In Business and Governing, Trump Seeks Victory in Chaos

Three decades ago, Donald J. Trump waged a public battle with the talk show host Merv Griffin to take control of what would become Mr. Trump’s third Atlantic City casino. Executives at Mr. Trump’s company warned that the casino would siphon revenue from the others. Analysts predicted the associated debt would crush him.

The naysayers would be proved right, but throughout the turmoil Mr. Trump fixated on just one outcome: declaring himself a winner and Mr. Griffin a loser.

As president, Mr. Trump has displayed a similar fixation in his standoff with Congress over leveraging a government shutdown to gain funding for a wall on the Mexican border. As he did during decades in business, Mr. Trump has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator and induced chaos.

“He hasn’t changed at all,” said Jack O’Donnell, who ran a casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s and wrote a book about it. “And it’s only people who have been around him through the years who realize that.”

Mr. Trump briefly seemed to follow a more conventional approach for a president seeking consensus: encouraging his party leaders in Congress to negotiate a deal. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, shepherded a compromise in December that would have kept the government open and put off negotiations over a wall and other border security measures.

Mr. Trump was expected to sign off on the deal, but then came the suggestion from conservative critics that he had caved in to Democrats — that he was a loser. It was a perception Mr. Trump could not bear, and he quickly reversed course.

He also reverted to lifelong patterns in business. People who worked with him during those years say they see multiple parallels between Mr. Trump the businessman and Mr. Trump the steward of the country’s longest government shutdown.

His lack of public empathy for unpaid federal workers echoes his treatment of some construction workers, contractors and lawyers whom he refused to pay for their work on his real estate projects. The plight of the farmers and small-business owners wilting without the financial support pledged by his administration harks back to the multiple lenders and investors who financed Mr. Trump’s business ventures only to come up shortchanged.

And his ever-changing positions (I’ll own the shutdown; you own the shutdown; the wall could be steel; it must be concrete; then again, it could be steel) have left heads in both parties spinning. Even after his televised proposal on Saturday to break the deadlock, Mr. Trump has no progress to show.

“I think he was always a terrible negotiator,” said Tony Schwartz, co-author with Mr. Trump of “The Art of The Deal.”

That book, published in 1987, was intended to be an autobiography of Mr. Trump, who was 41 at the time. Mr. Schwartz said that he created the idea of Mr. Trump as a great deal maker as a literary device to give the book a unifying theme. He said he came to regret the contribution as he watched Mr. Trump seize on the label to sell himself as something he was not — a solver of complicated problems.

Rather, Mr. Schwartz said, Mr. Trump’s “virtue” in negotiating was his relentlessness and lack of concern for anything but claiming victory.

“If you don’t care what the collateral damage you create is, then you have a potential advantage,” he said. “He used a hammer, deceit, relentlessness and an absence of conscience as a formula for getting what he wanted.”

In a brief telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Trump was not specific in defending his tactics, but he described himself as successful in his chosen fields of real estate, entertainment and finally politics. “I ran for office once and I won,” Mr. Trump said.

The president’s supporters say he gets an unfair rap as a poor negotiator, saying that his style and unusual approach — and unwillingness to accept defeat even in the worst situations — have often had positive results. And in a Washington that doesn’t like outsiders, he has clearly forced his adversaries out of their comfort zones.

“President Trump’s success in business has translated into success as president,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said. “He’s ignited a booming economy with rising wages and historically low unemployment, negotiated better trade deals, persuaded our allies to contribute their fair share to NATO, and secured the release of American hostages around the world.”

Representative Peter King, Republican of Long Island, said that even as Mr. Trump’s personal popularity had taken a hit during the shutdown, public support for his stated ambition — the border wall — had grown.

“Having the bad hand that he dealt himself at the beginning, I think he’s making the best of it, better than anybody else could,” Mr. King said. “Only he would have the stamina, the determination to just keep going.”

One example of that stamina — seen by others as evidence of unreliability — recounted in Mr. O’Donnell’s book, “Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” written with James Rutherford, involved the construction of an exclusive lounge at the top of a casino.

Mr. Trump liked very high ceilings, according to the account. He screamed and cursed when he was told some ceilings had to be low to allow for pipes. He begrudgingly acquiesced. But he had forgotten by the time he next visited the construction site. He cursed again. Was reminded again. To the bewilderment of his executives, that cycle repeated itself several times.

