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    With the Mueller Report finally out Thursday, at least in redacted form, publishers are hurrying to release book editions. Two Mueller Report books are in the top 15 on Amazon.com even though free pdfs are available online. The special prosecutor's findings, which run more than 400 pages, concluded that he could not find criminal evidence of conspiracy between the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia's government but could not rule out the possibility that Trump may have obstructed justice after he won the 2016 election. Scribner, Melville House and Skyhorse Publishing are among those planning to have paperbacks out before the end of the month, with prices ranging from $15 for the Scribner book to $9.99 for the Melville House one, and e-books out by the end of the week. Barnes & Noble expects to have a free download for its Nook e-reader on Thursday. The Amazon-owned Audible Inc. plans a free audiobook. By Thursday night, the Skyhorse version was No. 9 and Scribner No. 14 on Amazon's bestseller list. Melville House had climbed from No. 324 earlier in the day to 74. Government reports have been a highly specialized niche in the book world for decades. They are public documents, often available for free and open for anyone to publish. But some releases are so intensely anticipated, among them the Warren Commission study of former President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the 9-11 Commission Report, they become best sellers. The 9-11 report was even nominated for a National Book Award. The Mueller report will likely have a substantial paying audience because of enormous public interest and because nonfiction works tend to sell predominantly in paper form. Scribner and Skyhorse also hope to attract readers with additional material, some of which they are hurrying to complete over the next couple of days. Skyhorse editorial director Mark Gompertz said that Alan Dershowitz, the attorney and frequent Trump defender, was 'the fastest reader and writer we have ever worked with' and was expected to finish an introduction for the Mueller book by Thursday night. The Scribner book, expected to exceed 700 pages, is being prepared in conjunction with The Washington Post. Some material, including a timeline of the investigation, has already been prepared. The Post is working on an introduction that will provide analysis of the report, and a combination of Post reporters and professional narrators will work on an audio edition. 'We're going as fast as we can,' says Colin Harrison, Scribner's editor-in-chief. The industry suffered from printing shortages last fall and winter, with such works as David W. Blight's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography unavailable for weeks. But Harrison says that Scribner can easily meet its announced first printing of 350,000. 'The planning for this has been in the works for a long time,' he says. 'We're even prepared to go back to press, expeditiously, for more books. We have the paper. We're ready.
  • For nearly two years, President Donald Trump and his allies sought to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, attacking investigators' credibility and playing down their findings. As a redacted version of Mueller's report was finally released Thursday, Trump resorted to bluster, broadsides and falsehoods to try, once more, to frame the moment as a political victory. It began even before the public glimpsed the two volumes covering 448 pages . The report included an account of how the president attempted to seize control of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and force out Mueller from leading the inquiry. But that didn't stop Trump from taking a public victory lap, declaring at a White House event that he was having 'a good day.' Twelve times Trump took to Twitter in the hours before Attorney General William Barr outlined the findings of the report. The president proclaimed his innocence and insisted that the investigation was politically motivated. As soon as Barr concluded his remarks, and more than an hour before Mueller's report was released, Trump tweeted a taunt over an image inspired by the HBO show 'Game of Thrones.' 'No Collusion. No Obstruction,' it said. 'For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.' But the report does recount how Trump repeatedly sought to intervene in a probe that has hovered over the first two years of his presidency. And it says Trump had been agitated by the investigation from the start, reporting that Trump reacted to Mueller's appointment by saying it was the 'end of his presidency.' At Justice Department headquarters, reporters buzzed around as they awaited Barr and then the Mueller report. A few blocks away, there was calm on one of the defining days of Trump's presidency. The news media were led into the White House East Room, just before the report came out, for Trump's appearance with wounded warriors. While newsrooms across the country digested the report, the White House guests, already seated while waiting for the president to arrive, were entertained by the U.S. Marine Band. Among the selections played: 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' 'Knockout,' read a text message from Rudy Giuliani, one of the president's attorneys, to reporters after Barr finished speaking. A further statement from Giuliani and Trump's lawyers said 'the report itself is nothing more than an attempt to rehash old allegations' and insisted that 'the results of the investigation are a total victory for the president.' Current and former White House officials eagerly rushed through the report. They scanned for their names to see what Mueller had said about them and how he had characterized their testimony, and wondered how those depictions might sit with a mercurial president. Staffers had been told by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller's team and answer their questions truthfully. But many were nervous about how Trump would react to their testimony and whether it would damage their relationships with him. Talking points went out to Trump allies while his supporters' phones buzzed with text messages from the campaign looking to raise money off Thursday's developments. 'Now the tables have turned, and it's time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever,' said Trump's re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale. Donald Trump Jr, the president's eldest son, was featured prominently in the report for meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016. Though the report said 'the campaign anticipated receiving derogatory documents and information' from Russians that 'could assist Trump's electoral prospects,' it said 'the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt' that the participants at that meeting 'had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.' Though a seemingly backhanded exoneration, the younger Trump tweeted a series of attacks on Democrats. 'Better luck next hoax!' he said. Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said that because the White House didn't interfere with Mueller's work, that 'should make people feel good about democracy.' 'We're accepting apologies today, too,' Conway told reporters, adding that Trump watched Barr, talked to his lawyers and was in 'a great mood.' The president, who normally talks to reporters on his way out of the White House, declined to speak as he left to spend the Easter weekend in Florida. But from Air Force One, he tweeted: 'I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted. I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn't!' Appearing relaxed earlier Friday at a military event, Trump said a statue he'd been presented with as a memento would have a permanent home 'at least for six years, in the Oval Office.' As the audience applauded and laughed, Trump said he was going to joke and say 'at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that.' ___ Lemire reported from New York. ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire , Colvin at http://twitter.com/@colvinj and Superville at http://twitter.com/@dsupervilleap ___ For complete coverage of the Mueller report, go to: https://www.apnews.com/TrumpInvestigations
