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US: Top cop William Barr condemns rioting at House hearing | Trump News

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Attorney General William Barr defended the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in the United States, saying that “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Barr told members of the House Judiciary Committee at a much-anticipated hearing on Tuesday that the violence taking place in Portland, Oregon and other cities is disconnected from the death of Floyd, which he described as a “horrible” event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement.

“Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said of the Portland protests.

The Trump administration has singled out “anarchists” and Antifa, a loose grouping of anti-fascist activists, some of whom are anarchists, to blame for much of the unrest. Trump even threatened to label Antifa a “terrorist” organisation, though there appears to be no cause or legal justification to do so.

Barr also touched on other controversies that have shadowed his tenure, including his handling of the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, which he derisively refers to as “the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal”.

The testimony underscores the Justice Department’s continuing effort to differentiate between increasing violence in some cities and the death of Floyd, which civil rights prosecutors are investigating as a potential crime. Enormous but peaceful demonstrations had followed Floyd’s death in May.

The attorney general, speaking as Congress and the public pay respects to the late Representative John Lewis, acknowledged to legislators that Floyd’s death struck a chord in the Black community because it reinforced concerns that Black people are treated differently by police.

US Attorney General William Barr has long advocated for law and order solutions, and he blames state and local leaders for condoning destruction, mayors and governors say federal troops have amplified violence [Evan Vucci/The Associated Press]

But he also condemned Americans who he says have responded inappropriately to Floyd’s death through what he said was rioting and anarchy.

“As elected officials of the federal government, every Member of this Committee – regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration – should condemn violence against federal officers and destruction of federal property,” Barr’ said. “So should state and local leaders who have a responsibility to keep their communities safe. To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.”

Civil unrest escalated in Portland after federal agents were accused of whisking people away in unmarked cars without probable cause; they were detained and later released.

And in Washington, DC, peaceful protesters were violently cleared from the streets by federal officers using smoke bombs and pepper balls before a photo op by Trump in front of a church, on June 1 where Barr had accompanied him.

In separate testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Army National Guard Major Adam DeMarco said that Barr spoke to Park Police before they launched their assault. DeMarco said the legally required warnings to demonstrators were “barely audible” and apparently not heard by protesters.

The attorney general said DeMarco was not present when the decision was made to clear the square and has defended as necessary the broad use of law enforcement power to deal with the situation, but the department’s internal watchdog has opened investigations into the use of force and other tactics by agents in both cities.

The hearing on Tuesday marks Barr’s first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, bringing him face-to-face with a panel that voted last year to hold him in contempt and is holding hearings on what Democrats allege is politicisation of the Justice Department under his watch.

It comes during a tumultuous stretch in which Barr has taken a series of actions cheered by President Donald Trump but condemned by Democrats and other critics.

Barr made reference to that antagonistic relationship, saying that “many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions.

“Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”

Russiagate

Beyond the federal response to the demonstrations, Barr was pressed about his intervention in criminal cases arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The hearing provided Barr with a forum to offer his most detailed account to date for his actions in the criminal cases, which he has said were taken in the interests of justice and without political pressure.

Those include the Justice Department’s decision to drop the prosecution of former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – a request now tied up in court – and his firing last month of the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, whose office oversaw investigations into allies of the president.

Barr also pushed for a more lenient sentence for another Trump ally, Roger Stone, prompting the entire trial team’s departure.

That decision was at the centre of a separate hearing before the same committee last month, when one of the prosecutors alleged that politics from Justice Department leadership had influenced the handling of the sentence.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on MSNBC that Democrats want to question Barr about how Trump “is undermining the Constitution of the United States”. Barr previously rebuffed the House committee and Pelosi said that “we hope that he will show up.”

In the past, Barr has said Flynn, who pleaded guilty as part of Mueller’s probe to lying to the FBI, should never have been charged and that the original sentencing recommendation for Stone – also charged in the Mueller investigation – was excessive.

Barr’s opening statement does not delve into the details of the case, though he will insist Tuesday that Trump has not attempted to interfere in those decisions and has “played a role properly and traditionally played by President”.

Republican legislators have been overwhelmingly supportive of Barr’s performance and are likely Tuesday to help him push back against some of the Democratic criticism. Even among the GOP members, though, Barr faces pressure to deliver results soon on an investigation that he initiated into the origins of the Russia probe.

It is not clear when or how that investigation, being led by US Attorney John Durham of Connecticut, will end, but Barr has said he hopes to have results in the coming months.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss

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Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.





Source – observer.ug

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