Finally, toward the end of construction, Mr. Trump reamed an executive with vulgarities, leapt up and punched a hole in one of the low ceilings. “After that day,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote, “Donald never set foot inside it again if he could help it.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has similarly laced into his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Mr. Mulvaney pursued a rather standard tactic in ending the impasse over border security and a wall: He tried to find middle ground between the $1.3 billion to which Democrats had once agreed, and the president’s demand for $5.7 billion. But upon learning of Mr. Mulvaney’s efforts, Mr. Trump snarled in front of a crowded room that Mr. Mulvaney had messed “it all up” (using a vulgarity, according to two White House officials familiar with the remark.)

“We are getting crushed!” Mr. Trump told Mr. Mulvaney, after watching television coverage of the shutdown.

During his years in business, Mr. Trump earned a reputation as someone whose word meant very little. When a commitment he made no longer made sense, he walked away, often blaming the other party with a fantastical line of reasoning.

To win financing from Deutsche Bank to build a Trump Hotel in Chicago, for example, Mr. Trump personally guaranteed $40 million of the debt. When he could not make his payments during the 2008 financial crisis, Deutsche Bank executives were open to granting him more time to repay the loan, a person briefed on negotiations later recalled.

But before a compromise could be reached, Mr. Trump flipped the script. He filed a lawsuit and argued that the bank had helped cause the worldwide financial meltdown that essentially rendered Mr. Trump unable to make his debt payments. At the time, Deutsche Bank called the lawsuit “classic Trump.”

The bank eventually settled with Mr. Trump, saving him from having to pay the $40 million. Mr. Trump expressed his gratitude to the lawyer who fought on his behalf by not fully paying his bill. “He left me with some costs,” said the lawyer, Steven Schlesinger.

From the time he built his first Manhattan apartment building, Mr. Trump left a string of unpaid tabs for the people who worked for him.

The undocumented Polish workers who did the demolition work for that first building, Trump Tower, eventually won a $1.375 million settlement. Since then, scores of lawyers, contractors, engineers and waiters have sued Mr. Trump for unpaid bills or pay. Typically, he responds by asserting that their work did not meet his standard.

That might sound familiar to furloughed federal workers. Mr. Trump recently retweeted an article, attributed to an anonymous senior official in his administration, arguing that 80 percent of federal workers do “nothing of external value” and that “furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.”

Mr. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that “maybe most” federal workers going without pay are “the biggest fan” of his use of the shutdown to fund a border wall. In ordering thousands back to work without pay, he has put the pain for the shutdown on them.

Mr. Trump has also embraced his business practice of giving the most latitude and trust to family members, no matter their prior experience.

He put his first wife, Ivana, a model, in charge of an Atlantic City casino and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He put his younger brother, Robert, who had some background in corporate finance, in senior positions at the casinos. Not long after three of his children graduated from college, he vested authority in them over golf courses, hotels and licensing deals.

In the White House, Mr. Trump has increasingly leaned on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for guidance on dealing with Congress amid the current stalemate. Mr. Kushner, who like Mr. Trump is the son of a wealthy real estate developer, has not always impressed old hands on Capitol Hill.

He began some early conversations by saying that Democrats would need to yield because his father-in-law would not budge, a statement that lawmakers found naïve, according to Democrats familiar with the remarks.

With Democrats now in charge of the House of Representatives, Mr. Trump also has a new set of adversaries, and other old habits from his years in business have re-emerged.

Through his Twitter feed, he has verbally pummeled Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, and tried to drive a wedge between Mr. Schumer and his fellow Democrat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Barbara Res, who said she enjoyed much about working for Mr. Trump as a construction executive in the 1980s and 1990s, sees in Ms. Pelosi a new challenge to Mr. Trump’s lifelong tactics. One blind spot she observed was that Mr. Trump “believes he’s better than anyone who ever lived” and saw even the most capable of women as easy to run over.

“But there was never a woman with power that he ran up against, until Pelosi,” she said. “And he doesn’t know what to do with it. He’s totally in a corner.”

In the interview, Mr. Trump described Ms. Res, Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Schwartz as disgruntled workers whom he had shunted aside, who had experience with him for relatively brief periods and who were simply using his name for attention.

During his years in business, Mr. Trump rarely displayed an interest in details or expert opinions that might have informed whether his plans would actually work. That pattern has also emerged in the shutdown dispute.

Thirty years ago, his claimed defeat of Mr. Griffin turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Within months of completing construction on his third casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, he could not pay interest to the bondholders who had financed the project. Having overpaid and overleveraged himself on other deals, banks forced him to turnover or sell almost everything.

