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FBI general counsel says in letter that Mueller asked him to testify in Russia probe

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It couldn’t be determined Tuesday night whether Boente has testified before Mueller’s team, or what Mueller wanted to asked him about. But a separate letter sent to Boente by the FBI’s counterintelligence division, dated Jan. 17 and also obtained by “The Rachel Maddow Show,” certifies that handwritten notes that Boente took about a conversation with former FBI Director James Comey on March 30, 2017, aren’t classified.

Comey, Boente, the Justice Department and the FBI all declined to comment, according to “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

 Dana Boente, then the acting U.S. attorney general, at a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in February 2017. Andrew Harrer / Pool, via Getty Images file

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, citing inaccurate testimony that Comey made before Congress about the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Trump told NBC News at the time that the Russia investigation played no role in his decision to dismiss Comey, who at the time was in charge of the inquiry.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he informed Boente — who at the time was his boss — about two discussions he had with Trump about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, one of them the March 30 conversation and the other occurring on April 11.

Comey testified that in the March 30 conversation, Trump complained that the Russia investigation was “a cloud” that was “impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country” and asked whether Comey could “lift the cloud” by declaring publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation.

 Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump administration and its possible collusion with Russia during the campaign on June 8, 2017. Shawn Thew / EPA file

Democratic lawmakers and some legal experts have suggested that Trump’s alleged comments to Comey in several conversations could be used to build an obstruction-of-justice case against the president.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Maddow on Tuesday night: “It does appear that the president may have been be trying to obstruct an investigation that could lead to him.”

Boente, a holdover from the Obama administration, was briefly acting attorney general early last year, succeeding Sally Yates, whom Trump fired for refusing to enforce his immigration-related travel restrictions.

After Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general in February 2017, Boente became acting deputy attorney general, eventually overseeing the Russia investigation when Sessions recused himself. Boente, who remained U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, stepped down from the Justice Department in October after he was asked to make way for a successor chosen by Trump.

Boente was appointed general counsel of the FBI in January.

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Boris warned to avoid second lockdown as it would 'ruin economy and diminish immunity'

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BORIS JOHNSON has been warned against imposing a second national lockdown as it would “ruin the economy and diminish our natural immunity” ahead of his emergency Cobra meeting to decide on an action plan.

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Jeremy Corbyn's leadership savaged as Keir Starmer takes brutal dig at ex-Labour leader

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SIR Keir Starmer will tomorrow plead for working class voters to return to supporting Labour after they deserted the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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Biden tries to keep Wisconsin voters’ attention on Trump’s pandemic response

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Joe Biden on Monday visited the key battleground state of Wisconsin, where Covid-19 cases have surged recently, to bear down hard on his criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, even as the president has turned his attention to the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Biden’s trip to an aluminum foundry in Manitowoc, about 70 miles north of Milwaukee, was his second to Wisconsin in recent weeks, underscoring the attention his campaign has begun devoting to the state. Earlier this month, Biden visited Kenosha, the site of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing unrest, earlier this month. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also visited Kenosha earlier this month.

Pointing out that “it’s been so long” since the pandemic began, and noting that the nation had just passed the “tragic milestone” of 200,000 people dead from the coronavirus, Biden expressed concern that Republican leaders, as well as voters, have begun to tune out the pain of the outbreak.

“I worry we’re at risk of becoming numb to the toll that’s taking on us,” he said. “We can’t let that happen.”

“All the president does is deliberately change the subject,” he said.

While Covid-19 infection rates have stabilized in some parts of the U.S., they’ve surged enormously in Wisconsin recently. In the last seven days, Wisconsin has the third-highest number of infections per 100,000 people. In Manitowoc County, where Biden spoke, confirmed cases have risen over the last 14 days.

But voters’ attention on the pandemic appears to be shifting in parts of the state and country, especially since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday thrust into the spotlight the new Supreme Court vacancy.

Trump has pounded that issue over the last 72 hours, pledging to nominate a woman for the seat by Friday or Saturday and saying he wants a confirmation vote on his pick before the election. Biden responded in a speech Sunday, pleading with Senate Republicans to not vote on a nominee ahead of the election.

The former vice president used large chunks of his Wisconsin speech on Monday to reiterated his populist-tinged criticism of Trump and to tout his own support of unions and working-class voters.

He acknowledged that Democrats have to do more to win back the thousands of former supporters who voted for Trump in 2016. Democrats were hounded with accusations after the election that they didn’t pay enough attention to Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Ohio, where many working-class voters fled the party.

Addressing “those of you who voted for Donald Trump,” Biden said, “I know many of you were frustrated, angry. “

In 2008, Barack Obama won Manitowoc County by a comfortable 8 percentage points. In 2012, Obama lost it to Mitt Romney by 2.8 percentage points. By 2016, Trump won the county by more than 21 percentage points. Experts have attributed swings like that in areas of states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the theory that Democrats have not spoken to blue-collar voters — a notion that Biden addressed.

“I know many of you believe you weren’t being seen or heard. I get it,” he said. “It has to change.”

“I promise you this,” Biden added. “You will be seen, heard and respected by me.”



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