After two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly about his investigation. In Syria, government forces are setting farmland ablaze. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form a government, forcing a new national election.
In his first public announcement concerning his two year long investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, Mueller declined to clear President Trump of obstruction charges.
“If we had had the confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said at the Justice Department on Wednesday. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
According to Mueller’s statement, the Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with any crime. However, the Constitution allows for another way to formally accuse an incumbent president of wrongdoing -- a clear reference to Congress’s power to commence impeachment proceedings.
Mueller explained his reluctance to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as previously asked. “The report is my testimony,” he said.
Syrian military burns farmland
Recent satellite images show large areas of farmland in the rebel-held northwestern region of Syria have been razed and burnt in what activists are alleging is a government campaign to destroy food sources.
According to civil defense workers, over the past month incendiary weapons have been repeatedly fired at fields in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib provinces. This region is home to three million people, and fear is spreading that hundreds of thousands will die if the Russian-backed government decides to mount a full-scale assault.
The government has recently stepped up attacks on the area after alleging that jihadist groups had broken a truce. The violence has already displaced 270,000 civilians and prompted a U.N. senior official to warn of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Israel to hold new elections
Seven weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a “tremendous victory” in Israel’s election, he has failed to form a government, forcing the nation into a new election.
The new elections are to be held in three months, the first time in Israel’s history to hold a new national election due to a failure to form a new government.
After the April 9 election, Netanyahu felt confident that his conservative Likud party would form a new coalition with previous right-wing and religious allies. However, a power struggle between the secular ultranationalist and Orthodox factions stymied Netanyahu’s plans. Then, facing possible corruption charges, Netanyahu was unable to convince more liberal parties to form the necessary 61-seat majority to form a government.