His wealthy father helped bail him out. But Mr. Trump blamed everyone else. He fired nearly all his top executives and stopped paying contractors who had built the casino.

In describing the border wall, Mr. Trump has expressed unending confidence in its efficacy. Others, including Representative Will Hurd, a Republican whose Texas district includes part of the border with Mexico, have described it as a tall speed bump, nearly useless without technology to spot illegal crossings immediately and dispatch border agents to quickly respond.

Mr. O’Donnell, the casino manager, said long-term consequences never concerned Mr. Trump. He was always willing to pay too much in order to get a deal signed so he could declare victory, he said.

“He just wants to get the deal,” Mr. O’Donnell said.

Ben Protess and Steve Eder contributed reporting.

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Three taken to hospital after fire rips through River Road South home

A family of five was rescued by Peterborough Fire Services in the frigid cold Sunday morning, after a fire ripped through their River Road South home.

The fire department was called to the home at 709 River Road South just before 10 a.m., where flames were seen billowing from the rooftop. Officials believe the blaze broke out towards the front of the house, as the family of five people had to flee to a backyard balcony to escape the flames.

Fire chief Chris Snetsinger said the family was trapped on the backyard deck, as there was no escape route or staircase leading below, just 10-foot drop to the ground.

“When fire crews arrived, it was fully involved,” said Snetsinger. “There were people rescued from the balcony and some were taken to hospital.”

With an extreme cold warning, the temperatures with the wind chill felt like 28 degrees. In a moment of panic, fire officials say, one man jumped from the balcony to better position himself to help the others escape, just as firefighters arrived on scene to help the others escape safely.

Snetsinger said three people were taken to hospital for assessment.

For the fire crew, it was all hands on deck as six pumper trucks were used to battle the blaze. In the end, the fire completely gutted the south end home and forced one neighbour to evacuate their home due to heavy smoke and the proximity to the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated, Snetsinger said, as fire crews remained on scene in the late afternoon.

“Crews will be here throughout the day; we still have a lot of salvage and overhaul to do,” he said. “We’ve called in our fire prevention team and also the Peterborough police are here and the Fire Marshal will be coming in to do a joint investigation.”

River Road has since been reopened to traffic and power has been restored to the homes in the neighbourhood, after it was temporarily cut Sunday morning by utility crews.

More to come…

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Japan manufacturers' mood slips to two-year low: Reuters Tankan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Confidence among Japanese manufacturers dropped for a third straight month in January to a two-year low, a Reuters monthly poll showed, as worries over the health of the global economy and trade tensions take a toll on the corporate sector.

The monthly poll, which tracks the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) closely watched tankan quarterly survey, found service-sector sentiment held steady, suggesting that domestic demand may help offset rising headwinds from abroad.

But sentiment at both manufacturers and the service sector was seen deteriorating further in the coming three months, boding ill for the central bank’s tankan survey due next on April 1.

The monthly poll results come as the central bank is set to debate downside risks to the economy and the price outlook. Weakening inflation and slowing external demand mean the BOJ is in no position to normalize monetary policy, while some investors are speculating further easing down the road.

In the Reuters poll of 480 large- and mid-sized companies, in which 480 firms responded on condition of anonymity, exporters complained about lack of demand in China and the United States and voiced concerns about the trade war between Japan’s two major trading partners.

“Global demand is becoming markedly sluggish,” a manager at a transport equipment maker wrote in the survey. “The United States has not been performing well since the start of this fiscal year, but other countries like China, India and Mexico are slowing down as well in the latter half.”

The sentiment index for manufacturers stood at 18, down five points from the previous month, dragged down by declines in sectors such as steel and automobiles, according to the survey conducted Jan. 7-16.

The index is expected to fall further to 17 in April.

Underpinned by retailers, the service-sector index held steady at 31 in January reflecting firmness in private consumption, which accounts for about 60 percent of the economy.

The service-sector index was seen slipping to 27 in April.

The BOJ’s tankan last month showed business confidence held steady from three months ago, but companies expect conditions to worsen three months ahead, a sign that the Sino-U.S. trade war and slowing global demand could chill corporate activity.

Japan’s economy shrank an annualized 2.5 percent in the third quarter, suffering its worst slump in more than four years, as a string of natural disasters cooled consumer sentiment and disrupted factory output.

Many analysts expect growth to have rebounded in the current quarter, but global trade friction and a slowdown in China have raised risks to Japan’s export-driven economy.

