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December 2, 2018

Exiled Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz has shared more than 400 WhatsApp messages he exchanged with Jamal Khashoggi, showing that the slain journalist was privately highly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, CNN reports.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed in October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered his murder. From October 2017 to August 2018, Khashoggi and Abdulaziz, now based in Montreal, sent each other text, video, and photo messages almost every day. Abdulaziz told CNN they were planning to start an online youth movement to debunk Saudi state propaganda and inspire activists inside the kingdom. "We have no parliament, we just have Twitter," he said.

Khashoggi and Abdulaziz discussed how to get untraceable SIM cards to dissidents inside Saudi Arabia and ways to get monetary donations. In August, Abdulaziz was tipped off that their messages were intercepted by the Saudi government, he told CNN. This occurred just three months after Abdulaziz was asked to meet with two Saudi government officials, who told him bin Salman wanted to offer him a job. They said he needed to go to the Saudi embassy to get paperwork, but Khashoggi told him "not to go and to only meet them in public places," Abdulaziz said.

In November, researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab told Abdulaziz his phone was hacked by spyware created by the Israeli firm NSO Group, at the direction of the Saudi regime. On Sunday, Abdulaziz filed a lawsuit against the Israeli company, arguing that they broke international laws by selling to a government known for human rights abuses. "The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say," Abdulaziz told CNN. "The guilt is killing me." Catherine Garcia

8:06 a.m.

New Zealand continues to act swiftly in its response to the mass shootings that claimed 50 lives at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week.

The manifesto, believed to be written by Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who has been charged with the murder of 50 people, is now illegal in the country, New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification announced on Saturday. The manifesto, which is more than 80 pages long, is rife with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim content. It was made public online before the shootings occurred and was also sent to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office just minutes before Tarrant carried out the attack.

"Others have referred to this publication as a 'manifesto', but I consider it a crude booklet that promotes murder and terrorism. It is objectionable under New Zealand law," New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks said. "It crosses the line."

The decision follows another one made earlier this week which banned footage of the shootings, including edited clips and still images. The New Zealand government also banned semi-automatic rifles and accessories just six days after the shooting. Tim O'Donnell

7:47 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shared private data, including banking information, of millions of hurricane and wildfire survivors, The Department of Homeland Security inspector general said in a memo that surfaced on Friday.

The unlawful disclosure places the survivors at "increased risk of identity theft and fraud."

The data was shared with an unidentified federal contractor that was helping the 2.3 million survivors from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires find housing. It included 20 "unnecessary" fields such as electronic funds transfer numbers, bank transit numbers, and addresses.

FEMA said in a statement that it has already begun filtering the data to ensure it cannot be shared with the public, and the organization has said that there is so far no indication that the information has been compromised. But, per CNN, a more permanent fix may not be finalized until June 2020. Tim O'Donnell

March 22, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is here, and pretty much no one knows what's in it.

The Justice Department announced Friday that Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. And within minutes, even the most unexpected lawmakers started calling for Attorney General William Barr to release it to the public.

First up came a wave of Democratic voices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a joint call for public report, while 2020 candidates chimed in with some variation on the theme. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also surprisingly called for a public release, saying it was needed to "put an end to the speculation and innuendo that has loomed over the administration."

Those calls reflected a 420-0 House vote last week on a non-binding resolution to make the report public. Heck, even Trump said Tuesday that he wouldn't mind if Congress saw what Mueller had to say. But there's still one major holdout: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). In his Friday statement, Graham reflected Barr's language in simply calling for "as much transparency as possible, consistent with the law." Graham also blocked the House's popular resolution from a vote in the Senate earlier this week.

Grassley did pointedly note Friday that he was in Graham's committee position just last year — perhaps something he's regretting giving up right about now. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 22, 2019

A senior Justice Department official said Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will not recommend any further indictments, ABC News reports.

Mueller, whose inquiry into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference was completed late Friday afternoon, had issued indictments for more than three dozen individuals over the nearly two-year investigation, including for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

While the lack of new indictments may come as a disappointment to those who saw Mueller's report as a potentially crippling blow to the Trump administration, it is still unclear what the completed report contains — and NBC News notes that evidence uncovered by the special counsel's probe could be used in other investigations, like in the Southern District of New York. But the spectacle of former Trump associates being led into court as a result of Mueller's investigation appears to have come to an end. Jacob Lambert

March 22, 2019

Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller missed his chance to deliver his report to Attorney General William Barr on the Ides of March, he picked another significant date to finish the long-awaited conclusion.

On March 22, 1973, a conversation between former President Richard Nixon and his former attorney general, John Mitchell, was recorded — a conversation that was later used to indict Mitchell on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury for his role in the attempted cover-up of the Watergate scandal of 1972. In this recording, Nixon can be heard instructing Mitchell to "stonewall" the ongoing Watergate trial and "save the plan."

Comparisons between Presidents Nixon and Trump have been endlessly drawn since Trump assumed office in 2017, which makes this historical coincidence particularly noticeable. But we won't know if a conspiracy on the scale of Nixon's has occurred in the Trump White House unless the conclusions of Mueller report are made public — which could happen as soon as this weekend.

Read the full transcript of the Nixon tape in question here, or listen to all of the tapes played during the Watergate trial here, courtesy of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Shivani Ishwar

March 22, 2019

News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had submitted his final report to the Justice Department on Friday fueled speculation that President Trump could be in for a very rough weekend, but several pundits weren't so sure.

While Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) warned that the Democratic-controlled House has "subpoena power" and promised "the American people will see every word, every comma, every period" of the report on whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference, but CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin thought eager viewers should cool their jets.

While Attorney General William Barr wrote that he could brief Congress on the report's conclusions "as soon as this weekend," Toobin said that if he does share the findings, "it's going to take a while," not come within days. Several agencies will have to weigh in on whether aspects of the report can be declassified, said Toobin, though he acknowledged the process was going quicker than he expected.

Toobin also asserted that Mueller was "never told no" during his investigation, something ABC News' Terry Moran agreed with, saying Mueller had "free reign" and still opted not to bring any more charges against Trump campaign officials. However, Moran said "it's possible that we will learn a conclusion, the broad conclusion, very quickly," suggesting no further indictments and a completed investigation will speak for themselves, forming a de facto "no collusion" conclusion. Summer Meza

March 22, 2019

The White House heard the news approximately 30 seconds before the rest of the world.

Right around 5 p.m. EST Friday, the Department of Justice announced Special Counsel Robert Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. The White House reportedly heard the news only a few minutes before the announcement — and this reaction from President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani seems to prove it.

As speculation mounted throughout the day that Mueller had finished his report, Giuliani delightfully told The Washington Post that all this hype was "like waiting for a baby." He also added that Trump's team was "not expecting" further indictments from the report. Yet as the first report surfaced confirming the rumors were true, Giuliani appeared shocked, telling The Hill "I can't believe they'd put out a report at 5 o'clock on a Friday — but they've surprised me before." He and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow then issued a full statement.

The White House also followed up the news with a statement of its own, confirming that the White House did not get to look at Mueller's report before its completion.

Meanwhile, officials who've talked with Trump tell ABC News that he's just "glad it's over." Kathryn Krawczyk

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