Trump Calls Impeachment ‘Greatest Witch Hunt’ In US History

Trump To Hit China With $300bn Punitive Tariffs In Goods
US President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he walks to Marine One prior to departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 5, 2019.  SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

President Donald Trump reacted almost instantly Thursday to a landmark House of Representatives vote green-lighting his impeachment investigation, calling the probe the “Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”

Trump’s tweet came seconds after the lower house of Congress voted overwhelmingly, but almost entirely along party lines, to set out the rules for the process expected to lead to passing articles of impeachment.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a longer statement, accusing opposition Democrats of having an “unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment.”

“Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment — a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President,” she said.

Trump Calls Russia Probe ‘A Witch-Hunt’

US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

President Donald Trump’s strategist warned him not to fire FBI director James Comey. His advisors told him to stop tweeting about the Russia investigation. And his lawyers encouraged him to cooperate.

Trump ignored them all, and could still claim vindication Thursday after the Mueller report cleared him of collusion charges.

He beat back the investigation that threatened his presidency with constant attacks on investigators and the media, a canny narrative that denied obvious facts, nonstop trolling of opponents on Twitter, and a crafty legal stall.

READ ALSO: IOC Pledges €500,000 To Help Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral

It was hugely risky, but it appears to have paid off — notwithstanding further investigations Congressional Democrats have promised into Trump’s alleged abuse of his authority.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report Thursday ruled that Trump’s campaign did not criminally conspire with Russians to skew the 2016 election, and drew no conclusion on allegations of obstruction.

That allowed Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr to declare the president fully cleared.

“As I have been saying all along, NO COLLUSION – NO OBSTRUCTION!” Trump tweeted in a fist-pump of victory.

 ‘Witch hunt’ 

Trump began his campaign well before Mueller arrived, denying during 2016 that Russia was interfering in the election, even though US spy chiefs said they were.

He could have just accepted it, but the claim marred his election victory. So he called it “fake news” and said the intelligence community was out to undermine him.

He made things worse in May 2017 when, angered by the ongoing probe into Russian meddling, he fired Comey.

The result was Mueller’s appointment to lead the Russia investigation, expanding it to include obstruction of justice.

“This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked,” Trump said that day, according to Mueller’s report.

But the next day, he switched gears into offense, launching a grinding public relations war guided mostly by his own instincts.

“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” he tweeted.

It was pure Trump style — weaving a narrative that struck a chord with his supporters and riled his opponents.

The Russia allegations were a hoax, he alleged, Democrats were trying to avenge Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, and Comey and Mueller were corrupt.

With Fox News, influential with the political right, echoing his claims, voters who formed Trump’s electoral base bought the story of a “witch hunt.”

 Legal team turmoil 

Trump often proved his own enemy. His staff struggled to block his orders to remove Mueller, which could have resulted in impeachment.

His constant attacks on Mueller’s investigators, the Justice Department, and potential witnesses against him bolstered the allegations of obstruction.

And his legal team was in constant turmoil, wrestling with a client who didn’t follow advice or tell them the truth.

Early members of the team wanted to cooperate with Mueller, seeing that as the president’s best option.

But for Trump, it was not about law, but image, and the best approach was guerilla warfare fought through the media and Twitter.

With Mueller’s investigators closing in on the White House in early 2018, Trump churned his team, recruiting attorneys who would fight back.

He hired Rudy Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker who like Trump saw the challenge as a street fight.

Giuliani fed reporters tidbits behind the scenes and went on television with tactical denials and counterattacks that may have had little real substance but supported Trump’s claim that he was under political assault.

By mid-2018 Trump appeared to have scored a major victory: seeing his ability to hold onto his conservative base, Republicans rallied behind him ahead of the November elections.

 ‘Perjury trap’ 

Crucial to Trump’s success, too, was avoiding being interviewed by the investigators.

“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” he declared in January 2018.

Behind the scenes his team stalled, first demanding written questions, then arguing over which questions they would answer.

Giuliani accused Mueller of setting up a “perjury trap,” saying his client, known for liberally delivering falsehoods and sometimes spilling truths he should withhold, was being set up.

Meanwhile, the White House pressured Mueller to wrap up the investigation, saying he was spending too much money on the ever-spiraling probe.

Finally Mueller’s team agreed to take written answers, which arrived only in late November.

The answers were “inadequate,” the Mueller report said: Trump replied more than 30 times that he could not recall something, and elsewhere gave incomplete or imprecise responses.

But when Mueller’s team sought to follow-up in person, Trump refused.

By that time, Mueller’s team realized it was too late in the investigation to launch into a constitutional fight with the White House. They opted to go with what they had.

 The Barr factor 

Trump’s final coup was to replace attorney general Jeff Sessions with Bill Barr.

Trump wasn’t acquainted with the Washington corporate lawyer, but he learned that Barr was a critic of Mueller who had a constitutional argument against Trump being charged with obstruction.

