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Critics blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone jail term

The move – sparing Stone from jail but not a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his 40-month prison term.

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Roger Stone

Washington, July 12 : Leading Democrats have condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of his former adviser and friend Roger Stone.

Presidential contender Joe Biden’s spokesman accused Trump of abuse of power and “laying waste” to US values, the BBC reported.

The move – sparing Stone from jail but not a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his 40-month prison term.

He was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

Stone was the sixth Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 campaign.

The 67-year-old had been due to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, next Tuesday.

The White House said Stone was the victim of an attempt by opponents to undermine the presidency.

The president has been accused by political critics of undermining the justice system by criticising criminal cases against Stone and other former aides.

Trump has also publicly complained about the prosecutions of onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Biden’s spokesman Bill Russo said Trump could not be shamed and could only be stopped at the ballot box.

“President Trump has once again abused his power, releasing this commutation on a Friday night, hoping to yet again avoid scrutiny as he lays waste to the norms and the values that make our country a shining beacon to the rest of the world,” he said.

House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff condemned Trump”s clemency.

“With this commutation,” said the top Democratic lawmaker, “Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else.”

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it showed Donald Trump was the most corrupt president in history.

But the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, welcomed the news, saying Roger Stone’s sentence was draconian.

Stone himself told reporters that under the terms of the commutation he could now appeal against his sentence, and was confident that he could expose “an enormous amount of corruption” at his trial.

The White House said in a statement: “Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”

It said that Department of Justice prosecutors under special counsel Robert Mueller only charged Stone out of frustration after failing to prove the “fantasy” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.

The White House also suggested that the FBI had tipped off CNN about their pre-dawn raid on Stone”s house, noting that a camera crew for the cable network was on the scene to record the arrest.

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” the statement said. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”

Trump had been hinting about a reprieve for Stone for months, including on Thursday night in an interview with a Fox News host.

The president”s commutation does not void a criminal conviction as a pardon does.

Stone was found guilty of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump”s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton.

US intelligence officials have concluded the messages were stolen by Russian hackers.

Stone had acknowledged during the 2016 campaign that he was in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

He also intimated that he knew the website would disclose more than 19,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee servers.

Stone”s sentence fell short of an initial seven-to-nine-year recommendation from prosecutors.

In a remarkable move, US Attorney General William Barr had overruled that sentencing guideline following a Trump tweet, and instead recommended a more lenient punishment.

That intervention led to the entire Stone prosecution team resigning from the case.

Stone has worked with Republicans since the 1970s and has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back.

In the 1990s, Stone worked as a lobbyist for Trump’s casino business, and later helped Trump’s unsuccessful White House run in 2000.

According to the Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone, the strategist reportedly encouraged Trump to run for the presidency again.

India

From Booth-level Worker To Congress’s ‘Babbar Sher’: Rajiv Tyagi’s Ascent Through Forceful TV Debates

Over the past year, Rajiv Tyagi had become a regular face on TV debates, particularly on Hindi news channels, passionately defending his party.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress spokesperson Rajiv Tyagi passed away Wednesday evening after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. Shortly before his demise, Tyagi had appeared in a debate on a Hindi news channel alongside BJP’s Sambit Patra and other panelists to discuss Tuesday’s communal flare up in Bengaluru. Soon after the debate got over, Tyagi collapsed at his residence in Vaishali locality of Ghaziabad and was rushed to a private hospital at around 6.30 PM where doctors tried to resuscitate him for nearly 45 minutes but failed.

An aggressive critic of the BJP, 49-year-old Tyagi had risen up the ranks in the Congress over the past 20 years from an ordinary booth level worker to become the party’s national spokesperson in January last. It was a chance interaction with Rahul Gandhi back in 2005 during a workshop of the Congress party’s youth workers from across the country that put Tyagi’s political career on a steadily ascendant path. Gandhi was, at the time, trying various ways to revive the Congress party’s frontal organisations, the Indian Youth Congress and the NSUI, in his bid to give younger party workers a greater say in the organisation. Impressed with Tyagi’s commitment to the party and his ability to make cogent arguments on various issues, Gandhi ensured that the young party leader got his political due. Between 2005 and 2019, Tyagi served in the Uttar Pradesh Congress as a general secretary and spokesperson before being elevated to the party’s team of national spokespersons. It was, thus, no surprise that when reacting to the news of Tyagi’s sudden demise, Gandhi said the party had lost a “babbar sher” whose “love for the Congress and struggle will always be remembered.” Later, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also called up Tyagi’s wife to personally express their condolences while several party leaders went to the Tyagi residence to pay their respects to their departed colleague.

