President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI and his own Justice Department for what he termed a “witch hunt” in a series of tweets that seemed to come out of nowhere.

45 After Dark: The ‘Witch Hunt’ edition

President Donald Trump is on the attack — against his own Department of Justice.

Starting with morning tweets that acknowledged he was the subject of an FBI investigation, Trump struck a defiant tone today. He lashed out at the FBI and his own Justice Department for what he termed a “witch hunt” in a series of tweets that seemed to come out of nowhere. They came hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein put out an odd, vague statement about not trusting anonymous sources last night.

President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI and his own Justice Department for what he termed a “witch hunt” in a series of tweets that seemed to come out of nowhere.
President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI and his own Justice Department for what he termed a “witch hunt” in a series of tweets that seemed to come out of nowhere.

But the tension behind the tweets had been building: Trump has “smarted all week” over various stories POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey reports. It was a quintessentially defiant move from Trump.

He’s been told by basically all of his advisers to avoid taking to Twitter to talk about the investigation, to avoid talking about the Russia probe altogether. And yet:

“Trump has been told repeatedly not to post such missives on Twitter but has decided he is in for a political fight, according to one outside adviser briefed on the strategy. Advisers have told him to use his Twitter to boost his political message or attack Democrats instead of talking about the legal case. But Trump doesn’t trust others to share his message, this person said, because they don’t want to share it the way he does.”

The target of Trump’s ire, Rosenstein, likely won’t be affected by Trump’s efforts, his friends say, POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports. “Trump’s tweet Friday struck many of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s friends and colleagues as a bid to get him to drop oversight of the special prosecutor investigation into Trump and his campaign’s contacts with Russian officials, but Rosenstein’s allies insist he won’t buckle under such pressure.”

Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:

BRAND NEW: Should Rod Rosenstein be fired — or recuse himself — the Russia investigation would fall to a Rachel Brand, a Bush administration veteran who Democrats opposed because they said her legal rulings always sided with big business.

CAST(RO) OUT: President Trump rolled back Obama administration entreaties to Cuba, adding more oversight for Americans who want to visit Cuba and banning Americans from any activities that profit the Cuban military — which controls the majority of the tourism industry.

GATES’ BARBEQUE: Rick Gates, a Paul Manafort protege, has become embroiled in the Russia investigation after seeming to survive his ouster from the Trump campaign. Now he faces scrutiny from federal investigators. (The New York Times)

DOBROE UTRO!: The Trump transition team has been asked to preserve all of its communications related to Russia because of “several pending investigations into potential attempts by Russia interests to influence the 2016 election. Officials were told to keep all documents related to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and a number of campaign advisers and official.

COMEY LATER: BuzzFeed News reports that the FBI turned down a freedom of information request for James Comey’s memos — because they are the subject of an active investigation.

LAWYER’S LAWYER: Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen has hired his own personal attorney as the Russia probe heats up.

There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. It’s Friday, at last.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has garnered attention by being a co-sponsor of a measure to create an independent commission to probe Russia’s actions.

Democratic 2020 contenders? Voters haven’t heard of them

President Donald Trump’s poor poll numbers have dozens of Democrats reportedly considering challenging him in 2020. But voters haven’t heard of the vast majority of them.

According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that tested voters’ views of 19 potential Democratic presidential candidates — a list that includes eight senators, five governors, one congressman, a big-city mayor and a failed Senate candidate — most of the prospects are unknown among at least half the electorate.

Since the next presidential election won’t start in earnest for at least 18 months, that leaves a limited time for no-name candidates to build name recognition and familiarity among voters.

“All bets are off when it comes to the composition of the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Morning Consult Co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “This early polling indicates that many of the names being floated in Washington still have a lot of work to do in terms of building national profiles.”

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has garnered attention by being a co-sponsor of a measure to create an independent commission to probe Russia’s actions.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has garnered attention by being a co-sponsor of a measure to create an independent commission to probe Russia’s actions.

A handful of heavyweight party elders, however, would enter a campaign as known quantities: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). At least three-quarters of voters surveyed said they had an opinion on Biden and Warren.