Trump’s dismissal of Jeff Sessions in November opened the door for Barr to become attorney general, someone who would be able to find a legal way to protect Trump from charges.

Barr did the job: after seeing Mueller’s conclusions, he declared that the evidence on obstruction did not amount to enough to charge the president, and that was that.

AFP

Wike Accuses EFCC Of Engaging In A Witch-Hunt Against Opposition Politicians

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

 

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of engaging in a witch-hunt against politicians in the opposition.

Wike made the accusation on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

“Has EFCC investigated those states that were APC, like my own state at that time that funded part of the 2015 general elections? Who is deceiving who?” he asked.

The governor, however, stressed that he would not be distracted by the anti-graft agency as it plans to investigate states perceived to be corrupt.

He said, “I will not be carried away by the so-called EFCC. The funds they want to investigate only has to do with the opposition political party.

“Where have you ever heard that the EFCC would say, ‘look, as regards the ruling party (APC), we have found out that the funds for this election came through the government?

“Why are we carried away? They’ve come to tell the public that this is what they want but that is not their intention. The intention is against the opposition political party”.

Governor Wike also spoke about the issue of flooding.

Read Also: NEMA Declares Flooding In Four States National Disaster

With increased rainfall in the past couple of weeks, several states have been affected by flood, forcing many residents out of their homes.

The situation led to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), declaring flooding a national disaster in four states including Kogi, Niger, Delta and Anambra, while eight others were placed on the watch list.

The governments of the affected states have also created camps for the displaced persons.

Wike sympathised with the states, adding that the Rivers Government has also taken some proactive measures to address the issue in case of an emergency, especially along the Port Harcourt-Aba road.

He said, “We know areas that are prone to that. We set up an emergency camp where if it happens, by God’s grace, we will be able to evacuate people to move to those areas”.

He added that the state government also contracted construction giant, Julius Berger, to look address the problem of perennial flooding.

EFCC Debunks Claims Of Witch-Hunting SSS Officials

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as “not only specious, but pure mischief contrived for motives that are unclear” insinuations held in some quarters that it is witch-hunting officials of the State Security Services.

This comes two days after a report by Sunday Tribune accusing the anti-graft agency of not following professionalism in the conduct of its operations.

But reacting to a statement on Tuesday, EFCC’s Head of Media, Mr Wilson Uwujaren accused the newspaper of attempting to “rubbish the service since the DSS was not answerable to the EFCC.”

It read in part, “The report written by a certain Taiwo Adisa painted a picture of an imaginary feud brewing between the DSS and EFCC over the alleged invitation of some DSS operatives, which it claimed was an attempt by the Commission to “rubbish the Service since the DSS was not answerable to the EFCC.”

Mr Uwujaren further said that contrary to reports, his agency follows due process in inviting government officials suspected to have engaged in corrupt practices, by writing to their heads for permission.

He added, “But there are protocols in doing this; and part of that protocol is to write to the heads of such agencies, requesting that the officer(s) in question be released to be interviewed.

“It is important to state that it is not strange for the EFCC to invite (for questioning) officers of other law enforcement agencies alleged to be complicit in any case being investigated by the Commission.”

Although he defended the agency in its current investigation of the former National Security Adviser, Mr Dasuki Sambo, he, however, lamented the DSS for not cooperating with it.

“In the course of investigating the arms procurement scandal in the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, the Commission has had cause to request the release of officers of other security agencies. All but the DSS have acceded to this request.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the arms procurement investigation is national in outlook with alleged culprits cutting across the military, security establishments as well as the political class. It is not targeted at any institution,” he added.

Kogi Governor To Probe His Predecessors

Kogi, Yahaya Bello, Ghost Workers, Corruption
Governor Bello says it is important to know how previous governments spent public funds

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has inaugurated a commission of inquiry to investigate the use of public funds from May 29th 2013 to January 27th 2016.

While inaugurating the members of the commission at the Government House in Lokoja, Governor Bello says he will also surrender himself to be probed by his successor after leaving office.

He charged the commission to avoid any means of victimization but should rather check how public funds were used within the stated period.

In his remark, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state,  Mohammed Ibrahim explained the relevant sections of the law that empowers the state governor to set up the probe panel.

The seven-man judicial panel of commission is headed by Justice Wada Umar Rano as its chairman.

While inaugurating the commission, Governor Bello said it has become necessary to look into the activities of the past administrations with a view of recovering stolen funds belonging to the state.

He mandated the commission to recommend measures that would prevent stealing of public funds while added that his administration is ready to put Kogi State on the path of development, urging the people to assist the commission in the discharge of its assignment.

Some experts however urge the commission to be honest and fair so as to avoid a witch-hunt.

Court Remands Metuh In Kuje Prison

Olisa-MetuhA Federal High Court in Abuja has remanded the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, in prison following his ‘not guilty’ plea to a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering.

Mr Metuh appeared in court on Friday, days after he was arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the charges.

According to the charges, the PDP spokesman transferred the sum of $1 million through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment, committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.

He is also accused of receiving the sum of 400 million Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.

