Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency, entangled Trump’s family and resulted in criminal charges against some of the president’s closest associates.

The comprehensive report, still confidential, marks the end of Mueller’s probe but sets the stage for big public fights to come. The next steps are up to Trump’s attorney general, to Congress and, in all likelihood, federal courts.

The Justice Department said the report was delivered by a security officer Friday afternoon to the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington. Shortly afterward, Attorney General William Barr released a letter noting his plans to write his own account of Mueller’s findings. The White House released a statement saying it had not seen or been briefed on the document.

A copy of a letter from Attorney General William Barr advising Congress that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation, is shown Friday, March 22, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

Next steps are “up to Attorney General (William) Barr,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

Barr said he could send his account to Congress quickly.

“I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” Barr said in his letter the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Judiciary committees. He pledged a commitment to transparency.

He said the Justice Department had not denied any requested action by his office. Barr was required to disclose to Congress any instance in which Mueller asked to take an action during his investigation but was told no by the department.

With no details released at this point, it’s not known whether Mueller’s report answers the core questions of his investigation: Did Trump’s campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favour of the celebrity businessman? Also, did Trump take steps later, including by firing his FBI director, to obstruct the probe?

But the delivery of the report does mean the investigation has concluded without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia, or of obstruction by the president.

It’s unclear what steps Mueller will take if he uncovered what he believes to be criminal wrongdoing by Trump, in light of Justice Department legal opinions that have held that sitting presidents may not be indicted.

The mere delivery of a confidential report will set off immediate demands, including in the Democratic-led House, for full release of Mueller’s findings. Barr has said he wants to make as much public as possible, and any efforts to withhold details will prompt a tussle between the Justice Department and lawmakers who may subpoena Mueller and his investigators to testify before Congress. Such a move by Democrats would likely be vigorously contested by the Trump administration.

The conclusion of Mueller’s investigation does not remove legal peril for the president. Trump faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election. He’s also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Trump asked him to arrange the transactions. Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president’s inaugural committee.

No matter the findings in Mueller’s report, the investigation has already illuminated Russia’s assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts. Over the 21-month investigation, Mueller has brought charges against 34 people, including six aides and advisers to the president, and three companies.

The special counsel brought a sweeping indictment accusing Russian military intelligence officers of hacking Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic groups during the 2016 election. He charged another group of Russians with carrying out a large-scale social media disinformation campaign against the American political process that also sought to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

Closer to the president, Mueller secured convictions against a campaign chairman who cheated banks and dodged his taxes, a national security adviser who lied about his Russian contacts and a campaign aide who misled the FBI about his knowledge of stolen emails.

Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty in New York to campaign finance violations arising from the hush money payments and in the Mueller probe to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. Another Trump confidant, Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails ultimately released by WikiLeaks. It’s unclear whether any of the aides who have been convicted, all of whom have pleaded guilty and co-operated with the investigators, might angle for a pardon. Trump has left open the idea of pardons.

Along the way, Trump lawyers and advisers repeatedly evolved their public defences to deal with the onslaught of allegations from the investigation. Where once Trump and his aides had maintained that there were no connections between the campaign and Russia, by the end of the probe Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was routinely making the argument that even if the two sides did collude, it wasn’t necessarily a crime. The goalpost shifting reflected the administration’s challenge in adopting a singular narrative to fend off allegations.

Equally central to Mueller’s work is his inquiry into whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation. Since the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017, Trump has increasingly tried to undermine the probe by calling it a “witch hunt” and repeatedly proclaiming there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia. But Trump also took certain acts as president that caught Mueller’s attention and have been scrutinized for possible obstruction.

One week before Mueller’s appointment, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, later saying he was thinking of “this Russia thing” at the time.

He mercilessly harangued Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing from the Russia investigation two months before Mueller was named special counsel, a move that left the president without a perceived loyalist atop the probe. And he helped draft a misleading statement on Air Force One as a Trump Tower meeting between his eldest son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was about to become public.

