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Judge Finds Manafort Lied to Investigators in Russia Probe

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators and a federal grand jury in the special counsel’s Russia probe, a judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision was another loss for Manafort, a once-wealthy political consultant who rose to lead Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and now faces years in prison in two criminal cases brought in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. 

The four-page ruling hurts Manafort’s chance of receiving a reduced sentence, though Jackson said she would decide the exact impact during his sentencing next month. It also resolves a dispute that had provided new insight into how Mueller views Manafort’s actions as part of the broader probe of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates.

Manafort’s mystery man

Prosecutors have made clear that they remain deeply interested in Manafort’s interactions with a man the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. But it’s unclear exactly what has drawn their attention and whether it relates to election interference because much of the dispute has played out in secret court hearings and blacked out court filings.

In her ruling Wednesday, Jackson provided few new details as she found there was sufficient evidence to say Manafort broke the terms of his plea agreement by lying about three of five matters that prosecutors had singled out. The ruling was largely a rejection of Manafort’s attorneys’ argument that he hadn’t intentionally misled investigators but rather forgot some details until his memory was refreshed.

The judge found that Manafort did mislead the FBI, prosecutors and a federal grand jury about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, the co-defendant who the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors had accused Manafort of lying about several discussions the two men had including about a possible peace plan to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Crimea.

During a sealed hearing last week, Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said one of the discussions — an Aug. 2, 2016, meeting at the Grand Havana Club cigar bar in New York — went to the “larger view of what we think is going on” and what “we think the motive here is.”

“This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel’s Office is investigating,” Weissmann said, according to a redacted transcript of the hearing. He added: “That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel.”

Meeting with Gates

The meeting occurred while Manafort was still in a high-ranking role in the Trump campaign. Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy and also a Trump campaign aide, attended. And prosecutors say the three men left separately so as not to draw attention to their meeting.

Weissmann said investigators were also interested in several other meetings between Kilimnik and Manafort including when Kilimnik traveled to Washington for Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. And Manafort’s attorneys accidentally revealed weeks ago that prosecutors believe Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Jackson found that in addition to his interactions with Kilimnik, there was sufficient evidence that Manafort had lied about a payment to a law firm representing him and about an undisclosed Justice Department investigation.

But she found there wasn’t enough evidence to back up two other allegations. The judge said prosecutors failed to show Manafort intentionally lied about Kilimnik’s role in witness tampering or about Manafort’s contacts with the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018.

Waiting on Russian

Kilimnik, who lives in Russia, was charged alongside Manafort with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He has yet to appear in a U.S. court to face the charges.Manafort’s sentencing is set for March 13. He faces up to five years in prison on two felony charges stemming from illegal lobbying he performed on behalf of Ukrainian political interests.

Separately, he faces the possibility of a decade in prison in a federal case in Virginia where he was convicted last year of tax and bank fraud crimes. Sentencing in that case was delayed pending Jackson’s ruling in the plea-deal dispute. 

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Judge: Manafort Lied in Russia Probe, Breached Plea Deal 

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators and a federal grand jury in the Russia probe.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in an order that there was sufficient evidence that Manafort lied in breach of his plea agreement.

The decision hurts Manafort’s chance of receiving a reduced sentence next month.

Manafort was accused of lying about several matters, including his discussions with a longtime associate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors have said the discussions between Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik about a Ukrainian peace plan go to the “heart” of the Mueller probe.

Manafort was also accused of lying about sharing polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort remains jailed while he awaits sentencing.  

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House Backs Ending US Support for Saudis in Yemen War 

The Democrat-controlled House rebuked President Donald Trump Wednesday and voted to cut off U.S. military assistance to the Saudi coalition fighting in Yemen.

The vote was 248 to 177 and was one of the only times the House has ever used the War Powers Act.

The measure now goes to the Senate, which passed a similar measure before the 2018 midterm elections, setting up a possible showdown with the White House.

The United States has been providing mainly intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The nearly 5-year-long war has killed thousands of civilians, and has made an already dire humanitarian crisis in one of the world’s poorest nation even worse.

Saudi-led airstrikes aimed at the rebels have obliterated entire neighborhoods, destroying schools and hospitals.

U.S. lawmakers from both parties are not only disgusted by the carnage in Yemen, many are also angry over Trump’s tepid reaction to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“This is their (Congress) opportunity to send a message to the Saudis that their behavior on Khashoggi and their flagrant disregard of human rights is not consistent with the American way of doing business and not in line with American values,” Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California said.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, another California Democrat, called the U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen “shameful,” saying it helped create a humanitarian crisis.

