Oshiomhole’s Fraud, EFCC Blindness And Buhari’s Endowment Of Corruption By Bishop (Dr) Osadolor Ochei

Governor Oshiomhole of Edo State

A human rights activist and Anti-Corruption crusader based in Benin City Bishop (Dr) Osadolor Ochei JP, today dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a Federal high court sitting in Abuja.

The case has the EFCC and Adams Oshiomhole as first and second respondents. The law suit Is at the instance of EFCC’s refusal to attend to a well detailed Petition of the Applicant (Bishop Osadolor) to the 1st Respondent dated 28th October, 2016 and published in the Daily Sun Newspaper of 7th November, 2016, together with other national newspapers, bothering on economic and financial crimes against the immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

In a Motion Ex-Parte, the applicant Bishop Ochei is praying the court to as a matter of urgency compel the EFCC to commence the investigation and prosecution of the former governor in pursuant to Sections 6(b) & (h) and 13(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

The Applicant in his suit said he has complained to the 1st Respondent (EFCC) about allegations of corrupt practices as well as economic and financial crimes against the 2nd Respondent (Oshiomhole), on a number of occasions, without eliciting any response or interest from the 1st Respondent in this regard. The 1st Respondent failed to examine and investigate the said allegations upon such reports to it.

Bishop Ochei, said that the 1st Respondent owes Nigeria and Edo State a duty to unearth the truth by meticulously investigating these allegations to ascertain the extent of complicity and culpability of the 2nd Respondent with respect to these allegations levelled against him.

The motion exparte filed by the applicant’s counsel West Idahosa & Co. stated the Respondent’s legitimate means of income as Governor. The 1st Respondent did nothing about the said petition. The Petition and its annexures are attached as Exhibit “A”, while the satellite images of the compound, fence, and existing building are attached as Exhibits “A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 and A6”.

That on 4th November, 2016, the Applicant sent a petition to the 1st Respondent against the 2nd Respondent’s corrupt practices while he served as Governor of Edo State. Amongst the allegations made against the 2nd Respondent by the Applicant are the following:-

That the Applicant repeated the allegation that the 2nd Respondent built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10 billion naira in his home town known as Iyanho, Edo State. The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African Architectural outfit. The said house of the 2nd Respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, manmade lake, lodges of different sizes amongst others. The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate income. The 2nd Respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his sources of income. The Applicant’s Petition is attached as Exhibit “B”, while the reminder from the Applicant is attached as Exhibit “B1”.

That the 2nd Respondent bought a property along Okoro-Otun Avenue, G.R.A., Benin City owned by Edo State Government while serving as Governor of Edo State in an insider deal without due process and in abuse of his oath of office. The Okoro-otun property acquired by the 2nd Respondent was originally given to University of Benin as a gift by Edo State Government. The 2nd Respondent, while a dispute was pending in Court between University of Benin and Edo State Government, forcibly acquired the property for his personal use. The 2nd Respondent has since erected a structure with an underground apartment, roof-top swimming pool, another giant structure worth more than N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) which is far beyond his legitimate income. At the time of the sale, the open market price of that magnitude of property and in that such high-brow location was about N100 million naira. This transaction took place while the 2nd Respondent was Governor of Edo State and he bought the said property for just N23 million naira vide an Access Bank cheque.

That the 2nd Respondent authorized and awarded the highly inflated contract and payment within a relatively short time for the construction of 168 hostels rooms in Edo State University, Iyamho for the sum of N1.88 billion naira. The average cost per room translates to N10 million naira for each hostel room. This contract was awarded to the firm of A & K Construction Limited without compliance to due process. Similarly, the 2nd Respondent authorized and awarded the highly inflated contract of building the Teaching Hospital of the said University for the sum of N12.2 billion naira without compliance to due process. The Memorandum of Approval by the 2nd Respondent is attached as Exhibit “C”.

That the 2nd Respondent authorized and approved the diversion of N1.2 billion naira approved for the construction of a new accident and emergency ward complex and renovation of existing structures in the Central Hospital, Benin City for the payment of additional 10% advance payment to A & K Construction Limited for the construction of the Teaching Hospital of the University of Science and Technology, Uzairue (also known as Edo State University, Iyamho, without compliance with due process and against public interest. The Memorandum of Approval of the said diversion is attached as Exhibit “D”.

That the 2nd Respondent borrowed N25 billion naira from the Capital Market through the issuance of bonds. He purportedly paid the first N6 billion naira to Hitech Construction on March 2, 2011 and listed several roads as part of Phase One of the Storm Water Project to include Adolor College road, Textile Mill road, and a host of others. These roads are largely abandoned with little or no work done by Hitech Construction Company. The gullies created as a result of initial work have become major sources of flooding in Benin – City. More than six persons have been killed by this artificial flood.

That the 2nd Respondent authorized and awarded the construction of the 7.2 kilometer Ogba/Airport Road, Benin – City to Servetek Construction Company Limited for construction of drainage structures and dualization from Ring Road to Ogba River Bridge for industry record setting sum of N4.4 billion which translate to N611 million naira per kilometer without compliance with due process.

Following disputes with the Company on how the money was to be shared amongst stakeholders, the Company refused to work further and the contract was terminated. It was re-awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited for over N12 billion naira, on the pretext that 17 Acres roads were to be constructed along the main Airport Road. It was later discovered that these access roads were re-awarded as stand-alone contracts with new cost tag. The contracts were awarded without compliance with due process.

That the 2nd Respondent authorized and awarded the construction of the Emergency / Accident Unit of the Central Hospital, Benin – City, to Company for the sum of N2.7 billion naira and later reviewed same upwards to over N3 billion naira. The constructed building subsequently collapsed killing the owner of the Company, Dr. Stefano De La Roca and confident of the 2nd Respondent. The contract was thereafter re-awarded to another company, SCL without penalizing the previous Company for the poor work done and thereby causing serious financial loss to Edo State. The said SCL is also one of the Companies that constructed the Lord of the Manor Proto-type mansion and adjoining premises of the 2nd Respondents at Iyamho in Edo State.

That in 2012, the 2nd Respondent initiated and authorized the approach to the World Bank to secure a loan of $225 million dollars under the First Edo State Growth and Employment Support Credit project with identification number “P123353”. The World Bank paid Edo State Government $75 million U.S. dollars as initial payment and another $75million U.S. dollars as second installment, despite massive protest by Edo people.