The Reuters Tankan indexes are calculated by subtracting the percentage of pessimistic respondents from optimistic ones. A positive figure means optimists outnumber pessimists.

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McConnell to Pair Bills to Reopen Government With Trump’s Immigration Plan

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, plans this week to bring up legislation that would immediately reopen the government — with funding for shuttered agencies through the end of the fiscal year — and incorporate President Trump’s proposal to offer temporary protections to some immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion for his border wall, a top aide to Mr. McConnell said Sunday.

“The legislation that the majority leader will bring to the floor this week would both reopen the remaining portions of the government, fund disaster relief, fund border security and address immigration issues that both Republicans and Democrats would like to address — all in one bill,” Mr. McConnell’s deputy chief of staff, Don Stewart, said in an interview.

In drafting the package broadly, Mr. McConnell hopes to put pressure on Democrats — who have insisted they will not negotiate with the president on border security until the government reopens — not to block Mr. Trump’s proposal. Mr. Stewart said the package would include seven appropriations bills that would fund agencies that have been partially closed for a month. It would also includes billions of dollars in disaster relief, he said.

Mr. McConnell would like to see the measure pass by Friday, before 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown miss their next paychecks, Mr. Stewart said.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, defended his proposal to end the partial government shutdown, using his Twitter account to attack Speaker Nancy Pelosi for turning down the offer, even as Vice President Mike Pence appeared to open the door to negotiations over the plan.

In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace, the program’s host, asked Mr. Pence if the president’s proposal was a final offer. He hedged, saying, “There’s a legislative process that is going to begin on Tuesday in the United States Senate” — a possible acknowledgment that the proposal might be amended on the Senate floor.

“Does that mean that you’re willing to negotiate from what the president said, or is that the final offer?” Mr. Wallace asked again. Mr. Pence replied, “Well, of course. The legislative process is a negotiation.”

But on Twitter, Mr. Trump seemed to be holding fast as he took aim at Ms. Pelosi and pushed back against conservative critics who have described the plan as amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak,” Mr. Trump wrote, in one of a string of morning tweets. “They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 — which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work.”

With public opinion turning against him, Mr. Trump offered a deal on Saturday, saying he would extend temporary protections for some unauthorized immigrants if Democrats gave him $5.7 billion for the wall he wants to build along the southern border.

But Democrats have said the plan is a nonstarter because it does not offer a pathway to citizenship for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children, and offers only three years of protection from deportation. Democrats are demanding that the president reopen the government before any negotiations on border security.

“Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat,” Mr. Trump also wrote. “She is so petrified of the ‘lefties’ in her party that she has lost control…And by the way, clean up the streets in San Francisco, they are disgusting!”

And to his conservative critics, Mr. Trump wrote: “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally — but be careful Nancy!”

Ms. Pelosi took to Twitter to strike back. “@realdonaldtrump, 800,000 Americans are going without pay. Re-open the government, let workers get their paychecks and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border,” she wrote, using the hashtag #EndTheShutdown

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City of Winnipeg institutes overnight parking ban Sunday for snow clearing

The City of Winnipeg has instituted a parking ban of some major routes tonight to make way for snow clearing.

The ban starts at 8:00 p.m. Sunday and goes all night until 6:00 a.m. Monday.

The city’s website says the snow hauling operation is meant to improve snow storage capacity.

The affected streets are:

  • Archibald Street from Nairn to Elizabeth
  • St Mary’s Road from Marion to Dunkirk
  • Notre Dame Avenue from Portage to Isabel
  • Balmoral Street from Notre Dame to Ellice
  • South Osborne Street from Hay to Jubilee
  • Stradbrook and River avenues around Osborne Village
  • Jubilee Avenue Westbound from Pembina to Cockburn

The city says that signs are posted on all temporary snow routes. All vehicles parked on these streets during the parking ban will be ticketed and towed.


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BuzzFeed News in Limbo Land

This is, in many respects, a golden age for journalism.

With a president facing multiple federal and state inquiries — including one into whether a foreign government helped get him elected — the press has come through with some investigative work that can stand with the finest Watergate-era reporting.

Among readers and viewers, there’s a new appreciation for shoe-leather reporting. Clicks and subscriptions are up, welcome news for an industry in shaky financial shape.

But the ultimate prize has proved elusive for the scoop-hungry journalists competing to join the reporters’ pantheon alongside Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, whose methodical news-gathering for The Washington Post helped bring down a president alleged to have broken the law.