All will be septuagenarians come November 2020, including Sanders, who wasn’t included in the name-ID battery but could decide to mount a second bid for the Democratic nomination. The poll also didn’t test Martin O’Malley — another 2016 also-ran who told CBS News this week he “certainly feel[s] compelled to continue to look at” running again — but the former Maryland governor failed to gain any traction or broad name-ID during his presidential campaign.

The next tier of potential Democratic candidates are younger but little-known. Among the senators who have been mentioned as potential candidates, only Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) — the former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer — has name identification that exceeds 70 percent. More than a third of voters, 35 percent, said they have never heard of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — a former governor and national party chairman who was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee last year.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) may be a social-media sensation, but 46 percent of voters said they have never heard of him. And four other senators — Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) —have majorities saying they have never heard of them.

Among the governors, only New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has significant name-ID; just 30 percent of voters said they have never heard of him. But that number is 50 percent or greater for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

The figures are similar for a number of other potential candidates tested in the survey: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger and Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz.

It’s notable that these candidates are not any better known among Democratic respondents; for all but Gillibrand and Booker, each candidate was as unknown among Democrats as among the overall pool of voters.

The poll was conducted June 8-12, surveying 1,990 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

There’s some evidence these candidates could be even less known than the data indicate, Dropp said.

“More than half of respondents say they’ve never heard of many of these potential candidates,” he said. “And, since some respondents may hesitate to admit they don’t know the prospective candidates, overall awareness of the Democratic field may be even lower.”

There’s still time for these Democrats to increase their name-identification — and they can look to two recent examples as potential models. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was unknown to nearly six-in-10 Americans when Gallup asked about him in June 2013, less than six months into Cruz’s Senate career.

But after Cruz helped engineer a government shutdown that autumn, his name-ID jumped 20 points — though most of it added to his unfavorable rating, as Democrats and Republicans alike knocked Cruz as an opportunist who undermined the Congress for his own political gain.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) also sought the White House just four years into his Senate career, but Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention laid a foundation with the party’s voters that most of the senators and governors in the poll won’t have.

That leaves most of the second-tier Democrats jockeying for attention. Harris has generated headlines with her questioning of Trump administration officials from her perch on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Franken’s examination of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the then-Alabama senator’s confirmation hearing won him acclaim on the left and may have helped lead to Sessions’ eventual recusal from the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Klobuchar, Franken’s Minnesota colleague, is also on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a co-sponsor of a measure to create an independent commission to probe Russia’s actions.

Governors are equally invested in the resistance to Trump. Inslee and Cuomo quickly joined with California Gov. Jerry Brown to form a sub-national alliance after Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change; McAuliffe brought his commonwealth in days later.

But they still have work to do to become top-tier candidates in 2019. For now, the better-known prospective candidates are circumspect about whether they’ll mount a bid to unseat Trump.

Warren says she is focused on winning reelection to the Senate next year. Sanders’ wife said last weekend that the Vermonter hasn’t made up his mind about 2020. And Biden, who declined to run last cycle after his son’s death, also refuses to rule it out.

“I am an enormous respecter of fate,” Biden said this week on an interview with a public-radio station in Philadelphia. “I don’t have any plans to do it, but I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it.”

Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this week signaled his displeasure with any sanctions bill that would force the U.S. to “close the channels off” with Russia.

White House plans to push House GOP for friendlier Russia sanctions deal

Senate Democrats fear that the White House will defang the bill designed to punish Russia for election meddling.

The White House plans to work with House Republicans on administration-friendly changes to the Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia and curbs President Donald Trump’s power to ease penalties against Moscow, according to a senior administration official.

The White House is concerned that the legislation would tie its hands on U.S.-Russia relations, a sentiment publicly expressed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But Senate Democrats fear the White House may go overboard in preserving its power to talk to Russia and seek to defang the sanctions bill — which passed 98-2 on Thursday in one of the year’s most significant displays of bipartisanship.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this week signaled his displeasure with any sanctions bill that would force the U.S. to “close the channels off” with Russia.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this week signaled his displeasure with any sanctions bill that would force the U.S. to “close the channels off” with Russia.

