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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    Armed with his Attorney General's summary of a lengthy report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump was up early on Monday morning celebrating the findings of that probe, joining GOP lawmakers in Congress in declaring that his campaign had been cleared of any questions of wrongdoing. 'The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump Campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump Campaign,' the President tweeted early on Monday, quoting from a letter sent Sunday by Attorney General William Barr to Congress. The four page letter from Barr - summarizing the findings of the Mueller investigation - found no conspiracy existed between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, even as Russian intelligence hacked Democratic Party emails, and 'despite multiple. offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.' 'But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts,' the letter from Barr noted. In Congress, Republican lawmakers gleefully joined the President in heralding the findings, trying their best to undercut any ongoing efforts by Democrats to further dig into the details of the Mueller report - which the Attorney General said he would strive to make as much public as possible in the weeks and months ahead. 'There was NO collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump or his campaign,' said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). 'Facts trump the liberal circus, every time,' said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). 'Democrats in Congress should follow his lead and allow the President to govern as he was elected by the American people to do,' said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL). 'After two years the case is closed.' As for Democrats, they quickly dug into the details of the Barr letter and focused on getting the details of the Mueller report made public, zeroing in on Barr's description that Mueller had made no conclusions about whether President Trump had obstructed during the Russia investigation. 'The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,'' Barr quoted the Mueller findings. 'There must be full transparency in what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered to not exonerate the President from wrongdoing,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the head of the House Judiciary Committee, who vowed to press for more documents and hearings about the Mueller investigation. 'Questions remain related to evidence of obstruction of the investigation into Russian election interference,' said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). The findings - as related by the Attorney General on Sunday - clearly made any chance of impeachment proceedings against the President in Congress much less of a possibility, both easing the political pressure on Mr. Trump, and at the same time giving him a public boost which his campaign quickly jumped on for supporters. The President was already scheduled to take his message on the road for a campaign rally on Thursday in Michigan.
  • Attorney General William Barr told Congress on Sunday that a sweeping investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of coordination between Russian Intelligence and the Trump Campaign in 2016, as Barr said there was not enough evidence to pursue allegations of obstruction of justice against President Donald Trump, though Mueller left open that question in his report. In a four page letter summarizing the major findings of the Mueller investigation, the Attorney General said, 'the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.' On the question of whether the President obstructed justice by impeding the investigation into the underlying matter, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had concluded from the Mueller findings that, 'the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.' Republicans said the Barr summary showed the investigation had found nothing which could lead to the President's prosecution or impeachment. 'No collusion and no obstruction,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report.' The White House immediately declared victory as well. “The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement.  “Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States,” Sanders told reporters. While the letter was immediately hailed by Republicans as the end of the investigation, it also left Democrats with some tantalizing tidbits which they are sure to pursue on the obstruction issue, specifically one line cited by the Attorney General in his Sunday letter to the Congress. 'The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,'' the Attorney General wrote, in quoting the Mueller report’s section about the issue of obstruction of justice. 'Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Other Democrats also made clear they want more than just the four page summary written by the Attorney General, as Nadler vowed to bring Attorney General Barr in for hearings. You can read the full four page letter from Attorney General Barr at this link. As for the possibility of the Mueller report being made public, Barr told Congress in his letter that he would still try to err on the side of transparency. “I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies,” Barr wrote.