The perils of the chase were plain to see on Friday night, when the office of the special counsel issued a public denial of what had been widely portrayed as a “bombshell report” from BuzzFeed News.

The site, based in New York, has been as aggressive as any other news outlet in trying to break the Big One. Its latest attempt, published Thursday night, reported that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had evidence that President Trump had instructed his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen to lie to Congress.

In their race to get ahead of Mr. Mueller with news that will please much of the electorate while also driving clicks and ratings, however, journalists throughout the media have produced their share of misfires and unforced errors. Each mistake has been a gift to the president, providing fodder for his case that any unflattering reporting about him amounts to “fake news,” and that the special counsel’s investigation is nothing but a “witch hunt.”

The insatiable appetite of social media and cable news for fresh material makes the hunt for big stories even more perilous.

“I say to you on the record, I am thankful I don’t have to cover this story on a daily basis,” said Mr. Woodward, whose latest book, “Fear,” a fly-on-the-wall view of the Trump administration’s first year, has sold some two million copies.

“The hydraulic pressure in the system is just so great,” he added. “The impatience of the internet — ‘give it to us immediately’ — drives so much, it’s hard to sort something like this out.”

BuzzFeed’s business model is built on that immediacy. Its newsroom is part of an organization whose mission is to find or create viral content. So you have serious journalism sitting almost side by side with lighthearted listicles like “28 Ryan Reynolds Tweets About Parenting That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud.”

BuzzFeed News has produced top-flight work. But in fashioning itself as a 21st-century upstart challenging the traditionalists, it has also pushed the limits.

It was the first to publish the collection of reports that were put together by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential campaign. Known as the dossier, the 35-page file was filled with what were at least then-unsubstantiated (and salacious) reports about Mr. Trump said to have been collected by Russian agents for blackmail purposes. Other news organizations, including this one, had all or part of the dossier, but decided against publishing any of its contents they couldn’t independently verify.

The BuzzFeed News editor in chief, Ben Smith, argued that the dossier was worthy of release without full journalistic corroboration, partly because its contents had been shared with President Trump and others “at the highest levels of the U.S. government.” Providing that level of transparency, he argued, was “how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

BuzzFeed’s report last week was more traditional, providing information from “two federal law enforcement officials,” as the article described its sources. According to the piece, Mr. Mueller was in possession of documents, text messages and testimony from Mr. Cohen showing that Mr. Trump had directed him to lie to Congress about Trump business dealings in Moscow in 2016.

BuzzFeed said the report was months in the making. But, given the weightiness of the accusations, the final push for input from Mr. Mueller’s office appears to have taken place on internet time.

Jason Leopold, one of the article’s co-writers, sent a heads-up email to Mr. Mueller’s spokesman, Peter Carr, only several hours before publication. In the exchange, which was first reported by The Washington Post, Mr. Leopold said that he was planning to report “Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project.”

The email did not mention that the article would also assert that Mr. Mueller had substantial evidence of the supposed presidential marching orders — a vital component that gave the story so much apparent heft.

To be fair, Fortress Mueller has been a frustration for reporters. The special counsel’s office has kept leaks to a minimum while refusing, for the most part, to confirm or deny whatever report about its work is firing up the news algorithm. While its impenetrability may explain the BuzzFeed reporters’ casual-seeming approach, it’s not much of an excuse for skipping the steps taught in Journalism 101.

The Mueller team’s challenge to the BuzzFeed report is also exposing the flaws of the wider media ecosystem, which is all too ready to spring into action at any sign of the Big One. Within minutes of the article’s publication on Thursday, Twitter was ablaze, and cable panelists were effusive. “This is stunning,” Don Lemon said on CNN. Lawrence O’Donnell spoke of “a Nixonian moment” on MSNBC.

Fox News reported the article’s claims as potentially an “enormous, enormous problem for this presidency.” But the guest who described it that way, the Fox News contributor Guy Benson, also warned, “Proceed with caution on this story — it may be true, it may not.”

By the following morning, other news organizations had failed to match the BuzzFeed piece with their own reporting and increasingly included “if true” caveats — but that didn’t prevent hours of on-air speculation about the potential implications of “subornation of perjury,” with its echoes of Watergate.

Even after the special counsel’s statement on Friday night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speculated that it wasn’t a true denial. During an interview with Mr. Smith, she asked, “Do you have any concern that this statement from the special counsel’s office might be an effort to dissuade you and dissuade your reporters from pursuing this, even if it is accurate, either because it interferes with the special counsel’s investigation in some way or it is otherwise too uncomfortable for this Justice Department?”