“I’m concerned about it, but I don’t really have the ability to dictate what the White House says to the House,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in an interview. “I can’t imagine the House would want to be apologists for Russian behavior after the combined weight of the intelligence communities all weighing in saying, ‘Look, they attacked the United States’.”

The administration official emphasized that the White House supports sanctions on Russia and that the political ramifications of any veto have not been discussed yet. As the State Department actively engages with lawmakers, the White House is confident it has allies in the House who are also concerned about the prospect of breaking with precedent and limiting the executive branch’s control over sanctions.

It’s so far unclear how the House GOP would receive any White House entreaties to restore some of Trump’s power over sanctions that the Senate voted to claw back. House Republicans have started to review the Senate-passed bill and are likely to take it up in the coming weeks, according to an aide.

But Senate Democrats fret that the frenetic news cycle may make it easier for Trump — who has repeatedly offered praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and is mired in an FBI probe into possible collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin — to undercut a sanctions deal designed to punish Moscow for meddling in last year’s election.

“I’m afraid that the level of awareness isn’t where it should be,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview. “And we’re going to come back and ask ‘How could this accommodation to Russia have happened?’ if this bill is watered down.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who helped negotiate the sanctions package as the Banking Committee’s top Democrat, told POLITICO he has heard the Trump administration is reaching out to House members “to slow it, block it.”

“This is not something the administration is calling for us to do,” Brown said. “I applaud the courage of a number of my Republican colleagues who said no to the administration and did the right thing for the country to keep a foreign power out of our elections.”

The Senate’s Russia sanctions agreement, crafted by senior members of both parties, would impose new penalties on Moscow’s defense, military intelligence, and energy sectors, among others. The deal also would convert existing sanctions into law, potentially complicating any removal by the White House, and allow Congress to block Trump from easing or ending sanctions with a two-thirds majority vote.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) predicted earlier this week that Trump would not veto any sanctions package that reached his desk. Hailing the Senate deal’s impact after its passage, Corker tweeted that the Russia measure “marks a significant shift of power back to the people’s representatives, a priority of mine since becoming the lead Republican on” his committee.

However, Tillerson earlier this week signaled his displeasure with any sanctions bill that would force the U.S. to “close the channels off” with Russia. While the White House has not taken an official position on the bill, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday tried to project toughness on Russia while appearing to express concerns about the Senate legislation.

“We believe the existing executive branch sanctions regime is the best tool for compelling Russia to fulfill its commitments,” Sanders told reporters Thursday, adding that the Senate deal “needs to go through the House, and we don’t have a final product yet to weigh in.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also declined to take a formal position on the Senate bill until the House takes up its own approach. Nauert underscored the administration’s desire to achieve a better relationship with Putin’s government, particularly on anti-terrorism issues.

“We continue to look for areas in which both parties can work together,” Nauert told reporters Thursday. “We’ve talked about how we believe the United States and Russia can work together to fight ISIS.”

The Senate made a veto threat somewhat more difficult by attaching its Russia package to an Iran sanctions bill that boasts support on both sides of the aisle and in the administration. Should the House take a different approach to Trump’s Moscow policy, the lopsided vote in the upper chamber likely would give the Senate a strong position heading into any conference talks.

“I just cannot fathom how House Republicans could ultimately, with everything that’s going on with Russia’s nefarious actions, try to either deep-six the bill or dramatically change it,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview. “That leaves the Republicans saying they don’t want to do anything on Russia.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has affirmed his interest in a bipartisan bill that sanctions Russia for its documented cyberattacks during the election — meddling that Trump has repeatedly dismissed as little more than a Democratic excuse for defeat. The full House approved new sanctions last month on entities connected to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s violent government, including Russian companies, that the Senate has yet to consider.

“We are looking at ways of sending an additional message” to Russia, Royce said at a committee meeting last month, highlighting two Democratic bills that would sanction Moscow for its involvement in electoral meddling.

But Senate Democrats who pressed hard to win the strongest possible Russia sanctions deal remain alarmed over its fate in the House. Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he wouldn’t be surprised if the administration aimed to dilute the Senate’s bill, given that “the president has refused to acknowledge that we have a problem with the Russians involved in our elections.”