  • The Latest on the special counsel's report on Russian election interference and Donald Trump's campaign (all times local): 8:40 p.m. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says the attorney general is 'taking unprecedented steps to spin' the special counsel's Russia investigation. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr 'appears to be waging a media campaign' on behalf of President Donald Trump. He says the attorney general's decision to hold a Thursday morning news conference, before releasing a redacted version of Robert Mueller's report to Congress, will 'again result in the report being presented through his own words.' He warns that if the report is heavily redacted, the committee will issue subpoenas 'in short order.' Nadler says he will 'probably find it useful' to call Mueller and members of his team to testify after reading the version of the report Barr releases. __ 8:20 p.m. The Justice Department plans to release a redacted report on the special counsel's Russia investigation one or two hours after a Thursday morning news conference by Attorney General William Barr. That's raising the ire of Democrats. They have said they are concerned that Barr will try to color the findings before the public has a chance to read the report. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, says the timing of Barr's discussion of the redacted report and its release to Congress is 'wrong.' Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says 'the process is poisoned before the report is even released.' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Barr has 'thrown out his credibility & the DOJ's independence with his single-minded effort to protect' Trump. ___ 6:45 p.m. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says it is 'wrong' that his committee will receive a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report after Attorney General William Barr gives a news conference on it Thursday. New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler says in a tweet that the Justice Department has informed his panel that it will receive the report around 11 a.m. or noon, hours after Barr's 9:30 a.m. press conference. Democrats have said they are concerned that Barr will try to color Mueller's findings before the public has a chance to read the report. The chairman of the Democratic caucus, New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, tweeted in reference to Barr, 'Release the Mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut.' __ 5:10 p.m. President Donald Trump says he may hold a press conference after the release of the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday. Trump is expressing confidence about the findings of Mueller's Russia probe in an interview with conservative radio host Larry O'Connor. He says, 'You'll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow.' Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference Thursday morning as the report is set to be released. Trump says, 'Maybe I'll do one after that, we'll see.' ___ 4:30 p.m. The Justice Department says Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference Thursday morning on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The news conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Justice Department in Washington. Barr will be joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Justice Department has said a redacted version of Mueller's report will be released Thursday. Mueller officially concluded his investigation late last month and submitted a nearly 400-page report to Barr. __ 2:50 p.m. After nearly two years of waiting, America will get some answers straight from Robert Mueller. The Justice Department on Thursday is expected to release a redacted version of the special counsel's report on Russian election interference and Donald Trump's campaign, opening up months, if not years, of fights over what the document means in a deeply divided country. The nearly 400-page report is expected to reveal what Mueller uncovered about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that fell short of criminal conduct. It will also lay out the special counsel's conclusions about formative episodes in Trump's presidency, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his efforts to undermine the Russia investigation publicly and privately.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar agreed on Wednesday to become the second Democratic presidential candidate to hold a town hall meeting on Fox News Channel, and others are soon to follow. Sen. Bernie Sanders was the first to venture onto Fox this week. His Monday town hall reached 2.55 million viewers, the biggest audience of any such event in the 2020 campaign cycle, despite not being aired in the prime time hours when most people are available. One of Fox News' most loyal viewers, President Donald Trump, indicated on Twitter that he wasn't happy seeing Sanders on his screen. Fox says it's looking forward to hosting Klobuchar's next town hall. Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg's campaign confirmed that it is in talks with Fox about a town hall. Jenn Fiore, an aide to Julian Castro, said that campaign is in the process of scheduling one. Sen. Cory Booker also said he's considering one. During an appearance in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Wednesday, Beto O'Rourke said that while he disagrees with the practices of Fox News, he will appear on the network. He said he wasn't sure whether it would be on a town hall or some other program. 'I don't write anybody off in this country for their choice of cable programming,' O'Rourke said. The Democrats have had to weigh possibly angering a liberal base that holds Fox News in contempt versus reaching a large audience, many of whom wouldn't be likely to see them in action elsewhere. Before the newfound interest, Fox News faced the prospect of watching the Democratic nomination process from the sidelines. The Democratic National Committee announced in February, and reaffirmed this week, that it would not hold any of its upcoming candidate debates on the network. On Twitter, Trump has seemed like a spurned man. He tweeted Tuesday that it seemed 'very strange' to see Sanders on Fox. Trump, who rarely complains about Fox, also said that many of his supporters couldn't get into the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, event that was 'stuffed' with Sanders fans. Fox has said it reached out to various political and local groups in the Bethlehem area to help fill the audience for the Sanders town hall. Besides the president, Fox News also has to wonder how the large number of his fans in its audience will take to the Democratic visits. The online activists Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, who often appear as commentators on Fox under the name Diamond and Silk, tweeted that it was 'sickening to see Bernie Sanders on a Fox News town hall disparaging our president.' Fox did receive praise for its handling of the Sanders town hall from some unlikely sources, including panelists on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' which has been relentless in its criticism of Trump. The Klobuchar town hall will be held May 8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The hour-long event will have a similar blueprint to Sanders' session: Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will be the anchors, and it will start at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. ____ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, and Will Weissert in Fredericksburg, Virginia, contributed to this report.
