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    Please be weather aware as, Friday, April 19 is a First Alert Weather Day.   Meteorologist Arielle Nixon is timing out heavy rain and strong storms on Action News Jax This Morning on CBS47 and FOX30.  STAY UPDATED: Download the free First Alert Weather app   WHAT TO EXPECT:  WIND. A Wind Advisory will be in effect for the entire area from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Winds will be out of the south and southwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. HEAVY RAIN.  A squall line of heavy rain and strong storms will track west to east across our area. Timing will bring that line of potential severe weather to communities west of Hwy 301 from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and east Hwy 301 towards I-95 from 1 to 5 p.m. before it moves off the coast. POSSIBLE TORNADOES. In addition to heavy rain, the area will see the threat of damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes and this squall line passes through. SUMMARY: During the day, you should expect it to be mostly cloudy, windy with heavy rain and strong storms. Tonight, expect evening showers, a partial clearing and breezy temperatures.  For live radar and severe storm alerts, download the free First Alert Weather app here.   Due to the severe weather Ware County Schools and the Central Office will be closed tomorrow for all students and staff. Cumber Island National Seashore is canceling all ferry services Friday as well. As we get more closings and cancellations we will let you know.   HOW WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR WEEKEND? The weekend will be much cooler and breezy. The low for Saturday 53 degrees and the high will be 75 degrees. For Easter Sunday, there will be a chilly morning, with lows in the upper 40s and a high of 76 degrees.       
  • Only Action News Jax is hearing from the driver hit by a Jacksonville Sheriff's officer. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that officer blew through a stop sign at Ortega Boulevard and Yacht Club Road on Tuesday. Janet Lonie said she's nursing several injuries, including what may be a fractured sternum. TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday She said she was driving her great-grandchildren, just 2 and 4 years old, and her daughter-in-law to the park when the crash occurred. “Naomi, the 2-year-old, mentioned the pretty water,” Lonie said.  “I glanced toward her and the pretty water, and there was an officer aimed right at her door.” Lonie said she swerved so the children didn't get the brunt of the impact.   STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories “God blessed us, because every window in my car popped as it would three times, except for the windows on either side by my great-granddaughters,” Lonie said. This was the second crash involving a JSO officer within an hour and a half Tuesday night. Sheriff Mike Williams addressed the investigations the next day. “[Officers are] spending 12 hours a day in a car, so you're going to have a certain amount of that,” Williams said.  “But, every one of those is investigated.  If the officer's at fault, there's remedial driving, there's progressive discipline up to losing your car, all the way up to significant discipline, really.” Action News Jax obtained the crash report, which states the officer was not distracted, did not have her vision obscured and was not speeding. Lonie said she disagrees with the report, and the family has hired an attorney. “She was going so fast that her car, after it made impact with my vehicl,- the skid marks showed that she traveled approximately another 25 feet on the road after she hit me,” Lonie said.  “There's no excuse for that.” Lonie said her daughter-in-law is also recovering from a concussion. No word was given on the exact conditions of the children, but the report states they were not hurt.  
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars want to move forward with redeveloping Lot J near TIAA Bank Field. During the State of the Franchise event, the Jaguars' president, Mark Lamping, shared a rendering of the $500 million project.  RELATED: Jacksonville Jaguars ready to move forward with $500M development of Lot J He said they are prepared and ready to go. In about eight months, Lamping said they’re hoping to take down the Hart Bridge ramps so they can get a better view of Lot J, where they want a hotel, an arena, a residential tower, office space and parking.  “It’s something the time is now, we can’t continue to wait. Do we have commitments right now? No, but we do have a lot of people that are interested,” Lamping said.  Lamping said they have a hotel operator prepared and Cordish companies, the partner on this whole project, would manage the live arena. To go ahead with the project, they first need the green light from the city.  TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday “I have no doubt that we will reach an agreement,” said Lamping.  Lot J was almost chosen as the new location for the JEA headquarters but West Adams Street was selected instead. Lamping said it would have been easier if they chose Lot J, but he doesn’t call it a setback.  “Is JEA’s decision somehow going to have a significant impact on downtown Jacksonville’s potential development? Absolutely not,” Lamping said.  STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories While progress has been slow moving at times, Lamping and team owner Shad Khan said they are ready to make this project a reality.  “The economic growth, the difference-making, all of that really belongs here,” said Khan.  “The State of the Franchise is always exciting, and today was no exception,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “I look forward to the city being involved in solidifying a development agreement with the Jaguars and their plan for Lot J. This is a very important piece of the puzzle for the continued growth and expansion of our sports and entertainment district, downtown Jacksonville and the overall economy.” The team is also considering making games easier to watch in the warmer months.  MORE: Jacksonville Jaguars to seek stadium renovations within the next few years | Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 schedule released | Photos: Jacksonville Jaguars State of the Franchise 2019 | Jacksonville Jaguars unveil new logo to celebrate 25th season “We have to make our worst seats a lot better. It’s what we have to do,” said Lamping. The upper deck seats on the east side of the stadium are miserable at times because they face the sun directly.  Lamping said he’s not pushing for a new stadium, but he said there will need to be improvements.  “The time is now. We can’t continue to wait.” — The Jags say they are ready to move forward with redeveloping Lot J. Live at 5 with the details. pic.twitter.com/3V7pehlPon — Amber Krycka (@AmberANjax) April 18, 2019 “We’re competing in a league and industry where teams are very focused on growing their local revenue,” he said.  Lamping said since the Jags 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. While Lamping said they’ve been talking about it for years, they don’t have a plan yet.  “I think the stadium has to be upgraded. I think that is our approach. Mark Lamping talked about the sun, the experience. I think we would like to have more events here. This is a city-owned stadium. I think it signifies Jacksonville, and so I think it will need work upgrades and we want to work with the city. I think that if you look at all the upgrades that have happened – clubs, scoreboards, pools, Daily’s Place -- we have been a big part of spending money with the city. We want to continue to invest with the city to make the stadium be better,” said Khan. 