Asked if he feared that Trump’s team could secure its preferred Russia changes with little public scrutiny, Durbin said only: “Yes.”

 

Both Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff have been combing the district for additional supporters since the first round.

Early-vote turnout soars in Georgia special election

Over 140,000 people have already voted in the race between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, including 36,000 who didn’t vote in the first round.

Early voting in Georgia’s special House election closed Friday evening with over 140,000 ballots cast, with overall turnout looking likely to rise in Tuesday’s closely watched matchup between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

The early voters in the second round include over 36,000 people who did not participate in April, according to data from the Georgia secretary of state’s office. That includes past voters who stayed home as well as newly registered voters who added their names to the rolls in Georgia’s 6th District after the primary.

Both Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff have been combing the district for additional supporters since the first round.
Both Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff have been combing the district for additional supporters since the first round.

The total number of voters on Tuesday is expected to surpass the high turnout in the first round, when over 192,000 voters cast ballots, including about 57,000 who voted early. The final turnout on Tuesday could easily exceed the vote total in the 2014 midterm elections, when over 210,500 people voted in the district.

The high levels of voting reflect extraordinarily high local interest in the race. After a $50 million campaign (a national record for a House race), 92 percent of voters said they are watching the race “closely,” including 64 percent following it “very closely,” according to a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution poll. And 52 percent of voters said in the poll that they think the race between Handel and Ossoff is more important than past elections.

Both parties have been combing the district for additional supporters since the first round, when Ossoff got over 48 percent of the vote — 3,612 votes short of a majority that would have won the seat for the Democrat without a runoff. Handel qualified for the June 20 runoff in second place with 20 percent of the vote, though Republican candidates combined for 51 percent support in the first round.

Handel and the GOP have focused on approximately 35,000 voters who cast GOP ballots in Georgia’s 2016 presidential primary but did not vote on April 18. Democrats have fewer outstanding base votes to chase, with about 11,000 2016 presidential primary voters in the district who didn’t cast ballots in April. Ossoff’s campaign is also seeking support from thousands of newly registered voters and some independents who are not regular voters.

Gerry Adams said Theresa May would cause problems creating a deal with the DUP

‘NO INTEGRITY’ Gerry Adams accuses Tories of breaking Good Friday Agreement with DUP deal

SINN FEIN has accused the Conservatives of breaking the Good Friday Agreement by pushing for a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Irish nationalist party’s president, Gerry Adams, said Mrs May was playing “fast and loose” with the Government’s commitment to the peace process deal in a bid to shore up the Tory’s minority government.

He accused her of turning a “blind eye to the disruptive actions” of the DUP at Stormont in which they campaigned against the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Adams said: “Both the Government and the DUP have refused to implement key agreements on language and equality rights and dealing with the legacy of the past.

”We warned Mrs May that the pact between the Tories and the DUP has the potential to undermine past agreements and the re-establishment of the Executive.

“Any deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement will be opposed by Sinn Fein and we would hope the Irish Government.

“If the institutions are to be put in place they need to be sustainable, viable and properly resourced.”

The Good Friday Agreement includes a commitment to power-sharing between nationalist and unionist parties in the North and neutrality from the UK.

A group of Sinn Fein politicians visited Downing Street on Thursday
A group of Sinn Fein politicians visited Downing Street on Thursday

Mr Adams said he told Mrs May “very directly” during a meeting at Downing Street yesterday she was “in breach of the Good Friday Agreement”.

Sinn Fein would support any additional monies going to the Northern Ireland Executive as a result of a deal, he said.

But he added: “A little side bargain to keep Theresa May in power, a temporary little arrangement, won’t have any integrity.”

Former Tory MP John Major has warned about a deal with the DUP
Former Tory MP John Major has warned about a deal with the DUP

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain has accused the Conservatives of “putting party before peace” by seeking an agreement with the DUP to shore up Mrs May’s minority administration in Westminster.

Lord Hain, who was Northern Ireland secretary from 2005 to 2007, warned the situation is “very damaging” at a time when sensitive talks are under way over the restoration of powersharing at Stormont.