The meeting itself became part of Mueller’s investigation, entangling Donald Trump Jr. in the probe. Mueller’s team also interviewed the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, multiple times.

Even as Trump blasted Mueller’s team, his White House and campaign produced thousands of documents for the special counsel, and dozens of his aides were interviewed. The president submitted written answers to Mueller regarding the Russia investigation, but he refused to be interviewed

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

KAN_108537567

KAN_108537567

MELFORT, Sask. — A truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison by a judge who said she believed his remorse was sincere, but she had to consider the serious consequences for so many people.

“Families have been torn apart because of the loss,” Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask. “They are prone to depression, anxiety or outbursts.”

She also spoke of the survivors, who she suggested “are putting on a brave face in an attempt to be strong.”

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary had pleaded guilty in January to 29 counts of dangerous driving for killing 16 people and injuring 13 others.

He stood quietly and looked ahead at the judge as he was sentenced.

Cardinal said she approached the sentence knowing “nothing can turn back the clock” and noted the collision that occurred when Sidhu barrelled through a stop sign April 6 was avoidable.

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen on April, 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

“Mr. Sidhu had ample time to react … had he been paying attention,” she said.

“Somehow we must stop this carnage on our highways.”

The Crown wanted the 30-year-old Sidhu to be sent to prison for 10 years, while the defence said other cases suggested a range of 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

“We’re disappointed. We knew we were going to be disappointed,” former NHL player Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said outside court. “There’s no number that would have made me happy.”

Mark Dahlgren, whose son Kaleb suffered a brain injury, said the sentence was “one more step in the process.”

“We have an anniversary coming up that is going to be very, very tough. And I hope after that maybe we can get back to whatever our new normal is for everybody.”

Mark Dahlgren, father of bus crash survivor and former Humboldt Broncos player Kaleb Dahlgren, speaks to the media outside of the Kerry Vickar Centre after the sentencing for trcuk driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu in Melfort, Sask., Friday, March, 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis

Sidhu’s lawyer Mark Brayford said nothing as he left the courtroom. He stood beside Sidhu’s uncle from London, England, as the man gave a brief statement outside.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the 29 families,” Chanan Singh Sidhu read. “We also feel indebted to the families and the Canadian public at large for the support, sympathy and understanding they have shown … for my nephew and our families.”

Cardinal began her decision by reading aloud each victim’s name. She said the loss expressed in nearly 100 victim impact statements was staggering.

The judge said the people on the bus that afternoon were “not defined just by their association with hockey.”

“They were gifted athletes, community leaders, and team builders with hopes and dreams for the future … Some were dreaming of having a family, while others were already raising their families.”

Sidhu’s lawyers had told his sentencing hearing that he is remorseful and is likely to face deportation to his home country of India after he serves time.

Cardinal said his remorse, guilty plea and own psychological suffering saved him from a maximum sentence.

But she also spoke of aggravating factors. He had missed several signs about the upcoming rural intersection. His lapse of attention had been prolonged. His actions ended in a tragedy that forever changed families and reverbrated across the country.

“This was not a momentary loss of attention. He had ample time to stop his unit. Mr. Sidhu wasn’t speeding but his speed was excessive.”

The sentencing hearing heard that Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he passed four signs warning him about the crossroads before he came up to an oversized stop sign with a flashing light.

“The Crown trusts that this message will send a very strong message to everyone using our highways … that criminal driving will not be tolerated,” prosecutor Thomas Healey said Friday.

Sidhu had been hired by a small Calgary trucking company three weeks before the crash. He had spent two weeks with another trucker before heading out on his own for the first time days before the collision.

Brayford had told court that Sidhu was distracted by a flapping tarp on the back of his load of peat moss.

The Humboldt Broncos hockey team issued a statement soon after the sentence.

“Having this legal matter settled and the sentencing complete is a big step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, our organization and the community of Humboldt and surrounding area,” said president Jamie Brockman.