The said second installment which was domiciled in Access Bank was largely transferred to private off shore accounts and round tripped to the detriment of Edo State.

That the 2nd Respondent authorized and approved the counterpart fund scheme between Edo State Government and Bank of Industry with each party providing N250 million naira each. This agreement was reached in December, 2009. From the enquiries made by Applicant only N41.6 million naira was disbursed. The balance sum was diverted for personal gain and to the detriment of Edo State residents.

That the 2nd Respondent received over N500,000,000.00 (five hundred million naira) as security votes. These funds were diverted to proxy accounts according to available records. For instance, One Chief M.A. Kadiri collected sums of money approved by the 2nd Respondent and totaling about N42 billion. In December 2014, 2nd Respondent approved N700 million naira which was collected by the same Chief M.A. Kadiri on grounds of urgent security challenges when there was no security threat to justify the purported use of such an astronomically huge amount of money. The said funds were collected by Chief M.A. Kadiri for the benefit of the 2nd Respondent and to the detriment of the residents of Edo State. Copies of memoranda showing some of the receipts by Chief M.A. Kadiri, as approved by the 2nd Respondent are attached as Exhibits “E1-E4”, copies of some of the approvals are attached as Exhibits “E5-E11” and copies of payment vouchers are attached as Exhibits “E12-E22”.

That the 2nd Respondent approved the purchase of vehicles at ridiculous prices from Sata Motors Limited, a Company owned by one Hon. Gani Audu who was also a Personal Assistant to the 2nd Respondent without compliance with due process and in abuse of the office of Governor of Edo State occupied by the 2nd Respondent. The vouchers are attached as Exhibits “F1, F2 & F3”.

That the 2nd Respondent purportedly acquired properties in United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of U.S. dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income while serving as Governor of Edo State.

That on December 31st 2014, the N.N.PC. paid $54.9 million dollars to Edo State Government and her Local Government Councils as contributions to Power Sector “Special Sector Intervention Fund”. That the money did not reflect in the income of the State till date was never captured by an Appropriation Act for the State. There is no place in Edo State where any project was built with funds from the so-called special Sector Intervention Funds. The said funds were merely diverted for the private use of the 2nd Respondent. Copies of the NNPC statement of transactions showing withdrawals from the Excess Crude Account and disbursement to Edo State are attached as Exhibit “G”.

That the Petition of the Applicant to the 1st Respondent contained weighty allegations bothering on corrupt practices that ought to have been investigated given the effect of corruption on the stunted socio-political and economic growth of Nigeria to the detriment of all persons resident therein.

That the 1st Respondent owes Nigeria and Edo State a duty to unearth the truth by meticulously investigating these allegations to ascertain the extent of complicity and culpability of the 2nd Respondent with respect to these allegations.

That by the Applicant’s letter dated 28th October, 2016 and received by the 1st Respondent on 04/11/16, the attention of the 1st Respondent was drawn to the allegations made against the 2nd Respondent by the Applicant. The 1st Respondent failed or neglected to invite the 2nd Respondent for investigations into the said allegations.

That failing the said invitation of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent for investigations, the 2nd Respondent began to boast openly to his kindred that he was untouchable and that no anti-corruption Agency of Government would dare investigate him.

That in the Applicant said Petition to the 1st Respondent, the Applicant laid out the allegations against 2nd Respondent and requested the 1st Respondent to investigate the said allegations. The Petition was published in the Daily Sun edition of Monday, November 7, 2016. The copy of the Newspaper publication is attached as Exhibit “H”. Copies of other newspapers are attached as Exhibits “H1, H2, H3 & H4”.

That following the said failure of the 1st Respondent to investigate the allegations against the 2nd Respondent, the Applicant wrote a reminder to the 1st Respondent and same was received by 1st Respondent on 13th December, 2016. Thereafter, one Barr. Eze of EFCC call the Applicant on telephone on 5th January, 2017, requesting for evidence to support the petition. On 9th January, 2017, the Applicant sent the documentary evidence and analysis of evidence done by him to the 1st Respondent by DHL with tracking number 6888917195. The said document was delivered to 1st Respondent on 12th January, 2017 at 09.01am and was received by one Daniel Tsamiya. A copy of the reminder is attached as Exhibit “I”.

That despite the said petition and the reminder sent by the Applicant to the 1st Respondent, demanding that it performs its duty by investigating the allegations against the 2nd Respondent, the 1st Respondent did not investigate the 2nd Respondent or even reply the Applicant’ letters.

That consequent upon the refusal of the 1st Respondent to investigate and prosecute the 2nd Respondent, the Applicant have no option than to approach the Court of Law for an Order mandating the 1st Respondent to perform its statutory duties as required by law.

That the Applicant is an indigene of Edo State who are entitled to enjoy the benefits of good erosion / flood control, good roads, adequate security coverage and other rights flowing from their residency in Edo State and citizenship of Nigeria; which they have been denied as a result of the corrupt activities of the 2nd Respondent.

17. That the Applicant is a fulltime Clergy man, being a Bishop of the Divine Heavenly Vision International Ministry Inc., Benin City. He lives on offerings from the Church and has no earnings upon which he can be taxed. His Church does not engage in any form of business whatsoever.

18. That the Applicant is a dutiful citizen of Nigeria who is committed to the performance of his duties to the nation in order to make positive contributions to the advancement, progress and well-being of the country.

19. That the Applicant, pursuant to his constitutional duties to render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order sent several petitions to the 1st Respondent complaining about the economic and financial criminal activities of the 2nd Respondent in his capacity as Governor of Edo State from 2008 to 2016. The Applicant did not receive any positive response from the 1st Respondent despite petition, reminder, documentary evidence and numerous visits to the Headquarters of the 1st Respondent with respect to the said petitions.

20. That the said petitions are in public interest and are supported by ample documentary evidence. The petitions did not seek any particular method in which the 1st Respondent was to do its job other than to invite the 1st Respondent to investigate the allegations made against the 2nd Respondent.

21. That the Applicant is specially aggrieved by the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the said petition for the following reasons:

As a result of the miss-use and abuse of public funds by the 2nd Respondent, the road leading to the Applicant’s house and other roads in the locality remained untarred despite several requests from the Applicant to Edo State Government to do so and the said Government continually claimed that they had no sufficient funds while 2nd Respondent was busy expending public funds on his expensive lifestyle, including acquiring mansions all over the world at costs outside his legitimate income. Several letters from the Applicant’s community to the 2nd Respondent requesting the development of the said community are attached as Exhibits “J1, J2, J3 & J4”.

