Russia

U.S. President Trump speaks at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia
U.S. President Donald Trump departs after delivering remarks at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

April 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had never ordered his White House counsel at the time, Donald McGahn, to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as described in the report Mueller wrote about the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Democratic chairman of the House judiciary panel has issued a subpoena for McGahn to testify and provide documents to the committee, but it is not clear whether the White House will comply. Trump has vowed to fight every subpoena from House Democrats probing his administration.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen operating in the Permian Basin near Midland
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen operating in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas, U.S. on May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder

April 25, 2019

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Brent crude oil on Thursday rose above $75 per barrel for the first time in 2019 in the wake of tightening sanctions on Iran, while gains in U.S. prices were crimped by a surge in U.S. supply.

Brent crude futures rose to a 2019 high of $75.01 per barrel on Thursday and were at $74.90 per barrel at 0705 GMT, up 33 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.94 per barrel, up 5 cents from their previous settlement.

Traders said Brent was receiving support on Thursday from a halt of Russian oil exports to Poland and Germany via a pipeline due to quality concerns.

The United States this week said it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action from Washington.

“Following the U.S. decision to toughen its sanctions on Iran … we have revised up our end-year forecast for Brent crude from $50 to $60 per barrel,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note.

The U.S. decision to try and bring down Iran oil exports to zero comes amid supply cuts led by producer Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since the start of the year aimed at propping up prices.

As a result, Brent prices have risen by almost 40 percent since January.

Still, Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, said on Thursday “there is plenty of supply in the market to ease that transition and maintain stable prices”.

Consultancy Rystad Energy said Saudi Arabia and its main allies could replace lost Iranian oil.

“Saudi Arabia and several of its allies have more replacement barrels than what would be lost from Iranian exports,” said Rystad’s head of oil research Bjoernar Tonhaugen.

“Since October 2018, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UAE, and Iraq have cut 1.3 million bpd, which is more than enough to compensate for the additional loss,” he added.

Capital Economics said it expected “oil prices to fall this year as sluggish global growth weighs on oil demand, U.S. shale output grows strongly and investor aversion to risk assets like commodities increases”.

South Korea’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that his nation’s economy “still faces downward pressure”.

On the supply side, U.S. crude oil production has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018 to a record of 12.2 million bpd currently, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In part because of soaring domestic production, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories last week hit a October 2017 high of 460.63 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. That was a rise of 1.3 million barrels.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. oil drilling, production & storage levels link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2DxgF8W).

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Tom Hogue)

Source: OANN

Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Far Eastern Federal University campus at Russky Island in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Far Eastern Federal University campus at Russky Island in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

April 25, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Thursday that his summit with President Vladimir Putin will help jointly assess the Korean peninsula issues and coordinate their stances.

Kim and Putin met for their unprecedented summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where Kim is likely to seek support from the Russian leader as nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States are hanging in limbo.

Putin told Kim he welcomed North Korea’s efforts to improve ties with the United States.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

America has to fix the attack by Russia on the 2016 election, but it is a “false choice” to conclude impeachment is the only solution, according to Hillary Clinton.

In a commentary posted by The Washington Post, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said “this is bigger than politics.”

“A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability,” she wrote.

“Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.”

According to Clinton, Congress has to “get it right.”

Mueller’s report “is a road map,” she wrote, but asserted the debate about how to respond and “how to hold President [Donald] Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law . . . has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing.”

“What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she wrote.

“It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not,” she wrote. “Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair, and fearless.”

Secondly, she said Congress has to hold “substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps” before heading right for impeachment — and asserted “Watergate offers a better precedent” with its televised hearings.

“Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.”

Also, she said, the nation needs a commission like the one formed after 9/11 to be established by Congress “to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.”

Clinton also warned Democrats they will have to “stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting healthcare to investing in infrastructure.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

America has to fix the attack by Russia on the 2016 election, but it’s a “false choice” to conclude impeachment is the only solution, according to Hillary Clinton.

In a commentary posted by The Washington Post, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said “this is bigger than politics.”

“A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability,” she wrote.

“Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.”

According to Clinton, Congress has to “get it right.”

Mueller’s report “is a road map,” she wrote, but asserted the debate about how to respond and “how to hold President [Donald] Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law …has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing.”

“What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she wrote.

“It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not,” she wrote. “Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”

Secondly, she said Congress has to hold “substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps” before heading right for impeachment — and asserted “Watergate offers a better precedent” with its televised hearings.

“Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.”

Also, she said, the nation needs a commission like the one formed after 9/11 to be established by Congress “to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.”

Clinton also warned Democrats that they will have to “stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

North Korea's Kim arrives in Vladivostok for summit with Russian President Putin
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a welcome ceremony as he arrives at the railway station in the Russian far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

April 24, 2019

By Maria Vasilyeva and Vladimir Soldatkin

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday at a summit designed to show that Washington is not the only power able to set the agenda on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

The two men will sit down together on an island off the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok two months after Kim’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump ended in disagreement, cooling hopes of a breakthrough in the decades-old nuclear row.