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source https://canoe.com/news/crime/truck-driver-in-broncos-crash-sentenced-to-eight-years

By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

Humboldt Bus Crash Truck Driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the truck that collided with the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team arrives with his lawyers Mark Brayford, left, and Glen Luther, right, for closing arguments at his sentencing hearing on Jan. 31, 2019 in Melfort, Sask.

MELFORT, Sask. — A truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison by a judge who said she believed his remorse was sincere, but she had to consider the serious consequences for so many people.

“Families have been torn apart because of the loss,” Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask. “They are prone to depression, anxiety or outbursts.”

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is taken out of the Kerry Vickar Centre by the RCMP following his sentencing for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Melfort, Sask., on March, 22, 2019.

She also spoke of the survivors, who she suggested “are putting on a brave face in an attempt to be strong.”

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary had pleaded guilty in January to 29 counts of dangerous driving for killing 16 people and injuring 13 others.

He stood quietly and looked ahead at the judge as he was sentenced.

Cardinal said she approached the sentence knowing “nothing can turn back the clock” and noted the collision that occurred when Sidhu barrelled through a stop sign April 6 was avoidable.

“Mr. Sidhu had ample time to react … had he been paying attention,” she said.

Families have been torn apart because of the loss.Judge Inez Cardinal

“Somehow we must stop this carnage on our highways.”

The Crown wanted the 30-year-old Sidhu to be sent to prison for 10 years, while the defence said other cases suggested a range of 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

“We’re disappointed. We knew we were going to be disappointed,” former NHL player Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said outside court. “There’s no number that would have made me happy.”

Mark Dahlgren, whose son Kaleb suffered a brain injury, said the sentence was “one more step in the process.”

“We have an anniversary coming up that is going to be very, very tough. And I hope after that maybe we can get back to whatever our new normal is for everybody.”

Sidhu’s lawyer Mark Brayford said nothing as he left the courtroom. He stood beside Sidhu’s uncle from London, England, as the man gave a brief statement outside.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the 29 families,” Chanan Singh Sidhu read. “We also feel indebted to the families and the Canadian public at large for the support, sympathy and understanding they have shown … for my nephew and our families.”

Cardinal began her decision by reading aloud each victim’s name. She said the loss expressed in nearly 100 victim impact statements was staggering.

The judge said the people on the bus that afternoon were “not defined just by their association with hockey.”

“They were gifted athletes, community leaders, and team builders with hopes and dreams for the future … Some were dreaming of having a family, while others were already raising their families.”

Sidhu’s lawyers had told his sentencing hearing that he is remorseful and is likely to face deportation to his home country of India after he serves time.

Cardinal said his remorse, guilty plea and own psychological suffering saved him from a maximum sentence.

But she also spoke of aggravating factors. He had missed several signs about the upcoming rural intersection. His lapse of attention had been prolonged. His actions ended in a tragedy that forever changed families and reverbrated across the country.

“This was not a momentary loss of attention. He had ample time to stop his unit. Mr. Sidhu wasn’t speeding but his speed was excessive.”

Sidhu was distracted by tarp: defence lawyer

The sentencing hearing heard that Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he passed four signs warning him about the crossroads before he came up to an oversized stop sign with a flashing light.

“The Crown trusts that this message will send a very strong message to everyone using our highways … that criminal driving will not be tolerated,” prosecutor Thomas Healey said Friday.

Sidhu had been hired by a small Calgary trucking company three weeks before the crash. He had spent two weeks with another trucker before heading out on his own for the first time days before the collision.

Brayford had told court that Sidhu was distracted by a flapping tarp on the back of his load of peat moss.

The Humboldt Broncos hockey team issued a statement soon after the sentence.

“Having this legal matter settled and the sentencing complete is a big step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, our organization and the community of Humboldt and surrounding area,” said president Jamie Brockman.

