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California to pull plug on billion-dollar bullet train, cites ballooning costs

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California to pull plug on billion-dollar bullet train, cites ballooning costs

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday he is pulling the plug on the state’s massive high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco that was more than a decade behind schedule and billions in the red.

“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

CALIFORNIA BULLET TRAIN PROJECT ON TRACK TO BLOW THROUGH BILLIONS OF MORE DOLLARS 

Newsom added that while California has “the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield,” “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.”

The embattled $77-billion bullet train has been an embarrassment for the Golden State and has been plagued by problems almost from the start.

The idea, long championed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule with the latest estimate for completion set for 2033.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR TO REDUCE NATIONAL GUARD PRESENCE AT BORDER 

Bullet train planners had been under increasing pressure to make progress on the system that many believe had no plausible way of living up to its goal of getting riders across the state in three hours or less.

CALIFORNIA’S BULLET TRAIN AND BIGGEST BOONDOGGLE IS OVER BUDGET BY BILLONS 

California voters approved the pricey proposal in 2008. Backers – including several Democratic lawmakers – heralded it as an inventive concept that would connect Californians and transform transit policies down the road.

But critics claimed the bullet train project was a waste of time and money.

“This so-called bullet train is a solution in search of a problem that is plagued by billions of dollars in cost overruns and fiscal mismanagement,” San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey told Fox News in 2018, adding that the billions wasted on the project “could have been invested in our current infrastructure needs, such as water storage, flood control, highways and bridges.”

Some supporters over the years argued the project should continue because millions of dollars had already been spent.

Others said it was time to cut and run.

In late November, a state audit highlighted the flaws in the project, which began the pressure on then Gov.-elect Newsom to consider cutting back the construction of the train or make other major changes.

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According to the audit, the state risked having to pay back as much as $3.5 billion in federal funds.

“This audit is so damning that it basically says there is no path to completion and has now triggered a federal audit,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno who pushed for the audit, said.

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AG William Barr speaks about Mueller report ahead of its release — live blog

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AG William Barr speaks about Mueller report ahead of its release -- live blog

Attorney General William Barr will lead a press conference Thursday ahead of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election and its ties to the Trump campaign.

Barr is expected to be joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The release of the redacted report is expected later Thursday morning.

The decision to hold a press conference ahead of the report’s release sparked controversy among Democrats who claimed it was a move to shape the narrative surrounding the report. Some Democrats demanded Barr that cancel the press conference.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement calling on the attorney general to testify.

“Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality,” they said. “We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible.”

Follow Fox News’ live blog below. Mobile users click here.

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Barnes & Noble offers free Mueller report download

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Barnes & Noble offers free Mueller report download

Barnes & Noble is offering curious readers a chance to view special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on the Russia investigation as soon as Attorney General William Barr drops the 400-page document early Thursday.

In a tweet, the bookselling company instructed followers how to easily download the materials.

“Be the first to read THE MUELLER REPORT for free! Pre-order today and it will be delivered to your NOOK Library upon expected release,” Barnes & Noble wrote Wednesday in a tweet, which has been shared nearly 500 times.

IN MUELLER REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

Users who don’t have the NOOK Library can download the NOOK reading app to read a PDF or “direct replica” of the report on their smartphones.

“The Mueller Report as released by the U.S. Department of Justice, Barr redactions and all, and it is essential reading for all Americans on both sides of the aisle,” a description of the Mueller report on NOOK reads, in part. “After almost two long years, the wait is over for one of the most important investigations in the history of American politics.”

Dozens of people thanked Barnes & Noble for giving them an easy way to read the lengthy report.

The Justice Department is expected to release a redacted version of the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign Thursday morning.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

Barr scheduled a 9:30 a.m. news conference to present his interpretation of the report’s findings, before providing redacted copies to Congress and the public. The news conference, first announced by President Trump during a radio interview, provoked immediate criticism from congressional Democrats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump blasts Russia probe as ‘hoax’ and ‘harassment’ ahead of Mueller report release

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Trump blasts Russia probe as ‘hoax’ and ‘harassment’ ahead of Mueller report release

President Trump sought to get out ahead of Thursday’s release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report by branding the Russia investigation anew as “the greatest political hoax of all time.”

The president issued his condemnations via tweet shortly before Attorney General Bill Barr was set to hold a press conference, and then issue a redacted version of the Russia report.

“The Greatest Political Hoax of all time! Crimes were committed by Crooked Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats,” Trump tweeted.

IN MUELLER  REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

He soon followed with: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”

The tweets mark the first rhetorical shots of the day by the White House in a broader battle between Republicans and Democrats to frame the report before it is made public.

Barr is scheduled to hold his press conference at 9:30 a.m. with Deputy Rod Rosenstein, where he is expected to address the redactions to the document, interactions with White House officials about the report and executive privilege.

The decision to hold a press conference before the report is published sparked furious pushback from Democrats, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., issuing a joint statement calling it “indefensible.”

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

“Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality,” they said. “We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible.”

Barr angered Democrats with his decision last month to issue a four-page summary of the report, in which he said Mueller had concluded there was no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign. The special counsel also reviewed whether the president had obstructed justice in any way, but ultimately did not come to a conclusion on that issue. Barr and Rosenstein, though, said the evidence was “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Democrats had demanded Barr release the entire unredacted report to Congress, and expressed frustration at what they have considered a delay from the administration — likely exacerbated by Trump’s frequent declarations that he had been exonerated by the report, and Barr’s intention to review the beginnings of the investigation.

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Congressional Democrats have signaled that the release will be just the beginning of a showdown with the administration over the extent of report redactions, as well as further questions about whether the president obstructed justice during the Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, a source close to Trump’s legal team told Fox News on Wednesday that the president’s lawyers have been working on a counter-report in anticipation of any obstruction of justice claims in the report.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Bill Mears, Brooke Singman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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