  • Taylor Swift, TV journalist Gayle King and soccer star Mohamed Salah are among the six famous faces featured on the covers of Time's annual '100 Most Influential People in the World' issue. The other cover stars also included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and actors Sandra Oh and Dwayne Johnson. Fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton wrote Pelosi 'is living proof that when it comes to getting the job done, more often than not, it takes a woman.' Johnson was praised for establishing a positive work environment, while Oh is cited for her creative life. Musician Shawn Mendes wrote Swift 'makes anyone older feel young again.' The issue is comprised of short tributes written by fellow global luminaries throughout all industries. Beyoncé penned an essay on former first lady Michelle Obama. President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller were also on this year's list. ___ This story has been corrected to show the singer's last name is Mendes, not Mendez, and the soccer star's last name is Salah, not Saleh.
  • From Ben Affleck and Susan Sarandon to Anna Wintour and Willie Nelson, celebrities lined up to give money — and a dash of star power — to their favorite Democratic presidential candidates ahead of this week's first quarter fundraising deadline. For months, candidates in the crowded field of more than a dozen contenders have aggressively courted key figures in music, television, publishing and film, who are one of the party's most reliable sources of campaign cash. Although many donors remain on the sidelines, contributing to lackluster fundraising hauls, an early snapshot included in the campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission this week offers a glimpse of who is drawing attention from entertainment industry in the early stages of the race. 'When you talk about Hollywood, yes, we are talking about movie stars and writers and directors, but we are also talking about people with decades of experience with presidential campaigns,' said Yusef Robb, a longtime California political strategist. 'Earning support from somebody with a lot of connections in the political world couples with their star power, which people in the chattering classes notice.' California Sen. Kamala Harris has long-standing relationships with major entertainment industry figures in her home state. But former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke , Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are also among the candidates who count celebrities as donors. So far, few donors are bundling large sums of money for candidates by asking their friends, family and colleagues to give, too. But many have given individually, which is limited under campaign finance law to a $2,800 contribution during the primary election, followed by another $2,800 earmarked for the general election campaign. Last month, Harris was feted at the Pacific Palisades home of director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, in a gathering attended by Hollywood powerbrokers, including TV hitmaker Shonda Rhimes. Harris also has received money from Affleck, who gave $2,800; actress Eva Longoria, who gave $5,400; composer Quincy Jones, who gave $2,800; and former 'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm, who gave $1,000. O'Rourke, a former punk rocker, received $2,800 from a fellow Texan, country music icon Nelson, as well as $1,850 from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and $2,800 from former Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley. He also took in $5,600 from Vogue editor-in-chief Wintour, $1,500 from comedian and 'Breaking Bad' actor Bob Odenkirk, $2,500 from Texas film director Richard Linklater and $350 from 'Saturday Night Live' star Cecily Strong. Sanders received $2,700 from actor and comedian Danny DeVito, $2,800 from actress Susan Sarandon, $2,500 from piano player Norah Jones and $1,000 from Foo Fighters guitarist Christopher Shiflett. Jonathan Fishman, drummer for the jam band Phish, which was formed in Sanders' home state of Vermont, gave $1,000, while Thomas Middleditch from HBO's 'Silicon Valley' gave $500, records show. Buttigieg, whose campaign raked in $7 million after emerging as an unexpected hit, has also started to draw celebrity attention. 'West Wing' star Bradley Whitford gave $2,000, actor Ryan Reynolds donated $250, NFL network broadcaster Rich Eisen gave $500 and 'Game of Thrones' executive producer Carolyn Strauss chipped in $250. Buttigieg also drew at least one contribution from an unusual source. James Murdoch, the son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is closely allied with President Donald Trump, cut Buttigieg a $2,800 donation, records show. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Boyd Tinsley is a former, not current, Dave Matthews Band violinist.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders took heat from some Democrats for holding a town hall on Fox News Channel but there's one result hard to argue with: it was the most-watched candidate event in the election campaign so far. An estimated 2.55 million people saw Sanders' town hall Monday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Nielsen company said. Not only did that beat the 1.35 million people who saw Sanders on CNN on Feb. 25, the Fox telecast aired before prime time when traditionally the largest audience gathers. Sen. Kamala Harris' CNN town hall in January was seen by 1.95 million viewers, the previous high for a 2020 presidential contender. The Vermont senator also apparently had one prominent viewer in Washington. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that it was 'so weird to watch Crazy Bernie' on Fox News. He said Bret Baier, who co-anchored the event with Martha MacCallum, and the audience was 'so smiley and nice.' Baier later tweeted his thanks to Trump for watching, and said he'd like to have the president on a town hall or for an interview on his nightly news show. 'We cover all sides,' Baier said. While Trump is a frequent interview subject on Fox, he tends to avoid newsier personalities like Baier and Chris Wallace. Later Tuesday, Trump claimed that 'Many Trump Fans & Signs were outside of the @FoxNews Studio' during the Sanders event. 'Big complaints about not being let in-stuffed with Bernie supporters,' the president tweeted. 'What's with @FoxNews?' During the town hall, Sanders noted the blowback he'd gotten from some Democrats for appearing on Fox and took a few shots at the network, at one point drawing a rebuke from Baier. 'We are very grateful that you're here,' Baier said. 'We are giving you an hour of substance and talk on our airwaves so we can get over the Fox thing, if you're alright with that,' he said. Fox says it is in talks with other Democrats to have town halls on the network, but hasn't said who. Democratic National Committee head Tom Perez said earlier Monday that the organization was not reconsidering its decision in February not to hold any of its upcoming debates on the network. He was responding to a question from Fox's Bill Hemmer about upcoming debates, which the DNC has scheduled on NBC News and CNN. Fox chose not to pre-empt its opinionated prime-time lineup of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to show Sanders on Monday. The prime-time hosts spent relatively little time on the Sanders appearance that had preceded their shows. 'You saw crazy Bernie on the air tonight,' Hannity said during his monologue. 'That was hard to watch. ... Let's hear every communist idea we possibly can.
