Mueller’s disagreements with Barr’s summary, Barr testifies before the Senate, and a deadly shooting at UNC–Charlotte

Robert Mueller’s disagreements with Attorney General Barr’s summary, Barr testifies before the Senate, a deadly shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and much, much more.


Good evening, it’s Wednesday, May 1st, here’s what you need to know…



1. Robert Mueller expressed disagreements with Attorney General Barr’s summary


Special counsel Robert Mueller expressed disagreements with Attorney General William Barr over his characterization of the findings from Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman. In a letter dated March 27, Mueller wrote to the attorney general to express concerns with the four-page summary he submitted days earlier to Congress, saying, it “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his investigation’s conclusions. The special counsel was appointed in May 2017 to look into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. The investigation concluded that there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but Mueller’s team did not reach a conclusion about possible obstruction of justice by Trump. As Barr conveyed these findings in his summary letter, Mueller “expressed frustration over the lack of context” in it and said it led to “public confusion.” The special counsel expressed his differences with the attorney general on three separate occasions before the report’s mid-April release and pushed for Barr to release the special counsel’s own summaries of the report. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Mueller found nothing in Barr’s letter “inaccurate or misleading.” See the full letter Mueller sent to Attorney General Barr here.




2. Attorney General Barr testifies before the Senate


Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate for the first time since the 448-page Mueller report was released publicly. His testimony came less than 24 hours after the stunning revelation that special counsel Robert Mueller expressed disagreement with Barr’s characterization of the conclusions of his investigation. The attorney general has been subjected to harsh public scrutiny, mainly from Democratic lawmakers, for his portrayal of the special counsel’s investigation that seemed to downplay the severity of its findings. Congressional Democrats have accused Barr of misleading both the public and lawmakers on the Mueller report in an effort to protect President Trump. Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday didn’t relieve any foregoing tensions and only increased Democrats’ calls for the attorney general to resign, or even face impeachment. Here were some key moments:

    • Barr explained that his four-page summary letter on the Mueller report wasn’t meant to “summarize the report” or label nature of the special counsel’s investigations. He said this misunderstanding was why Mueller expressed concerns with his summary.
    • When news broke that the Mueller report was complete, Barr said the public’s growing “agitation” made him feel that a letter detailing the report’s “bottom line” needed to be released.
    • Barr said he had concerns about the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe.
    • The attorney general defended the president’s actions outlined in the report as it relates to whether he committed obstruction of justice, saying, “I felt that many of the episodes discussed in the report would not amount to obstruction as a matter of law.”
    • Barr said he “didn’t exonerate” Trump on obstruction, further clarifying, “I said that we didn’t believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense.” This differs from Trump’s repeated claim of “total exoneration,” as he wrote of Twitter in March.




3. Deadly shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Two students were killed and four were injured when a gunman opened fire in a classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Tuesday evening. The shooting occurred around 5:40 PM and a school-wide alert was sent out in the moments following reports of gunfire on campus. Police said a suspect armed with a pistol entered a school building and fired shots at students giving presentations in a classroom. Police arrived on scene within minutes and were able to subdue and arrest the suspect. The shooter was identified as 22-year-old Trystan Terrell, a history major at UNC Charlotte who reportedly dropped out earlier in the semester. Terrell has been charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and other firearm-related charges. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating the possible motive behind the shooting. Those killed at the scene were identified by police as 19-year-old Ellis Parlier and 21-year-old Riley Howell. Howell has been hailed as a hero following the shooting for confronting the gunman and sacrificing his life to save others. The 21-year-old “took the fight” to the shooter and knocked him “off of his feet,” saving the lives of his fellow classmates, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said on Tuesday following the attack.




4. Attorney General Barr refuses to testify before the House


Attorney General Barr has refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday due to disagreement about how the hearing would be formatted. Barr was set to testify to the House on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the corresponding report that was released two weeks ago. His refusal to appear came after he was at odds with Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on how he would be asked questions. Chairman Nadler wanted committee staffers to have the opportunity to ask questions, in addition to standard questioning by lawmakers. Barr previously warned the House committee that he would not appear before them if questions by committee staff members would be allowed, but apparently, no agreement was reached. Barr’s appearance was originally scheduled the day after his four-hour testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.




5. Venezuela’s Maduro claims victory over ‘coup’ attempt


Within the first 24 hours that violent clashes and protests between pro-Maduro forces and opposition militias broke out, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed victory over the “small” uprising on Tuesday night. The uprising was led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who claimed to have the support of the military, in an attempt to remove Maduro from power. The uprising, named “Operation Freedom,” garnered limited support from Venezuela’s military as Guaidó called for the end of Maduro’s “usurpation.” In a public speech Tuesday night, Maduro declared the “defeat” of the “coup” attempt and designated three special prosecutors to investigate the uprising and interrogate anyone connected to it. He said the uprising was organized by fascists and called those involved “traitors” and criticized them for wanting to create a “massacre.” He vowed to punish those involved. THE GUARDIAN




6. Guaidó calls for second day of protests in Venezuela


Following a day of violent street protests and clashes between pro-government and anti-government forces in Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for new demonstrations on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Guaidó called for Venezuela’s top military officials to join him in his bid to challenge Maduro’s regime and unseat the president from power, but was met with limited military support. He renewed his calls on Tuesday night for mass protests on Wednesday in the hope of generating momentum that will spark a successful military uprising. Thousands gathered with Guaidó, but he again appeared unable to secure support from country’s top military leaders who remain loyal to Maduro. The uprising is the first significant challenge to Maduro thus far in his presidency, though the efforts have only escalated tensions and have loomed over Guaidó’s ability to generate popular support. The opposition leader is recognized by over 50 nations, including the U.S., as Venezuela’s legitimate president and the international community has largely backed his efforts to oust Maduro’s undemocratic government. There is no end in sight for resolving Venezuela’s political crisis and the U.S. has recently indicated that military action remains an option. Meanwhile, the U.S. has banned American planes from flying below 26,000 feet in Venezuela’s airspace amid increasing political tensions. ASSOCIATED PRESS




7. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in prison


Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a U.K. judge for jumping bail. The WikiLeaks founder was arrested in April after being forced out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he lived since 2012 to avoid an international arrest warrant. Assange, 47, faced charges of sexual assault and rape in June 2012 and failed to turn himself into police for extradition to Sweden. To avoid possible charges, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy and was granted diplomatic asylum, remaining in the embassy for 2,487 days before his asylum was revoked last month and he was arrested. Assange claims he sought asylum to avoid extradition to the U.S. for leaking classified military documents in 2010. The British judge who sentenced Assange said his seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy cost taxpayers $21 million, and said he made a “deliberate attempt to delay justice” by pursuing asylum and failing to surrender to authorities. Assange still faces an extradition request from the U.S. related to his hacking into classified U.S. military files, which likely lead to a legal fight as Assange has vowed to fight it.




8. Trump asks Congress for $4.5 billion to address “humanitarian crisis” at the border


President Trump is asking Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funding to address the “humanitarian crisis” at the southern border. The White House asked Congress on Wednesday for $4.5 billion in additional funds, of which $3.3 billion will go toward humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion will be used for operational support at the border, such as personnel expenses and transportation. An additional $178 million will go toward mission support, including technology improvements. Trump administration officials said the money would not be used for border wall construction but would go towards dealing with the large influx of Central American migrants crossing into the United States.  It remains unlikely that Congress will approve the funding request, especially following the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that occurred earlier this year over a border wall dispute. Democrats have repeatedly criticized the administration’s handling of immigration issues and Trump’s latest move will likely escalate tensions between himself and lawmakers. 


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