t think it could happen in America? Think again: Trump Keeps Alluding to Extending His Presidency. Does He Mean It?
Ruling in favor of Erdogan’s governing party, Turkey’s top electoral body on Monday annulled the results of the March 31 vote in Istanbul, which opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu narrowly won, and scheduled a re-run for June 23.
The loss of Istanbul — and the capital of Ankara — in Turkey’s local elections were sharp blows to Erdogan and his conservative, Islamic-based Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
AKP had challenged the results of the vote, claiming it was marred by irregularities. Critics accuse the AKP of clinging to power in the city of 15 million people that is Turkey’s cultural and commercial hub and of exerting heavy pressure on the country’s electoral body to cancel the outcome.
The controversial decision has increased concerns over democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, a NATO member that that is still formally a candidate to join the European Union and a key Western ally in the fight against terrorism and stemming of the flow of refugees to Europe.
More than 450 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump — if not for the office he holds.
The statement — signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees — offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr’s determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed a crime.
Among the high-profile signers are Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official in the Reagan administration who is running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination; Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration; John S. Martin, a former U.S. attorney and federal judge appointed to his posts by Republican presidents; Paul Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr; and Jeffrey Harris, who worked as the principal assistant to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.
The list also includes more than 20 former U.S. attorneys and more than 100 people with at least 20 years of service at the Justice Department — most of them former career officials. The signers worked in every presidential administration since that of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Manigault Newman, who departed the Trump administration in December 2017, said she was instructed to leave documents related to the Trump campaign and transition by then-White House chief of staff John Kelly upon her exit. She claimed the instruction was a “clear directive” she and others were given to keep all documents concerning Mueller’s investigation.
“So I thought it was very interesting that after my discussion with … Kelly in the [White House] Situation Room when I went to take my things, I was instructed that I had to leave seven boxes of documents that came from the campaign, the inauguration, the transition, and they would not allow me to get them,” Manigault Newman said.
Manigault Newman said she doesn’t believe the Trump administration provided Mueller’s team with the boxes. According to an email exchange with members of the administration, only two of the boxes out of the seven were referenced. She said that “leads me to believe that they’ve destroyed the other five.”
WASHINGTON — Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a leading contractor for President Trump’s inaugural committee and a former adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, has publicly disputed accounts of her departure from the White House last year, rejecting claims from officials that she had been dismissed.
Ms. Winston Wolkoff specifically took issue with suggestions by White House officials that she was forced out because of reports that she had profited excessively from her role in helping organize inaugural events. She gave her account of what happened in a statement to The New York Times more than a year after she parted ways with the White House, where she had served as an unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump after the inauguration.
“Was I fired? No,” Ms. Winston Wolkoff said in the statement. “Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes.”
President Trump’s recent tweets threatening to escalate his trade war with China sent soybean and corn futures plummeting Monday, in the latest hardship for U.S. farmers.
Already reeling from reduced demand for their crops after China imposed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on soybeans, farmers struggling to deal with flooding rains faced the prospect that Trump might fail to reach a deal with Beijing to end a costly trade war.
The president’s tweets threatening higher tariffs on Chinese goods drove soybean futures to their lowest level in seven months. A Bloomberg index of speculative returns on grain prices plunged to the lowest level since 1977.
Throughout years of legal battles over the country’s immigration system, a basic question has received relatively little attention: Is information the government stores on the country’s millions of immigrants reliable?
That will change this week with the opening of a federal trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
The civil case, which has wound its way through years of delays and legal wrangling, has broad implications for President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration as the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups seek to upend how immigration officers target people for being in the country illegally.
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