REPORT: Justice Department to announce Mueller findings as early as next week

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will announce the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as soon as next week, according to sources close to the investigation.

Newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr is expected to submit a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress shortly after he announces the conclusion of the inquiry.

President Trump on Wednesday declined to give his opinion on whether he believes the Mueller report should be released, instead saying that decision will “be totally up to the new attorney general.”

“That’ll be totally up to the new attorney general. He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department, so that’ll be totally up to him,” Trump told reporters in the White House.

It is unclear how much of Mueller’s final report would be made public and the timing of the announcement is subject to change.

During his nomination hearing last month, Barr, who took over for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, declined to commit to making the full report available to the public or to Congress but said he would follow Justice Department guidelines and release as much of the report to the public as possible.

Over the course of the last two years, Mueller has investigated claims of collusion between Russia and President Trump to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly denied such claims, referring to the allegations as no more than a “witch hunt.”



DEMS IN FREEFALL: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admits to wearing blackface

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The political crisis in Virginia escalated dramatically Wednesday when another top Democrat — Attorney General Mark Herring — admitted putting on blackface in the 1980s, when he was in college.

With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, Herring issued a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old at the University of Virginia.

Herring — who has been among those calling on Northam to resign — said he was “deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.” He said that in the days ahead, “honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general.”

The 57-year-old attorney general issued the statement after rumors of a blackface photo of him had circulated at the Capitol for a day or more. But in his statement, he said nothing about the existence of a photo.

The disclosure further roils the top levels of Virginia government, which has been hit with one crisis after another since the yearbook picture came to light last Friday.

On Monday, Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would become governor if Northam resigned, was confronted with uncorroborated allegations of sexual misconduct dating to 2004. He denied the accusations, calling them a political smear.

Herring would be next in line to be governor after Fairfax. After Herring comes the speaker of the state House, Kirk Cox, a Republican.

Herring made a name for himself nationally by playing a central role in getting Virginia’s ban on gay marriage lifted, and he had been planning to run for governor in 2021.

The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby, said its members need time to process the news about the attorney general: “We’ve got a lot to digest.”

In his statement, Herring said he and two friends dressed up to look like rappers they listened to, including Kurtis Blow, admitting: “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.”

“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others,” he said.

But he also said: “This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.”

Northam has come under pressure from nearly the entire state and national Democratic establishment to resign after the discovery of a photo on his profile page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook of someone in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Northam admitted at first that he was in the photo without saying which costume he was wearing. A day later, he denied he was in the picture. But he acknowledged he once used shoe polish to blacken his face and look like Michael Jackson at a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was in the Army.

Last Friday, Herring condemned the yearbook photo as “indefensible” and said that it is “no longer possible” for Northam to lead the state.

Herring earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Richmond, and served as a county supervisor and a state senator before getting elected attorney general in 2013 by a mere 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million ballots cast. He won re-election by a more comfortable margin in 2017.

Shortly after taking office for his first term, Herring announced he would no longer defend the state’s ban on gay marriage, saying it was time for Virginia “to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”

A federal judge overturned the ban, citing Herring’s opposition, and Virginia began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2014, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

As for the allegations against Fairfax, the lieutenant governor issued a statement Wednesday reiterating that he had a consensual encounter with the woman. He said he was an unmarried law student at the time.

“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years,” Fairfax said.

The Associated Press is not reporting details of the accusation because it has not been able to corroborate the account. The woman has not returned messages from the AP seeking comment.


Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat contributed to the contents of this report.


TICK TOCK: FBI braces as IG’s second report looms

Washington, D.C. (Fox News) — The country is still digesting Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s scathing report on the FBI and the DOJ’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but more bombshells could be looming from the same team of investigators.

Horowitz, a former federal prosecutor, announced in March that he is probing allegations of government surveillance abuse, in light of memos released on Capitol Hill about FBI and DOJ efforts to obtain FISA warrants to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of its Russia investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also said U.S. Attorney John Huber is investigating claims of FBI and DOJ misconduct related to these actions, noting that Huber would be “conducting his work from outside the Washington D.C. area and “in cooperation” with Horowitz.

Not much else is known about Horowitz’s review, though in March, the inspector general’s office said it “will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review” if circumstances warrant. The Clinton review took about 18 months.

