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Zimbabwe's President Appealing for White Votes
Zimbabwe's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, extended a hand of reconciliation Saturday to whites and ruled out more invasions of their land.
In a sharp departure from his ruling ZANU PF party, which used to treat whites as foreigners and seized land under Robert Mugabe's regime, President Mnangagwa appealed to whites to vote for him in Zimbabwe's July 30 general election, and promised them land.
"We are saying many of our, especially, white farmers, who remained behind and did not go away, we are very grateful for accepting this change, and you must come on board and must be issued with the 99-year leases, wherever the pieces of land which they hold," said Mnangagwa. "And as we go forward, we are acquiring so much land that is getting reviewed as a result of the exercise we are doing now from those who have acquired multiple farms. And again, we are racially blind. It doesn't matter whether it's Chiwenga, who has a farm bigger than what is required in the area. We will downsize it and we forget that he is the vice president.
He is a citizen like anybody else, the same with me, and the same with everybody. We are going to make sure we don't have the animal farm mentality, which you did this morning."
Mnangagwa was speaking at what his ZANU-PF party called a "white interface rally" to garner votes from the race about whom his successor, Mugabe, used to say, "The only good ones are the dead ones."
President Mnangagwa now wants their votes in the July 30 election in which he locks horns with Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, along with other candidates for Zimbabwe's number one job.
On Saturday, Mnangagwa said whites now would be eligible to get a 99-year lease for land. Mugabe's regime seized most of the white-owned land in the early 2000s in what he said was land reform meant to address colonial imbalances.
Trump Claims ex-Lawyer's Phone-taping Is 'Perhaps Illegal'
President Donald Trump said Saturday that his personal lawyer’s taping of their private phone conversations is “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”
Trump was responding to the revelation that former attorney Michael Cohen, weeks before the 2016 election, secretly recorded their discussion of a potential payment for a former Playboy model’s account of having an affair with Trump. He tweeted: “The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”
The recording was part of a large collection of documents and electronic records seized by federal authorities from the longtime Trump fixer earlier this year.
Cohen had made a practice of recording telephone conversations, unbeknownst to those he was speaking with. New York state law allows for recordings of conversations with only the consent of one party; other jurisdictions require all parties to agree to a recording. It was not immediately clear where Trump and Cohen were located at the time of the call.
Cohen’s recording adds to questions about whether Trump tried to quash damaging stories before the election. Trump’s campaign had said it knew nothing about any payment to ex-centerfold Karen McDougal. It could also further entangle the president in a criminal investigation that for months has targeted Cohen.
The erstwhile Trump loyalist has hired a new attorney, Clinton White House veteran Lanny Davis, and disassociated himself from the president as both remain under investigation. Cohen has not been charged with a crime.
Current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the payment was never made and the brief recording shows Trump did nothing wrong.
“The transaction that Michael is talking about on the tape never took place, but what’s important is: If it did take place, the president said it has to be done correctly and it has to be done by check” to keep a proper record of it, Giuliani said.
Davis said “any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape.”
“When the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen,” Davis said in a statement.
The recording was first reported Friday by The New York Times.
The FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room in April, searching in part for information about payments to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, who received a $130,000 payment from Cohen before the election to keep quiet about a sexual relationship she says she had with Trump. The FBI investigation is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of election interference in 2016 and potential obstruction of justice by those in the president’s orbit.
Referring to that raid, Trump called it “inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning).” In past comments Trump has also referred to the court-ordered seizure as a “break-in,” though Cohen has been more sanguine, saying the FBI agents were courteous and respectful.
A self-described fixer for Trump for more than a decade, Cohen said last year he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But he told ABC News in an interview broadcast this month that he now puts “family and country first” and won’t let anyone paint him as “a villain of this story.” On Twitter, he scrubbed mentions and photos of Trump from a profile that previously identified him as “Personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”
Iran Leader Backs Suggestion to Block Gulf Oil Exports if Own Sales Stopped
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday backed President Hassan Rouhani's suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are stopped and said negotiations with the United States would be an "obvious mistake."
Rouhani's apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries came in reaction to looming U.S. sanctions and efforts by Washington to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
"(Khamenei) said remarks by the president... that 'if Iran's oil is not exported, no regional country's oil will be exported,' were important remarks that reflect the policy and the approach of (Iran's) system," Khamenei's official website said.
Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action.
Khamenei used a speech to foreign ministry officials on Saturday to reject any renewed talks with the United States after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from a 2015 international deal over Iran's nuclear program.
"The word and even the signature of the Americans cannot be relied upon, so negotiations with America are of no avail," Khamenei said.
It would be an "obvious mistake" to negotiate with the United States as Washington was unreliable, Khamenei added, according to his website.
The endorsement by Khamenei, who has the last word on all major issues of state, is likely to discourage any open opposition to Rouhani's apparent threat.
Khamenei also voiced support for continued talks with Iran's European partners in the nuclear deal which are preparing a package of economic measures to offset the U.S. pullout from the
"Negotiations with the Europeans should not be stopped, but we should not be just waiting for the European package, but instead we should follow up on necessary activities inside the country [against U.S. sanctions]," Khamenei said.
France said earlier this month that it was unlikely European powers would be able to put together an economic package for Iran that would salvage its nuclear deal before November.
Iran's oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new U.S. sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere in the world.
Washington initially planned to totally shut Iran out of global oil markets after Trump abandoned the deal that limited Iran's nuclear ambitions, demanding all other countries to stop buying its crude by November.
But it has since somewhat eased its stance, saying that it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.