  • Erik Brunetti's four-letter fashion brand starts with an 'F'' and rhymes with 'duct.' The federal government calls it 'scandalous' and 'immoral' and has refused to register the trademark. Brunetti has a different word for his brand and designs: 'thought-provoking.' 'We wanted the viewer to question it: Like, is that pronounced the way I think it's pronounced?' he said of his streetwear brand 'FUCT,' which began selling clothing in 1991. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear Brunetti's challenge to a part of federal law that says officials should refuse to register trademarks that are 'scandalous' or 'immoral.' Brunetti says it should be struck down as an unconstitutional restriction on speech. The government is defending the century-old provision. The Trump administration says in court papers that the law encourages trademarks that are appropriate for all audiences. It argues it isn't restricting speech but rather declining to promote it. Brunetti and others like him who are denied trademark registration under the 'scandalous' provision can still use the words they wanted to register for their business, nonprofit or brand. They just don't get the benefits that come with registering a trademark. For Brunetti, that would largely mean a better ability to go after counterfeiters who knock off his designs. Brunetti would seem to have a strong argument. Two years ago, the justices unanimously invalidated a related provision of federal law that told officials not to register disparaging trademarks. In that case, an Asian-American rock band sued after the government refused to register its band name, 'The Slants,' because it was seen as offensive to Asians. In court, the justices had no trouble saying the band's name, but Brunetti's brand may be different. His lawyer, John R. Sommer, says he plans to say the individual letters of the name, 'F-U-C-T,' which Brunetti sometimes does too. Another possible workaround: explaining the brand is something of an acronym for 'Friends U Can't Trust.' Part of Sommer's argument is what he sees as the arbitrary nature of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's decisions about what gets tagged as scandalous or immoral. A lawyer working for the office who is from the South might find something 'not nice' that wouldn't faze a lawyer from the Bronx, Sommer said. That means 'you can register profanity if you're lucky' and you get assigned a lawyer who allows it, Sommer said. Two New York University professors gave that argument substantial support in a brief they filed in the case. They showed that the office routinely refuses to register trademarks both by saying something is scandalous and, ironically, too confusingly similar to something that is already registered. For example, the office refused to register 'FUK!T' for being scandalous and immoral but also confusingly similar to the already-registered 'PHUKIT.' ''MIDDLEFINGER' was denied after 'JONNY MIDDLEFINGER' was registered, and 'Ko Kane' was rejected after 'Kokanee' was registered. And those are just some printable examples. Brunetti said the trademark office has registered trademarks 'far more offensive than my mark.' The trademark office declined to comment on the case. If Brunetti wins, the public is unlikely to notice a whole lot of change, his lawyer said. Retailers will decide what products are appropriate for their customers, and Target and Walmart aren't going to carry Brunetti's brand, Sommer said. Brunetti hopes a victory at the high court will help him pursue counterfeiters. In the nearly 30 years since he began his company from his bedroom in Venice, California, he's produced thousands of clothing designs. Some of the best known are parodies involving the Ford logo and 'Planet of the Apes.' These days, he directs a staff of four from a downtown Los Angeles office. They release new clothing on their website about once a month. Some items have sold out in less than a minute, and new collections are always sold out in under three days, Brunetti said. Because of the items' scarcity, some are resold on eBay for a profit, with a T-shirt that cost $40 sometimes fetching more than $100. Brunetti said he's never met anyone truly offended by his brand. 'Most people find it clever,' he said. ___ Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko
  • Statues of civil rights leader Daisy Bates and country singer Johnny Cash — two of Arkansas' most celebrated icons — are headed to Washington, D.C., to represent the state in a U.S. Capitol display. Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed into law a bill that will swap out the state's current statues at the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection, which are of 19th century attorney Uriah Rose and former Arkansas Gov. and Sen. James P. Clarke, with the statues of Bates and Cash. 'This is an extraordinary moment recognizing the contributions of two incredible Arkansans,' said Hutchinson, who was joined at the signing ceremony by friends and family of Bates and Cash. 'We want our memories, through our statues, to tell the story of Arkansas. I believe our story is well represented by these two historic figures.' Bates was an activist and writer, as well as a mentor to the nine black children who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Cash, who died in 2003, grew up in Dyess, which is about 131 miles (211 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. Cash's daughter, the singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, said her family was honored, noting that for her father, Dyess was 'the wellspring from which he drew his inspiration.' 'He said quite often that he loved every rock, every tree, every clot of earth in Dyess, Arkansas,' she said. She also said it was even more special that he would share the honor with Bates, who died in 1999. Bates' 59-year-old goddaughter, Janice Hill Brown, said she was 'elated' that her godmother's statue would join that of her fellow civil rights leader, Rosa Parks, at the Capitol. Congress authorized the statue of Parks in 2005, and it was unveiled eight years later. 'They were sisters in the civil rights movement,' Brown said. 'Now they're sisters right there at the United States Capitol.' The National Statuary Hall Collection features two statues from each state. Arkansas sent the statue of Rose in 1917 and the statue of Clarke in 1921. Clarke's great-great grandson, Clarke Tucker, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for central Arkansas congressional seat last year, said the statue should be replaced and condemned an 1894 speech in which his ancestor said that Southerners looked to the Democratic Party 'to preserve the white standards of civilization.' The state will now need to raise the funds for the statues either through appropriation or private donation. ___ This story has been corrected by deleting a quote that started 'For her to join...,' which had been misattributed to Janice Hill Brown. The quote should have been attributed to Annie Abrams. Follow Hannah Grabenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hgrabenstein