He said the Government could not act as a “neutral facilitator” in Northern Ireland, as the Good Friday Agreement envisages, if it was dependent on one of the Northern Irish parties for its majority in the House of Commons.

Steinmeier nearly boiled over when talking to reporters

‘We need RESULTS’ Germany orders Britain to get on with Brexit & stop playing ‘time game’

GERMANY today accused Britain of deliberately playing for time over the start of the Brexit negotiations in a calculated swipe at the Government’s perceived lack of readiness for the talks.

In a blunt intervention Angela Merkel’s right-hand man Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the UK side Berlin needed to see “results” from the divorce process soon and stuck the knife in over the chaos in Westminster.

His baseball bat diplomacy is yet the latest sign of growing frustration in Brussels and other European capitals at Britain’s lack of readiness for Brexit a whole year on from the result of the referendum.

EU diplomats are becoming increasingly concerned that the UK is completely unready for talks on a process it chose to start, something which only hinders the possibility of reaching a deal within the tight two-year timeframe.

Today it emerged that Britain still hasn’t even submitted its position papers to the EU, laying out exactly what it wants to achieve from the negotiations, despite the fact they are due to start in just three days’ time.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Donald Tusk today
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Donald Tusk today

And eurocrats are becoming more and more frustrated at what they see as delay games by the British side, which is obfuscating on major issues as it plays for more preparation time amid political anarchy in Downing Street.

Mr Steinmeier, the German federal president, came as close as any senior European figure to boiling over today as he addressed reporters following a meeting with EU Council chief Donald Tusk.

Begging the UK to finally begin serious work on “substantial negotiations” – a serious diplomatic swipe given the gravity of the Brexit talks – he hissed: “I hope that the UK is now aware that we need results, that they can’t rely on delays.”

Senior EU officials have been voicing concerns about the UK’s level of preparedness for the last few months, with the cries reaching fever pitch last week as the date for the start of the talks draws ever nearer.

Eurocrats admitted they were stunned that, with less than a week to go, Britain had still not formally appointed a negotiator meaning that Michel Barnier had no direct counterpart with whom to haggle.

They had even been speculating that the prime minister herself might look to take control of the talks, something officials said would be “weird” and would have gone down badly with Brussels which wants a dedicated person on the job.

A joint statement released by the EU Commission and the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) yesterday confirming the June 19 start date suggests that the Brexit secretary David Davis will now fill that role.

But much uncertainty still remains, and meetings between Mr Barnier’s team and the UK’s two most senior representatives in Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow and Olly Robbins, leaving many EU officials saying there were more questions than answers to be solved.

With eurocrats uncertain what to expect following Mrs May’s shock election defeat they have prepared their team for anything, including any sudden U-turn on Britain’s Brexit position to include single market access.

Gerry Adams has been the president of Sinn Fein since the 1980s

What is Sinn Fein? What does Sinn Fein mean and what is the Good Friday Agreement?

SINN Fein has accused Theresa May of jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement by trying to build an alliance with the DUP. But what is Sinn Fein?

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams claimed the Prime Minister is playing “fast and loose” with the Northern Ireland peace process by holding talks with the DUP.

The Irish republican party fears a Conservative government supported by the unionist DUP would break the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Adams said: ”We warned Mrs May that the pact between the Tories and the DUP has the potential to undermine past agreements and the re-establishment of the Executive.

“Any deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement will be opposed by Sinn Fein and we would hope the Irish Government.”

What is Sinn Fein?

Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party which believes that Ireland and Northern Ireland should be united as a sovereign state, free from any political union with Britain.

Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffith in 1905
Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffith in 1905

The party was for a long time regarded as the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), but from at least the 1990s Sinn Fein has distanced itself from the terrorist organisation.

The party was founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, but was of little importance until the Easter Rising in 1916 – the armed insurrection against the British government in Ireland.

Support for Sinn Fein swelled after the uprising and the party won 73 of the 105 Irish seats in the British Parliament in 1918.

Any deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement will be opposed by Sinn Fein

Gerry Adams

On January 21 1919 they formed their own government called Dail Eireann and declared independence from the UK.

