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Letter from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offers potential road map to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe

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Bill Chizek/iStock(WASHINGTON) — There’s no shortage of speculation on the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, much of it totally uninformed. But we don’t need to speculate on the scope – the man who appointed Mueller has already given us a potential road map on what to expect from the special counsel. The bottom line: Do not expect a harsh condemnation of President Donald Trump or any of his associates if they have not been charged with crimes. The road map comes in the form a little-noticed 12-page letter written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last June to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley. The letter was in response to Grassley’s demands for more information on the special counsel investigation, offers a brief history of special counsel investigations and actually quotes former and future Attorney General William Barr who appointed three special counsels during his time as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. In the letter, Rosenstein makes it clear he believes the Department of Justice will not – and cannot without violating long-standing Department of Justice policy – include

Thousands await rescue in Mozambique after tropical cyclone kills hundreds

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Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images(BEIRA, Mozambique) — Thousands of people, some seen clinging to rooftops and tree branches, still await rescue from rising floodwaters in Mozambique, one week after an intense tropical cyclone walloped the southeast African nation. Nearly 350,000 others are at risk of becoming trapped in the coming days as remnants of tropical cyclone Idai dump rain over low-lying areas already inundated with swelling rivers and bulging dams. Some 100,000 people may need to be rescued from the town of Buzi alone, according to a spokesman for Mozambique’s Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development. “We have a critical situation in Buzi,” the spokesman, who asked not to be named, told ABC News via telephone Thursday. “If the rainfall increases, then those 100,000 need to be rescued. Levels of the dam are going high.” The heavy rain let up in Buzi and the hard-hit port city of Beira on Thursday, but showers are expected to return in the coming hours and days. Aid agencies worry additional rainfall will impede rescue missions. The cyclone made landfall near Beira late last Thursday

Big Ben turns blue again

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Mark Duffy/UK Parliament(LONDON) — Big Ben, the iconic clock tower in London, is returning to its former glory. The clock’s north face has been restored to its original Prussian blue and gold colors. Sir Charles Barry built the tower in 1859. Big Ben, which is currently covered in scaffolding, has been undergoing a major makeover that’s expected to be completed in 2021. “It was incredibly exciting to slowly piece together the tower’s appearance as has it evolved throughout the decades and we are thrilled to see the original color scheme looking out over modern London once more,” Phillipa McDonnell and Rhiannon Clarricoates, the Lincoln Conservation researchers who worked on the restoration project, told ABC News in an email. The famous 13-ton bell was silenced in August 2017 to start the $80 million renovation. The chimes still ring out for special occasions such as Armistice Day or New Year’s Eve. Three of the four clock dials are still being repaired. The last extensive conservation work at the Gothic tower was done between 1983 and 1985. The Westminster Palace, home to the

Trump signs executive order threatening aid to colleges if speakers silenced

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Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that would deny colleges certain federal research and education grants if they failed to comply with free speech standards outlined by the administration. “Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans … all of that changes starting right now. We’re dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Trump said, surrounded by student activists at a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon. In doing so, Trump is responding to a rallying cry among conservatives who say their views are suppressed on campuses, and that speakers are sometimes assaulted or silenced when protesters threaten violence. Trump called the move “historic,” saying that students and American values have “been under siege,” as several students said free speech is at risk on their campuses. “Every year the federal government provides educational institutions with more than $35 billion in research funding. All

Jared Kushner used WhatsApp to message foreign contacts in White House: Cummings

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House senior adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has used an encrypted messaging application for official business and to communicate with contacts outside the United States, his lawyer told senior lawmakers in December. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, disclosed the admission from Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell in a new letter to the White House, demanding records and documents related to White House officials’ use of private email for government work. Lowell, according to Cummings, told the committee that Kushner sent screenshots of his WhatsApp messages to his White House email account or the National Security Council, and said that Kushner was in compliance with the law. He could not say whether Kushner used the application to discuss classified information. Cummings, along with then-House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, met with Lowell in December, as part of an investigation into use of personal email at the White House, and following a CNN report that Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. In a response to Cummings

