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McConnell says new acting attorney general is ‘very interim’, will be replaced ‘quickly’ – National

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Matthew Whitaker’s future at the helm of the Justice Department appears uncertain as President Donald Trump denies even knowing the man he’s just named acting attorney general.


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‘I don’t know Matt Whitaker,’ Trump says after appointing him as acting attorney general

The Senate’s top Republican is predicting a permanent replacement could be named soon for Whitaker, who’s now overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The comments Friday from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came as Whitaker’s past business ties and remarks on Mueller’s probe and other topics drew scrutiny from Democrats and ethics groups.

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving on a trip to France. That contradicted Trump’s remarks on Fox News last month, when he called Whitaker “a great guy” and said, “I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.”

WATCH: Trump says Robert Mueller hasn’t gone through the Senate process but Matt Whitaker has






McConnell, separately, said, “I think this will be a very interim AG.” And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was concerned by some of Whitaker’s past comments and called for legislation that would place limits on his ability to fire Mueller. That would include specifying that only a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official, which Whitaker is not, could dismiss the special counsel.

Whitaker, a Republican Party loyalist and chief of staff to just-ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was elevated Wednesday after Sessions was forced from his job by Trump.

Since Wednesday, Whitaker has faced pressure from Democrats to step aside from overseeing Mueller, based on critical comments Whitaker made about the investigation before joining the Justice Department last year.


READ MORE:
Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as U.S. acting attorney general may spur lawsuit

Whitaker wrote an op-ed article saying Mueller would be straying outside his mandate if he investigated Trump family finances. Whitaker also gave a talk radio interview in which he maintained there was no evidence of collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. He also tweeted an ex-prosecutor’s opinion piece that described a “Mueller lynch mob” and said it was “worth a read.”

There have been reports about Whitaker’s past comments questioning the power and reach of the federal judiciary, and about his ties to an invention-promotion company that was accused of misleading consumers.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday published an email revealing an FBI investigation into the company, World Patent Marketing Inc. The July 10, 2017, email was from an FBI victims’ specialist to someone who, the newspaper said, was an alleged victim of the company. A Justice Department spokeswoman told the Journal that Whitaker was “not aware of any fraudulent activity.”

WATCH: Recusal debate follows Trump’s pick of acting attorney general






Also Friday, The Associated Press reported that Whitaker repeatedly chided Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in public statements during 2016 while he was speaking for a group that is barred by its tax-exempt status from supporting or opposing political candidates during a campaign.

Whitaker has tried to stay out of the public debate. He sent a department-wide note after his appointment in which he said, “As we move forward, I am committed to leading a fair Department with the highest ethical standards, that upholds the rule of law, and seeks justice for all Americans.”

Legal scholars are debating the constitutionality of his appointment. Some lawyers say it is illegal because he has not been confirmed by the Senate.


READ MORE:
Trump’s new attorney general advised company that scammed investors out of thousands: reports

Even as Trump seems to be distancing himself from Whitaker, two Republicans close to the president said Trump had enjoyed Whitaker’s TV appearances and the two had struck a bond. Those TV appearances included one on CNN in which Whitaker suggested that the Mueller probe could be starved of resources.

Trump told associates that he felt Whitaker would be “loyal” and would not have withdrawn from the Russia probe, as Sessions had done, according to the Republicans. They were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump said Friday he had not spoken with Whitaker about Mueller’s investigation, which until now has been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Later in the day, Trump tweeted that he did not personally know Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor in Iowa, but several Republican leaders in that state respected him. “I feel certain he will make an outstanding Acting Attorney General!”

WATCH: ‘At your request, I am submitting my resignation’: Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns






Rosenstein told reporters Friday that based on his experiences with Whitaker, “I think he’s a superb choice for attorney general.”

Of the scrutiny Whitaker is facing, Trump said, “It’s a shame that no matter who I put in they go after.”

“He was very, very highly thought of, and still is highly thought of, but this only comes up because anybody that works for me, they do a number on them,” Trump said.


READ MORE:
New U.S. attorney general has been critical of Mueller investigation in past

McConnell said he expects Trump to nominate a new permanent attorney general “pretty quickly.” McConnell said he expects Whitaker to be “a very interim” appointee.

“The president has said repeatedly he’s not going to dismiss the Mueller investigation,” McConnell told reporters at Kentucky’s Capitol. “He’s said repeatedly it’s going to be allowed to finish. That also happens to be my view.”

Trump has not said whom he will nominate to permanently replace Sessions.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is said to be a candidate, along with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, among others.

Trump told reporters he has not discussed the post with Christie, who he said was “a friend of mine” and “a good man.”



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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FOREIGN NEWS

Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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