The further the disputed report traveled, the more it seemed to help Mr. Trump, who is forever on the lookout for material for the most intensive anti-press branding campaign ever to come from the Oval Office.

As the former Associated Press top editor Kathleen Carroll described the current reporting environment to me: “It’s a very, very, very high wire, with a load of rusty razor blades underneath it.”

Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein know better than most what BuzzFeed’s reporters and editors are now going through. During their history-making run, the duo misreported that a grand jury had received specific testimony about a secret slush fund controlled by Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman. The grand jury portion of the story was wrong, and the White House pounced on the error. But the substance was correct, and history ultimately vindicated them.

Mr. Smith, the BuzzFeed News editor, told me that the special counsel’s office was “gnomic” in its denial. “We are confident that our reporting will stand up,” he said.

For now, the story has fallen into a nether region occupied by two other recent, potentially groundbreaking stories on the Mueller investigation that have yet to be confirmed by others.

The first is a report from the McClatchy newspaper chain that cellphone signals placed Mr. Cohen near Prague in 2016, around the same time the Steele dossier placed him there for a meeting with Russian officials.

And there was the report in The Guardian that President Trump’s former campaign manger, Paul Manafort, had paid a visit to Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, before that organization released a trove of emails that the United States has accused Russian agents of stealing from the Democrats.

With the BuzzFeed story joining those two reports in journalistic limbo land, there are two options for the hair-trigger, Russia-investigation commentariat, said Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica, the investigative news organization.

“One is, try to figure out right this minute what the truth is, when you have no way of knowing,” Mr. Tofel said. “Or two, and both social media and cable news are a little bit at war with this: Wait a minute.”

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Justin Trudeau should ban Huawei, show ‘leadership’ over China’s detention of Canadians: Erin O’Toole

The escalating fight with China over its detentions of two Canadians requires Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to show clear “leadership.”

And he should start by banning Huawei.

That was the argument made by Erin O’Toole, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, in an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

Speaking hours after an in-camera briefing on the detentions to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee by John McCallum, Canadian ambassador to China, O’Toole said the meeting only confirmed his suspicions the government does not seem to have a plan to resolve the dispute.

“We didn’t get clear answers at any stage and that should trouble Canadians,” he said.

“We got a sense today from Ambassador McCallum there was no plan. He’s a former Liberal minister so he was trying to say what a good job Justin Trudeau and his team are doing. Justin Trudeau’s calling every other world leader but the one who holds the keys to the prisons that Canadians are in. He’s waiting for a photo-op instead of leading towards a resolution.”

China detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor last month on accusations of “endangering national security.”

Those detentions both came roughly a week and a half after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the Americans, who allege her company has been using a subsidiary to skirt U.S. sanctions on doing business with Iran.

China has linked the detentions with the Meng arrest but Canadian officials have refused to do so.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has repeatedly called the detentions “arbitrary” and the government has rallied statements expressing concern about those detentions from close to a dozen allies over recent weeks.

Two staff from Huawei in Poland have also been arrested on allegations of spying.

But while Canada’s Five Eyes allies and some of their largest companies have banned Huawei from being used in “critical” core components of their telecom networks, the Canadian government has not.

O’Toole said that issue is at the core of the current situation and that Canada needs to step up to ban Huawei like its allies.

“This is at its heart, Huawei,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been calling for some time for Canada to be clear like our other allies in the Five Eyes. Huawei should not be part of our 5G network.”

In 2012, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee published a report arguing Huawei posed an unacceptable risk to national security because of fears its technology could be used to spy for China.

Since then, Washington has been pushing for allies to ban Huawei from their core infrastructure and over the past year, put in place bans of its own.

When asked why the former Conservative government didn’t ban Huawei itself, O’Toole said the issues in those years focused more broadly on cybersecurity.

“It wasn’t at the point that the 5G network was being contemplated,” he said. “Certainly we expressed concerns with Chinese espionage, cybersecurity issues. This is always something we dealt with directly.”

The auction for spectrum on the 5G network is supposed to take place in either 2019 or 2020.

But a date has not been officially set and nor has one been laid out for the review currently being conducted into the security of Huawei 5G technology.

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Pakistan Arrests Officers After Children Who Survived Shooting Contradict Police

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At first, the police described a weekend shooting in central Pakistan as a successful operation against a group of terrorists: four dead, including a middle-aged couple, their daughter and another man.