  • As Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted a report to the U.S. Attorney General on Friday concerning the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, many questions remain unanswered about what Mueller had uncovered, what legal actions still must take place related to the investigation, and just how much of the report that lawmakers in Congress will be able to review in coming months. Even before the contents of the Mueller report - initially described as 'comprehensive' - were known, there were certainly metrics for the Special Counsel investigation, which netted a series of guilty pleas, and one trial conviction, that of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on charges of tax and bank fraud. Court filings by the Special Counsel's office demonstrated a sweeping effort by Russian Intelligence agents to hack emails and other documents from Democratic Party officials in the U.S., and showed how a number of people with ties to the President lied to Mueller's investigators when asked about their links to certain Russians under scrutiny by the feds. 1. Will the Congress actually get to see the Mueller report? This is not as simple as it might seem, as the Special Counsel law does not guarantee that the Congress will get the details of the Russia findings. The decision on how much is shared with the Congress - and whether it can be shared with the public - is first up to the Attorney General William Barr. Under the law, Barr is supposed to review the report, and then send a summary to lawmakers, something he may do as soon as this weekend. But that's not the Mueller report. And it's clear that members of both parties want to read it. 2. What about the Mystery Case? Even while the Special Counsel is closing down his work, it doesn't mean the loose ends are just going to vanish into thin air. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering on Friday - just hours before the Mueller report was submitted - whether or not to grant a hearing on a case involving an unknown foreign company owned by an unidentified foreign country which has been subpoenaed for the Mueller investigation. If the trial for Roger Stone is going to continue, then why wouldn't the legal wrangling over 'Country A' go on as well? Just one of the many unknowns at this point. 3. What about other federal prosecutors? As we have seen during the Mueller investigation, the Special Counsel at times farmed out certain cases to U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York, or the Eastern District of Virginia. Could those matters - emerging from the Mueller investigation - still continue even after the Special Counsel is playing golf in coming weeks? That's also a big unknown. Certainly, it's always been a fervent hope of Democrats that something happens along those lines - but there's definitely no guarantee. 4. Will we ever hear from Robert Mueller? Unlike Watergate, unlike the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Robert Mueller has not made any public comments or held press conferences. It has probably driven both the White House and Democrats absolutely batty to see him be so quiet. Some Democrats have already suggested that Mueller be called before the Congress to testify on what he found, just like Independent Counsel Ken Starr was given the chance to outline his findings before the House Judiciary Committee against President Clinton in 1998. 5. There still is a lot going on in the 'Mueller' probe. I don't want to belabor this point, but even with Mueller on the golf course, lots of legal wrangling will have to continue on an array of fronts. A judge must still give former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn his sentence. Roger Stone's trial doesn't start until November. Paul Manafort's aide Rick Gates is still cooperating with the feds and has not been sentenced as yet. Andrew Miller - an associate of Roger Stone - is still being asked to testify before a federal grand jury. So, even with Mueller's report now filed - and even before we know the details - the impact of the Mueller investigation isn't 'over' - so to speak. 6. Waiting on the details. We still don't know what's in the Mueller report. And yet, everyone on the news is talking about it. I've been counseling for months about this investigation that one should wait to see actual documents before marching off to any conclusions. The same can be said of the Mueller probe. Has Mueller delivered total exoneration for the President? We really don't know. While Mueller's office won't be delivering more indictments, could more be in the pipeline? We don't know. Will this report recommend impeachment, or be silent on that issue? We don't know. If this was like the Starr Report, we would have all of the information. Instead, we have to wait.
  • Democrats on Friday quickly called for the release of details in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump, as U.S. Attorney General William Barr told key lawmakers he could release some of the findings to Congress as soon as this weekend. 'Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a joint statement. 'The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  'Nothing short of that will suffice,' Warner added, as Democrats quickly piled on to join that point of view. “The Attorney General should make the report public and let the American people learn the facts Mueller uncovered,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).
