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Obama warns over divisive social media use in Prince Harry interview

27 DEC 17 05:51 ET

(CNN) — Former US President Barack Obama has urged people in leadership positions not to use social media in a way that fosters division.

In a BBC interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, Obama warned that the internet risked reinforcing people’s prejudices and leading to a fractured society.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” Obama said. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases,” he said.

Obama did not mention US President Donald Trump by name during the interview, which he said was his first since leaving office.

However, Trump’s campaign and presidency have been characterized by his outspoken use of Twitter.

Obama, who was interviewed for an edition of the BBC Radio 4 Today program guest edited by Prince Harry and broadcast Wednesday, said it was a challenge to make the most of the opportunities provided by social media.

“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground,” he said in the interview, which was taped in September during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.

Obama said it was important for people to get offline and meet others in their communities, “because the truth is that on the internet everything is simplified and when you meet people face to face it turns out they are complicated,” he said.

“One of things we want to do I think is as we’re working with young people to build up platforms for social change,” he said. “Make sure that they don’t think that just sending out a hashtag in and of itself is bringing about change. It can be a powerful way to raise awareness but then you have to get on the ground and actually do something.”

‘Work still undone’

Asked how he felt on the day he left office in January this year, Obama described mixed feelings.

“The sense that there was a completion, and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole and that we hadn’t fundamentally changed, I think was a satisfying feeling,” he said.

“That was mixed with all the work that was still undone and concerns about how the country moves forward. But overall there was a serenity there, more than I would have expected.”

Obama also paid tribute to former First Lady Michelle Obama, describing her as a “spectacular, funny, warm person” who despite not being politically inclined herself had supported him throughout the process and been “as good of a First Lady as there has ever been.”

Asked by Harry what was the biggest change for him after his eight years in office, Obama reflected on a slowed pace of life and the new freedom he had to decide how to focus his activities.

“The things that are important to me haven’t changed, I still care about about making the United States and the world a place where kids get an education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage, that we are conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did,” he said.

Obama said he now had to “rely more on persuasion than legislation” but that he enjoyed being able to focus his energies on the causes that mattered most to him.

Recounting what he missed about the presidency, Obama mentioned his team, the rewarding nature and intensity of the work they did — and being able to travel without getting stuck in traffic.

Royal wedding invitation?

Questioned live on air after the pre-taped interview was broadcast, Prince Harry said the guest list has not yet been put together for his wedding to US actress Meghan Markle next May.

Asked if he got along well enough with the former President to invite him to the event, the Prince laughed off the question.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” he said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together yet so who knows whether he’s going to be invited or not. I wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”

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Trump announces former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to serve as national security adviser, replacing H.R. McMaster

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is replacing national security adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Gen. H.R. McMaster Statement:

“After thirty-four years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service. Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary servicemembers and dedicated civilians.
I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as national security advisor. I am grateful for the friendship and support of the members of the National Security Council who worked together to provide the President with the best options to protect and advance our national interests.
I am especially proud to have served alongside the men and women of the National Security Council Staff who established a strong foundation for protecting the American people, promoting American prosperity, achieving peace through strength, and advancing American influence.  I know that these patriots will continue to serve our President and our nation with distinction.”

President Trump Statement

“H.R. McMaster has served his country with distinction for more than 30 years. He has won many battles and his bravery and toughness are legendary. General McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council staff has helped my administration accomplish great things to bolster America’s national security. He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best.”

Trump has repeatedly clashed with McMaster, a respected three-star general, and talk that McMaster would soon leave the administration had picked up in recent weeks.

His departure follows Trump’s dramatic ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week.

It also comes after someone at the White House leaked that Trump was urged in briefing documents not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin about his recent re-election win. Trump did it anyway.

McMaster was brought in after Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dismissed.

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Top White House lawyer John Dowd quits

John Dowd, Donald Trump’s lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation, has resigned.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer in Mueller investigation, quits” was written by Ben Jacobs in Washington, for theguardian.com on Thursday 22nd March 2018 15.55 UTC

John Dowd, Donald Trump’s lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation, has resigned.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post. In an email to the Guardian, Dowd confirmed his departure and said: “I love the president and wish him well.”

The 77-year-old left Trump’s legal team days after the hiring of Joseph DiGenova, a cable news commentator and former US attorney who has claimed the investigation into Russian election interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow is an attempt by the FBI and Department of Justice to frame the president.

Dowd drew attention on Saturday when he told the Daily Beast he hoped Mueller’s investigation would be shut down.

In an email, Dowd said “I pray” deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller, “will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR] and attorney general Jeff Sessions”, who fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe on Friday.

That, Dowd said, would “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier”.

Dowd first said he was speaking for the president but then rowed back, saying he had spoken in a personal capacity. He then told the Axios website Trump “didn’t have any problem” with his statement.

Before representing Trump, Dowd was best known for his role in Major League Baseball’s investigation of the all time hits leader Pete Rose, for gambling. As a result of Dowd’s controversial report, Rose was banned from baseball and made ineligible for induction in the Hall of Fame.

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Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly oversaw criminal probe of Jeff Sessions

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Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a “lack of candor,” McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources familiar with the matter have told ABC News.

ABC News reports that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday less than 48 hours before McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was due to retire from government and obtain a full pension, but an attorney representing Sessions declined to confirm that.

 

Jeff Sessions became US attorney general last year after serving as a Republican senator from Alabama. He began as a lawyer in Alabama in 1973, served as assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and as Alabama attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 1996.

Sessions have repeatedly come under attack by President Trump;

  • In December 2017, Trump told The New York Times that he would never have named Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s attempted meddling in the 2016 election.
  • In late July 2017, Trump referred to Sessions as “beleaguered” and hit him for not looking more into the alleged crimes of Hillary Clinton.
  • The next day, Trump savaged Sessions as “very weak” for his handling of “Hillary Clinton crimes.”
  • That same day, Trump told The Wall Street Journal he was “disappointed” in Sessions’ recusal: “Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to do that, and I wouldn’t have appointed you?” he said.
  • In May 2017, following the news that Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump, according to The New York Times, called Sessions an “idiot” and said he should resign.

 

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