Austria’s leader to Europe: ‘Judge us on our actions’

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
0

Austria’s leader to Europe: ‘Judge us on our actions’

PARIS: Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has appealed to Europe to give his conservative-far right coalition a chance, during a visit to France whose President Emmanuel Macron reached office by triumphing over the anti-immigration National Front.
Kurz chose Paris for his first official bilateral visit since becoming the world’s youngest leader at 31 in December.
The visit came 18 years after Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party was first included in a government, an event that triggered seven months of diplomatic sanctions by other European countries, led by France.
Nearly two decades later, the atmosphere was very different as 40-year-old Macron, part of a new generation of tech-savvy young leaders, welcomed Kurz for talks on the future of Europe.
Kurz, whose country has the only government in Western Europe to feature the far right, appealed for understanding.
“I’m asking you to give us a chance and to judge us on our program and our actions. And maybe we will be able to convince you in the coming years, with our achievements,” he said.
Kurz insisted that his government was “pro-European” and that he shared Macron’s vision on “numerous questions,” namely security and the fight against terrorism and radicalization.
Macron, who defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the final round of last year’s presidential election, made clear his aversion to rightwing nationalists.
“I deplore the far right everywhere... but if it is present it’s because we failed to respond to the anxieties on which it feeds,” he said.
But he ruled out remonstrating Kurz over his tie-up with the far right, which scooped the key ministries of interior, defense and foreign affairs.
“A European leader should not go about commenting on the elections of his neighbors,” Macron said.
The best response to the nationalist wave sweeping the continent was to have “a protective Europe,” Macron said.
He also voiced understanding for the “very strong sensitivity” around immigration in Austria, which drastically tightened its borders after being swamped by migrants on the move through Europe in 2015.


Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen providing info in Mueller probe

Updated 36 min 17 sec ago
0

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen providing info in Mueller probe

  • Trump’s longtime fixer-turned-foe could be a vital witness for prosecutors as they investigate whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russians
  • Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight federal charges and said Trump directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 election to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer claimed Thursday he is providing “critical information” as part special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other charges last month, said he is providing the information to prosecutors without a cooperation agreement.
Trump’s longtime fixer-turned-foe could be a vital witness for prosecutors as they investigate whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russians. For more than a decade, Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer, and he was a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump’s political life.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight federal charges and said Trump directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 election to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model who had both alleged they had affairs with Trump. It was the first time any Trump associate implicated Trump himself in a crime, though whether — or when — a president can be prosecuted remains a matter of legal dispute.
On Thursday night, Cohen tweeted: “Good for @MichaelCohen212 for providing critical information to the #MuellerInvestigation without a cooperation agreement. No one should question his integrity, veracity or loyalty to his family and country over @POTUS @realDonaldTrump.”
The tweet was deleted almost immediately and was later reposted by his attorney, Lanny Davis, who said he wrote the tweet for Cohen and asked him to tweet it because he has a “much larger following.” Davis said he was delayed posting the tweet on his own account, so Cohen tweeted it first.
ABC News reported earlier Thursday that Cohen has met several times — for several hours — with investigators from the special counsel’s office.
The television network, citing sources familiar with the matter, said he was questioned about Trump’s dealings with Russia, including whether members of the Trump campaign worked with Russians to try to influence the outcome of the election.
Davis had asserted last month that his client could tell the special counsel that Trump had prior knowledge of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, Trump’s son-in-law and Trump’s eldest son, who had been told in emails that it was part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. But Davis later walked back the assertions, saying he could not independently confirm the claims that Cohen witnessed Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., telling his father about the Trump Tower meeting beforehand.
In the last two weeks, the special counsel secured the cooperation of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; signaled that he has obtained all the information he needs from former national security adviser Michael Flynn — who was also a government cooperator; and dispensed with the case of the campaign aide who triggered the Russia probe.
The president has continued a very public battle against the Mueller investigation, repeatedly calling it a politically motivated and “rigged witch hunt.” He has said he is going to declassify secret documents in the Russia investigation, an extraordinary move that he says will show that the investigation was tainted from the start by bias in the Justice Department and FBI.