  • The Treasury Department reported Friday that the federal government ran a budget deficit of almost $234 billion in the month of February, the highest monthly deficit ever recorded by the U.S., pushing the 2019 deficit to over $544 billion after five months of the fiscal year, over $150 billion more than the same point a year ago. In its budget report, the Treasury Department took the unusual step of adding a 'highlight' explanation on the latest batch of red ink for Uncle Sam. 'February has been a deficit month 53 times out of 65 fiscal years as February is the first full month of the annual individual tax filing season and generally contains elevated individual tax refund levels, while also not containing a major corporate or individual tax due date,' the report stated. Revenues were up in February 2019 by almost $12 billion from February of 2018 - that marked only the fourth month since the GOP tax cut went into effect that revenues had been up on a year-to-year basis. So far in Fiscal Year 2019, revenues coming in to Uncle Sam are down $8 billion. Spending in February was $401.2 billion, up from $371 billion a year earlier. Overall spending in 2019 is up about $145 billion in total from the same period of 2018. The surging deficit is no surprise to those on Capitol Hill or in the Trump Administration, as earlier this month, the White House predicted in the President’s own budget proposal that the deficit would remain over $1 trillion each of the next four years. These are the White House yearly deficit projections: 2019 - $1.092 trillion 2020 - $1.101 trillion 2021 - $1.068 trillion 2022 - $1.049 trillion The deficit in 2018 was $779 billion. In terms of interest being paid on the public debt, that was at $28 billion in February of 2019, up from $23 billion in the same month a year ago. Trump Administration officials continue to argue that continued economic growth will change the dynamic on the deficit. “An extra one percent of GDP growth per year means trillions of dollars of additional economic activity and more revenue to the government,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress earlier this month. But so far, the extra GDP growth - at just under 3 percent for 2018 - has not triggered a revenue windfall for Uncle Sam, as revenues are slightly down so far in 2019.
  • In an interview aired Friday morning by the Fox Business network, President Donald Trump again voiced his public displeasure about actions of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at one point admonishing TV host Maria Bartiromo for pressing him several times about why he was criticizing someone who is dead, suggesting that the subject wasn't supposed to be part of the exclusive White House interview. 'Now, I could say I have no comment, but that's not me,' the President told Bartiromo, who had just questioned how Mr. Trump could unite the country at the same time he was blasting a dead U.S. Senator. 'You shouldn't have brought it up,' the President told Bartiromo after she asked about McCain. 'Actually, I thought you weren't supposed to bring it up. But that's okay, fake news.' 'No, it's not fake news,' Bartiromo countered, as the President again criticized McCain for giving the Steele Dossier to the FBI some two months after the law enforcement agency had already received the materials alleging ties between Russia and officials tied to the Trump campaign. 'He handed something to the FBI on me - he knew it was a fake,' Mr. Trump said. “I’m not a fan,” the President said. Bartiromo later said there had been no conditions at all on the subject of Sen. McCain. “My thanks to President Trump for joining us and for the record, there were no conditions or stipulations agreed to ahead of that interview,” Bartiromo said on Friday. During the interview, Bartiromo questioned why the President would continue to tangle with McCain, saying, “Mr. President, he's dead. He can't punch back. I know you punch back, but he's dead.” 'It was a fraud,' Mr. Trump said of the Steele Dossier, as he said McCain had given the documents to 'the FBI for very evil purposes.' In Congress, most Republicans remained fairly silent about the President's public blasts at McCain, with a few lone voices urging him to move on to something else, like freshmen Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). In the Fox Business interview, President Trump again complained about the Mueller probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 elections. As the President left the White House on Friday morning for his Florida retreat, Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about the status of the Mueller investigation. “I have no idea about the Mueller report,” Mr. Trump said as he walked up to reporters gathered on the South Lawn on the White House. The President also criticized Democrats in Congress over their investigations into various White House and Trump Administration matters, saying it was just an extension of the Mueller probe. 'This is a continuation of the same witch hunt,' Mr. Trump said, in a familiar refrain.
  • A man who was charged with sending explosive devices to a series of critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Thursday to the crimes, as federal prosecutors say Cesar Sayoc could spend the rest of his life in prison for mailing 16 improvised explosive devices to former President Obama, former Vice President Biden, as well as sitting Democratic lawmakers in Congress. 'For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country,' said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. 'Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake.  'Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison,' Berman added in a statement, as prosecutors labeled Sayoc's effort 'domestic terrorism.' 'Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public,' said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. Sayoc is scheduled for sentencing on September 12. In a statement issued by prosecutors, the feds said Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 separate felony counts brought against him for his mail bomb flurry, which involved 16 identical looking padded envelopes sent from south Florida. 'Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded,' the feds stated. 'Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red 'X.'' Sayoc’s mail bombs were sent to former Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, actor Robert De Niro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Rep. Maxine Walters (D-CA).   When Sayoc was arrested, authorities found his van, which was plastered in pro-Trump and anti-Democratic Party stickers and placards.