He pleaded not guilty to the accusations.

Attempts by his counsel, Ifedayo Fadipe, to make an oral application for bail was rejected by the counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, who insisted that such an application could not be made orally.

Having listen to the two parties Justice Obong Abang agreed with the EFCC that such an application could not be made orally.

He then ordered Mr Metuh and his counsel to file his bail application within the next six hours, while the EFCC is to respond 24 hours after service of the of the bail application.

Hearing in the bail application has been adjourned to January 19.

before Mr Metuh was arraigned, the anti-graft agency asked him to return the money to effect his release.

“Witch Hunt”

Days after Mr metuh was held in detention, the opposition party’s federal lawmakers gave the EFCC 48 hours to either release its spokesman or charge him for the crime he was accused of.

The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, led by the Minority Leader of the House, Representative Leo Ogor, said Mr Metuh had not committed any treasonable offence and should not be detained indefinitely.

Threatening to give the issue an international dimension should he be kept in detention without bail, the caucus said “the continued incarceration of the party’s spokesperson violates the law and borders on witch hunt”.

Another issue raised by the PDP caucus was what the members in the House of Representatives termed preferential treatment given to a member of the ruling party, Mr Jafaru Isa, who was also arrested over the same diversion of funds but was released eight hours later.

In defence to claims of preferential  treatment, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Parry Ariase, argued that the APC member in question was released after he refunded part of the money he collected illegally from the office of national security adviser and that he still has a case to answer.

Metuh’s Detention: PDP Lawmakers Give EFCC 48hrs Ultimatum

Olisa-Metuh2The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives has given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 48 hours to release the spokesman of the party, Mr Olisah Metuh, or charge him to court.

Led by the Minority Leader of the House, Representative Leo Ogor, the group said Mr Metuh has not committed any treasonable offence and should not be detained indefinitely.

“Witch Hunt”

Threatening to give the issue an international dimension should he be kept in detention without bail, the caucus said “the continued incarceration of the party’s spokesperson violates the law and borders on witch hunt”.

Mr Metuh has been in the custody of the EFCC for 10 days now.

Mr Metuh was arrested over an alleged 400 million Naira reportedly traced to his company’s accounts from the $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms by the last administration to fight insurgency.

The anti-graft agency has asked him to return the money to effect his release.

But a caucus of his party in the House of Representatives is demanding that Mr Metuh be released within the next 48 hours or be charged to court as prove that the arrest was not witch hunt of the past administration.

In defence of the continued detention, however, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Parry Ariase, said the operations of the EFFC were backed by the courts and the ultimatum given by his party could only apply at the expiration of the court’s order.

Another issue raised by the PDP caucus is what the members in the House of Representatives termed preferential treatment given to a member of the ruling party, Mr Jafaru Isa who was also arrested over the same diversion of funds but released eight hours later.

But Mr Ariase argued that the APC member in question was released after he refunded part of the money he collected illegally from the office of national security adviser and that he still has a case to answer.

On Monday, a Lagos lawyer sued the EFCC and the Federal Government for Mr Metuh’s continued detention, saying it was a violation of his rights.

Finance Minister Debunks Resignation Rumour

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has denied the rumour circulating about her purported resignation.

This was done in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Paul Nwabuikwu.

The statement read: “It has come to our attention that a story is circulating online about the purported resignation of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this story is not true.

“The Finance Minister is still in place and assures Nigerians that all will be done to ensure that macro-economic stability is maintained through tight fiscal and monetary policies.”

The rumours started following the suspension of Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the position of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday, February 20.

Meanwhile, Dr Okonjo-Iweala had spoken to journalists on Thursday, following the suspension of the CBN Governor, and she assured Nigerians of stability in the macro-economic framework of the country.

The Minister also announced plans to tighten Nigeria’s monetary policy, which according to her, would guarantee a robust economy.

She asserted that “our objective remains to maintain macro-economic stability”, adding that this “has been the hallmark of this government and administration.”

Sanusi’s Suspension: Selective Witch-Hunt Done In Bad Faith – CNPP

The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, has regarded the suspension of Mr. Lamido Sanusi as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as selective, witch-hunt and one done strictly in bad faith.

They made this assertion in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the CNPP, Mr Osita Okechukwu, while also stating that the organisation could not fault the powers of President Goodluck Jonathan, to suspend any official of the Federal Government.

“For the avoidance of doubt, for a long time tongues have been wagging on the way and manner Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had converted the CBN into a charity organization; but Mr President did not take special notice nor was deeply concerned until Malam Sanusi opened the Pandora-Box in what we may term the cash-cow – Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“CNPP like most patriots will celebrate the day President Jonathan suspends those whom Malam Sanusi had clearly exposed for allegedly squandering billions of United States Dollars (USD) of Crude Oil revenue without due process, lack of transparency and most importantly utter disregard to appropriation by the National Assembly.

“Until then, we regard the suspension of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as selective, witch-hunt and suspension done in bad faith”, the statement read.