US Justice Department releases Mueller report on Trump-Russia 'collusion' investigation

The US Department of Justice has released the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia. The two-year probe 'did not establish' any collusion happened.

Attorney General William Barr announced the report's release at a press conference on Thursday morning. He repeated several times that the report establishes that neither Trump nor any other American “conspired or coordinated” with Russia’s supposed effort to influence the 2016 election. That effort, the report claims, consisted of the Internet Research Agency’s alleged social media manipulation, and the GRU’s supposed hacking of DNC emails and handing them over to WikiLeaks. Both have been repeated almost from the moment of Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss to Trump in 2016.

Mueller has already indicted 13 Russians he claimed were IRA “trolls” and 12 alleged GRU hackers, and made no recommendations for further indictments in the final report. Russia has repeatedly denied having made any effort to influence the 2016 election.

The report focuses on two main issues: Trump's alleged collusion with Russia in order to tip the scales of the 2016 US presidential election, and his alleged efforts to obstruct the investigation into it. Mueller is bringing no charges on either of those, but has not fully "exonerated" Trump on the obstruction allegations.

The release of the full report has been craved by anti-Trump 'Resistance' Democrats and media alike, clinging to the Russia collusion allegations which have become known in the conservative camp as the 'Russiagate' conspiracy theory. They have slammed Barr's summary, as well as his pre-release press appearance, as efforts to spin the report's release in a way that would absolve Trump of blame.

The released version of the Mueller report is redacted in order to protect sensitive Grand Jury material, information on intelligence sources and materials, as well as private information on third parties, and data on investigations that are still ongoing.


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Russia: US Has Caused Billions of Damage to Venezuela

"The U.S... deliberately provokes a crisis around this country to change... for a US protege,” Russia Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of causing hundreds of billions of dollars of damage to Venezuela since 2013, adding that Washington was "picking the pockets" of the country, while “offering” humanitarian aid and "artificially provoking" a crisis to overthrow the legitimate government.

RELATED: Venezuela's Moncada Fires Back at Pence in Heated UNSC Exchange

“The U.S. is persistently shattering the situation in Venezuela. It deliberately provokes crisis around this country in order to change a legitimately elected leader for a U.S. protege,” said Nebenzia Wednesday during his speech before the U.N. Security Council meeting. Back in February, Nebenzia stated that the estimated damages are worth approximately US$345 billion.

The new remarks came as a response to U.S. Vice-president Mike Pence’s called to revoke the U.N. credentials of President Nicolas Maduro's government and to recognize lawmaker Juan Guaido, following Tuesday’s unprecedented and highly criticized decision from the Organization of American States (OAS) to recognize Guaido’s envoy.  

Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.N. Samuel Moncada exhorted that “in their eagerness to destabilize the country, they sacrificed the fundamental charter of the organization and distorted the law.”

Meanwhile, the Russian official reminded that as the Trump administration continues its rant on the “humanitarian crisis,” the U.S. “is not settled with providing humanitarian aid to itself,” as “the impact of 'Maria' hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in fall 2017 has not been completely mitigated.” 

Finalizing with some sound advice for the U.S. government and President Donald Trump, by saying that “If you want to ‘make America great again,’ wherein all of us have a genuine interest, then stop interfering in the internal affairs of others. You will be respected for that. You do not like others to interfere in your affairs, do you? No one does.

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Mueller’s probe is over, but bogeyman Russia will come in handy for 2020 presidential hopefuls

There was no collusion but, for the crowded field of candidates hoping to be nominated by Democrats as their runner for 2020, Russia is still a good target to blame or to threaten with. Will using such rhetoric actually help them?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe ended last month and its conclusions didn’t make Russiagaters happy, but some seem to be not quite ready to give up on the ‘Russians are coming!’ line.

Russians come to OUR social media – and divide America!

While launching his campaign in Ohio, Democrat representative Tim Ryan talked freely about the growing division in US society, which prevents the country from fixing a whole set of “broken systems.” But who’s to blame? The dreaded “enemies” coming onto social media to set Americans against one another – those pesky Russians.