  • Frustrated by opposition on some college campuses to conservative speakers, President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order which threatens to take away federal research grant money from colleges and universities, if those schools don't guarantee First Amendment protections for those who want to speak on campus. 'We're dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,' President Trump said in a White House ceremony on Thursday. Flanked by conservative activists who have run afoul of protests at college and university campuses, Mr. Trump made clear that he wants new opportunities for their voices to be heard. 'Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech,' the President added. 'This order is part of the Trump Administration’s administrative and legislative efforts to support a focus on student outcomes and improve transparency, accountability, and affordability in postsecondary education,' the White House said in a statement. The President had raised this matter earlier in the month, during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, D.C. It was not immediately clear how the Thursday signing would change the current landscape governing money being sent to schools by the feds, as there are already requirements to uphold the First Amendment. In a morning conference call with reporters, a senior administration official refused to give any hints about how the requirement would be enforced differently going forward. 'I won't get into implementation details,' the official said, repeatedly deflecting questions in a Thursday conference call with reporters about how the plan would work.  'But schools are already supposed to be following these rules,' as the official said 'the goal of the order is to promote free speech more broadly across college campuses.' The plan drew immediate fire from the President's critics. 'President Trump’s concept of free speech is speech that he agrees with, which is, in fact, the antithesis of what the First Amendment seeks to protect,' said Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers union.
  • Apart from a few GOP voices in the U.S. House and Senate, most Republican lawmakers in Congress had little to say in recent days about President Donald Trump's continuing attacks on the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as the President used a speech in Ohio on Wednesday to launch an extended series of jabs as the former POW. 'I have to be honest - I've never liked him much,' Mr. Trump said at a speech at a tank production plant in Lima, Ohio. With Congress on break this week, many Republicans stayed away from the tide of remarks by the President, as only a handful of GOP officials stood up to tell Mr. Trump to back off, and leave the dead U.S. Senator alone. 'It’s deplorable what he said,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said of President Trump in a Wednesday radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting.  “That’s what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out,' said Isakson, who has been one of McCain's few public defenders in the GOP to push back directly at Mr. Trump. 'John McCain is an American hero and I am thankful for his life of service and legacy to our country and Arizona,' said Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who now holds his seat in Congress - though McSally did not directly mention the President in her statement. But Rep. Peter King R-NY, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) were outliers, as some supporters said the President was needlessly picking a fight - with a dead man - which he will never win. 'President 0. Dead Man 1,' wrote conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson. 'Let's be a little less coo-coo,' said Anthony Scaramucci on CNN Thursday morning, who served in the White House for a very short period of time in 2017, but remains a strong supporter of the President. Here's the President's full remarks about McCain from the Wednesday event: In a late night email sent to reporters on Wednesday, the McCain Institute pushed back - without mentioning the President by name - as the group defended the late GOP Senator, and one time Republican nominee for President in 2008. 'John McCain was held for 5 years in a Vietnamese prison and brutally tortured,' the group wrote, offering a laundry list of supportive items from his resume in the military and in Congress. 'John McCain always called on America to stand up for its values of freedom and democracy,' the group added, as even in death, McCain was still embroiled in battles with President Trump.
