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Trump’s demand for Obama to testify on Russia probe rejected

Criminal charges against Flynn became part of the Russia investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller, which Trump has repeatedly called a witch hunt and hoax.

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Washington, May 15 : Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has rejected US President Donald Trump’s demand that his predecessor, Barack Obama, should be called to testify before Congress on the origins of the investigation into Russian election meddling.

“I think it’d be a bad precedent to compel a former president to come before the Congress,” Graham, a close ally of Trump, told reporters on Thursday in Capitol Hill.

“That would open up a can of worms and for a variety of reasons I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

But Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that the panel will start hearings in June on the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian election interference and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, reports Xinhua news agency.

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Trump tagged Graham, urging him to ask Obama to provide testimony about what the incumbent said “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by far”.

Trump and his conservative allies have recently ramped up attacks against the Obama administration, after the Department of Justice’s controversial move to drop its case against Michael Flynn, a senior advisor to his 2016 campaign and his administration’s first National Security Adviser.

Flynn admitted in December 2017 that he lied to the FBI about his discussions, including of US sanctions against Russia, with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but has since sought to withdraw that plea, claiming that he was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct.

Criminal charges against Flynn became part of the Russia investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller, which Trump has repeatedly called a witch hunt and hoax.

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in US elections.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers released a list of names declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, which showed that former Vice President Joe Biden and other top Obama officials requested the “unmasking” of Flynn’s name from an intelligence report.

“I was never a part, or had any knowledge of any criminal investigation into Flynn while I was in office. Period. Not one single time,” Biden said during an interview with MSNBC on Thursday night.

The move has sparked sharply different reactions, as some Republicans accused the Obama administration of abuse of power in order to go after a political opponent, while Democrats argued that the requests are not uncommon and were approved through standard process.

Biden and Trump are respectively the Democratic and Republican presumptive presidential nominees for this year’s election.

Politics

‘Done deal’: Congress hints at understanding with Pilot camp

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

New Delhi: Amid speculation of a meeting between rebel Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot and Rahul Gandhi, top sources in the Congress have claimed that a deal has been struck between the two sides and a formal meeting may take place on Monday itself.

The development comes after party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi met Rahul Gandhi at his residence to work out the deal. However, there is still no official word yet while all eyes are on 10 Janpath, the official residence of interim party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress sources say that there were no preconditions from both the sides and they hope for a happy ending to the crisis that has threatened its government in the state.

The Congress sources said that veteran party leader Ahmed Patel had pitched in to resolve the issue that had threatened the survival of the Ashok Gehlot government after the Pilot camp raised the banner of revolt against it.

The Congress had sacked Pilot as Deputy Chief Minister and the state party chief. So far, Gehlot has stayed put as Chief Minister amid claims and counter-claims on attempts to poach MLAs.

On Sunday night, a Congress Legislature Party meeting was held in a Jaisalmer hotel, where MLAs from the Gehlot camp are lodged, and there were mixed views on welcoming back the rebels into the party fold.

While a few MLAs suggested that the rebels should be accepted in view of the “wafer-thin margin” of the Gehlot government in the Assembly, others were not in such a forgiving mood.

Meanwhile, the Gehlot camp in Jaisalmer is keeping a wary eye on any development in Delhi vis-a-vis the proposed meeting.

A senior Congress worker confirmed to IANS that a few Ministers from Rajasthan had been intimated about the meeting and the views of party lawmakers had been sought over the move to end the rebellion.

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India

Citizenship query: It’s not unusual, Chidambaram comes out in Kanimozhi’s support

While non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional spoken Hindi, why cannot Hindi-speaking recruits to these posts learn functional spoken English? the senior Congress leader asked.

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram, a native of Tamil Nadu, has come out in support of DMK MP Kanimozhi, who had tweeted about an incident at an airport wherein she was asked about her citizenship and pointed to his own experiences.

“The unpleasant experience of DMK MP Kanimozhi at the Chennai airport is not unusual. I (too) have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens, who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations, and sometimes even face to face,” Chidambaram said.

Read: CISF orders inquiry after DMK MP Kanimozhi asked ‘are you Indian’ at Chennai airport

The former Union Minister said: “If the Centre is genuinely committed to both Hindi and English being the official languages of India, it must insist that all central government employees are bilingual in Hindi and English.”

While non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional spoken Hindi, why cannot Hindi-speaking recruits to these posts learn functional spoken English?” the senior Congress leader asked.

Meanwhile, the BJP has dismissed her allegation as ‘electoral stunt’. BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh tweeted to counter Kanimozhi’s charge, saying that “assembly elections are 8 months away … the campaign starts”.

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India

Amid reconciliation talks, Congress leaders hint at Rahul-Pilot meet

Meanwhile, the Gehlot camp in Jaisalmer is keeping a wary eye on any development in Delhi vis-a-vis the proposed meeting.

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Rahul Gandhi and Sachin Pilot

Jaipur, Aug 10 : Political circles in Rajasthan were on Monday agog with talks of a likely resolution to the crisis arising out of rebellion by Congress MLAs owing allegiance to Sachin Pilot. Congress sources claimed that the Pilot camp lawmakers will meet Rajya Sabha MP KC Venugopal during the day and even meet with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi thereafter.

The Congress sources said that veteran party leader Ahmed Patel had pitched in to resolve the issue that had threatened the survival of the Ashok Gehlot government after the Pilot camp raised a banner of revolt over the state leadership.

The Congress had sacked Pilot as Deputy Chief Minister and the Rajasthan Congress President. So far, Gehlot has stayed put in the CM chair amid claims and counter-claims on attempts to poach MLAs.

On Sunday night, a Congress Legislature Party meeting was held in a Jaisalmer hotel, where MLAs from the Gehlot camp are lodged. In this meeting, they held mixed views on taking back the rebels into the party fold.

While a few MLAs suggested that the rebel camp leader should be taken back in view of the “wafer-thin margin” of the Gehlot government over the opposition in the Assembly, others were not ready to budge and were not in favour of taking back the Pilot followers.

Meanwhile, the Gehlot camp in Jaisalmer is keeping a wary eye on any development in Delhi vis-a-vis the proposed meeting.

A senior Congress worker confirmed to IANS that a few Ministers from Rajasthan had hints to the meeting and that the views of party MLAs were sought ahead of the scheduled meeting on reinducting Pilot and his loyalist MLAs.

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