  • The new homes at Seamark Ranch will now be ready to help more at-risk children who have come from broken homes.  Natalie Stembridge is in 11th grade. For the last three years, she has been staying at the Seamark Ranch in Green Cove Springs.  It’s a local non-profit that provides school to help students learn and improve their grades while getting to chance to ride horses and work on a farm.    STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories “I was able to work the agricultural barn and learn how to farm and harvest stuff,” said Stembridge.  On Thursday she was helping direct traffic as the ranch welcomes in two new homes for boys and girls from at-risk families.  Some of the children that come out to the ranch are from foster care or placed here through DCF or through their own families.  Before coming to Seamark Ranch… her parents had almost given up on her because of her behavior.  “I used to be a really angry person and I wasn’t respectful, I always ran away,” said Stembridge.  But Seamark helped her find her way and they gave her a place to live with house parents like Nancy and Nancy’s husband Lamar Grimes.  Nancy Grimes tells Action News Jax she’s watched Natalie transform throughout the years.  “She has just taken our heart so we just love having her here and have enjoyed seeing the progress that she has made since we’ve been in the home,” said Grimes.  Inside each of these homes is a living room, a kitchen and bedrooms for all of the kids.   The non-profit will now have 4 homes for around 32 of their students.  Next year they hope to help 50 students if they have the money. Staff members tell us it cost around $150,000 a year to run one of these houses.  The ranch tells us their goal is to eventually have 12 houses,  6 for boys and 6 for girls that can become a safe place for kids to grow up and learn.  And Natalie, Seamark has also become a place helping her with her future and she tells us one day she aspires to work criminal investigations with the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office.    “I actually went and did a ride along and learned a little more about the field with one of the founders of Seamark,” she said.  Seamark is a privately funded non-profit. They rely on the community, fundraisers, and donors.  Since opening their doors they’ve helped more than 100 children with housing, on-campus schooling, and childcare programs. TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman
  • The CEO of Jacksonville’s Kids Hope Alliance will be off the job for at least a month. According to the agency and the city, Joe Peppers is taking time off to address “longstanding health issues.” STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories On Wednesday, Peppers was absent from a regularly scheduled board meeting at KHA, which was unusual for the CEO. Wednesday night, KHA employees got an email from Chief Operating Officer Mary Tobin notifying them of an all staff meeting Thursday morning.  That’s when they found out about Peppers’ leave of absence. At 6 on @ActionNewsJax: @KidsHopeJAX COO Mary Tobin will take over for CEO during lengthy absence. “If there’s any sense of instability, it causes people to be concerned because it’s dealing with our children, right? So, I actually don’t blame people for being concerned.' pic.twitter.com/5ASBCxJbYZ — Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) April 18, 2019 Tobin will take over Peppers’ responsibilities while he’s gone. A classmate of Peppers' at West Point, Tobin said he recruited her for the COO position. The city has been auditing KHA’s grant process since January.  It’s the agency’s first audit since its formation in October 2017. TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday Tobin denied Peppers’ absence is related to the audit. “I don’t think so. From what I understand of the health issues he’s facing, it has nothing to do with this audit or any investigation,” said Tobin. “If there’s any sense of instability, it causes people to be concerned because it’s dealing with our children, right? So, I actually don’t blame people for being concerned. It’s our children, the most vulnerable population we have.” Tobin described the audit as “routine.” She said the agency has already made changes based on auditors’ preliminary findings.