“If there is an incident in America that’s controversial – about kneeling for the National Anthem or there’s a school shooting or there’s an incident between a cop and a kid – you know who comes on to our social media?” Ryan told his supporters.

The Russians. OK? I want you to hear this. The Russians. They come into our social media and they spin things to get us into these divided camps so that we’re fighting with each other.

“That’s what they want. And, meanwhile, we can’t get our economy going. Meanwhile, we can't get a healthcare system that works,” he added, urging US citizens to “come together.”

Sure, if you fend off the elusive Russian trolls, all the issues will just go away, because there will be no one to sow division. What a solid concept to campaign on.

Capitalism might threaten democracy – like in Russia, of course

Another Democratic presidential hopeful, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has offered a take on the most important thing the US has – its ‘democracy.’ This treasured possession is so important that it might actually be threatened by another cornerstone of the US, capitalism, Buttigieg said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“When capitalism comes into tension with democracy, which is more important?” he wondered.

I believe democracy is more important. When you have capitalism capturing democracy, where you have the kind of regulatory capture where powerful corporations can arrange the rules for their benefit, that’s not real capitalism.

And where’s that happening? Well, not in the US, with is military industrial complex and big pharma so close to Washington, but in Russia.

It might work with the die-hard Russiagaters, who, for the past two weeks, have been bemoaning the end of the Mueller probe, but polls are showing that people would like the candidates to talk instead about the real issues and problems.

@bnuckels To win in 2020, Dems need to keep the focus on what matters most to the voters (hint: it's not Russia). Trump wants a fight on Obamacare? Bring it. New @ppppolls show voters say health care is a more important issue vs Russia 80% to 8%.


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Russia Prepares Pharmaceutical Companies for War

Russia is preparing a war economy, even industry unrelated to defense is included in the plan. 

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade is preparing a strategy for its economy in case of war. The pharmaceutical industry is not exempt. The plan includes independent production of important medicines by 2030.

RELATED: Venezuela: US Withholds $5B for Medicine 

The strategy, developed in 2018, is to guarantee the country's supply of medicine and surgical equipment. The production plan is assessed in accord to “military conflicts of varying intensity.”

In November 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of his country's ability to be prepared for a worst case scenario and being able to cover the needs of Russian citizens, noting that “the economy’s ability to rapidly increase the volumes of defense products and services at the right time is one of the most important conditions for ensuring the country’s military security."

The Russian Federation has provided several tons of aid in the form of medicines and active ingredients to Venezuela. The Bolivarian government is trying to overcome crippling sanctions, which have made it difficult to import medicines. Venezuela currently relies on 70 percent imports to cover the demand needed. Sanctions, political conflict and threats of war highlight the importance for Russia as well to establish independent production to meet demands in several scenarios. 

The document states that Russia needs to produce a stockpile of medicines “depending on the predicted severity and scale of losses" during the event of an armed conflict, or war. 

“It is important to determine the medical technologies used primarily in wartime to provide medical assistance, to treat the wounded and those affected by ionizing radiation or military-grade toxic substances,” the document reads. 

Russia is currently able to cover 63.7 percent of the market through its own production, while the sales of medicines made in the country only accounted for 30.6 percent. For this reason, the strategy paper highlights the importance of "educational work." 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, the Ministry of Healthcare and the Federal Service for Supervision of Healthcare have “to guarantee the minimal assortment of medicines and medical products” in case of new sanctions, as is the case in Venezuela, or a political conflict. 

The second part of the strategy, however, includes the competitiveness of Russian pharmaceutical industry on the international market. Should a worst-case-scenario be avoided, financial and non-financial assistance through the Russian government could also help to make the industry more compatibable on the international market. Medicine itself can be a vital soft-power tool.

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NATO Seeks Provocation in Sea of Azov, Russian Senator Says

Moscow, Apr 4 (Prensa Latina) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is seeking a provocation in the Sea of Azov, Senator Alexei Pushkov said on Thursday, when commenting the presence of 20 warships from that regional bloc in the Black Sea.