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source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2019/03/22/humboldt-bus-crash-truck-driver-jaskirat-singh-sidhu-sentenced-to-8-years-in-prison_a_23698615/

By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

Three men charged after loaded gun is found in child’s crib in Scarborough

Three men have been taken into custody after police officers made a disturbing discovery while conducting a search warrant in Scarborough this week – a handgun in a child’s crib.

The loaded .45 calibre gun was found by the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force during a search of a home on Empringham Drive, near Sewells Road, on March 20.

A picture of the gun was posted to social media by Deputy Chief James Ramer. In the photograph, the gun is seen lying on a pink mattress beside a stuffed teddy bear and clothing.

“The firearm was located in a low-lying crib,” Det. Sgt. Andrew Steinwall said. “The firearm was located with the hammer cocked back and one bullet in the chamber and it would take very little contact to set a firearm like that off.”

Police said that six children were found in the residence when the search warrant was executed. The children were between the ages of two and 14, and all had access to the room where the gun was found, investigators said.

“We’re dealing with the most vulnerable people in the communities right now, children, and if they have access or inadvertently come across a firearm like that, the outcome could be tragic,” Steinwall said.

The seizure was part of an investigation that started earlier this year into three men believed to be in possession of a gun.

Suspects who police have identified as 19-year-old Trayvon Palmer, 25-year-old Jordan Marcelle and 22-year-old Kacey Downer have been taken into custody. The Toronto residents are facing several firearm-related charges.

Palmer is scheduled to appear in court on March 25. Both Marcelle and Downer are scheduled to appear on March 28.

Steinwell said that he was glad officers found the weapon before a tragedy occurred.

“I’m a father myself and this touches close to home for me,” Steinwall said.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Tracy Tong

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source https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/three-men-charged-after-loaded-gun-is-found-in-child-s-crib-in-scarborough-1.4347587

By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

York Police raid meth labs, seize $5 million in drugs in historic bust

It was a mound of garbage bags and canisters dumped on a small town Ontario driveway that led York Regional Police to bust what they described as the “largest methamphetamine production operation ever investigated” by the force.

The investigation began back in November of 2018 when police were tipped off about a foul smelling collection of more than 100 garbage bags sitting outside a home on Woodbine Avenue, near Herald Road, in East Gwillimbury.

The bags had a “strong chemical smell,” police said, and the plastic canisters were marked with symbols indicating its contents were corrosive.

Officers soon discovered that the bags were full of byproducts of synthetic drug manufacturing.

“They are very explosive, toxic, and explosive, and create poisonous environments,” Det. Sgt. Doug Bedford said at a news conference on Friday.

Less than a month later, on Dec. 2, police received a second similar report about a dump site on the same street, this time nearer to Mount Albert Road. A total of 48,000 pounds of toxic waste was ultimately recovered from both locations.

On March 14, police began executing a series of search warrants across the GTA.

The search allegedly yielded a “dormant drug lab” on Kennedy Road, north of Holborn Road, and an active lab on 10th Sideroad in Innisfil.

Police said approximately $5 million worth of meth, five vehicles, and an undisclosed amount of Canadian and U.S. currency were seized during the raids.

“The scale of these two production sites we would classify as super labs,” Bedford said

“They are able to produce multi-kilo levels of synthetic drugs and have been.”

In total, eight people were arrested. York police have not released the identities of those allegedly involved, nor the charges they are facing.

One suspect, however, is still outstanding.

Van Truong Do, of Toronto is wanted on a Canada-wide arrest warrant. The 34-year-old is wanted for a number of charges, including production of a controlled substance, money laundering, and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

In addition to the arrests, police said that they also took three children into the custody of the Children’s Aid Society. Investigators do not believe the children, nor all of the suspects arrested, were living at the two homes on a daily basis, but suspect they were at times staying there.

Anyone with information about Do’s whereabouts is being asked to contact York police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.

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source https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/york-police-raid-meth-labs-seize-5-million-in-drugs-in-historic-bust-1.4347432

By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off