  • An internal investigation uncovered alleged misconduct within the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team, which led to the unit being disbanded. The Glynn County Police Department called in the GBI to investigate after Chief of Staff Brian Scott was notified of reported inappropriate behavior involving an officer assigned to the GBNET. The report found Investigator James Cassada was involved in sexual relationships with two confidential informants since 2017. He resigned in February at the initial phase of the investigation. TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday According to the report, Cassada told another investigator not to pursue drug charges against his CI. A CI told investigators Cassada asked her how much it would cost him to have sex with her. The CI said they had sex twice under the Sidney Lanier Bridge in his department issued vehicle. The report said there were also allegations that Cassada used cocaine and methamphetamine and supplied the drugs to CIs, but there was insufficient evidence to support those claims. The Police Department announced the commander of the GBNET was facing disciplinary action for his conduct. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app  to get the full schedule The investigation found three officers came to Capt. Davis Hassler, who was commander between 2016 and 208, with information about the misconduct, but he never opened an investigation. During the interview, Hassler denied having any knowledge of the allegations. He said if an employee had come to him with the allegations, he would have investigated them. Hassler announced he now plans to resign and retire. A joint investigative unit will be established in the future identified as the Brunswick-Glynn Special Investigative Unit. The unit will conduct investigations concerning narcotic crimes, prostitution, human trafficking, illegal gambling, criminal street gangs and alcoholic violations. Action News Jax reached out to the District Attorney’s Office to find out how many cases could be affected. We’re still waiting on a response. 
  • Hurricane Maria left one local family with no choice but to pack up and move to give their son a chance at a more normal life. Dashan Ortiz, 17, was once an athletic teen but now a mysterious illness has left him bedridden. A friend of the family reached out to Action News Jax Lorena Inclan after hitting road blocks in trying to find a custom wheelchair for him. Dashan has minimal control of his right arm and head. The rest of his body is paralyzed. It’s not how his mom, Radoishka Perez, is used to seeing her son, who’s one of five siblings. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app  to get the full schedule It wasn’t that long ago he was jumping hurdles at his school in Puerto Rico. Perez said it all started last November with a headache.  “As the days go by the headache got worse and then he gets a fever,” said Perez. His health quickly deteriorated to the point where he fell into a coma for more than 50 days.  Initially doctors thought it was meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection, but Perez said doctors are not sure. Hurricane Maria made it more difficult for the family to get the treatment they needed so they decided to move to Jacksonville to see a specialist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “It’s the day to day, the hours go by and you say, ‘how?’ and you don’t want to lose strength,” said Perez. Through it all, Dashan has received a lot of encouragement. Above his bed in his small room, are letters from his classmates in Puerto Rico and right next to the letters is a picture of the character Aslan, from 'The Chronicles of Narnia.' The story is one of Dashan’s favorites. The character has a biblical reference to Jesus Christ and it reminds Dashan to never give up.  TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday “To achieve my goal of becoming a doctor, an oncologist, because it’s what I like. I want to be me again,” said Dashan. Dashan is 6 feet 1 inch tall. His mom said they’ve struggled in finding a suitable wheelchair for him.  He also has ulcers all over his body, meaning they go through boxes of bandages every day. “I want to give him a better quality of life and take him out of these four walls,” said Perez. Perez said she wants to know what’s wrong with her son. She’s now urging others to be vigilant of their kids’ symptoms, no matter how small they may seem. If you’d like to help this family you can reach out to Lorena Inclan on Facebook and she can put you in touch with them.
  • A woman has died in an early Thursday morning crash involving a total of four vehicles, including a school bus with seven students on board. The Florida Highway Patrol shut down the eastbound lanes of Atlantic Boulevard at Withrow Drive near Kernan Boulevard, creating a backup for the morning commute. ORIGINAL:  Troopers respond to fatal crash involving a school bus on Atlantic Boulevard  The kids on board the bus at the time were on their way to Waterleaf and Sabal Palm elementary schools when FHP said a Toyota Camry going east on Atlantic ran the red light and hit the back of the bus as it was crossing this intersection at Withrow Drive. Brenda Snodgrass, 63, was driving the Camry that went underneath the school bus before slamming into a Chevy pickup truck. Snodgrass died from her injuries. A Honda Accord was also hit during the crash. Here’s a close up of the damaged school bus that was involved in a deadly crash on Withrow Dr and Atlantic Blvd this morning. A woman driving a Camry has died. No students were hurt. ⁦@ActionNewsJax⁩ ⁦@WOKVNews⁩ pic.twitter.com/jXYieir2nc — Lorena Inclán (@LorenaANjax) April 18, 2019 STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories Some drivers say us this intersection can be hazardous. “I frequent here a couple times a week and unless you’re watching the light and paying attention to the traffic coming, it can be dangerous,” Derrick Orlando said. There were seven students on the school bus but no students or any other drivers were hurt. According to FHP, all the drivers, except for Snodgrass, had seat belts on. FHP is also looking into whether alcohol was involved. TRENDING:  Girl shaken as baby dies nearly 14 years later; father charged with homicide Department of Homeland Security agents responding to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville JSO asking people in Moncrief area to stay inside, lock doors while police search for gunman Weather alert: Severe storms, heavy rain & isolated tornadoes possible Friday

The Latest News Headlines

  • It's a First Alert Weather Day in NE Florida with the potential for strong to severe storms as you're headed home to start the weekend.  Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says we're all going to see rain, and and in fact we did early this morning so roads are wet.  It’s windy and warm ahead of the arrival of a line of storms from the west. “Moving quickly to the east and northeast so expect conditions to change very quickly from one spot to another and from one time to another”, said Buresh.  Showers may linger into this evening and could even stick around early tomorrow. But we're in for a much cooler weekend.  
  • 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.

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