The failure to tar Applicant’s road and other roads in the locality has led to frequent repairs on Applicant’s car and loss of valuable time due to frequent visits to mechanic workshops. The same is applicable to others who reside in the area. The receipts of repairs of Applicant’s car are attached as Exhibits “K1, K2 & K3”.

The Applicant and many other ordinary citizens had a hard time gaining access to medicare as the Central Hospital in Benin City which 2nd Respondent claimed to have spent billions of naira of public funds on was not equipped and remained non-functional. Applicant and others had to practically beg for contributions to receive medicare from private hospitals.

These reasons prompted Applicant to carry out an enquiry into how 2nd Respondent’s spent public funds belonging to Edo State and Applicant found out that 2nd Respondent was not prudent in the use of such funds and frequently diverted funds meant for the development and security of the State to private use.

The Applicant found out that the 2nd Respondent wasted hundreds of millions of naira on chartered flights, when public facilities in the State were abandoned and the public denied the benefit of these facilities. Copies of the approved vouchers for some of such chartered flight expenditure are attached as Exhibits “L1 – L13”.

The 2nd Respondent spent millions of naira for choice drinks when major public facilities like roads, hospitals and schools were in dilapidated conditions. Copies of the approved vouchers for the purchase of soft-drinks are attached as Exhibits “M1-M22”.

That the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the Applicant’s petitions gave the impression that public officers are entitled to use public funds arbitrarily and outside public good.

That the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the Applicant’s petitions was contrary to Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which enjoins the State to abolish corrupt practices.

That the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the Applicant’s petitions has enabled the 2nd Respondent’s successor in office, Godwin Obaseki, to largely continue with the 2nd Respondent’s arbitrary and corrupt use of public funds.

That the Applicant would continue to suffer lack of access to good roads, medicare and other government subsidized essential facilities due to the failure to investigate the Applicant’s petitions against the 2nd Respondent and prosecute him accordingly by the 1st Respondent in other to serve as deterrent to other public office holders in Edo State.

That the Applicant as a dutiful citizen is desirous of ensuring that the war against corruption which is founded on the 1999 Constitution is fought without regard to a suspect’s political affiliation or class. The 2nd Respondent is an APC Stalwart and is taking advantage of his membership of the ruling party to influence the 1st Respondent from doing its job.

That the 1st Respondent has investigated similar petitions against public officers of opposition parties and prosecuted them for lesser offences.

That since then the Applicant who is resident in Benin City has repeatedly visited the office of the 1st Respondent in Abuja to no avail. Even in April, 2018, the Applicant visited the 1st Respondent’s said office for a feedback and was snubbed as usual.

That the Applicant being a Citizen of Nigeria interested in the Rule of Law, the Supremacy of the Constitution and the enforcement of existing laws has instituted this action to ensure that the 1st Respondent appears before this Honourable Court to explain why the very strongly worded petition, backed with facts and a prima facie case were not treated by the 1st Respondent despite the duty imposed on it by the law to do same.

COURTESY: SAHARA REPORTERS

Democrats intensify fight for immigrant children — and bludgeon Trump and Republicans ahead of midterms

 2:54
Congress remains at odds over family separation at border

Lawmakers are opposed to migrant family separation, but can’t agree how to stop it.

Democrats expanded their campaign Sunday to spotlight the Trump administration’s forced separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S. border, trying to compel a change of policy and gain political advantage five months before midterm elections.

Against a notable silence on the part of many Republicans who usually defend President Trump, Democratic lawmakers fanned out across the country, visiting a detention center outside New York City and heading to Texas to inspect facilities where children have been detained.

In McAllen, Tex., where several Democratic lawmakers toured a facility, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas estimated that he saw about 100 children younger than 6.

“It was orderly, but it was far from what I would call humane,” he said.

Seven Democratic members of Congress spent Sunday morning at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey, waiting nearly 90 minutes to view the facilities and visit five detained immigrants.

“This is unfair and unconstitutional,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.).


Democratic U.S. representatives from New York and New Jersey — from left, Hakeem Jeffries, Frank Pallone Jr. and Carolyn B. Maloney and, from right, Albio Sires, Jerrold Nadler and Adriano Espaillat — visited children who had been separated from their parents at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey on Sunday. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Trump has falsely blamed the separations on a law he said was written by Democrats. But the separations instead largely stem from a “zero-tolerance” policy announced with fanfare last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families — a posture not taken by the George W. Bush or Obama administrations.

Trump remained silent on the issue for most of the day Sunday before tweeting that Democrats should work with Republicans on an immigration solution before the election “because you are going to lose!” In a radio address on Saturday, he brought up the topic of “un­accompanied alien minors” in a broadside against Democrats who he said had created “glaring loopholes” that let in young members of the MS-13 international gang.

“Democrats in Congress have opposed every measure that would close these immigration loopholes and bring this slaughter to an end,” he said after recounting a litany of crimes he said were committed by immigrants here illegally. He said he was defending “every American child.”

White House officials and allies on Sunday dug in and defended the policy, insisting as Trump has that the administration was following existing immigration law.

“I don’t think you have to justify it,” former senior White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon told ABC’s “This Week.” “We have a crisis on the southern border.”

 1:34
Father’s Day brings protests of separating migrant families

Father’s Day, on June 17, ignited protests and debate over President Trump’s new ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy. 

“They are criminals when they come across illegally,” Bannon said.

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway answered critics’ complaints by telling members of Congress to change immigration measures on the books.

“If they don’t like that law, they should change it,” Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The divisions between the White House and its critics on both sides of the aisle opened a signal week when it comes to the nation’s immigration policies. President Trump was due to speak Tuesday to Republican members of Congress on the issue, which has confounded both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue for a generation.

Republicans are considering two measures, both of which give the president much of what he has demanded, including billions for construction of a border wall, sharp curbs on legal immigration and other security mechanisms. But neither a conservative proposal nor a more moderate one that would allow families to be detained together was guaranteed enough support among party members who have long been split on how to deal with immigrants in the country or seeking entry.

Democrats, actively denouncing the zero-tolerance policy, have remained united against the GOP measures but are pushing a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to immediately block family separations. No Republican has publicly supported that option.