The Irish War of Independence was triggered after IRA members, acting on their own initiative, shot dead two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

After the war, in 1921, Sinn Fein played a significant role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The agreement gave independence to 26 of the 32 counties in Ireland, which became the Irish Free State.

Sinn Fein split into two factions after the treaty was signed and fought against each other in the Irish Civil War of 1922-23.

In the 1980s, Republican prisoners took part in a series of hunger strikes. 10 men, seven of whom were IRA members, died during the protests, which helped generate sympathy for the Republican cause among Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Adams was elected president of Sinn Fein in 1983.

How is Sinn Fein linked to the IRA?

The Irish and US governments have claimed that senior Sinn Fein members have also held positions in the IRA, but the party has dismissed the allegations.

Former Irish justice minister Michael McDowell named Mr Adams and the late Martin McGuinness as members of the IRA’s ruling army council in 2005.

He told Dublin’s Today FM: “We’re talking about a small group of people, including a number of elected representatives, who run the whole [republican] movement.”

“We are talking about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and others.”

Mr Adams adamantly denies that he was ever a member of the IRA, but also refuses to “disassociate” himself with the organisation.

In 1993, he expressed regret for the Shankill Road IRA bombing that killed nine people, but failed to condemn it.

The Sinn Fein leader then helped carry the coffin of IRA member Thomas Begley, who died when the bomb exploded prematurely.

During a meeting with Alan McBride, whose wife was killed in the blast, Mr Adams called on the families of IRA victims to forgive their killers.

He said: “I am not a pacifist and I certainly do not believe that non-violent protest would have got justice on the island of Ireland, but I do know that after decades of war, we all have plenty to forgive and to be forgiven for.”

What does Sinn Fein mean?

Sinn Fein comes from the Irish Gaelic and translates as “Ourselves”.

It refers to the party’s assertion that Ireland should be a united sovereign state, free from any political union with Great Britain.

What is the Good Friday Agreement?

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is a multilateral political deal that helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

It is widely credited with ending the Troubles that had ravaged Northern Ireland since the 1960s.

The Troubles is the name given to the “guerrilla war” between unionists and loyalists.

The long-running conflict was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,500 people over a period of 30 years.

The GFA was signed on Good Friday, April 10, in 1998 by the British and Irish governments, as well as eight political parties in Northern Ireland.

It was comprised of three strands that dealt with the political relationships between the three nations.

The GFA acknowledged that while most people in Northern Ireland wanted to remain a part of the UK, a substantial section of the country wished for a united Ireland.

The deal stated that Northern Ireland would remain part of the Great Britain until the majority of people on the island wished otherwise.

Should this situation arise, the British and Irish governments have a “binding obligation” not to resist.

The DUP were the only major party in Northern Ireland to oppose the GFA.

Could Sinn Fein take its seats in Westminster?

Sinn Fein MPs have historically abstained from sitting in Westminster because they don’t agree with its jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, or the oath MPs make to the monarchy.

However it was rumoured this week that Sinn Fein could take its seven seats in Parliament in an attempt to block Mrs May’s Queen Speech.

The party quickly dismissed the claims, insisting that its seven members would continue to boycott the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein said in a statement: “They have elected us to represent them but not to take our seats.

“We will come over to Westminster to argue with other parties and to fight for our rights and to fight for the rights of Irish citizens.”

Jo Cox will be honoured by thousands of people

‘We can’t be beaten’ Jo Cox inspires Great Get Together across UK for anniversary of death

THE sister of Jo Cox has said she wanted to be among “the people who loved Jo and who Jo loved” as the murdered MP’s family marks the anniversary of her death.

Kim Leadbeater said “every day is difficult” as Mrs Cox’s widower, Brendan, said her murder “took the heart” out of the family but insisted they have not been broken by the tragedy.

Miss Leadbeater told BBC Breakfast: “I think the thing, as a family, is every day is difficult.

“So it’s not as if today is actually very different for us in lots of ways. But I think what I chose to do is to come into the community and be around the people who loved Jo and who Jo loved and in the place that we were born and brought up.

“I think, for me, this is my way of coping with it and, hopefully, letting them know that, as a family, we won’t be beaten by what’s happened.

“Also, as a community, it’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to be beaten by what’s happened.”