  • Using his veto pen for the first time in just over two years in office, President Donald Trump on Friday rejected a special resolution from Congress which would block his national emergency declaration to shift money into construction of a border wall, a day after the GOP Senate joined the Democratic House in rebuking the President. 'Congress’s vote to deny the crisis on the southern border is a vote against reality,' President Trump said in the Oval Office. 'It's against reality. It is a tremendous national emergency. It is a tremendous crisis.' The measure now goes back to the House and Senate, where any effort to override the President's veto is far short of the necessary two-thirds super majority. 'On March 26, the House will once again act to protect our Constitution and our democracy from the President’s emergency declaration by holding a vote to override his veto,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the President sternly disagreed. Here's the text of the President's veto message, as sent back to the Congress: To the House of Representatives:   I am returning herewith without my approval H.J. Res. 46, a joint resolution that would terminate the national emergency I declared regarding the crisis on our southern border in Proclamation 9844 on February 15, 2019, pursuant to the National Emergencies Act.  As demonstrated by recent statistics published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and explained in testimony given by the Secretary of Homeland Security on March 6, 2019, before the House Committee on Homeland Security, our porous southern border continues to be a magnet for lawless migration and criminals and has created a border security and humanitarian crisis that endangers every American. Last month alone, CBP apprehended more than 76,000 aliens improperly attempting to enter the United States along the southern border -- the largest monthly total in the last 5 years. In fiscal year 2018, CBP seized more than 820,000 pounds of drugs at our southern border, including 24,000 pounds of cocaine, 64,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 5,000 pounds of heroin, and 1,800 pounds of fentanyl. In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, immigration officers nationwide made 266,000 arrests of aliens previously charged with or convicted of crimes. These crimes included approximately 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings. In other words, aliens coming across our border have injured or killed thousands of people, while drugs flowing through the border have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.   The current situation requires our frontline border enforcement personnel to vastly increase their humanitarian efforts. Along their dangerous trek to the United States, 1 in 3 migrant women experiences sexual abuse, and 7 in 10 migrants are victims of violence. Fifty migrants per day are referred for emergency medical care, and CBP rescues 4,300 people per year who are in danger and distress. The efforts to address this humanitarian catastrophe draw resources away from enforcing our Nation's immigration laws and protecting the border, and place border security personnel at increased risk.   As troubling as these statistics are, they reveal only part of the reality. The situation at the southern border is rapidly deteriorating because of who is arriving and how they are arriving. For many years, the majority of individuals who arrived illegally were single adults from Mexico. Under our existing laws, we could detain and quickly remove most of these aliens. More recently, however, illegal migrants have organized into caravans that include large numbers of families and unaccompanied children from Central American countries. Last year, for example, a record number of families crossed the border illegally. If the current trend holds, the number of families crossing in fiscal year 2019 will greatly surpass last year's record total. Criminal organizations are taking advantage of these large flows of families and unaccompanied minors to conduct dangerous illegal activity, including human trafficking, drug smuggling, and brutal killings.   Under current laws, court decisions, and resource constraints, the Government cannot detain families or undocumented alien children from Central American countries in significant numbers or quickly deport them. Instead, the Government is forced to release many of them into the interior of the United States, pending lengthy judicial proceedings. Although many fail ever to establish any legal right to remain in this country, they stay nonetheless.   This situation on our border cannot be described as anything other than a national emergency, and our Armed Forces are needed to help confront it.   My highest obligation as President is to protect the Nation and its people. Every day, the crisis on our border is deepening, and with new surges of migrants expected in the coming months, we are straining our border enforcement personnel and resources to the breaking point.   H.J. Res. 46 ignores these realities. It is a dangerous resolution that would undermine United States sovereignty and threaten the lives and safety of countless Americans. It is, therefore, my duty to return it to the House of Representatives without my approval.   DONALD J. TRUMP   THE WHITE HOUSE, March 15, 2019. 

The Latest News Headlines

  • Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said multiple people were injured in a morning crash involving a semi truck and a van on I-295 southbound near Roosevelt.  According to JFRD, none of the injuries appeared to be serious. Traffic is at a standstill leaving Orange Park, and traffic across the Buckman Bridge northbound is delayed.  Listen to First Alert Traffic updates every 6 minutes during Jacksonville’s Morning News 104.5 FM. 
  • Northeast Florida Representatives are reacting to the Special Counsel findings of no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’.  Republican John Rutherford said it is shameful that the Special Counsel was unwilling to clearly state that the president did not obstruct justice despite finding no evidence whatsoever that the president acted with ‘corrupt intent’.   Senator Marco Rubio indicated he’s glad that the concluded there was no collusion, and jabbed Democrats for their reaction. 
