Trump rejects Putin’s proposal to let Russia interrogate US citizens

US President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting on July 18, 2018, at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Trump rejects Putin’s proposal to let Russia interrogate US citizens

  • Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia
  • Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump rejected Thursday a proposal by Vladimir Putin to allow Russian officials to interrogate a former US ambassador and other American citizens, amid outrage across Washington that he would even consider it.
While Trump originally called the idea an “incredible offer,” and continued to weigh it through Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said he has now decided against it.
“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said.
Putin unveiled the proposal in a joint press conference with Trump on Monday following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
Asked whether he would extradite 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted in the United States last week for hacking Democratic Party computers, he said he could meet the US government “halfway.”
“We can actually permit official representatives of the United States... into the country and they will be present at this questioning” of the 12 inside Russia.
“Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate and they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States ... who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia, and we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.”
For Russia, the focus of the quid-pro-quo was questioning former US envoy to Russia Michael McFaul and 11 others in Moscow’s case against billionaire investor and human rights activist William Browder, the driving force behind Magnitsky Act sanctions on Russian officials passed by the US Congress.
“I think that’s an incredible offer,” Trump responded in Helsinki.

McFaul expressed outrage on Wednesday when Sanders said Trump was “going to meet with his team” to consider Putin’s proposal.
But on Thursday Sanders made clear a deal with Putin was not in the cards.
“Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” said Sanders.
“It’s not going to happen,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed late Thursday.
“There were suggestions, comments, thoughts by President Putin with respect to that inquiry. President Trump was very clear we’re not going to force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians,” he said.
The indictments issued last week by special counsel Robert Mueller allege that the Russian hackers publicly released tens of thousands of stolen Democratic emails and documents using “fictitious online personas.”
Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Sanders made the statement just as the US Senate took up a resolution objecting to any move by the Trump administration to make US officials available for questioning by Russian government officials.
In a sharp rebuke to the White House, the resolution passed with unanimous support from both parties, 98-0.
“Let this resolution be a warning to the administration that Congress will not allow this to happen,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.


Category 4 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

This NOAA/RAMMB satellite handout image taken AT 5:30 UTC on October 22, 2018 shows hurricane Willa off Mexico's Pacific coast. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 34 sec ago
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Category 4 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

  • Forecasters said Willa would then blow ashore in the afternoon or evening somewhere along a 140-mile (220-kilometer) stretch extending from the resort town of Mazatlan to San Blas

MEXICO CITY: A potential catastrophic Hurricane Willa swept toward Mexico’s Pacific coast with winds of 145 mph (230 kph) Monday night, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages.
Farther south, Mexican officials reported 12 deaths related to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Vicente.
After briefly reaching Category 5 strength, Willa’s maximum sustained winds weakened some. But it remained “extremely dangerous” and was forecast to bring “life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall” to parts of west-central and southwestern Mexico ahead of an expected Tuesday landfall, the US National Hurricane Center said.
Hotel workers started taping up windows, and officials began evacuating people and shuttered schools in a low-lying landscape where towns sit amid farmland tucked between the sea and lagoons. A decree of “extraordinary emergency” was issued for 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, the federal Interior Department announced.
Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state.
The hurricane was expected to pass over or near the Islas Marias — a set of islands about 60 miles (96 kilometers) offshore that include a nature preserve and a federal prison — early Tuesday.
Forecasters said Willa would then blow ashore in the afternoon or evening somewhere along a 140-mile (220-kilometer) stretch extending from the resort town of Mazatlan to San Blas.
It was projected to weaken somewhat before hitting land but was still expected to be extremely dangerous.
Yamile Bustamante, assistant general manager at the Crown Plaza de Mazatlan, said hotel executives were not ruling out the possibility of evacuating guests but were awaiting instructions from authorities.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit ordered coastal region schools to close and began preparing emergency shelters.
Enrique Moreno, mayor of Escuinapa, a municipality of about 60,000 people on Willa’s track, said officials were trying to evacuate everybody in the seaside village of Teacapan. He estimated 3,000 were affected but he expected some would try to stay.
“The people don’t want to evacuate, but it’s for their security,” he said.
About 60 miles (100 kilometers) up the coast in Mazatlan, with a metropolitan-area population of about 500,000, Mayor Jose Joel Boucieguez said officials prepared shelters and were closely monitoring low-lying areas. Mazatlan is a popular vacation spot and home to a large number of American and Canadian expatriates.
Late Monday, Willa was centered about 85 miles (140 kilometers) southwest of the Islas Marias and 195 miles (310 kilometers) south-southwest of Mazatlan. It was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph).
Hurricane-force winds extended 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the storm’s center, and tropical storm-force winds were up to 125 miles (205 kilometers) out.
The US hurricane center warned that Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain — with up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) in some places — to parts of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa states, with flash flooding and landslides possible in mountainous areas.
Farther south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened and was expected to dissipate soon, but it still dropped heavy rainfall that caused dangerous flooding in southern and southwestern Mexico.
Officials in Oaxaca state said seven adults and five children had lost their lives in drownings or mudslides.