Then the couple’s children — a boy and two girls who survived the firefight with minor injuries — told a story about police brutality that was painfully familiar to Pakistanis, and the authorities arrested more than a dozen police officers, the prime minister demanded answers, and officials were left struggling to explain what happened.

From a hospital bed near his younger sisters on Saturday, Muhammad Umair, 9, told local journalists that his family had been traveling on Saturday from Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province, to a town in the region’s south to attend a wedding. They were stopped near the city of Sahiwal by police officers belonging to the counterterrorism department, he said.

“My father said to the police, ‘Take the money, but let us go,’” Muhammad Umair said.

But the police opened fire, killing his father, Muhammad Khalil, a 43-year-old grocery store owner; his mother, Nabila; his 12-year-old sister Areeba; and a family friend, 36-year-old Zeeshan Javed.

The authorities said Saturday that the family opened fire on police officers after they were asked to stop their car and an accompanying motorcycle near a traffic toll plaza. Two men on the motorbike managed to flee from the scene, according to the police.

Mr. Javed, the authorities said, was part of a group of militants affiliated with the Islamic State and was carrying weapons and using his friend’s family as a shield.

Contradicting that account, local news media, citing eyewitnesses, reported that the traveling family did not open fire on the police and that no weapons were recovered from their vehicle.

As news spread and cellphone footage of the aftermath went viral on social media networks, public outrage grew around the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed horror on Sunday.

“Still shocked at seeing the traumatized children who saw their parents shot before their eyes,” he said on Twitter. “Any parent would be shocked as they would think of their own children in such a traumatic situation.”

Mr. Khan, who had promised police reforms during his election campaign last year, vowed “swift action” after an investigation into the shooting. “Everyone must be accountable before the law,” he said.

Incidents of police abuse and extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in Pakistan, and the abusers often escape accountability. The police in Punjab, the most populous and prosperous of the country’s four provinces, are especially notorious for abuse and corruption.

A civil rights movement challenging law enforcement abuses gained momentum last year, after Rao Anwar, an influential police commander in the southern port city of Karachi was arrested over his role in a police shootout.

The police there claimed that the shooting had killed a Taliban militant. In reality, he was a 27-year-old shopkeeper and aspiring model named Naqeebullah Mehsud who was popular on social media, and had no links to militants.

The protests after the killing of Mr. Mehsud, an ethnic Pashtun, mushroomed into a movement in the country’s northwest, which has a majority Pashtun population. The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, as the campaign is known, has challenged the authorities over abuses, and accused the Pakistani military, especially, of human rights violations, mass killings and extrajudicial abductions.

The Pakistani military has denied the allegations and in recent months has imposed limits on the news coverage of the movement.

Commander Rao is facing a Supreme Court-led inquiry, and is free on bail. Despite the arrest, few believe the police in this case or others will be made accountable.

Sardar Usman Buzdar, the chief minister of Punjab Province, promised justice when he visited the surviving children of the shooting Saturday at the hospital.

On Sunday, the Punjab law minister, Muhammad Basharat Raja, said at a news conference that intelligence agencies said Mr. Javed had had links to the Islamic State, and had been involved in abductions and killings.

Mr. Raja announced compensation of 20 million Pakistani rupees, or about $143,680, for the survivors of the shooting, and said an investigation would be completed within three days. He said the team that took part in the shooting and its supervisor were in police custody.

The authorities said that another police shooting, on Sunday, had killed two other men, whom they did not identify but said were linked to Mr. Javed. They described the men as terrorists who had been hiding in Mr. Javed’s house in Lahore and escaped after they learned of his killing.

The Pakistani authorities deny that the Islamic State has an organized presence in the country, but several militant networks here have expressed their support for the terrorist group.

As public furor over the police has increased, opposition political parties have sharply criticized Mr. Khan’s government. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has asked for a debate in Parliament about the shooting.

“The killings of parents in front of their children has exposed all tall claims of ‘good governance,’” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, another opposition party.

“The killings are a message to the people of the country that they should not go out with their children,” he said.

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Tragic Boo the Pomeranian ‘hung on for a year’ despite broken heart

Tragic Boo the Pomeranian "hung on" for more than a year after his best pal’s death – despite suffering from a ‘broken heart’.

Irene Ahn, Boo’s owner, confirmed the miniature dog’s passing in a heartbreaking post to its 17.5 million followers on Facebook.

The pup apparently could not deal with the death of its canine companion and simply "died of a broken heart", Irene claimed.