  • Here is the letter Barr sent to leaders in Congress after he received the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian Collusion during the 2016 presidential election. Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins: I write to notify you pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3) that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters. In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I provide you with “a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General” or acting Attorney General “concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3). There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Special Counsel has submitted to me today a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. 600.8(c). I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend. Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies. I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review. Finally, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” this notification “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. 600.9(c) I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you. Sincerely, William P. Barr Attorney General
  • A New Jersey man accused of killing his wife, throwing her body in their pool and then driving to Applebee’s for food to set up his alibi has taken a plea deal in the case, prosecutors said.  Norman F. Long, 53, of Woolwich Township, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, according to NJ.com. The plea deal struck with Gloucester County prosecutors requires Long to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Prosecutors are recommending a 15-year sentence, NJ.com reported. As part of the agreement, charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice have been dropped.  Long is scheduled for sentencing May 3.  >> Read more trending news Gloucester County prosecutors said at the time of Long’s arrest that the body of his wife, Michelle Long, 47, was pulled from the swimming pool at their home on June 17, 2017. Norman Long claimed that he had gone to pick up dinner and came home to find that his wife had apparently drowned in the pool. “According to an investigator’s affidavit of probable cause, Norman Long and neighbors were at poolside when the investigator arrived at 8:35 p.m. (that night), performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Michelle Long,” a 2017 news release from prosecutors said. “Norman Long ‘became combative’ while CPR was being administered and had to be restrained, the neighbors said.” A small dog was also found dead in the water.  Michelle Long’s autopsy showed that she had not drowned but instead died of blunt force trauma. Her death was ruled a homicide, prosecutors said.  Investigators spent just over six weeks investigating Michelle Long’s killing before arresting Norman Long on Aug. 1, 2017. He was charged with first-degree murder for “using physical force to cause blunt head and neck trauma” to his wife, the news release said. “It was a violent attack by him,” Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton said during Norman Long’s first court appearance in August, NBC10 in Philadelphia reported. “The medical examiner found that there was bruising on her hands, consistent with defensive wounds. There was a struggle.” He was also charged with concealing evidence by “disposing (of) paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trashcan” and obstructing justice by throwing the blood-stained towels away and putting his wife’s body in the swimming pool, prosecutors said.  According to NJ.com, investigators believe Michelle Long may have been planning to leave her husband of 15 years. The last search she did on her computer, just minutes before her death, was a search for houses.  “This is what happened as a result of him finding out about that,” Dalton said during Long’s August appearance, NBC10 reported.  A timeline of the crime given in court last August alleged that Norman Long said his wife was on the computer when he left between 6:30 and 7 p.m. to pick up dinner at Applebee’s, NJ.com reported then. Prosecutors argued, however, that the timeline did not correspond with evidence. Michelle Long’s search for homes ended at 6:11 p.m., prosecutors said.  Surveillance footage from a nearby business’s security camera showed Norman Long driving by a carwash and then heading back home before going to Applebee’s, where the restaurant’s own footage shows him inside from 7:15 to 7:37 p.m., NJ.com reported. He against drove by the carwash headed for home at 7:47 p.m. The 911 call reporting Michelle Long’s death was received at 8:02 p.m. Norman Long was taken to a state psychiatric hospital for evaluation following his Aug. 1 arrest because he was expressing suicidal thoughts, prosecutors said.  NBC10 reported last year that the defendant’s first court appearance was delayed because he had an emotional breakdown in the jail. Sources told the news station Long physically fought being removed from his cell and had to be forcibly taken to his hearing. He was quiet once he was in the courtroom, the news station reported.  Michelle Long’s daughter, Brittany Maguire, said at the time of her stepfather’s arrest that her family was torn apart. “She was definitely the best mom, and she did not deserve this at all,” Maguire said during a news conference attended by NJ.com reporters. “We are all broken without her.” Since Michelle Long’s death, her mother and her daughters have partnered with a company called ROAR for Good, which makes a wearable personal safety device that, if activated by the touch of a button, shares the user’s location via text to a previously chosen list of contacts. It is designed to let people know if a loved one is in danger.  It can also emit a high-frequency alarm to scare away assailants, NJ.com reported. The family sells the devices, inscribed with Long’s nickname, “Chel,” on a website they created called guardianangelchel.com.  “We wanted to direct our energy into something positive, meaningful, and honor my daughter's life and leave a lasting legacy for her,' her mother, Susan Direso, told NJ.com last year. 'Chel was my joy, my little girl, and to lose her in such a brutal way broke my heart forever. This mission to help at-risk victims gives us a purpose to turn our tragedy into a meaningful project.”