After equivocating Friday about which of the two Republican immigration measures he would support — and shaking up GOP members seeking signs from the White House — Trump later said he would back either one.

White House officials have said the president is betting that by continuing to separate families, he will gain political leverage in negotiations with Congress over a new immigration bill and cause a drop in the number of immigrants seeking entry.

A sign of the difficult balance over which all sides were tussling came Sunday from a statement released by a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” it said. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

Former first lady Laura Bush also stepped into the fray in a Washington Post opinion article.

“I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel.” Bush said. “It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

She said the warehousing of children in a former Walmart and a Texas tent city was “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Two Republican senators publicly signaled their worry Sunday by asking for more information about children who reportedly have been taken from parents seeking political asylum at U.S. ports of entry. Seeking asylum is not a crime.

“It is critical that Congress fully understands how our nation’s laws are being implemented on the ground, especially when the well-being of young children is at stake,” Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) wrote in a letter to the secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Collins said breaking up families was “traumatizing to the children who are innocent victims.”

“From the experience of previous administrations, it does not act as a deterrent to use children in this fashion,” Collins said. “It is inconsistent with our American values to separate these children from their parents unless there’s evidence of abuse or another very good reason.”

At the same time, Collins was critical of Democratic efforts to end the policy, including the Feinstein measure, which Collins called “too broad.”

U.S. officials have said that the number of families who could be broken up might double and that the number of children who’ve already been taken from their parents — 2,000 over a six-week period from April to May — may be higher than what the administration has reported.

Already, the policy has sparked a public relations crisis as the administration has been confronted with photos of young, bewildered children being separated from their parents at the border — a difficult scenario under any circumstances but one that landed with a particular poignancy on Father’s Day weekend.

Notable Republican allies, such as evangelist Franklin Graham, who has defended Trump at every turn of his presidency, have broken with the administration in recent days. Graham called the family separations “disgraceful.”

Other religious leaders and a host of child welfare organizations have fiercely criticized it, contending it will harm the children throughout their lifetimes.

Democratic leaders worked to maximize negative publicity over the weekend, hoping to prompt a national push against the policy that would also play to their benefit in November.

Appearing on “Meet the Press,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) likened the president’s demands to extortion.

“What the administration is doing is, they’re using the grief, the tears, the pain of these kids as mortar to build their wall,” Schiff said. “It’s an effort to extort a bill to their liking in the Congress.”

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) was one of several Democratic lawmakers who headed to the border or other detention centers this weekend to mark Father’s Day with a public demonstration. He said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that House Democrats would introduce legislation this week to ban the practice.

“I hope to produce the outrage and the public pressure to force those in power to do the right thing,” said O’Rourke, who is challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November. “This is inhumane. I’d like to say it’s un-American, but it’s happening right now in America. We will be judged for what we do or what we fail to do now. This is not just on the Trump administration — this is on all of us.”

O’Rourke also offered some sympathy to Border Patrol agents, whom “we’re asking . . . to solve international problems.”

At the detention facility outside New York, Democrats challenged Republicans to join them in bringing separations to an end. The lawmakers arrived at 9 a.m. and protested loudly when security guards didn’t let them in.

The seven were eventually admitted and spent more than an hour looking at the facilities and talking to people who had children they were unable to see.

“None of the people we met here had come for economic reasons,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), who took notes on the detainees’ stories after they were prevented from bringing in cellphones. “They were fleeing violence.”

When one reporter in the center asked why no Republicans had joined the protest, Pallone suggested they were afraid to confront the Trump administration.

“They won’t challenge Sessions,” he said. “They may agree with us, but they won’t say it.”

Rep. Albio Sires, whose district includes the center, said he had come to the United States as an 11-year-old.

“That’s not the country I recognize, in there,” said Sires, who was born in Cuba. “They don’t even have a procedure in place when they take the kids.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Democrats would introduce legislation to block funds for any family separation tactics, a companion to Feinstein’s Senate legislation.

“Trump said he’s very much opposed to this policy,” Nadler said. “So he’d have a chance to prove that.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) attacked Trump for blaming the separation policy on Democrats, and he challenged House and Senate Republicans to allow a vote to change it.

“Stop lying to the American people,” he said. “This is your policy. You are the ones that we will force to shut this down.”

As the members of Congress spoke, around 60 protesters joined them, some holding signs with pictures of immigrants who had been detained.

Sean Sullivan in McAllen, Tex., contributed to this report.

‘Prepared for war’: As Mueller moves to finalize obstruction report, Trump’s allies ready for political battle


President Trump speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Trump’s lawyers and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are hurtling toward a showdown over a year-long investigation into the president’s conduct, with Mueller pushing to write up his findings by summer’s end and Trump’s lawyers strategizing how to rebut a report that could spur impeachment hearings.

The confrontation is coming to a head as Trump and his allies ratchet up their attacks on the special counsel probe, seizing on a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s inspector general that castigated FBI officials for their conduct during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said that he planned to use the inspector general’s conclusions to undermine Mueller, suggesting he may ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to examine the current probe.

“We want to see if we can have the investigation and special counsel declared illegal and unauthorized,” Giuliani said in an interview Friday.

In the meantime, Trump must decide whether to do a face-to-face interview with Mueller’s team — an answer the president’s legal team expects to have in the next two weeks.

If the president agreed to a sit-down, the special counsel has told Trump’s lawyers that he could finish within roughly 90 days a report on whether Trump sought to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, according to two people familiar with the discussions. A separate report outlining Mueller’s broader findings on Russian attempts to bolster Trump’s candidacy is expected to take longer.

 5:09
The ‘scandals’ and progress of the Russia probe

President Trump has tried to shift public attention from the Russia investigation with outlandish claims but they haven’t slowed the progress. 

The confidential obstruction report, which would be delivered to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, is expected to contain the prosecutors’ conclusions about whether Trump engaged in any criminal wrongdoing by trying to derail the investigation into his campaign’s contact with Russians, according to the people.

The filing of the report could trigger a political firestorm over whether to make the special counsel’s findings public — just as this fall’s midterm campaign season kicks off.

“It’ll be a moment that polarizes the country, exposing just how divided the country is about this investigation and who’s on the other side, said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who added that he and other Trump allies are “prepared for war.”

Among those suited up for battle: the president’s attorneys, who are readying to write a rebuttal disputing any conclusions that the president’s actions were improper or illegal.