Mr Cox said that shock had given way to grief following the killing, but he had been comforted by the nationwide “wave of compassion and kindness”.

As thousands of people prepare to take part in events honouring his late wife, he said bringing communities together was “more important now than ever”.

“When Jo was killed a year ago, it took the heart out of our family,” he said.

“The first emotion was shock, both numbing and shattering. That in time gave way to a grief that remains very fresh, very raw and continues to hit us in vicious waves when we least expect it. But our family has not been broken.”

Mother-of-two Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed on June 16 last year as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. She had been elected as Labour MP for the Batley and Spen constituency just 13 months earlier.

Right-wing loner Thomas Mair was given a whole life term after being convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in November.

Mr Cox said his wife’s killing “aimed to divide communities but has instead brought them together”.

He added: “Her killing by a far-right extremist shocked the country and unleashed a wave of compassion and kindness that has comforted us ever since and for which we are extremely grateful.

“At a time when extremists of all types are trying to divide our communities, there is a huge groundswell of people who just want to focus on the things that unite us, who want to draw closer to their neighbours and communities.

“I think people are sick of the narrative of hatred and division that neither represents who they are nor our great country.”

Mr Cox said he was “awed by the scale of the reaction” to The Great Together, with more than 110,000 events honouring his late wife expected to be held from today to Sunday.

He added: “We hope these events give us all a moment – as Jo talked about in her maiden speech – to focus on the things we have in common.

“I also hope they are fun, full of energy and laughter. That’s what Jo would have wanted.”

 

Keir Starmer has written to Brexit Secretary David Davis

‘It’s NOT viable’ Keir Starmer says UK set for BAD Brexit deal with David Davis stance

The Labour politician responsible for the party’s Brexit policy has written to Theresa May’s government urging it to drop its “belligerent and reckless” approach to leaving the European Union (EU).

In a letter to Brexit Secretary David Davis, Sir Keir Starmer urged him to “reset” the country’s exit strategy, adding the Prime Minister’s “inflexible” stance “makes a good deal for Britain less likely, not more likely”.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary’s comments come just a week after Theresa May lost her majority in the snap election she had called in the hopes of strengthening her hand in Brexit talks.

Formal Brexit talks are expected to start in Brussels on Monday, almost exactly a year after the UK voted to leave the bloc.

The news will come as a welcome relief to the British Government, after a dismal election for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May threatened to delay proceedings.

In his letter, Sir Keir calls on Mr Davis to address four key concerns, one of which is a more constructive and responsible tone in the negotiations.

He also urges ministers to ensure that jobs and the economy features high on the priority list.

Sir Keir added that now is the time for the government to drop its mantra of “no deal is better than a bad deal”, warning: “No deal has never been a viable option. To threaten to jump off a cliff rather than to be pushed is not a viable negotiating strategy.”

Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to “reset” the country’s exit strategy
Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to “reset” the country’s exit strategy

He also said that the loss of Mrs May’s overall majority in the June 8 General Election meant that Parliament could no longer be “marginalised” in the Brexit process.

He added that “appropriate steps” must now be taken to ensure that a Labour administration is able to take over negotiations at any stage should Mrs May’s Government fall.

The comments come a week after Theresa May lost her majority in the Commons
The comments come a week after Theresa May lost her majority in the Commons

With Labour seeking regular meetings with the most senior civil servant at the Department for Exiting the EU, Sir Keir said: “It is clear that the Government can no longer seek to silence opposition or sideline Parliament.

“There must be a new spirit of openness and transparency, in which challenge and scrutiny are welcomed.”

Labour must now tread a delicate path through Brexit negotiations.

On one hand, the party will be keen to exploit the government’s current weak position in Parliament, but will be mindful of how it goes about this so voters don’t accuse Labour of trying to sabotage the process.

The party’s own position on the technicalities of Brexit has been the subject of confusion in recent days after several senior figures made seemingly contradictory statements.

Both the party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have gone on record saying Britain remaining in the single market is out of the questions.

However, in stark contract, Sir Keir and Barry Gardiner – the Labour party’s trade secretary – said this week that remaining in the EU single market could be feasible — subject to certain reforms.