The summit in Vladivostok – the first ever between Putin and Kim – provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter, Russia, and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.

For the Kremlin, the summit is a chance to show it is a global diplomatic player, despite efforts by the United States and other Western states to isolate it.

But with Moscow committed to upholding sanctions until the North dismantles its nuclear program, analysts said the summit was unlikely to produce any tangible help for Pyongyang, beyond a show of camaraderie.

In an interview with Russian state television as his train made a stop off on the journey to Vladivostok, Kim said he was looking forward to useful talks.

“I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations,” he said through an interpreter.

ARMORED TRAIN

Kim Jong Un, making his first trip to Russia as North Korean leader, arrived at the train station in Vladivostok on Wednesday on board an armored train — his preferred mode of international transport.

After a brief delay while the train had to be repositioned to line up with the red carpet laid out on the platform, he disembarked and headed in a convoy of limousines and minivans across a bridge linking mainland Vladivostok to Russky island, the summit venue. Putin has yet to arrive in Vladivostok.

Putin’s last summit with a North Korean leader was in 2002 when his counterpart was Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father and predecessor. Kim Jong Il also met in 2011 with Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin lieutenant who was then Russian president.

There was heightened security around Vladivostok in preparation for the summit, with an unusually heavy police presence, especially at the university campus on Russky island where the talks will take place.

Classes were still in progress on Wednesday but students were having their documents checked on the way in, and vehicles were no longer allowed to enter the campus. The Russian and North Korean flags fluttered from lamp-posts around the university.

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Trumps depart the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

April 24, 2019

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to fight all the way to the Supreme Court against any effort by congressional Democrats to impeach him, even though the U.S. Constitution gives Congress complete authority over the impeachment process.

Trump’s threat, made in a morning tweet, came as the White House launched a fierce legal battle to fight subpoenas from Democrats in the House of Representatives for documents and testimony from his administration.

Democrats remain divided on whether to proceed with Trump’s impeachment after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. Trump defiantly proclaimed on Twitter that the investigation “didn’t lay a glove on me.”

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the Republican president, who is seeking re-election next year, said without offering details about what legal action he envisioned.

The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment and removing a president from office to the House and the Senate, not the judiciary, as part of the founding document’s separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have remained cautious over launching impeachment proceedings against Trump ahead of the 2020 election, although they have left the door open to such action. Others in the party’s more liberal wing have demanded impeachment proceedings.

Mueller’s findings, released in a redacted report last week, detailed about a dozen episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump in trying to impede the inquiry but stopped short of concluding that he had committed a crime.

The report said Congress could address whether the president violated the law. Mueller separately found insufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia in the 2016 presidential race.

House Democrats have stepped up their oversight of the Trump administration since taking control of the chamber in January, from Trump’s tax returns and White House security clearances to the investigation into Russian interference in U.S. politics.

Trump has ordered officials not to comply with subpoenas, and has filed a lawsuit to prevent material from being turned over to lawmakers.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

CONSTITUTION

Under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government alongside the executive branch and the judiciary.

The Constitution empowers Congress to remove a president from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House is given the power to impeach a president – bring formal charges – and the Senate then convenes a trial, with the senators as jurors, with a two-thirds vote needed to convict a president and remove him from office.

The Constitution gives no role to the Supreme Court in impeachment, though it does assign the chief justice the task of presiding over the Senate trial. Conservative John Roberts currently serves as chief justice.

That would not preclude Trump from proceeding with litigation to tie up the issue in the courts, despite Supreme Court precedent upholding congressional impeachment power. In 1993, the nation’s top court ruled 9-0 in a case involving an impeached U.S. judge that the judiciary has no role in the impeachment process.

Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard who has been critical of Trump, said the U.S. founding fathers had considered but ultimately scrapped the idea of allowing the Supreme Court to have any role in the impeachment process.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate,” Tribe said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

Some congressional Republicans have urged the country to move forward after the Mueller report, while a few, including Senator Mitt Romney, have condemned Trump’s actions. Some conservatives outside of Congress have urged congressional action in the wake of Mueller’s report.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Makini Brice, Writing by John Whitesides, Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s most trusted policy adviser apparently has been removed from one of his posts, a South Korean lawmaker said Wednesday, a possible personnel reshuffle in the wake of the breakdown of the North Korea-U.S. summit in February.

The head of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee, Lee Hye-hoon, cited South Korea’s main spy agency as saying that Kim Yong Chol lost his Workers’ Party post in charge of relations with South Korea earlier this month. He was replaced by the little-known Jang Kum Chol as the director of the party’s United Front Department, Lee said.

Lee said she obtained the information at a private briefing from the National Intelligence Service.

Kim Yong Chol has been North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator and counterpart of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the U.S. early last year. He traveled to Washington and met President Donald Trump twice before Kim’s two summits with Trump.