At the center of that standoff would be Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe. Friends and foes predict he would face intense pushback over every aspect of the report — when to release the information to Congress, whether to refer the report to Congress to consider impeachment and whether to make any aspect of the report public.

“He’s the final decision-maker,” said Giuliani, adding: “There will be pressure from all ways.”

Rosenstein, who has repeatedly sought to defuse attacks on the Justice Department by the president and his congressional allies, has indicated he will only bend so far. Last month, after House Republicans threatened to impeach him for withholding investigative documents, he warned that “the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

A spokesman for Rosenstein declined to comment.

That round of political and legal drama could be delayed until after the November elections if Mueller decides to hold back the report to avoid releasing it too close to Election Day, or if Trump refuses an interview and the special counsel tries to issue a subpoena, kicking off a lengthy court struggle.

In the meantime, anticipation for Mueller’s report has put Washington on a kind of emergency storm watch.

“What we’re going through now is a walk in the park compared to what’s coming when the report [on Trump’s conduct] comes out,” said Peter Wehner, a Trump critic who has advised several past Republican presidents. “Even if the report is a devastating indictment of Trump, the political tribalism in the country is so deep and won’t suddenly go away.”

For months, Trump has been setting the stage by repeatedly attacking the Justice Department and the FBI and accusing Mueller of waging a “witch hunt” against him — language echoed by White House officials and Giuliani.

After the Justice Department’s inspector general released his findings Thursday, Giuliani said he and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow conferred about legal options they could take to stymie Mueller — including possibly sending a letter to the Justice Department raising questions about the credibility of the special counsel investigation. They also discussed whether to ask Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the Mueller probe, based on the inspector general’s report and some FBI agents’ conduct, Giuliani said.

“We’re going to take the weekend to talk it all through, with our team and with the president,” Giuliani said.

The Mueller investigation is already facing internal scrutiny. Last month, under pressure from Trump, the Justice Department asked its inspector general to assess whether political motivation tainted the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign after revelations that a longtime FBI source secretly assisted the probe.

The attacks by the president and his advisers on the special counsel appear to be having an impact: Public support for Mueller’s investigation has been gradually eroding. A Quinnipiac University poll taken in early June found that 50 percent of registered voters say Mueller is conducting a fair investigation, a drop of 10 points since November.

While Trump’s lawyers ponder ways to rupture the investigation, the president has dwindling time to decide whether to sit down for an interview with the special counsel. The idea is sharply opposed by many of his allies and advisers.

“Listen, I don’t trust these people as far as I can throw them,” his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., told Fox News on Thursday. “I wouldn’t do it. I think it’d be stupid.”

Giuliani said he expects Trump to make a final decision on an interview by the end of June.

“He wants to do it, but he doesn’t want to do it if he’s being taken advantage of,” he said.

If Trump refuses an interview, Mueller will have to decide his next move.

Doug Kmiec, a legal scholar on presidential power and a former Reagan administration Justice official who knew Mueller from his prior work at the department, said the special counsel wants — but does not need — to question the president to finish his report.

“He wants to give the president an opportunity to explain any ambiguity and any impression that he was favoring a foreign adversary,” Kmiec said. “Robert Mueller would say it would be irresponsible not to give the president a chance to explain himself.”

If Trump declines to do a sit-down and the special counsel decides not to pursue a subpoena of the president, Mueller could deliver an obstruction report to Rosenstein in the coming months.

However, former prosecutors and colleagues of Mueller predict he will probably avoid any public action six to eight weeks before the November midterm elections, following Justice Department guidance that prosecutors should avoid making moves that could reasonably be expected to affect a political campaign.

The regulations governing Mueller’s investigation, which were written in 1999, require that a special counsel submit a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” reached by the office. Some of Trump’s lawyers believe that limits Mueller solely to describing why he chose to prosecute or not prosecute.

And they argue the rules would frown on Rosenstein releasing to Congress or the public any findings of a grand jury investigation that ended without charges.

The goal of the regulations was to avoid requiring a sprawling public report like the one issued by independent counsel Kenneth Starr at the conclusion of his investigation into President Clinton in the 1990s, said Neal Katyal, who helped write the rules as a Justice Department official.

But, Katyal said, the aim was also to provide flexibility to future Justice Department officials. The regulations would allow Rosenstein to refer the report to Congress, Katyal said, and release it to the public if he decides doing so could better serve the public.

“That is the standard I believe should be applied: what is in the public interest,” he said.

Rosenstein will have near-total control over how the probe concludes and what the public learns about the findings. It will fall to Rosenstein to decide whether Mueller’s report contains findings about Trump that warrant some remedy or punishment by Congress.

It remains to be seen how he will navigate the pressure.

At a speech in Philadelphia earlier this month, Rosenstein appeared to allude to the punches thrown so far and those perhaps coming his way, quoting the classic boxing movie “Rocky.”

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows . . . But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward,” Rosenstein said. “That advice applies in boxing, in law and in life.”

Scott Clement, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.

Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign

 3:40
Roger Stone did, actually, meet with a Russian

Roger Stone, a close Trump ally, met with a Russian man in May 2016 claiming to have “dirt” that could help Trump be elected. 

 — One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone — the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump — slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a viscous Russian accent.

The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone, who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.

“You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”

Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting after Greenberg had approached Caputo’s Russian-immigrant business partner.

“How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote, according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted “big” money, Stone replied, “waste of time.”


(The Washington Post)

Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s sprawling investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Caputo. Caputo said he was asked about the meeting by prosecutors during a sometimes-heated questioning session last month.

Stone and Caputo, who did not previously disclose the meeting to congressional investigators, now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump.

They cite records — independently examined by The Post — showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.

Interviews and additional documents show that Greenberg has at times used the name Henry Oknyansky. Under that name, he claimed in a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status that he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States because his presence represented a “significant public benefit.”

There is no evidence that Greenberg was working with the FBI in his interactions with Stone, and in his court filing, Greenberg said he had stopped his FBI cooperation sometime after 2013.

Greenberg, in text messages with The Post, denied that he had been acting on the FBI’s behalf when he met with Stone.


Henry Greenberg, who has also called himself Henry Oknyansky, at a Jan. 31 meeting of the Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board at Miami City Hall. (Miami City Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board)

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mueller’s office.

The meeting took place two months earlier than federal officials have said a counterintelligence operation was officially opened and before WikiLeaks began releasing hacked Democratic emails.

