Robert Mueller Reiterates Investigation Didn't Exonerate Trump, Points To Impeachment

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He also announced he would resign and the special counsel’s office would close. He said he has no plans to testify before Congress.

Robert Mueller on Wednesday encouraged Americans to read his special counsel report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and reiterated his office’s position that, while President Donald Trump could not be charged with a crime while in office, that doesn’t amount to an exoneration.

“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said at a press conference at Justice Department headquarters in which he also announced his resignation. “A President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. ... Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”Mueller’s remarks alluded to impeachment, saying that the U.S. Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” Mueller said his office was “guided by principles of fairness” and that it “would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.”

Mueller said his office “will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president” given its decision not to reach a traditional prosecutorial decision about Trump’s conduct.

Mueller’s press conference on Wednesday marked his first public statement about the special counsel’s investigation since it began two years ago. He announced that he was formally closing the special counsel’s office and that he was resigning from the Justice Department to return to private life.

While House Democrats have called for Mueller to testify before Congress, the former FBI director said he does not expect to speak publicly about the investigation again.

“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter.  I am making that decision myself — no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter,” Mueller said.

“The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress,” Mueller stated.

Mueller’s investigation did not find clear evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russian operatives to sway the election. Mueller chose not to reach a traditional prosecutorial decision on obstruction of justice, but he outlined 10 instances of potential obstruction by the president during the probe.

Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chose not to charge Trump with obstruction, a decision influenced by the Justice Department’s position that the president can’t be charged with a crime. Barr and Mueller previously privately sparred over a misleading letter Barr sent to Congress that failed to fully summarize the Mueller report’s findings.

Mueller ended his remarks by emphasizing that the Russian government did, in fact, interfere in the 2016 election.

“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” Mueller said. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”



GOP Tax Law Doing Little For The Economy, Even Less For Workers: Congressional Study

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Republican boasts about their new law have belly flopped, nonpartisan researchers conclude

The sweeping tax law Republicans enacted in late 2017 is definitely not paying for itself and has not significantly boosted the economy or increased wages, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service said in a report.

But in line with what critics cautioned, the measure triggered a wave of corporate stock buybacks that benefited investors more than anybody else, according to the new study.“While evidence does indicate significant repurchases of shares, either from tax cuts or repatriated revenues, relatively little was directed to paying worker bonuses, which had been announced by some firms,” CRS economic policy experts Jane Gravelle and Donald Marples wrote in their report.

The research service is an in-house think tank for members of Congress, offering authoritative, non-partisan policy and economic analyses.

Shortly after President Donald Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ― which reduced corporate taxes by 40% to a 21% rate from a 35% rate ― dozens of U.S. companies announced they would give their workers bonuses. Republicans hailed those announcements as proof that workers would benefit from their giant corporate tax cut.

But it turns out that even the most generous assessment of corporate bonuses ― a conservative group counted more than $4 billion worth of the largesse ― amounted to 2% or 3% of the value of the corporate tax cut. And the law might not even deserve credit.

“Worker bonuses could also be a result of a tight labor market and attributed to the tax cut as a public relations move,” Gravelle and Marples wrote.

Another explanation for the surge in bonuses could be that companies wanted to issue extra compensation at the end of 2017, because doing so before the law took effect would allow them to deduct the pay at a rate of 35% instead of 21%.

Meanwhile, companies announced more than $1 trillion worth of stock buybacks, which inflate the value of shares by reducing their supply. Most stock is owned by the richest 10% of Americans, including corporate executives themselves whose pay is tied to stock performance.

The landmark report comes after Trump and Republicans in Congress have continued to claim that their tax cut is what spurred a roaring economy. In addition to the corporate tax cut, the law reduced federal income taxes for the vast majority of households. Though some may not have noticed the modestly lower federal income tax withholding from their paychecks, Republicans boasted that the extra take-home pay would jolt the economy. But the CRS report makes different findings.

For the first full year after the tax cut was enacted, the Gross Domestic Product — a traditional measure for economic growth — was at 2.9%, a rate only slightly better than most years of the Obama administration (and identical to the 2015 rate). 