Congress passed the War Powers Act in 1973 after the U.S.’s disastrous involvement in Vietnam.

It gives Congress the authority to pull U.S. forces out of an undeclared war.

The White House said U.S. assistance to the Saudi coalition in Yemen does not fall under the War Powers Act because U.S. forces are not directly involved in hostilities.

If the Yemen resolution also passes in the Senate, the White House has threatened a veto.

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Ліга чемпіонів: «Реал» здобув перемогу в Амстердамі

Мадридський «Реал» здобув перемогу над голландським «Аяксом» в Амстердамі – 2:1 у першому для цих команд поєдинку 1/8 фіналу Ліги чемпіонів УЄФА.

Всі голи команди забили по перерві. У складі мадридців відзначилися Карім Бензема (на 60-й хвилині) та Марко Асенсіо (на 87-й), за господарів забив Хакім Зієш (на 75-й).

В іншому матчі середи англійський «Тоттенгем» розгромив німецьку «Боруссію» з Дортмунда – 3:0.

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Доха: Цуренко поступилася третій ракетці світу

Українська тенісистка Леся Цуренко поступилася у другому раунді турніру турніру в Досі (Катар) Qatar Total Open – Premier.

Цуренко програма третій ракетці світу, румунці Симоні Халеп за рахунком 2:6, 3:6.

Ще одна українка, Еліна Світоліна продовжує змагання. Сьогодні вона перемогла латвійку Олену Остапенко. В наступному раунді суперницею Світоліної стане Кароліна Мухова з Чехії.

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Світоліна вийшла до третього раунду турніру в Катарі

Українська тенісистка Еліна Світоліна вийшла до третього раунду турніру в Досі (Катар) Qatar Total Open – Premier.

У своєму першому після Australian Open матчі українка обіграла представницю Латвії Олену Остапенко з рахунком 6:4, 6:4.

В наступному раунді суперницею Світоліної стане Кароліна Мухова з Чехії.

Сьогодні в Досі зіграє ще одна українка – Леся Цуренко зустрінеться з третьою ракеткою світу, румункою Сімоною Халеп.

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Епідпоріг щодо грипу і ГРВІ перевищений на 5%, епідемії немає – МОЗ

За минулий тиждень на грип та ГРВІ в Україні захворіли понад 209 тисяч людей. Це на 4,9% більше епідемічного порогу, втім епідемії грипу немає, йдеться в повідомленні Міністерства охорони здоров’я.

«Найбільше хворіють в Івано-Франківській, Чернівецькій, Закарпатській, Хмельницькій, Сумській, Львівській, Житомирській, Миколаївській, Волинській та Херсонська областях. Все ще не пізно вакцинуватись від грипу, щоб отримати захист від хвороби і тяжких ускладнень», – заявили у МОЗ.

Згідно з повідомленням, від початку епідсезону захворюваності (з жовтня 2018 року) перехворіли 8,8% українців, 2 людей померли від грипу.

Загалом, кажуть у МОЗ, в Україні спостерігається низька інтенсивність епідемічної активності грипу і ГРВІ та регіональне географічне поширення.

Грип – це гостре респіраторне захворювання, спричинене вірусом. Легко передається від людини до людини переважно через кашель, чхання або близький контакт. Будь-хто у будь-якому віці може захворіти на грип.

Серед симптомів грипу – висока температура, яка тримається мінімум п’ять днів; лихоманка; головний біль; ломота у м’язах і суглобах; загальна слабкість; втрата апетиту, можливо, нудота; кашель, що може тривати більше ніж два тижні; нежить.

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В Україні ухвалили перше судове рішення у справі про булінг – Мін’юст

Бориспільський міськрайонний суд Київської області виніс перше в Україні рішення у справі про булінг – за цькування батьків винної особи зобов’язали сплатити штраф. Про це повідомила заступник Міністра юстиції Іванна Смачило.

«За результатами судового слухання було встановлено факт булінгу із застосуванням засобів електронних комунікацій. Підлітка визнано винним у цькуванні однолітка, а на його батьків накладено штраф у розмірі 50 неоподаткованих мінімумів доходів громадян, що становить 850 гривень», – повідомила Смачило.

За її словами, цей випадок засвідчує, що закон щодо протидії булінгу вже працює.