It came in the same time period as other episodes in which Russian interests approached the Trump campaign. A few weeks earlier, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was told in London that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. And it was two weeks before the sit-down at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who he had been told could offer information that would hurt Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father.

Trump and his allies have said that the meetings were inconsequential and that there was no collusion.

Stone and Caputo’s interactions with Greenberg mean that at least 11 Trump associates or campaign officials have acknowledged interactions with a Russian during the election season or presidential transition. Those interactions have become public in the year and a half since a Trump spokeswoman said no one associated with the campaign had communications with Russians or other foreign entities.

It is not clear how seriously investigators are taking the Florida meeting. Caputo said prosecutors during his interview seemed to have intense interest in the interaction, as well as the role of Greenberg.

Reached by phone, Greenberg, 59, initially denied Stone’s account of a meeting.

“This is wrong information,” Greenberg said.

Later, in text messages to a Post reporter, Greenberg changed his story, acknowledging that he’d met with Stone and providing a skeletal account of the encounter that matched Stone’s in some ways. Unprompted, Greenberg used essentially the same language as Stone to describe Stone’s reaction: “Trump will never pay for anything.”

Stone said Greenberg was alone at the meeting. But Greenberg said he was accompanied by a Ukrainian friend he identified only as Alexei, who he said had been fired from a job with the Clinton Foundation, a global charitable organization founded by Hillary Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton. Greenberg provided no evidence the man had worked for the Clinton Foundation, and a foundation spokesman said the group has never employed a man with the first name of Alexei.

“He was very upset, and he wants to tell his story,” Greenberg said in a text. “He told Mr. Stone what he knew and what he want.”

Greenberg denied that he asked for money, saying that it was his friend who spoke with Stone.

President Trump and his allies previously accused the FBI of unfairly targeting his campaign following revelations that another FBI informant, Cambridge University professor Stefan A. Halper, approached Papadopoulos and two other campaign advisers starting in July 2016 to gather information about their possible ties to Russia.

“If you believe that [Greenberg] took time off from his long career as an FBI informant to reach out to us in his spare time, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you,” Caputo said in an interview.

In a separate interview, Stone said, “I didn’t realize it was an FBI sting operation at the time, but it sure looks like one now.”

The Florida meeting adds another layer of complexity to Stone’s involvement in the Russia probe. For months, as several of Stone’s employees and associates have been subpoenaed or have appeared before the Mueller grand jury, it has been clear that the special counsel has been scrutinizing repeated claims by Stone that he communicated with WikiLeaks via a back-channel source before the group’s 2016 release of hacked Democratic Party emails.

Stone has said it’s possible he will be indicted, speculating that Mueller might charge him with a crime unrelated to the election to silence him. He said he anticipates that his meeting with Greenberg could be used in an attempt to pressure him to testify against Trump — something he says he would never do.

Last year, in a videotaped interview with The Post, Stone denied having any contacts with Russians during the campaign.

“I’ve never been to Russia. I didn’t talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign,” he said. “I very definitely can’t think of anybody who might have been a Russian without my knowledge. It’s a canard.”

Stone and Caputo said in separate interviews that they did not disclose the Greenberg meeting during testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because they had forgotten about an incident that Stone calls unimportant “due diligence” that would have been “political malpractice” not to explore.

Caputo said that he was asked during a session with the committee in July whether he’d ever been offered information about the Clinton campaign by a Russian, and he either answered “no” or that he could not recall.

However, Stone and Caputo said their memories were refreshed by text messages that Caputo said he no longer has in his possession but was shown during a May 2 interview.

Caputo’s attorney on Friday sent a letter amending his House testimony, and he plans to present Caputo’s account of the Greenberg incident to the Office of Inspector General for the Justice Department, which has announced it is examining the FBI’s use of informants during the Russia probe. Stone said his attorney has done the same.

Documents and interviews reveal a quirk-filled story that spans three decades and two continents. It touches down in locales as distinct as a hipster Miami art gallery and a riverfront construction site. But, like so much of the drama swirling around the 2016 election, its roots lie far away from American ballot boxes — in the Russian capital of Moscow.


Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office Building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on May 1. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Though they never met, both Caputo and Greenberg lived heady existences in Moscow in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a period when the city had a frisson of artistic and creative energy that Caputo compares to “Paris of the 1920s, but with Kalashnikovs.” Caputo had moved to Russia to develop a Rock-the-Vote-style campaign for Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Greenberg was already a familiar figure in the city’s social whirl. He married a Russian actress and moved to Los Angeles. Court records show that, after being charged in 1994 with assault with a deadly weapon, he entered a plea in which he was convicted without accepting guilt.

According to a declaration he filed in court, Greenberg spent almost two years in the custody of the U.S. immigration service. He said he decided in 2000 to return to Russia, where, according to interviews and local media coverage, he resumed a glamorous life.

For a time, he shared an apartment at a fashionable Moscow address with John Daly, a producer of hit films including “The Terminator,” and he was well known by expats from the Moscow club scene.

“He was an up and down kind of guy. Charming. Very ingratiating and personal,” said Edward Bass, a movie producer who knew Greenberg in Moscow in that time.

According to accounts in Russian media, he was arrested in 2002 and charged with a decade-old $2.7 million fraud. The Moscow Times reportedthat authorities found three passports with false names in his apartment and photographs that appeared to show him posing with movie directors Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone.

The Post was unable to determine the outcome of the case from public records. Greenberg denied wrongdoing, saying that he was not convicted and that the case was closed.

Greenberg returned to the United States, according to immigration records that he submitted as part of his federal court filing in 2015.

He attached to the statement government documents outlining his immigration history.

Between 2008 and 2012, the records show, he repeatedly was extended permission to enter the United States under a “significant public benefit parole.” The documents list an FBI agent as a contact person. The agent declined to comment.

Immigration lawyer David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the documents described an immigration history generally consistent with Greenberg’s claims that he had been allowed to enter the United States to assist law enforcement.

In a 2015 court declaration, Greenberg — using the last name Oknyansky — said he’d been giving information to the FBI since returning to Russia from the United States in 2000.

“Wherever I was, from Iran to North Korea, I always send information to” the FBI, he wrote. “I cooperated with the FBI for 17 years, often put my life in danger. Based on my information, there is so many arrests criminal from drugs and human trafficking, money laundering and insurance frauds.”

Greenberg did not respond to questions about his use of multiple names but said in a text that he had worked for the “federal government” for 17 years.

