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Trump Impeachment: Zelensky phone call transcript released

The transcript released by the Justice Department is not, according to the administration, a verbatim transcript

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Washington, Sep 25 : The Trump administration on Wednesday released the transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. A memo summarizing the call shows that the President urged Zelensky to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.

The transcript released by the Justice Department is not, according to the administration, a verbatim transcript, CBS news reported.

The text, according to the document released by the administration, is the record of the notes and recollections of the officers and National Security Council policy staff “assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form.”

According to the document, the President said on the call that he would like to find out what happened with “this whole situation with Ukraine” and he said his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani would be traveling to Ukraine. Zelensky said he would meet Giuliani when he visited.

Zelensky pledged that his new prosecutor would look into the case, and he asked for additional information.

Trump told Zelensky in the call that he would have Giuliani give him a call, and also have Attorney General William Barr call to get “to the bottom of it.”

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out,” Trump said.

Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and “find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine” with regards to Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity company which helped investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump also asked Zelensky about the Bidens. The President has claimed without offering evidence that Biden, as Vice President, had worked to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor specifically because he was investigating a company where Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors. That prosecutor was seen by the US and by many European allies as corrupt.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Trump told Zelensky, in reference to Biden.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, Trump remarked: “I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time.” Until earlier this month, Trump had temporarily frozen $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Ultimately, the White House released the funds in September, after withholding the aid for about two months.

In a statement, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said that the Justice Department had determined that “there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted”.

Trump said on Tuesday the transcript would reveal it was a “very friendly and totally appropriate call”.

“No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” the President tweeted Tuesday afternoon. He suggested the next day that Democrats should apologize after seeing what was said on the call.

“They should, a perfect call – got them by surprise!” he tweeted Wednesday before its release.

Biden, who called for the release of the transcript, insisted on Tuesday that Trump should be impeached if he continues to stonewall Congress.

“If the President doesn’t comply with such a request from the Congress, he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress in my view no choice but to initiate impeachment,” Biden said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon. “That would be a tragedy but a tragedy of his own making.”

But Democrats still aren’t satisfied. That phone call is just one part of a whistle-blower complaint Democrats want to see. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted Tuesday that the whistle-blower wants to testify before his committee.

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Indian-origin man in FBI ’10 Most Wanted’ list carries $100k reward

The FBI’s notice says that the accused “should be considered armed and extremely dangerous”.

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Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel,

New York, Nov 28 : The US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reminding the public of a $100,000-reward offer for information leading to the capture of Indian-origin Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel, who has been listed by the agency as one of the “10 Most Wanted” since 2017.

Patel has been on the run since 2015 when he allegedly killed his wife, Palak, with a knife inside a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop in Hanover, Maryland state.

He has been charged with murder.

Although he was put on the list in 2017 with the $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture he has not been caught and on Friday the FBI tweeted information about him and the reward to draw attention to the case and the reward offer.

The FBI is asking anyone who knows where he is to contact the agency or the nearest US consulate or embassy.

Patel, who was 24 at that time, allegedly hit his 21-year-old wife in the face with a kitchen knife and stabbed her several times in the backroom of the shop where they both worked while customers were still there, according to officials quoted by WTOP radio.

He was last known to have taken a taxi from a hotel in New Jersey to a train station in Newark in the state.

Tim Altomare, who was the police chief of Anne Arundel County at that time, told the radio: “The violence in this case was stark. It was heart-wrenching and it was a shock to our collective conscience on the police department.”

WTOP reported that investigators think that Patel was still in the US in 2017 when he was put on the FBI list and according to Altomare investigators believe that someone was knowingly helping Patel or was interacting with him without knowing about his alleged crime.

The radio reported that according to Gordon Johnson, who was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office in 2017, Patel was put on the list because of the brutality of the crime and the likelihood that someone outside the US knows where he was.

The couple’s visas expired about a month before the killing and investigators believe that Palak Patel wanted to return to India, but her husband opposed it, WTOP reported.

The FBI’s notice says that the accused “should be considered armed and extremely dangerous”.

According to the FBI he was born in Kantrodi Ta Viramgam in Gujarat.

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Middle East

Iran’s top nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran

“If Iran ever chose to weaponise (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb,” one Western diplomat told media in 2014.

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Majid Shahriari

Tehran, Nov 28 : Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country’s defence ministry has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county, the BBC reported.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has condemned the killing “as an act of state terror”.

Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

“If Iran ever chose to weaponise (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb,” one Western diplomat told media in 2014.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

But news of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the increased amount of enriched uranium that the country is producing. Enriched uranium is a vital component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.

A 2015 deal with six world powers had placed limits on its production, but since President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, Iran has been deliberately reneging on its agreements.

Joe Biden has pledged to reengage with Iran when he takes over the US presidency in January, despite longstanding opposition from Israel .

Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated and Iran has accused Israel of complicity in the killings.

Fakhrizadeh’s name was specifically mentioned in Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation about Iran’s nuclear programme in May 2018.

There has been no comment from Israel on the news of the assassination. The Pentagon has also declined to comment, according to media.

In a statement on Friday, Iran’s defence ministry said: “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation.

“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr Fakhrizadeh was severely injured and rushed to hospital.

“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and minutes ago he passed away.”

Iranian media reports said the attackers opened fire on the scientist in his car.

Earlier media reports had said that there was a car explosion in Absard town, with witnesses reporting that “three to four individuals, who are said to have been terrorists, were killed”.

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World

Trump campaign loses appeal over poll disputes in Pennsylvania

The judge appointed by former President Barack Obama said he could not find any case in which a plaintiff “has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election”.

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Donald Trump

Washington, Nov 28 : A federal appeals court in the US state of Pennsylvania upheld a previous ruling by a lower court against the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump, dealing another blow to his effort to overturn the results of the November 3 election.

On Friday, the three-judge panel of the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia determined that the Trump campaign’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the state “have no merit”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote in the 21-page opinion.

“Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” he added.

The three Republican-appointed judges determined that US District Judge Matthew Brann’s ruling last week to reject the campaign’s lawsuit seeking to prevent the Pennsylvania’s certification of its election results for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was justified.

The campaign’s lawsuit alleged that some counties in the ‘Keystone State’ allowed mail-in voters to fix problems by casting provisional ballots.

Brann said in a scathing opinion that the lawsuit provided “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence”.

The judge appointed by former President Barack Obama said he could not find any case in which a plaintiff “has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election”.

In reaction to Friday’s development, Trump said on Twitter that the ruling was “all a continuation of the never ending Witch Hunt”, adding that Brann “would not even allow us to present our case or evidence” .

Brann didn’t allow the campaign to file an amended complaint, which led to the campaign’s appeal.

“The Campaign never alleges that any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter,” wrote Bibas, the Third Circuit’s judge.

“It never alleges that any defendant treated the Trump campaign or its votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or its votes. Calling something discrimination does not make it so.

“The Second Amended Complaint still suffers from these core defects, so granting leave to amend would have been futile,” he added.

The Trump campaign is reportedly going to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania certified its election results on Tuesday for Biden, formally awarding its 20 electoral votes to the former Vice President.

So far, Biden has won 80,218,808 popular votes to date, compared to Trump’s 73,947,962, according to The Cook Political Report, an influential analytical site focused on US presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 electoral votes, surpassing the 270-vote threshold for clinching the presidency.

Biden has declared victory and announced the first tranche of his Cabinet nominees, including national security and foreign policy officials.

The General Services Administration has initiated Biden’s formal transition into the White House, but Trump, despite having directed his administration to facilitate the process, has vowed to continue the legal fight to challenge the election results.

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