His tear-jerking post read: "Shortly after Buddy died, Boo showed signs of heart issues. We think his heart literally broke when Buddy left us. He hung on and gave us over a year.

"But it looks like it was his time, and I’m sure it was a most joyous moment for them when they saw each other in heaven."

Boo became friends with Buddy when the thoroughbred joined Irene’s San Fransisco home in 2006.

The pair became inseparable and were happiest when posing for photographs with one another.

Channelled through his owner – who works at tech giant  Facebook  – Boo’s first post to the world simply said: "My name is Boo. I am a dog. Life is good."

He shot to stardom in October 2010 when singer Kesha sent a Tweet that she had a new boyfriend, linking to the page.

Noticing Boo’s then five million followers, Chronicle Books asked Irene to write a picture book featuring some of his cutest snaps.

‘Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog’ would go on to be published in ten languages. It was followed by ‘Boo: Little Dog in the Big City’.

Remembering some of the qualities that made him so popular, the adorable pup’s owners wrote: "Boo brought joy to people all over the world.

"Boo is the happiest dog I’ve ever met. He was so easy going that we never had to bother with training.

"He made the manliest of men squeal with delight over his cuteness and made everyone laugh with his quirky, tail wagging personality.

"Over the years Boo met some super cool people, a lot of crazy talented people, but most of all so many kind people…"

Featured in his star studded fan base were news anchor Anderson Cooper, One Direction singer Liam Payne and fashion designer Tory Birch.


The 12-year-old dog was not one to be swept up by the glitz and glamour his stardom offered however, enjoying a simple mix of chicken, cheese, flowers, grass and dirt for dinner and taking part in shirt wearing – his favourite past time.

The statement continued: "Our family is heartbroken, but we find comfort knowing that he is no longer in any pain or discomfort.

"We know that Buddy was the first to greet him on the other side of that rainbow bridge, and this is likely the most excited either of them have been in a long time.


"Boo, we love you with all our hearts and will miss you until the day we meet again. Have fun running around with Buddy and creating adorable mischief wherever you guys go.

"Thank you to all of you for following along on their silly adventures over the past 10 years. They sure had a LOT of fun."

Irene went on to thank Adobe Animal Hospital and Sage Veterinary Centers for looking after Boo and Buddy.

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‘BBC must say sorry for Fiona Bruce’s appalling treatment of Diane Abbott’

I love the BBC, but Question Time host Fiona Bruce’s appalling treatment of Diane Abbott undermines trust in one of the world’s greatest news organisations.

The new host of the flagship discussion show is said to have mocked, off camera, a black woman enduring terrible racist misogyny, then, with an ignorant intervention, triggered audience ridicule as we watched at home.

It puts the public service broadcaster in crisis.

The BBC’s authority and legitimacy, in a fractured Britain, are under the gravest strain since it disgracefully acted as the official mouthpiece for a Tory Government during the 1926 General Strike.

So to refuse an on-air apology is the hubristic obstinacy of a corporation digging itself into a deeper hole.

Abbott must be scrutinised and held accountable like any other politician, but the BBC inadvertently legitimised the awful hounding of the most abused MP in Westminster, rape and death threats depressingly regular because of her heritage and gender.

The mealy-mouthed admission that Bruce blundered by agreeing with Brextremist Isabel Oakeshott’s incorrect assertion that Labour was “way behind in the polls” isn’t good enough.

A supposedly impartial host undermined Abbott’s accurate “we are kind of level-pegging” retort with her glibly erroneous dig that Corbyn’s lot were “definitely” behind.

Why Labour are not streets ahead in the polls is a frequent criticism of mine, though the party has accurately pointed out that it has recently led in as many as it has been behind in.

Bruce must also be made to explain why, according to Labour’s count, she interrupted Abbott 21 times and Tory minister Rory Stewart just nine and the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman only eight

The row over what Bruce said about Abbott before filming, including claims she suggested the MP owed a seat in the Shadow Cabinet to a past relationship with Corbyn, could be resolved immediately by releasing unbroadcast footage.

When internet “fake news” is the enemy of the truth, the BBC would be stronger owning its mistakes instead of ducking responsibility.

I can live with the broadcaster’s establishment bias and tire of wilder partisan attacks from Left and Right.

Andrew Neil is the media’s best interviewer by miles, and I recently intervened outside Parliament to defend BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg from a threatening mob.

It is as a critical friend of the BBC that I urge it to apologise formally and fulsomely to Abbott.

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