“I risked my life and put myself in danger to do so, as you can imagine,” he said.

By May 2016, Greenberg was in the midst of an eventually unsuccessful zoning fight to open a restaurant on the Miami River, according to public records. He showed up without an invitation at a gallery opening organized by Caputo’s public relations firm, according to Caputo’s business partner, Sergey “George” Petrushin.

Greenberg approached Petrushin and invited him to check out the possible restaurant site the next day, Petrushin said. According to Petrushin, Greenberg eventually said that he knew Petrushin was partners with Caputo and that he had information he wanted to share that would be helpful to Trump’s campaign.

Petrushin called Caputo and handed the phone to Greenberg to make his pitch.

At the time, Caputo said, Russia was not a major campaign issue, and the man’s accent raised no red flags for him.

“I said, ‘Let me get somebody to vet it for you,’ ” Caputo recalls saying.

Caputo knew just the guy: Roger Stone.

Stone had spent decades trying to persuade Trump to run for president. In the spring of 2016, Stone was no longer with the campaign — but he remained in touch with Trump and some in his orbit.

When Stone arrived at the restaurant in Sunny Isles, he said, Greenberg was wearing a “Make America Great Again” T-shirt and hat. On his phone, Greenberg pulled up a photo of himself with Trump at a rally, Stone said.

“We really want to help Trump,” Stone recalled Greenberg saying during the brief encounter.

By Greenberg’s account, he had limited contact with Stone, sitting at a nearby table while his friend Alexei conducted the meeting. “Alexei talk to Mr. Stone, not me,” he wrote. He added that he believes Alexei has moved back to Ukraine and that they are not in contact.

When Caputo followed up with Stone via text to ask if “anything at all interesting” took place, Stone responded with a single word: “No.”

Helderman reported from Washington. Alice Crites and Devlin Barrett in Washington and Natasha Abbakumova in Moscow contributed to this report.

U.S. Files Criminal Charges Against Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani

Indictments allege leaders of blood-testing company defrauded investors, doctors and patients

Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former Chief Operating Officer Sunny Balwani addressing the company’s staff in 2015 at the company’s then-headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former Chief Operating Officer Sunny Balwani addressing the company’s staff in 2015 at the company’s then-headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. PHOTO: NO CREDIT

Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes and the blood-testing company’s former No. 2 executive, alleging that they defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and also defrauded doctors and patients.

The indictments of Ms. Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Theranos’s former president and chief operating officer who was also Ms. Holmes’s boyfriend, are the culmination of a 2½-year investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco, sparked by articles in The Wall Street Journal that raised questions about the company’s technology and practices.

RELATED

Ms. Holmes, 34 years old, and Mr. Balwani, 53, were each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud in an indictment handed up Thursday and unsealed Friday. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution to those found to have been defrauded, on each count.

“This indictment alleges a corporate conspiracy to defraud financial investors,” said John F. Bennett, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco. “More egregiously, this conspiracy misled doctors and patients about the reliability of medical tests that endangered health and lives.”

A lawyer for Mr. Balwani, Jeffrey B. Coopersmith, said in a statement, “Mr. Balwani is innocent and looks forward to clearing his name.” A lawyer for Ms. Holmes didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Before the charges were filed, Theranos announced that Ms. Holmes had stepped down as chief executive and that David Taylor, the company’s general counsel, has been appointed CEO and general counsel. Ms. Holmes will remain as founder and board chair, the company said.

Coming three months after civil fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Theranos, Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani, the criminal charges are a warning shot for Silicon Valley. As money has gushed into the Valley’s ecosystem in recent years, hundreds of private tech startups valued at more than $1 billion have sprouted, embracing a culture of disruption of incumbent industries and a cavalier attitude toward regulations.

In the case of Theranos, the industry Ms. Holmes sought to disrupt was the blood-testing business. At the height of her fame, the Stanford dropout claimed to have invented groundbreaking new technology that could run the full range of laboratory tests on just a drop or two of blood pricked from a finger.

On the strength of her unproven claims, Theranos rolled out its vaunted finger-stick blood tests in Walgreens stores in California and Arizona and rocketed to a valuation of more than $9 billion, making Ms. Holmes a billionaire and media celebrity. Her bold talk and black turtlenecks drew comparisons to Steve Jobs.

But as the Journal revealed in a series of articles beginning in October 2015, Theranos’s blood-testing device was unreliable and the company used it for just a fraction of the more than 240 tests it offered to consumers. Behind the scenes, it performed the vast majority of the tests with commercial analyzers purchased from other companies.

Moreover, Theranos modified some of those commercial analyzers in ways that neither their manufacturer nor the federal health agency overseeing Theranos had authorized. The modifications, including diluting the tiny finger-stick samples to create more volume, led to inaccurate test results, according to former Theranos employees.

Prosecutors alleged that Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani “knew that many of their representations about the analyzer were false.” They alleged that the two executives “knew that the analyzer, in truth, had accuracy and reliability problems, performed a limited number of tests, was slower than some competing devices, and, in some respects, could not compete with existing, more conventional machines”

Following pressure from federal health regulators, Theranos voided or corrected nearly a million blood-test results. It also agreed to reimburse the 76,000 Arizonans who used its blood-testing services.

Theranos is now on the verge of liquidation. The company’s headcount is down to two-dozen employees and Ms. Holmes told investors in a recent email that the private equity firm Fortress Investment Group was likely to seize its assets as soon as late July. Fortress loaned Theranos $65 million last year to keep it afloat.

Related Video

WSJ’s John Carreyrou: Reporting on Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes

Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou recounts some of the more unusual experiences he had while uncovering the story of Theranos’s business practices.

Ms. Holmes and Theranos reached a settlement with the SEC to resolve the agency’s civil charges in March without admitting or denying wrongdoing. Mr. Balwani has denied the SEC charges filed against him and is fighting them in a California federal court.

Theranos’s rise and fall has become a symbol of the excesses of the current technology boom, and the company exacted a painful financial and personal toll. A British biochemist who worked at Theranos for eight years committed suicide in 2013 after becoming distraught by its culture of fear and secrecy and its lack of progress with its technology, according to his widow. Tyler Shultz, a grandson of former Secretary of State George Shultz and the first employee to blow the whistle to a state regulator about what he saw as troubling practices, became estranged from his grandfather, a board member.