Reviewing the literature, Gravelle and Marples conclude that the tax cut only marginally contributed to economic growth.

“On the whole, the growth effects tend to show a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy,” the report said. 

The report estimates that GDP growth will offset 5% or less of the revenue lost as a result of the tax cuts — meaning the GOP promises that the law would pay for itself may come up 95% short.

While Gravelle and Marples are careful to note the difficulty in determining how much GDP growth eventually will result from the tax cut, the report estimates that 0.3% of GDP growth in 2018 was a result of the law.

With that level of restrained growth, the analysts say the tax law will fall well short of paying for itself ―contrary to what many Republicans have claimed.

In fact, the report estimates that GDP growth will offset 5% or less of the revenue lost as a result of the tax cuts — meaning the GOP promises that the law would pay for itself may come up 95% short.

The report also says real wage growth has not significantly increased since the tax cuts went into effect.

“Real wages grew more slowly than GDP: at 2.0% (adjusted by the GDP deflator) compared with 2.9% for overall real GDP,” the report stated.

It also said that the real wage rate for production and nonsupervisory workers grew by just 1.2% ― essentially meaning lower- and middle-wage earners saw hardly any boost to their paychecks.

“In the absence of the tax cuts, wages should grow with the economy and wage rates should grow as the capital stock grows. In addition, tight labor markets resulting from the approach to full employment should have put upward pressure on wage rates in any case,” the report said.

The report also pokes a hole in another GOP defense of the tax cuts — that they’ve led to businesses reinvesting their tax savings back into their firms.

Gravelle and Marples look at rates of capital investment before and after the tax cuts, and they conclude that it would be “premature” to say businesses are reinvesting capital any more than they already would have been.

“To date this pattern has not been observed,” they said.



Kamala Harris Slams Trump Over ‘Irresponsible’ Biden Insult: ‘It Is Wrong’

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Speaking at an MSNBC town hall, the senator and 2020 presidential contender said Trump’s remarks were another example of “why he should not be president.”

President Donald Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for hurling insults, during his recent state visit to Japan, at former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday night, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who’s battling Biden in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, minced no words in her own censure of Trump’s comments.

His remarks, which had parroted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s insult of Biden as being a “low-IQ” individual, were “irresponsible” and “contrary to our values,” Harris said at an MSNBC town hall.It’s yet another example of “why he should not be president of the United States,” she said.

Asked by host Lawrence O’Donnell how Harris would react had she been in the president’s shoes, the former California attorney general responded:

“The president of the United States, when speaking, has a profound amount of authority and power — and must then use the microphone before her in a responsible way and in a way that is appreciative of the fact that we should always be concerned, especially on foreign soil, about the integrity and safety of our nation.

“The idea that this president, on foreign soil, attacked the previous vice president of the United States — I don’t care what the difference is on policy issues, I don’t care what the difference is in terms of party affiliation — it is wrong, it is contrary to our values and it is contrary to the best interests of our country.”

Biden’s campaign team responded to Trump’s insult on Tuesday, saying the remarks were “beneath the dignity of the office” of the president. 

“To be on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President speaks for itself. And it’s part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions — whether taking Putin’s word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging ‘love letters’ with Kim Jong Un,” said Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield. 



Mitch McConnell Says He’d Go After Supreme Court Vacancy In 2020: ‘We’d Fill It’

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The Senate majority leader blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination during the Obama administration in 2016, purportedly because it was an election year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would work to fill any Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, an election year, despite his efforts to scuttle Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the bench for that very reason in 2016.

“Uh, we’d fill it,” McConnell said in response to an audience question during an event at the Paducah Chamber of Commerce in Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon. The lawmaker issued a small smile during his answer as guests in the room laughed.

He continued: “The reason I started with the judges ... I mean, if you want to have a long-lasting positive impact on a country, everything else changes.”

McConnell’s office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for clarification of his remarks.

The senator’s comments are notable, given his rhetoric during the final months of former President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. McConnell refused to hold any debate on Garland, Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, saying no one should be considered until after that year’s presidential election.