  • The Senate on Thursday confirmed acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the department on a permanent basis, despite complaints by Democrats that the former oil and gas lobbyist has used his federal position to benefit former industry clients. Senators voted 56-41 to approve Bernhardt's nomination to oversee more than 500 million acres of public lands and other resources, including national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges. He succeeds Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January amid a series of ethics investigations. Bernhardt represented energy and agricultural interests until President Donald Trump picked him in April 2017 to be deputy secretary. Bernhardt, who was confirmed to the No. 2 position in July 2017, says he has complied with all ethics laws and rules. But Democrats and environmental groups accuse him of using his federal post to shape regulations and legislation in favor of oil and gas interests and other former clients. 'The Zinke ethics hurricane was bad enough. America should not be harmed again by a Bernhardt ethical typhoon,' said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Citing figures from the Office of Government Ethics, Wyden said at least 27 former clients representing the oil and gas industry, coal, water districts and agriculture pose 'unlimited numbers of conflicts of interest' for Bernhardt. 'The interior secretary is supposed to be running (the department) for the benefit of the public, not for special interests,' Wyden said. Wyden and other Democrats said Bernhardt has taken actions to weaken the Endangered Species Act, including erosion of protections for a California fish species long targeted by a former client, the Westlands Water District, one of the largest and most politically powerful water utilities in the country. Critics also say Bernhardt has acted to ease regulations holding oil companies accountable for spills and increased drilling and mining access on millions of acres of public land used by the sage grouse, a threatened bird species. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who leads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Bernhardt, 49, has the experience and expertise needed to lead the department. The Colorado native worked at the Interior Department for eight years under President George W. Bush, including as the department's top lawyer. 'He is from the West, he has great familiarity with the issues that will come before him and he has proven that he can ably lead the department,' Murkowski said. She said Bernhardt 'has proven to be a strong partner not only for Alaska, but states all across the country.' She linked ethics allegations against Bernhardt to unspecified, 'pretty well-funded groups that are working very hard and very energetically against his nomination.' Three Democrats — Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — voted for Bernhardt, as did independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats. Democrats and environmental groups also criticized Bernhardt for failing to stand up to Trump on his proposal to drastically expand offshore drilling along the East and West Coasts, including off the coast of Florida, where a moratorium on offshore drilling expires in 2022. Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott voted in favor of Bernhardt after receiving assurances from him and other administration officials that Florida would be excluded from drilling proposals. Rubio said in a statement that the department cannot legally take Florida off the table until public comments are received. But, he said, 'I am confident that when all is said and done the ban on oil drilling off of Florida's coasts will remain in place.' Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Bernhardt's refusal to rule out offshore drilling in Florida 'should be a wake-up call to my colleagues all up and down the coasts — Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf,' that offshore drilling is a possibility despite bipartisan opposition. 'It is hard to imagine someone whose background is so at odds with the department's mission as Mr. Bernhardt,' Schumer said. 'President Trump, for all his talk of draining the swamp, wants to add yet another Washington swamp creature lobbyist to his cabinet.' Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, said Bernhardt 'will be even worse than Ryan Zinke.' Bernhardt 'has spent decades scheming to undercut protections for wildlife and public lands across the country,' Suckling said. His confirmation 'puts him in the perfect position to turn those nightmarish dreams into reality.' But Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said Bernhardt's 'unparalleled depth of experience and knowledge of energy and conservation policies will serve our nation's public lands and resources well.

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  • Here is a look at the stores planning to be open and those planning to close on Easter Sunday. >> Read more trending news Be sure to check with local retailers for Easter hours because some national chains set their own hours. Stores open and closed on Easter Academy Sports: Open Easter Sunday. Banana Republic: Closed Easter Sunday. Bass Pro Shop: Open Easter Sunday. Bed Bath & Beyond: Open Easter Sunday. >> Click here to see which grocery stores will be open on Sunday.  Belk: Closed Easter Sunday. Best Buy: Closed Easter Sunday. Cabela’s: Open Easter Sunday.  Costco: Closed Easter Sunday. >> Easter 2019: How to make perfect hard-boiled eggs for Easter egg dyeing Crate & Barrel: Closed Easter Sunday. CVS: Open Easter Sunday. Dillard’s: Closed Easter Sunday. Dollar General: Open Easter Sunday. Family Dollar: Open Easter Sunday. Fred Meyer: Open Easter Sunday. Gap: Closed Easter Sunday. Home Depot: Open Easter Sunday. >> How did crucifixion kill Jesus? J.C. Penney: Closed Easter Sunday. Kirkland's: Closed Easter Sunday. Kmart: Open Easter Sunday. Kohl's: Closed Easter Sunday. Lowes: Open Easter Sunday. Macy’s: Closed on Easter Sunday. Michael's: Closed Easter Sunday. Neiman Marcus: Closed Easter Sunday. Office Depot: Closed Easter Sunday. Office Max: Closed Easter Sunday. Old Navy: Open on Easter Sunday. Pier 1 Imports: Closed Easter Sunday. Pottery Barn: Closed Easter Sunday. Rite Aid: Open Easter Sunday. Ross: Closed Easter Sunday. Sam's Club: Closed Easter Sunday. Sears: Open Easter Sunday. >> Easter quotes 2019: Inspiring sayings of hope and renewal T.J. Maxx: Closed Easter Sunday. Target: Closed Easter Sunday. Walgreens: Open Easter Sunday. Walmart: Open Easter Sunday. Williams-Sonoma: Closed Easter Sunday.