Theranos’s investors, most of whom poured money into the company after its commercial rollout in Walgreens stores in late 2013, have collectively lost nearly $1 billion. They include the Waltons, heirs to Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton ; Atlanta’s Cox family; the family of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ; and Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and of News Corp, the Journal’s parent company. Each invested more than $100 million in Theranos—investments that are now worthless.

Other investors facing big losses include Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, the scion of a Greek shipping fortune and members of a South African diamond dynasty, according to documents Theranos provided to plaintiffs who sued it in federal court in California for securities fraud.

Write to John Carreyrou at john.carreyrou@wsj.com

Appeared in the June 16, 2018, print edition as ‘Theranos Founder Charged.’

COURTESY: WSJ

US opens new housing at Mexico border for migrant children, amid outcry

Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the US-Mexico border in six-weeks. Despite wide condemnation, the Trump administration defended the policy, saying it was just enforcing the law.

    
A family is detained at the Mexico-US border (Getty Images/J. Moore)

Due to an increasing number of migrant children in government custody, officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration confirmed on Friday that a temporary encampment near the US-Mexico border in Texas had been built.

The new shelter, which consists of large tent structures, opened on Thursday and has the capacity to hold 360 children. The temporary camp is located near an official border crossing point, some 35 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of the Texan city of El Paso.

According to Kenneth Wolfe of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the shelter was designated for “minors referred by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to HHS for our unaccompanied alien children program.”

A boy from Honduras being taken into custody by US Border Patrol agentsA boy from Honduras being taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents

DHS confirmed on Friday to the Associated Press that some 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31. DHS did not provide a breakdown of the separations by age, but the reasons were illegal entry, immigration violations or possible criminal conduct by the adult parent.

The startling figure is a result of a new directive from Attorney General Jeff Session, who on April 6 announced a “zero tolerance” policy on immigration that would refer all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution.

Cases that involved families were typically sent for civil deportation proceedings. These allow children to remain with their parents. The new directive eliminates that option and has led to the separation and internment of the children in temporary shelters.

Read more: Caravan of migrants tests Trump’s anti-immigrant policies

Widespread outrage

The Trump administration has come under fire for both the criminalization of all immigration cases and the family separations. Stories of weeping children, including infants, torn from the arms of frightened parents, flooded the media and a chorus of church groups, politicians and children’s advocates called the practice inhumane.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi decried the policy as “barbaric” and said that President Trump had the power to stop it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans distanced themselves from the White House, saying they were not comfortable with family separations. “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said on Thursday.

In a pointed critique, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops called the practice of separating babies from their mothers as “immoral” and not the answer.

Read more: Could President Trump actually fulfill his anti-immigration promises?

A family being taken into custody at the US borderA family being taken into custody at the US border

Sessions: bible backs the rule of law

But the administration has been unapologetic, saying that their goal is merely to follow the law, blaming Democrats for having created the situation in the first place.

In response to the criticism of the Conference of Catholic Bishop’s, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the bible to defend the controversial policy.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said.

The comments sparked outrage and a heated exchange between journalists and the White House press office. But spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not flinch.

“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.”

Read more: Super Bowl ad about German immigrant stirs controversy

Congress to tackle immigration

The outrage has put pressure on Republicans to present immigration legislation. By Friday, Republican leaders were said to be putting the finishing touches on two bills in the House of Representatives. One of the bills would be a hard-right proposal and the other one a more moderate compromise.

The compromise bill would provide citizenship to young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children, and reduce the family separations.

Trump caused confusion when he said on television on Friday that he would not sign the moderate bill. The White House then drew back from his comments and indicated the president was ready to consider both.

Watch video02:37

Risking the dangerous journey to the US

jcg/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

COURTESY: DW

Saudi-led forces seize rebel-held airport in Yemen’s Hodeida

Forces allied with the Saudi-led coalition have entered Hodeida airport as part of an assault to retake the port city. Fears are rising of a new humanitarian crisis if food imports, from the port, are disrupted.

    
Yemeni pro-government forces gather at the south of Hodeida airport

Soldiers from an Arab alliance seized the international airport in the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida on Saturday, officials loyal to Yemen’s exiled government said.

Aid workers and rights advocates said areas close to the airport remained the scene of intense fighting, which prevented thousands of people from leaving the Red Sea city, which has a population of 600,000.

Troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are leading ground forces in the latest assault to recapture the country’s main gateway for food shipments, which began on Wednesday.

Read more: Scores of migrants drown off Yemen coast

Watch video02:22

Saudi-led troops look to retake Yemeni port of Hodeida

Biggest battle yet

UAE troops are being bolstered by militiamen and soldiers backing Yemen’s exiled government, while Saudi Arabia is providing air support for what is being described as the biggest battle in the country’s three-year civil war.

The pro-alliance Yemeni military said that soldiers were working to clear mines and the last remaining rebels from land close to the airport, which is on the south side of the city.

Yemen’s Shiite rebels, the Houthis, who also hold the country’s capital of Sanaa, did not immediately acknowledge losing the airport.

So far, fighting has yet to enter Hodeida’s downtown or its crucial port.

Humanitarian crisis

The Arab coalition has ignored advice from international aid groups, who say Yemen is already on the brink of famine and any shutdown of Hodeida’s port could risk tipping millions of civilians into starvation.

Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies, which around two-thirds of the country’s 27 million population depends on.

Read more: Yemen rebels hit Saudi tanker in Red Sea, Saudi Arabia claims

Watch video02:01

Calls for restraint as key Yemeni port attacked

Saudi Arabia, which leads the Arab coalition to restore the internationally recognized Yemeni government, defended its decision to launch the assault.

It said the port was continuing to provide millions of dollars in duties for the Houthis, who they claim were also importing weapons through the facility.

The Saudi-led alliance says it can swiftly capture the port, the only one the Houthis control, without major disruption to aid supplies.

Later on Saturday, the United Nations envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa for talks on the conflict in Hodeida, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

He was expected to call for Houthi leaders to cede control of the port to a UN-supervised committee, and to avoid further fighting between rebels and the Arab coalition.

More than 10,000 people have been killed during Yemen’s civil war. The Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 to thwart what many countries in the Middle East see as efforts by their archfoe, Iran, to dominate the region.

Western nations say Tehran has supplied the Houthis with weapons, from assault rifles to the ballistic missiles they have fired deep into Saudi Arabia, including at the capital, Riyadh.

mm/jlw (AP, Reuters)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

COURTESY: DW

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