President Trump announces US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

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RnDmS/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday changed decades of U.S. Middle East policy with a tweet, announcing that “After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israeli’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” Trump said the Golan “is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” This major, unexpected announcement comes just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House on Monday and speaks at the pro-Israel AIPAC conference in Washington. Within minutes, Netanyahu tweeted, “Thank You President Trump!”  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Israel meeting with Netanyahu just weeks before a heated Israeli election and the announcement will be seen as a boost for Netanyahu, who is battling charges of fraud and bribery. The Trump administration has said it would not intefere in the election. Netanyahu and Pompeo, who earlier Thursday made a symbolic visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, were about to hold a news conference when Trump tweeted. “President Trump has just made history,” said a clearly pleased Netanyahu

Meghan McCain says she's 'emotionally exhausted' having to address Trump's comments

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ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) — An “emotionally exhausted” Meghan McCain again defended her father against President Donald Trump Thursday on ABC’s The View, saying she doesn’t “expect decency” from his family. “I don’t like coming here every day and having to do this, as all of you know. It’s extremely emotionally exhausting,” she said at the top of the show. “I don’t expect decency from the Trump family,” she added. During an official White House event at a tank manufacturing plant in Ohio on Wednesday, Trump spent nearly five minutes bashing Sen. John McCain because he didn’t receive credit for his funeral arrangements. “I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve.” Trump said. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.” The crowd of Ohio tank factory workers — many of whom are veterans — reportedly responded to criticisms of Sen. McCain with silence. The longtime senator and former prisoner of war died seven months ago. The president condemned Sen. McCain over the weekend for being “last

Jimmy Carter is poised to be the president who has lived the longest in US history

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Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Jimmy Carter is now one of the oldest-living former president in U.S. history at 94 years and 171 days old, tying with George H.W. Bush. Bush, the 41st president, died on Nov. 30, 2018 at 94 years, 171 days old. Before Thursday, Carter had already set the record for being the former president to live the longest after leaving office, at more than 38 years. Gerald Ford, the 38th president, was the previous record-holder. He died at 93, nearly 30 years after he left office. Carter, the son of a Georgia peanut farmer, was 52 years old when he was elected as the 39th president in 1976 and is best known as a champion of international human rights both during and after his tenure. Carter’s administration brokered the Camp David Accords between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1978 and saw the start of the Iran hostage crisis as well as the first efforts toward developing an energy independence policy. Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 after he

Jimmy Carter is now the oldest-living former president in US history

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Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Jimmy Carter is now the oldest-living former president in U.S. history at 94 years and 172 days old, surpassing George H.W. Bush. Bush, the 41st president, died on Nov. 30 at 94 years, 171 days old. America’s founding president, George Washington, was the youngest former president to die — at 57 years and 67 days — in April 1789, nearly three years after he left office. Before Thursday, Carter had already set the record for being the former president to live the longest after leaving office, at more than 38 years. Gerald Ford, the 38th president, was the previous record-holder. He died at 61, nearly 30 years after he left office. Carter, the son of a Georgia peanut farmer, was 52 years old when he was elected as the 39th president in 1976 and is best known as a champion of international human rights both during and after his tenure. Carter’s administration brokered the Camp David Accords between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1978 and saw the start of the

Trump to sign executive order threatening aid to colleges if speakers banned

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Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — Colleges could be denied certain federal research and education grants if they fail to comply with free speech statutes under an executive order President Donald Trump will sign Thursday, an administration official said. In doing so, Trump is responding to a rallying cry among conservatives who say their views are suppressed on campuses, and that speakers are sometimes assaulted or banned when protesters threaten violence. The executive order would direct 12 grant-making agencies to work with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure universities are complying with federal law in an effort to promote free speech on college campuses, the senior administration official said Thursday morning in a phone call with reporters. The executive order would not affect student aid money, and would also require the Department of Education to publish information on earnings, debt, default rates and loan repayment rates to the college score card, the senior administration official said. The order would also require the Education Department to submit policy recommendations to the president about institutions sharing the

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