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The Latest: Dems urge against classified info for Trump

June 5, 2018
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrives to tell reporters he intends to cancel the traditional August recess and keep the Senate in session to deal with backlogged tasks, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Democratic congressional leaders are asking the Justice Department and FBI for assurances that they won’t brief President Donald Trump on classified information related to the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

In a letter Tuesday, the Democrats demand to know by next Monday whether the agencies have briefed Trump, his aides or his lawyers on the information. A small group of lawmakers were briefed last month.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said he expects access to the information. The Democrats say that would be “a terrible abuse of power” and set a dangerous precedent.

The letter was signed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence panels, Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Mark Warner.

President Donald Trump and his lawyers are laying out an extraordinarily expansive vision of executive authority that scholars say is mostly untested in court and could portend a drawn-out fight with the prosecutors now investigating him. (June 4)

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3:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s not sure whether President Donald Trump has the power to pardon himself, but says Trump “obviously knows that would not be something that he would or should do.”

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that the question of whether Trump has legal authority to pardon himself in the special counsel probe is “an academic discussion,” adding that he does not think Trump needs his advice on the issue.

McConnell says Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former Alabama senator, remains popular with Republican senators and he hopes Sessions remains in office.

Trump blames Sessions for allowing the Russia investigation to continue and says he would have “picked someone else” to lead the Justice Department had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the probe.

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12:39 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he can pardon himself and his attacks on the special counsel probe are the signs of someone who has something to hide.

Schumer said during opening remarks Tuesday in the Senate that Trump’s morning tweet against Attorney General Jeff Sessions “is just more evidence that the president may have something to hide.”

Schumer says, “If he did nothing wrong, President Trump should welcome a thorough investigation to exonerate him.”

It’s the second consecutive day that the New York Democrat has said Trump’s approach to the Russia probe is raising questions about the president’s behavior. On Monday in the Senate, Schumer said that Trump’s “silly, farcical, even absurd” tweets about pardoning himself “reveal the increasing desperation” of the president.

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7:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for allowing the Russia investigation to continue. Trump tweets that he would have “picked someone else” for the top job at the Justice Department had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the probe.

It’s the latest salvo from Trump in his bid to discredit the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating Russia’s attempts to sway voters in the 2016 election and whether Trump associates provided any help. He’s also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by taking steps to shut down the probe

Trump tweeted Tuesday: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”

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7 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants to know “what is taking so long” with an internal Justice Department probe expected to criticize the FBI and its handling of the case involving Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Trump tweets that he hopes any findings aren’t being watered down because “there are so many horrible things to tell.”

The upcoming report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign.

Trump tweeted: “What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!”

Trump has repeatedly criticized the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe and said the focus should be on the Clinton email case.

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12:41 a.m.

The former chairman of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is facing accusations of trying to tamper with witnesses in his ongoing criminal cases.

Paul Manafort has been accused in an indictment of acting as an unregistered foreign agent by lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller allege in a court filing Monday that Manafort and one of his associates “repeatedly” contacted two witnesses in an effort to influence their testimony. Prosecutors say the contacts occurred earlier this year while Manafort was confined to his home.

In the filing, the government asks a federal judge to consider jailing Manafort while he awaits trial. A spokesman for Manafort says his client and his lawyers are reviewing the filing.

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