Filling the vacancy on the court ultimately fell to President Donald Trump, who named Justice Neil Gorsuch to the bench.

McConnell has shifted his story in recent months, saying in an interview with Fox News last October that he didn’t want to “destroy” Garland, but was following “tradition in America.”

“If you have ... a Senate of a different party than the president, you don’t fill a vacancy created in a presidential year,” McConnell told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “That went all the way back to 1888.”

At the time, he declined to say if he would confirm a Supreme Court nomination in 2020 if Trump were in the midst of a reelection battle.

In an interview with The New York Times earlier this year, McConnell called his blocking of Garland the most important thing he’d done in his political career, saying: “I think the most consequential call I made was before President Trump came to office.”

“The decision not to fill the Scalia vacancy,” the senator said. “I think that’s the most consequential thing I’ve ever done.”

McConnell echoed those sentiments on Tuesday and said he hoped his efforts to overhaul America’s judiciary will make a lasting mark on the country’s history.

“What can’t be undone is a lifetime appointment to a young man or woman who believes in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to follow the law,” McConnell said during the event. “So that’s the most important thing that we’ve done for the country, which cannot be undone.”



Tamron Hall Says She Kept Her Pregnancy At 48 A Secret Because She Was ‘Terrified’

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Many women could relate to the former “Today” host’s reasons for keeping her pregnancy a secret for 32 weeks.

Tamron Hall, who surprised fans when she announced she was 32 weeks pregnant with her first child in March, has opened up about why she kept her pregnancy a secret for so long.

And it’s for reasons that many women could relate to.

The former NBC “Today” host, 48, told People in an exclusive interview for its June cover story that the thought of publicly announcing her pregnancy “terrified” her for multiple reasons.

“I was terrified I would lose this baby and I would have to go back and tell everyone that now it was bad news, and after this pregnancy had gone so far,” the broadcast journalist and TV host said.

She added: “I just wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with that. ... That’s why I waited. And trust me – if I could’ve gone the whole way to delivery, I would’ve.”

She explained her reasoning for this: “I was high-risk, not just because of my age, but there were other medical factors too.”

Hall also revealed that she looked into fertility treatments in her 30s, which failed, and had an “eye-opening” experience when she tried again in her 40s.

“I knew that the clock was not on my side,” Hall admitted, noting that seeing other women in the waiting room at the fertility clinic reminded her that she wasn’t alone, but that the realization made her more “sad” than “empowered.”

It seems like the past for few years for Hall have been an emotional rollercoaster. In early 2017 Hall and NBC announced her departure from “Today” after news broke that Megyn Kelly would be taking her time slot later that year. Although NBC would eventually cancel “Megyn Kelly Today” in October 2018 after her on-air defense of the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, Hall remembers the pain of losing her job.

She told People that she cried after she left the talk show due to “the reality of fear.”

Anchors Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker with Kate McKinnon on “Today” in 2016.
Anchors Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker with Kate McKinnon on “Today” in 2016.

Yet, Hall explained to the magazine that because she was no longer consumed by the competitive nature of job, she was able to find love with music executive Steven Greener, who she had known for years, but only began dating after she left NBC.

“The fear factor of ‘What’s going on with my spot? Am I going to keep this job?’ fell away, and I could really see Steven,” Hall said.

The couple got married but kept their relationship private — as well as her journey into motherhood.

Hall explained that although she had found love, trying to figure out where her career would go while trying to conceive was an incredibly frustrating experience. At the time, she said she felt “rejected” and was doing everything wrong, but “Somehow, like Rocky, I kept getting up.”

In September 2018, Hall and ABC Owned Television Stations Group announced a partnership to launch her own syndicated Disney talk show, which will premiere Sept. 9.

And in April, Hall announced the surprise birth of her son, Moses.

“Two and a half years ago when I walked out of that NBC building,” Hall recalled to People, “I was in a fog, not knowing that so many of us lose things we think are important, and we have no idea that something better is right there.”




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