Over the past year, Tyagi had become a regular face on TV debates, particularly on Hindi news channels, passionately defending his party despite often antagonistic news anchors. Last year, he had famously hit out at an anchor, using expletives, when he was repeatedly interjected while trying to make his point. Tyagi refused to back down and ever since that heated TV debate, he would often use the same expletives for that anchor while chiding him on Twitter or other social media platforms.

When several members of the Congress media department began adopting a forceful approach on TV debates in recent months – in part due to violently acerbic tenor of their BJP rivals but perhaps also, to a great measure, due to what the party believes was a deliberate attempt by large several media outlets, to only present the ruling party’s views – Tyagi firmly believed this was “the only way our view can be heard”.

On Wednesday too, as Tyagi made his last TV debate appearance, he was mocked repeatedly by Patra while the anchor made token interjections to stop the BJP spokesperson’s personal attacks against the Congress rival who kept requesting – “please let me speak”. This was, of course, not the first time that Patra and Tyagi had got into a vicious exchange on live TV, the verbal scuffles had become a regular affair in recent months, nor was this news anchor’s evidently partisan handling of the debate, giving Patra a free pass to call rivals various names, a new thing.

As leaders across political parties, including Patra, expressed their shock and condolences at Tyagi’s passing, RJD MP and spokesperson Manoj Jha had a message that media outlets, TV channels in particular, would do well to take note of. Stating that he witnessed Tyagi’s final debate shortly before the leader passed away, Jha tweeted, “I request you all (owners of TV news channels) with folded hands: stop these debates that harvest hate and intolerance otherwise it will mark the end of this country… no one will survive.”

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India

Congress blames ‘toxic’ TV debate for Rajiv Tyagi’s untimely demise

“Till when will toxic debates and venomous spokespersons continue to kill sober and simple people? Till when TV channels will continue to run the TRP business through such debates? Surjewala tweeted

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The Congress has blamed ‘toxic’ TV debate for the untimely demise of its spokesperson Rajiv Tyagi, who passed away on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The Congress leader had attended a television debate at 5 p.m. and complained of chest pain soon after the programme ended. He then fell unconscious and was rushed to the Yashoda Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, “Till when will toxic debates and venomous spokespersons continue to kill sober and simple people? Till when TV channels will continue to run the TRP business through such debates? Till when will divisive communal agenda continue to poison the soul of the country? Till when? #rajiv_tyagi.”

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and senior leader Priyanka Gandhi spoke to Tyagi’s wife and extended their condolences.

Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, “Congress has lost a lion. We will always remember his love for the party. My condolences are with the family.”

“Shocked to hear about the tragic demise of Shri Rajiv Tyagi. He was too young and had a long life ahead of him. It is a big loss for the party. My heart goes out to his family & wellwishers. May God give them the strength in this hour of grief,” tweeted senior leader Ahmed Patel.

A resident of Ghaziabad, Tyagi was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Congress before becoming the party’s national spokesperson.

The Congress in a statement said, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Rajiv Tyagi, a staunch Congressman and a true patriot. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this hour of grief.”

Congress leader Jitin Prasada said, “I am shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely demise.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “I can’t believe that my friend Rajiv Tyagi is not with us any more. He was in a debate with me at 5 p.m. Life is uncertain.”

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Cities

Action against cops after Aligarh incident involving MLA

After the incident, about half a dozen BJP MLAs conveyed to the chief minister that they wanted action against the police officer who reportedly misbehaved with Sahyogi.

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BJP MLA Rajkumar Sahyogi

Lucknow, Aug 12 : The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has suspended the station officer of Gonda police station, Anuj Kumar Saini, who was involved in an alleged brawl with BJP MLA Rajkumar Sahyogi.

Superintendent of Police rural Atul Sharma has also been transferred after the incident which took place earlier on Wednesday.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has asked the IG zone to probe the incident.

After the incident, about half a dozen BJP MLAs conveyed to the chief minister that they wanted action against the police officer who reportedly misbehaved with Sahyogi.

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