«Треба, щоб діти та їхні батьки зрозуміли: булінг – не жарт, і за нього передбачена адміністративна відповідальність», – зазначила заступник міністра.

18 грудня 2018 року Верховна Рада підтримала законопроект, який запроваджує штрафи за булінг (цькування) учнів. 16 січня документ підписав перзидент.

Відтепер булінг карається штрафом від 50 до 100 неоподаткованих мінімумів доходів громадян (850-1700 гривень) або громадськими роботами на строк від 20 до 40 годин. Якщо цькування вчинене повторно або групою людей, покарання стає жорсткішим – від 100 до 200 неоподаткованих мінімумів доходів громадян (1700-3400 гривень) штрафу або громадські роботи на строк від 40 до 60 годин.

Якщо правопорушення вчинене малолітніми або неповнолітніми особами віком від 14 до 16 років, їхніх батьків або опікунів каратимуть штрафом від 50 до 100 неоподаткованих мінімумів доходів громадян або громадськими роботами на строк від 20 до 40 годин.

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Diverse Democratic Presidential Field Ready to Take on Trump

The Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential field continued to grow this week with the formal entry of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

But a new poll suggests good news for two men who are not yet in the race, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran in 2016, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Morning Consult survey found Biden atop the Democratic field with 29 percent support, followed by Sanders at 22 percent and California Senator Kamala Harris in third place at 13 percent. That is good news for Harris, who is among several Democratic newcomers who have launched campaigns in recent days, and she has gained some traction in several recent surveys.

Klobuchar’s bid

Klobuchar is the latest entrant into the quickly expanding field and she hopes to gain momentum as a moderate, deal-making Democrat who can draw support from working class voters in the Midwest.

“I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit,” Klobuchar said to supporters gathered in a snowstorm Sunday in Minnesota at her official launch.

A day earlier, Warren made her candidacy official before a large crowd gathered in front of a mill building in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a city north of Boston.

Warren emphasized bridging the economic gap in the country between the very wealthy and America’s middle class.

“This is the fight of our lives. The fight to build an America where dreams are possible and an America that works for everyone!”

Another early contender who has been making the rounds in the early caucus state of Iowa is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. He is emphasizing national unity in his pitch to Democratic voters.

“I am running for president because that garment, that fabric, has been ripped and torn and we must repair it. We must stitch it together, each of us,” Booker told a group of Democrats in Mason City, Iowa.

Diverse field

The Democratic field includes several women and minority candidates and is already shaping up as one of the most varied in history, according to Brookings Institution political scholar Elaine Kamarck.

“A lot of diversity in the field, which reflects what the Democratic Party is today. It is a pretty good field. “You have serious people who are serious about government. I don’t know who will manage to rise above the others. But so far it is a pretty solid field.”

So far, nine Democrats have either officially declared their candidacy or formed a presidential exploratory committee, and several more are expected to join the field in the weeks ahead.

Liberal views

Most of the Democratic contenders hold liberal views on the economy, the environment and social issues. Many, for example, support an approach known as “Medicare for All,” which would expand government health care coverage.

Others favor what is known as the “Green New Deal,” an environmental program that would emphasize renewable energy sources and drastically move away from fossil fuels.

Analysts say that in a field that could eventually expand to 15 or 20 candidates, the Democratic contenders early on will be looking for ways to set themselves apart from the rest of the field.

“I think the key candidates, the ones who will do well, will have a constituency either in the progressive wing of the party that is really fighting Donald Trump or especially in the African American community,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Target Trump

The candidate field may be diverse, but grassroots Democratic voters will likely be focused on one key unifying goal, according to University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato.

“When you get right down to it, what is the most important thing to Democrats? If I am to believe what I am hearing, and I do, it is that they want to pick the candidate who has the best chance of beating Donald Trump,” Sabato said via Skype.

For his part, President Trump is eager to bash the Democratic presidential field as too far to the left, as he did at his Monday night border rally in Texas. 

“The Democrat Party has never been more outside of the main stream. They are becoming the party of socialism, late-term abortion, open borders and crime,” Trump said to cheers from supporters in El Paso.

More Democrats are expected to join the race in the weeks ahead and that list could include Biden, Sanders, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke.

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Crowded Democratic Presidential Field Vies to Take on Trump

Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are the latest Democrats to formally join the 2020 race for the White House. So far, nine Democrats have either officially declared their candidacy or formed a presidential exploratory committee, and several more are expected to join the field in the weeks ahead. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

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