  • As JEA considers several different designs and locations for a new Downtown headquarters, WOKV has learned they’re trying to build the facility without changing your rates. To do that, they may take on some big real estate sales. JEA has put together a “Real Estate Optimization Initiative”, where they have identified parcels for which they have no current or anticipated future use. According to documents from a planned presentation to the Board of Directors, four properties have already been identified and are either being appraised or have an appraisal planned. The list includes sites on Atlantic, Normandy, Talleyrand, and the existing HQ.  Those initial four are valued around $32.5 million, but JEA projects they could sell for as much as $65 million. Several other sites could follow, with a value of more than $100 million. Senior leadership envisions using that revenue to offset the cost of a new Downtown headquarters, and the documents project that would mean not having to look at customer rates to fund the facility. Off Southside and Atlantic sits the former Coggin Automotive dealership site. JEA acquired that property in 2011 to aid construction under the Total Water Management Plan, which involved a water transmission pipeline. Because that project has now been completed, JEA says they have no use for the roughly five acre property, although they would retain an easement for the underground utilities that were installed. A second site is 250 acres in the Cecil Commerce Center off Normandy Boulevard. JEA’s overall claim right now is 305 acres, but that involves an electric substation, water treatment plant, and other improvements and restrictions. JEA’s analysis has determined they can reduce their acreage, and would then be in a good position to sell a “prime commercial/industrial parcel”, according to the Board packet. In the Talleyrand area is the third property, of which JEA is considering selling 30-36 of its 48 acres. This faces up to the St. Johns River, and could therefore be attractive for industrial maritime development, according to JEA. They would retain the land that has improvements on the site- including two combustion turbine generators- and sell the rest, under the initiative. Finally, JEA has identified their current Downtown headquarters as a property to potentially sell. The Board documents note that JEA could sell and then lease the property back, until they’re prepared to move in to the new HQ. It’s expected to take more than two years to get the new building up and JEA moved in. This campus is actually three separate lots, which includes parking. The current HQ needs substantial repair, and is too large for JEA’s current needs. A September 2016 assessment- which WOKV was told is the most recent comprehensive assessment of the Tower- showed renovating the structure as it stands was at that time expected to cost between $65.3 million and $78.2 million. Problems identified with the Tower include everything from efficiencies, like the poor floor plan, to systems problems, like plumbing, electrical, and security. Just last month, parts of nine floors in the 19-story Tower experienced flooding because of several different building issues. The cost of the repairs and cleanup in that case was around $60,000. JEA’s Board of Directors has been weighing three proposals for a new Downtown HQ, and they’re expected to vote next month on which plan to move forward with. The cost of each of the proposals has not been made public, nor is it clear at this time how much of that bill the real estate sales could cover. GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal at Lot J by TIAA Bank Field GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal at Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal on West Adams Street by the County Courthouse JEA says an appraisal is underway at the Atlantic site, and the other three properties have appraisals pending. While these four properties have been identified at this point, JEA says they could pursue others, including two thousand acres at the former St. Johns River Power Park, around two dozen small surplus properties, and surplus areas on existing tracts. JEA further projects they would incur operations and maintenance savings by not having to do landscaping, security, and related areas at the properties they sell. For just the four parcels identified so far, that savings is estimated around $1 million annually. The process involves first appraising the properties, and then offering them to other government agencies at appraised value, according to JEA. If there is interest, that’s where the sale would be, but if not, there would be a public bid process and formal award. There is no timeline for how long that process could take, but the Board would have to approve any sale over $500,000, and the Board and City Council would have to approve any sale under assessed value. The Board will be presented this initiative for discussion Tuesday, although they will not have to take any action at this point. Leasing or partnering in development on properties could also be considered, although the Board packet shows JEA’s leadership studied that and determined selling the sites would be the best move economically.

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