His rise had baffled many North Korea watchers because he handled South Korea ties, not international or U.S. relations. Previously, he was a military intelligence chief believed to be behind a slew of provocations, including two deadly attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans and an alleged 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures. Both Seoul and Washington imposed sanctions on him in recent years.

The NIS and the Unification Ministry, a Seoul agency responsible for North Korea ties, said they could not immediately confirm the information on Kim Yong Chol.

The NIS has a spotty record in confirming developments in North Korea. But if confirmed, Kim Yong Chol’s replacement would add to speculation that he is being sidelined from nuclear diplomacy to take the responsibility for the failure of the February summit in Hanoi.

Kim Jong Un, who is desperate to revive his country’s moribund economy, returned home empty-handed from Hanoi after Trump rejected his calls for easing U.S.-led sanctions in return for dismantling a key nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step.

Kim Yong Chol wasn’t among a list of officials accompanying Kim Jong Un on his current visit to Russia, which began earlier Wednesday. Many experts in South Korea said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui would take the lead in the nuclear diplomacy.

“(Pyongyang’s) significantly diminished reliance on Kim Yong Chol is a very positive sign for the denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United States,” said Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute. He called Kim Yong Chol “most responsible” for the second summit’s failure due to his hard-line stance.

While the NIS believes the personnel change possibly indicates that the department takes a back seat in the nuclear negotiations with Washington going forward, the spy agency also said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Kim Yong Chol would be removed from the talks entirely or immediately, Lee said.

Kim still maintains several other prominent titles, including vice chairman of the Workers Party’s Central Committee and a member of the powerful State Affairs Commission.

Source: NewsMax America

FILE PHOTO: Candidate Zelenskiy waves to supporters following the announcement of an exit poll in Ukraine's presidential election in Kiev
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy waves to supporters following the announcement of the first exit poll in a presidential election at his campaign headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

April 24, 2019

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday called on the government and state energy company Naftogaz to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on lowering household gas prices from May 1.

The IMF, which is helping Ukraine with a multi-billion dollar loan program, has said it wants to see gas prices set at their market level.

Zelenskiy, who has yet to take office but won a landslide election victory on Sunday, said in a statement on his team’s Facebook page he wanted prices to be lower.

“Let’s not just in words, but in deeds show that we can take decisions in people’s interests,” the statement said.

“For the past four months, gas prices in Europe have been decreasing and now the price of gas for the population in Ukraine is higher than the price of gas on the European market.”

The same statement warned that neighboring Russia might limit energy supplies to Ukraine from June 1, and that, from Jan. 1, Moscow might move to halt gas transit through Ukraine altogether, a move it said would result in significant financial losses and gas supply risks.

“These challenges require us to take effective and fast action,” the statement said.

An IMF spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in March said he would urge the finance ministry and Naftogaz to start talks with the IMF to try to prevent any future rise in gas tariffs.

The government raised gas prices by nearly a quarter in October, allowing it to secure a new $3.9 billion stand-by aid agreement with the IMF.

According to a previously adopted government resolution, gas prices were due to rise by 15 percent from May 1. But earlier this week the government and Naftogaz agreed a slight decrease in tariffs.

Naftogaz said prices would fall by around 3.5 percent to 8,247 hryvnias ($310.56) per 1,000 cubic meters from May 1.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Matthias Williams)

Source: OANN

Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang
FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

April 24, 2019

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Wednesday amid signs that global markets remain adequately supplied despite a jump to 2019 highs this week on Washington’s push for tighter sanctions against Iran.

Brent crude futures were at $74.13 per barrel at 0456 GMT, down 38 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.93 per barrel, down 37 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their previous settlement.

Crude oil prices for spot delivery rose to 2019 highs earlier in the week after the United States said on Monday it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action from Washington.

The spot price surge has put the Brent forward curve into steep backwardation, in which prices for later delivery are cheaper than for prompt dispatch.

Stephen Schork of the Schork Report energy newsletter, said the shift to backwardation in the past four months was “a sign that the market’s underlying fundamentals have shifted away from a spot market that is well supplied to a market where demand is beginning to overtake supply.”

U.S. sanctions against oil exporter Iran were introduced in November 2018, but Washington allowed its largest buyers limited imports of crude for another half-year as an adjustment period.

With Iranian oil exports likely declining sharply from May as most countries bow to U.S. pressure, global crude markets are expected to tighten in the short-run, Goldman Sachs and Barclays bank said this week.

Despite the tight spot market, analysts said global oil markets remained adequately supplied thanks to ample spare capacity from the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russian and also the United States.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), a watchdog for oil consuming countries, said in a statement on Tuesday that markets are “adequately supplied” and that “global spare production capacity remains at comfortable levels.”

The biggest source of new oil supply comes from the United States, where crude oil production has already risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018 to a record of more than 12 million bpd early this year, making America the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“Total oil supplies from the United States are expected to grow by 1.6 million bpd this year,” the IEA said.

Commercial inventories in the United States are also high.

U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 6.9 million barrels in the week to April 19 to 459.6 million, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Richard Pullin)

Source: OANN


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