  • Following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report on the Russia probe, your local lawmakers are weighing.  WOKV spoke with Northeast Florida Republican Congressman John Rutherford hours after the report's release on Thursday.  He tells us the important elements to him, were the findings that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no corrupt intent determined in the obstruction of justice allegations.  But Rutherford says he was surprised that the Special Counsel didn't make a final prosecutorial decision on the obstruction of justice issue.  'He [Mueller] relies on the Office of Legal Counsel that says you can't indict a sitting President, and in this regard, he went along with that. But to say that's his basis for not coming to a conclusion on obstruction, when he came to a conclusion on the Russian collusion, it doesn't make sense to me,' explains Rutherford.  He says it's almost like Mueller didn't want to make a decision.  'The lack of a conclusion that there was a crime IS an exoneration... if you say you find no corrupt intent, we find no crime, how do you then say, but we can't exonerate him [Trump]. In that part, I struggle with the finding,' Rutherford adds.  In terms of the reaction on Capitol Hill, Rutherford says it's likely that those who support the President will highlight no collusion and no obstruction, but those who dislike him will latch on to the elements that the Special Counsel refused to come to a conclusion on.  When it comes to recent calls to 'investigate the investigators' in the Russia probe, Rutherford says he feels it's absolutely necessary as he wants to know the 'predicate act' that started this investigation in the first place.  'We don't just investigate people, we investigate crimes. And there has to be a predicate act, that indicates there is a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. And if that predicate act turns out to be the Steele Dossier and it's completely false, then this whole thing falls like a house of cards,' says Rutherford.  WOKV also spoke with Northeast Florida Democrat Congressman Al Lawson about his thoughts on the report.  He says his biggest takeaway is that the American people will find out what really happened during the course of this investigation with the President.  'Because, as you know, about 25 people that worked with him [Trump] during the course of the campaign got indicted,' explains Lawson.  He says the other thing that stands out to him is that he feels Attorney General William Barr is more trying to protect the President, than do his job for the American people. Lawson says he also doesn't feel the AG's summary to Congress was accurate.  Lawson says when people and lawmakers read this report, he hopes they move away from putting a party label on it.  'I wish what they would put on it, is what is best for American people and, especially, when you have some possible collusion with Russia. It's unacceptable to have that regardless of who is in office and see the way the President has been operating- not like any other President in American history,' says Lawson.  When it comes to efforts to 'investigate the investigators', he says all of us need to be accountable and that investigators need to be unbiased and not swayed one way or another.  'This has taken up an awful lot of time, and we, as taxpayers, have spent an awful amount of money to be where we are today. It shouldn't be a situation where everything is being questioned, simply due to the fact that over the last almost two years, the investment we have made in order to get down to see whether a foreign government had significant input in our electoral process,' says Lawson.  He says his hope that once all the dust settles on this report, that the public has a clear vision of what occurred. READ: REDACTED SPECIAL COUNSEL REPORT ON THE RUSSIA PROBE
  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. >> Read more trending news The report was released around 11 a.m., weeks after Mueller completed his investigation. President Donald Trump hailed the report as a victory over his critics. >> Mueller Report: Read the report Barr just released Update 6:45 p.m. EDT April 18: The Justice Department said it will provide Congress with a second version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that has fewer redactions in the coming two weeks. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday that the Justice Department will make the report available to House and Senate leaders, as well as the top Republicans and Democrats on the judiciary and intelligence committees. Each lawmaker can also have a staff member present. Boyd said the report will be provided in a secure reading room at the Justice Department next week and in a secure room in the Capitol the week of April 29. The unredacted material will include classified information and material involving private citizens who were not charged. It won’t include secret grand jury information. Update 3:45 p.m. EDT April 18: Mueller’s report shows the Russian-based Internet Research Agency worked not only in Trump’s favor but also in favor of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who ran for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination before losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The company’s attempt to boost Sanders’ candidacy first surfaced last year, after authorities charged more than a dozen people and three companies with interfering in the election, The Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper, IRA operators were instructed not to harm Sanders’ reputation. “Main idea: Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary [Clinton] and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them),” Mueller quoted IRA operators as saying. Update 2:55 p.m. EDT April 18: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler said Thursday that he will issue a subpoena to get the full Mueller report and the underlying materials from Barr after the attorney general released a redacted version of the report. “Contrary to public reports, I have not heard from the Department (of Justice) about receiving a less-redacted version of the report,” he said Thursday in a statement. “Because Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, I will issue a subpoena for the full report and the underlying materials.” Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee May 2. Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 18: Kellyanne Conway, who serves as counselor to the president, told reporters Thursday that Mueller’s report was inaccurate in its description of Trump’s reaction to the special counsel’s appointment. >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupre: Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe According to Mueller, the president 'slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm (expletive).’' However, Conway said she was in the room when Trump learned about the appointment and that she “was very surprised to see” Mueller’s report on it, CNN reported. “That was not the reaction of the president that day,” she said. Update 2 p.m. EDT April 18: Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement Thursday that the special counsel’s report showed “no collusion, no obstruction.” “While many Democrats will cling to discredited allegations, the American people can be confident President Trump and I will continue to focus where we always have, on advancing an agenda that’s making our nation stronger, safer and more secure.” Despite the vice president’s claims, Mueller declined to answer the question of whether Trump obstructed justice in his actions related to the Russia probe. “Now that the Special Counsel investigation is completed, the American people have a right to know whether the initial investigation was in keeping with long-standing Justice Department standards -- or even lawful at all,” Pence said. “We must never allow our justice system to be exploited in pursuit of a political agenda.” Update 1:45 p.m. EDT April 18: In a joint statement released Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Barr and Mueller reached conflicting conclusions on the question of whether the president obstructed justice. “The differences are stark between  what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction,” the statement said. “As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller’s report appears to undercut that finding.” In his report, Mueller declined to answer questions surrounding whether Trump obstructed justice in his efforts to tamp down on the Russia probe, which authorities said he saw as a direct challenge to his presidency. Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 18: In the report released Thursday, Mueller said his team’s investigation was sometimes hampered by the use of applications that “feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records” and the deletion of communications relevant to the probe. “In such cases, the Office (of the Special Counsel) was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts,” the report said. “Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given  these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast a new light)the events described in the report.” Update 1:20 p.m. EDT April 18: Mueller said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted in an interview that her comments to the news media after the firing of former FBI Director James Comey were “not founded on anything.” In response to a reporter’s question about FBI support for Comey after his May 2017 dismissal, Huckabee Sanders said at news briefing that, “We’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.” 'The evidence does not support those claims,' according to the Mueller report. Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 18: The House Intelligence Committee invited Mueller to testify next month after Barr released a redacted version of his 448-page report Thursday. “To discharge its distinct constitutional and statutory responsibility, the Committee must be kept ‘fully and currently informed’ of the intelligence and counterintelligence findings, evidence, and implications of your investigation,” committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff said in a letter to Mueller dated Thursday. “This requires that the Committee receive comprehensive testimony from you about the investigation’s full scope and areas of inquiry, its findings and underlying evidence, all of the intelligence and counterintelligence information gathered in the course of the investigation.” The House Judiciary Committee has also asked Mueller to testify. In a letter sent Thursday, committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler asked Mueller to appear before the panel by May 23. Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 18: Brad Parscale, manager of the 2020 Trump presidential campaign, hailed the release of Mueller’s report Thursday and repeated the president’s calls for an investigation into the investigators. “President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again,” Parscale said in a statement. “Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.” In the report released Thursday, Mueller said the FBI launched an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials were coordinating with the Russian government in July 2016. The investigation came after authorities said then-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that “the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” Update 12:35 p.m. EDT April 18: Mueller said Trump attempted to influence the investigation into Russian election meddling. Mueller said his efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede his request.” Mueller’s report details instances by several officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, ignoring or refusing Trump’s requests to interfere in the investigation. Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 18: When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump in May 2017 that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian election meddling, the president 'slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm (expletive).'  Trump blamed Sessions for the appointment, according to Mueller. 'Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,' Trump said, according to the report released Thursday. 'It takes years and years and I won't be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.' Speaking Thursday at an event at the White House, Trump said, “this should never happen to another president again.” Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 18: In the report released Thursday, Mueller said his team considered Trump’s written responses to questions in the Russia probe to be inadequate, but they decided against subpoenaing the president because of the delay such a move would cause to the investigation. Other revelations from the report include: Mueller said Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn in June 2017 to call the acting attorney general and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. Trump previously denounced reports of the call as “fake news.”  Members of Trump’s staff might have saved him from more dire legal consequences by refusing to carry out orders they thought were legally risky, according to The Washington Post.  Mueller made clear in the report that “Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign, and the Trump campaign was willing to take” the help, the Post reported. However, investigators were unable to establish that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government. Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 18: In his report, Mueller shared the reasoning behind his decision not to answer the question of whether the might have president obstructed justice. Mueller’s team scrutinized 10 episodes in which Trump sought to seize control of the Russia probe, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his directive to subordinates to have Mueller fired and efforts to encourage witnesses not to cooperate.  The president’s lawyers have said Trump’s conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mueller’s team deemed the episodes were deserving of scrutiny to determine whether crimes were committed. Update 11:25 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was “having a good day” following the release of the Mueller report. “This should’ve never happened,” Trump told a crowd gathered at a Wounded Warriors event at the White House, according to CNN. “I say this in front of my friends — this should never happen to another president again. This hoax — it should never happen again.' Trump’s attorneys hailed the report as “a total victory for the president” in a statement released to CNN. “The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning - there was no collusion - there was no obstruction,” the statement said. “This vindication of the President is an important step forward for the country and a strong reminder that this type of abuse must never be permitted to occur again.” >> The Mueller report: What is in it, when will it be released, what will happen next? Update 11 a.m. EDT April 18: Barr has released a redacted version of the Mueller report, which is 448 pages long. >> Mueller report: Read the transcript of William Barr's remarks Update 10:55 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump was expected to deliver remarks Thursday morning at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride as lawmakers and the public await the release of Mueller’s report. However, by 10:55 a.m., Trump had yet to appear for the event. Update 10:30 a.m. EDT April 18: In a letter sent Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Mueller to testify before the panel no later than May 23. Nadler released his letter to Mueller minutes after Barr spoke with reporters about the report, which is expected to be released Thursday. Barr told reporters he had “no objection to Bob Mueller testifying.” “It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,” Nadler said. Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 18: Barr said he plans to release a less-redacted version of Mueller’s report to several congressional committees on Thursday “in an effort to accommodate congressional requests” for Mueller’s full report. “These members of Congress will be able to see all of the redacted materials for themselves -- with the limited exception of that which, by law, cannot be shared,” Barr said Thursday morning at a news conference. “I believe that this accommodation, together with my upcoming testimony before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, will satisfy any need Congress has for information regarding the special counsel’s investigation.”    Update 10:05 a.m. EDT April 18: At a news conference Thursday morning, Barr said it will be important to view President Donald Trump’s actions in context. “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation,” Barr said. “As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.” Barr said the Office of the White House Counsel has reviewed the redacted version of Mueller’s report but that Trump declined to assert privilege over it. Trump took to Twitter after Barr spoke to highlight that there was 'No collusion. No obstruction.' Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 18: Mueller’s report details two main efforts sponsored by Russian government officials to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, Barr said Thursday morning at a news conference ahead of the report’s release. The report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with ties to the Russian government, to “sow social discord among American votes through disinformation and social media operations,” Barr said. It also details efforts by Russian military officials connected to the GRU, “to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party.” “The special counsel found no evidence that any Americans -- including anyone associated with the Trump campaign -- conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA in carrying out this illegal scheme,” Barr said. Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump called the Mueller investigation 'The Greatest Political Hoax of all time!' in a series of tweets posted Thursday ahead of the release of the report. >> Mueller report: Trump tweets 'presidential harassment' ahead of redacted report's release “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” he wrote in a subsequent tweet. Trump has frequently criticized the Mueller investigation, framing the probe as a political “witch hunt” aimed at harming his presidency. Original report: Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon Thursday before sharing the report on the special counsel’s website, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Battle lines clear as D.C. awaits redacted Mueller report Mueller completed his investigation late last month, 22 months after he launched his probe at the direction of the Justice Department. The investigation was frequently lambasted by President Donald Trump as a “witch hunt” aimed at undermining his presidency. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • It's some big news for St. Johns County parents, students, and teachers. The St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Tim Forson has announced he's canceling the district final exams, with the exception of iReady testing.  Forson says during this first week of testing, there have been 'significant issues' with the administration of the tests, which are computer-based.  He says while the district's staff has worked late hours to try to resolve the issues, he ultimately decided to cancel the district final exams to 'remove the frustration of inconsistent test administration and protect instructional time.'  Forson says students need to continue to learn to prepare for other required upcoming assessments, including the Florida Standards Assessment, among many others.  Forson says he does not expect the same issues for these other tests, as they are not done on the same testing platform.  He's assuring parents that the second semester grading scale will be adjusted, following this decision, so that the absence of a final exam will not penalize a student. Forson says the student performance element of teacher evaluations will also be adjusted.  Forson says parents can expect an update on the alternative grading plan, as soon as it's finalized.
  • In recent years, the stadium now known as TIAA Bank Field has seen new massive video boards, upgraded Club Levels, and the addition of pools and a dog park, among other things, through funding from both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville. But the team says they’re not done. Jaguars President Mark Lamping says, since the team joined the NFL, there is only one other team that hasn’t seen a major or full stadium renovation or had a new stadium built- the Buffalo Bills. He is not advocating for a new stadium, but along with Jags owner Shad Khan, they say- from a business perspective- there will need to be upgrades. “We want to co-invest with the City to make the stadium better,” Khan says. Lamping says, in order to continue to grow revenue, they need to continue to add season ticket holders and retain existing ones each year. Renewing a new season ticket holder in to their second season is crucial, according to Lamping, because he says that is a huge influence on whether they’re likely to hold the tickets for many more years  to come. Non-rookie season ticket holders consider their tenure and the team’s performance as the top two factors in deciding whether to renew again, but for rookies, Lamping says it’s about team performance and seat location. “We have to make our worst seats a lot better,” he says. One of the biggest challenges is along the east side of the stadium, especially on the upper level- the sun can be brutal in the midday hours that surround a 1PM kickoff. WOKV asked Khan whether he was considering a dome or cover of some sort to address that. “We want to look for creative solutions that are very cost effective,” he says. Khan brought forward the example of the use of drones to provide cover during the World Cup in Qatar, as something that is innovative and could be used on an as-needed basis, although he says they haven’t actually looked in to the feasibility of something like that. In fact, Lamping says they haven’t really focused much on what exactly they would want to be done at this point, but he believes that will have to be included in the lease re-negotiations the team will face with the City in the coming years. He does know that they are looking at keeping the current location and venue. “Major community gathering places belong in what’s the heart of the community. We think Downtown is that,” Lamping says. But with TIAA Bank Field being a city-owned venue, Lamping says they would seek a City partnership in the funding. “It’s naive to believe that just through the benevolence of some person, that all the City’s problems are going to be taken care of. If that’s the case, we wouldn’t have any problems Downtown, would we? So you want investment in Downtown, and the way to get investment is to make sure the person who’s making that investment- that is taking that risk- receives a reasonable return on their investment. And that’s what I said. It needs to be a private/public partnership only to the extent that the risk isn’t so high that the investment won’t come, and if it is successful, that the returns to the investor aren’t exorbitant,” he says. While the exact price tag or design of any renovations is to be determined, Lamping says they would only ask the City to contribute enough to make the project work. And the upgrades would benefit more than just the Jags, according to Khan. He pointed to the Rolling Stones concert that will take place at the stadium as the kind of event they want to bring more of to the City, and they hope the stadium will reflect the type of venue that those shows demand. This is all further partnered with the Jags’s continued push to redevelop in and around the Sports Complex. During the “State of the Franchise” Thursday, they re-affirmed their commitment to a $500 million development of Lot J, as well as the long term redevelopment of the Jacksonville Shipyards.

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