John McCain to Trump: Provide wiretap evidence or retract claim

John McCain. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2017
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John McCain to Trump: Provide wiretap evidence or retract claim

WASHINGTON: The House intelligence committee is asking the Trump administration for evidence that the phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign as its namesake has charged, a request reinforced Sunday by an influential Republican senator who says the president must either come up with the evidence or retract his claim.
“I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because, if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here, to say the least,” Sen. John McCain said.
President Donald Trump asserted in a tweet last week: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” He continued the allegation against former President Barack Obama in other tweets but offered no evidence.
The request for evidence by Monday was made in a letter sent to the Justice Department by the House committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a senior congressional aide said Saturday. The aide wasn’t authorized to discuss the request by name and requested anonymity.
Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has said that nothing matching Trump’s claims had taken place, but that has not quelled speculation that Trump’s communications were monitored by the Obama administration. Trump has asked Congress to investigate.
Early this past week, Schiff said the committee would answer the president’s call to investigate the claim. He also said he would ask FBI Director James Comey directly when he appears later this month before the full committee, which is investigating Russian activities during the election.
On Sunday, Schiff said he doubted there was any evidence of wiretapping, but that Comey and others called to testify at the upcoming hearing “would be in a position to have to know.”
“I think on March 20 if not before we’ll be able to put this to rest,” Schiff told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t think anyone has any question about this, George. The only question is why the president would make up such a thing.”
McCain said Trump could “clear this up in a minute” if he were to call “the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence and say, ‘OK, what happened?’“
The president has an obligation to provide evidence that Obama broke the law or retract his claim, the Arizona Republican said.
“I do believe on issues such as this, accusing a former president of the United States of something which is not only illegal, but just unheard of, that requires corroboration. I’ll let the American people be the judge, but this is serious stuff,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, said Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz that the House and Senate intelligence committees have agreed to investigate and “we’ll make a comment after those findings are complete.”
Nunes has said that so far he has not seen any evidence to back up Trump’s claim and has suggested the news media were taking the president’s weekend tweets too literally.
“The president is a neophyte to politics — he’s been doing this a little over a year,” Nunes told reporters this past week.
Other lawmakers also have asked for evidence.
Declaring that Congress “must get to the bottom” of Trump’s claim, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Comey and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente to produce the paper trail created when the Justice Department’s criminal division secures warrants for wiretaps.


Dissolution of Sri Lankan Parliament ‘invalid,’ Supreme Court rules

Updated 14 December 2018
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Dissolution of Sri Lankan Parliament ‘invalid,’ Supreme Court rules

  • Ranil Wickremesinghe, said in a tweet: “We trust that the president will promptly respect the judgment of the courts”

COLOMBO: The Supreme Court in Colombo on Thursday ruled that the dissolution of Sri Lanka’s Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was invalid and described it as unconstitutional.
The verdict also declared that the notice of dissolution announced in the government gazette was null and void and that the Parliament could not be dissolved until four and half years from the last general elections.
On Nov. 9, Sirisena dissolved the Parliament citing his own reasons for his actions. The president appointed the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, replacing the incumbent premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The functions of the state were paralyzed when the Court of Appeal ruled this week that Rajapaksa and his team of ministers could not execute their official work until it issued a final verdict.
Thursday’s unanimous verdict was delivered in a packed courtroom by the seven-judge panel. Security was beefed up around the Supreme Court ahead of the verdict.
The petitioners argued the legality of the provisions of Articles 33, 62, and 70 of the constitution, which were subject to conflicting interpretations on the question of whether or not the president has a unilateral power to dissolve Parliament. Each of these provisions were amended by the 19th Amendment in 2015, and the changes went to the heart of the current disagreements over the power of dissolution.
Reacting to the verdict, Namal Rajapaksa, the son of Mahinda Rajapaksa and a parliamentarian, said: “We respect the decision of the Supreme Court, despite the fact that we have reservations regarding its interpretation. We will continue to stand alongside those calling for a parliamentary election, without which there is no real justice for the people.”
President of the National Unity Alliance Azath Salley told Arab News that while respecting the judgment of the court, he still believes that a general election will allow the people to decide the government they need.
Rishad Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress, told Arab News that the verdict is a victory for democracy and a greater victory for minority communities on the island. “We are happy that the court has upheld democratic values and shown the world that Parliament is supreme and democracy is really people’s rule,” he said.
Udaya Gammanpila, a minister in the defunct Cabinet, said: “We respect the decision of the Supreme Court although we are not in agreement with its interpretations.”
Rauff Hakeem, a former minister, said that the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law have eventually triumphed. Hakeem, who is the leader of the Muslim Congress, has a good number of legislators from his party in the Parliament.
Mujibur Rahman, a legislator from the Colombo Central Electorate, said that the court verdict had proved that the country could not be run on the whims of an individual such as Sirisena.
“Sri Lanka is a democratic country which is governed by a constitution and people’s Parliament,” he said. He also insisted that Sirisena should gracefully accept his mistake and resign from his post since he had broken the trust of the 6.2 million voters of Sri Lanka.
Rahman also said that decisions taken in the parliament during the litigation are valid from the retrospective date of when the dissolution was announced. “It’s a great victory for people and it also proved that still judiciary is independent in Sri Lankan,” he said.
Ousted premier and UNP leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said in a tweet: “We trust that the president will promptly respect the judgment of the courts.”