The presence of NATO warships will be impossible, because we will not remain with our arms folded in light of that possibility. So, if it is like that and they know our attitude, then it is an open provocation, the Russian official noted.

NATO is rather seeking a pretext to justify the reinforcement of its presence in the Black Sea and, if possible, in the Sea of Azov, the senator said in reference to the basin shared by Russia and Ukraine as an exclusive maritime zone.

So far, Ukrainian commercial ships are passing through the Kerch Straight without any serious incidents, the Russian lawmaker told Prensa Latina.

The Ukrainian military even held maneuvers in the Sea of Azov and nothing happened, but if there is a provocation, that might have serious consequences, said Pushkov, who noted that the Black Sea would become a new zone of tensions in the world.

Pushkov's statements were made in response to comments by a US official before NATO who said that the purpose was to escort Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Straight and the Sea of Azov.

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Full stream ahead: RT takes a peek at progress on construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Despite criticism from the US and some EU countries, work on Russia’s natural gas pipeline to Europe is in full swing and on schedule. An RT correspondent visited the Nord Stream 2 construction site in Germany.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, stretching along the seabed of the Baltic Sea to supply Russian gas to Europe, has caused division in the EU, with some fearing that it will make countries overly dependent on Russian energy. Those concerns were further fueled by Washington, which warned its allies to ditch the project.

Nevertheless, six kilometers of pipeline is being added every day, with the project expected to be finished by the end of this year, RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from the pipeline’s landfall site in Lubmin, Germany. She managed to speak to the project spokesman, who said that it will diversify European energy supplies.

“If the domestic production in Europe decreases by half within the next 20 years, you definitely need more imports. Nord Stream 2 will be part of this solution,” Jens Mueller told RT. “Nord Stream 2 cannot fill the gap completely, in general [it] will increase the number of options for the consumers and we should be happy about it.”

Russia already supplies just under 40 percent of Europe’s national gas, and Nord Stream 2 aims to satisfy the continent’s growing appetite. The US opposes the plan, with President Donald Trump excoriating Germany for its commitment to the pipeline last year. The House of Representatives ratified a bill on Monday to assist European countries in switching to US natural gas, an expensive option due to the cost of getting the gas across the Atlantic.

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Hypocrites Much? US Government to Assess Russian ‘Influence’ in Venezuela

The legislation would require for the U.S. State Department to provide a threat assessment and strategic approach for dealing with Russia’s military cooperation in Venezuela.

The House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress approved Monday a bill to assess Russia’s influence in Venezuela, as well as its implications for the U.S. and its allies.

RELATED: Russia's Lavrov to US: Your Venezuelan Coup Violates UN Charter

The “Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act” is a bi-partisan legislation introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), which would require for the U.S. State Department to provide a threat assessment and strategic approach for dealing with Russia’s military cooperation in Venezuela. The bill now must be passed by the Senate and then be signed by Donald Trump to become law.

This comes as two Russian air force planes landed in Caracas on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to media reports. An operation confirmed by National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, which was part of the ongoing military technical and strategic cooperation program with the Bolivarian government.

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza criticized the U.S. position that “such cynicism that a country with more than 800 military bases around the world, much of them in Latin America, and a growing military budget of more than US$700 billion, intends to interfere with the military-technical cooperation program between Russia and Venezuela.”

Yet it seems that, once again, this has to do more with Venezuela’s oil than “democracy”, as they put it. The legislation focuses the need to evaluate "the national security risks posed by potential Russian acquisition of Citgo’s energy infrastructure holdings in the U.S." The main shareholder of Citgo is Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. 

Russia has not been silent on this issue. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced Monday that “Washington’s attempts to organize a coup d'état in Venezuela and (U.S.) threats against the legitimate government are in violation of the UN Charter.” And went on to say that the U.S. is conducting an “undisguised interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.”

While China also weighed on the matter. A spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geng Shuang, declared Tuesday that Latin American nations are sovereign countries, able to decide by their own account with which States to collaborate, adding that the region  “does not belong to any country and it is not anyone's backyard."

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