On Thursday, Horowitz released his nearly 600-page report scrutinizing the actions of numerous figures who played a key role in the Justice Department and FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state. That report specifically criticized former FBI Director James Comey, FBI official Peter Strzok, Obama era-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as other officials.

While the report cited instances of bias – or the appearance of bias – Horowitz’s review found “no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”

But the report made clear it was only speaking to the Clinton investigation. Most of the officials criticized in Thursday’s report also played significant roles in the early days of the Russia probe, which is looking at whether anyone on the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election.

“Most of my fellow citizens would say, yeah, I want to know what Russia was doing to us in 2016 but I also want the person that is finding out and investigating it to be free of bias and free of taint,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Thursday on Fox News’ “Special Report.”

One of the most stunning findings concerns texts between agent Peter Strzok and bureau colleague Lisa Page.

According to the report, Page texted Strzok in August 2016 and said: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded.

Strzok was a lead investigator on the Clinton case and later worked the Russia investigation before being removed from that assignment.

On Friday, President Trump took aim at Strzok, pointing out his role in the Russia probe.

“FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that ‘we’ll stop’ candidate Trump from becoming President,” Trump tweeted. “Doesn’t get any lower than that!”

He also tweeted that he now has to “beat a phony Witch Hunt and all of the dishonest people covered in the IG Report.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.


TRUMP’S WAR: POTUS takes on city leaders in Sanctuary City showdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s well-documented war on illegal immigration waged a new battle on Wednesday as the Justice Departement threatened to subpoena 23 jurisdictions if they failed to turn over information regarding their “sanctuary city” policies.

The office of Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to city leaders in Denver, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, West Palm Beach, and others ordering the surrender of records relating to whether or not their jurisdictions are “unlawfully restricting information sharing by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.”

I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law.”

City leaders who had received the letters were quick to attack the Trump administration over it’s “discriminatory” efforts, with many threatening to boycott a planned White House meeting on infrastructure in response.

“I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump’s Department of Justice decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tweeted. “It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) echoed de Blasio’s comments, stating officers in his city strive to build trust with residents to reduce public safety threats, and “you cannot do that if you drive a wedge between any immigrant community and the law enforcement.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said he too would boycott the meeting in response to the threat.

“Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again – and use cities as political props in the process – has made this meeting untenable,” Landrieu said.

Unphased, the White House said the meeting would go on regardless of who chose not to attend.

“We are disappointed that a number of mayors have chosen to make a political stunt instead of participating in an important discussion with the President and his administration,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in response to the backlash.

The move by the Trump administration is just the latest in a series of efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, an issue that President Trump campaigned heavily on during the 2016 presidential election.



WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave credence to recent rumors that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be next to face the axe within the Trump administration.

In a tweet sent out early Tuesday morning, the president blasted the current AG for his handling of Hillary Clinton’s bevy of “crimes”.

“Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G.?” the outspoken 45th president wrote on Twitter. Moments later, Trump followed his first critique of Sessions up with another. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!”

The president’s comments follow weeks of speculation that he may be preparing to replace Sessions with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, with whom Trump has had a long standing friendship.

Questions surrounding the impending political shake up were addressed during a Tuesday morning Fox & Friends appearance by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who would neither confirm nor deny rumors that the president was considering firing Sessions and replacing him with Giuliani.

Sanders said that although she had not been privy to any “of any conversations discussing any potential replacements,” but did verify that Trump is “frustrated and disappointed” in the Attorney General’s decision to recuse himself from ongoing probe into potential Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“That frustration certainly hasn’t gone away, and I don’t think it will,” Sanders said.
When pressed for clarification on Sessions’ fate, Sanders replied, “That’s a decision that if the president wants to make, he certainly will.”

In regard to Giuliani, Sanders remained coy. “Right now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the attorney general,” she replied when asked if Giuliani had been talked to by the president about replacing Sessions.

As for Sessions, the 70 year old conservative seems unphased by the controversy and says his job, for now, is to work on the tasks at hand.

“I’m totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way,” Sessions said last week in response to rumors of his pending political doom. “(This job) goes beyond anything that I would have ever imagined for myself.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Trump’s tweets Tuesday morning.