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In Copenhagen, Reaction to an Anti-Muslim Event Turns Violent

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COPENHAGEN — After an anti-Muslim provocateur publicly desecrated the Quran in Copenhagen, demonstrations against him on Sunday and early Monday descended into violent clashes between protesters, who set about 70 fires in the streets, and the police, who made 23 arrests.

The unrest in the Norrebro district of the Danish capital began on Sunday after Rasmus Paludan, the founder of a tiny far-right party, tossed a book he claimed was the Quran into the air and let it fall to the ground.

Mr. Paludan has spent the past months touring Denmark and staging offensive protests against Muslims and immigrants, often in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations. Until recently, he had largely been ignored by mainstream Danish news outlets, but the riots have propelled him to the center of national attention.

Protesters shouted at Mr. Paludan on Sunday, pressing against the lines of police officers who were protecting him. Violence then broke out and spread into surrounding streets, much of it shown live on television.

Some of the demonstrators threw fireworks and rocks and set fire to cars and garbage cans. No serious injuries were reported, but residents woke on Monday to a coat of ash and the stench of burning still hanging over the area.

Mr. Paludan, a lawyer, had gained some small notoriety through a series of online videos in which he insults Islam and its adherents, as well as black people, and goes into immigrant-heavy neighborhoods to confront people with his views.

He has acknowledged that adolescents and young adults make up a large part of his online audience. Last year, YouTube shut down a channel used by Mr. Paludan and his party after repeated violations of the platform’s rules.

Mr. Paludan has previously set fire to a book he said was the Quran, the sacred book of Islam, and streamed the event live on Facebook. Two years ago, he defended a man against a criminal charge of committing a similar act — brought under a blasphemy law that has since been repealed — by calling the book’s destruction an act of self-defense. Two weeks ago, Mr. Paludan received a suspended jail sentence for racist remarks about black South Africans.

Before last weekend, the Danish authorities had said that providing police protection to Mr. Paludan at 17 public events this year had cost about $900,000 — a figure that made headlines in the Danish news media.

Claus Oxfeldt, chairman of the Danish Police Union, said in a statement on Facebook that at a time when the service is short of resources, it is hard to justify using them to protect someone whose purpose is to create “negative attention, hate and confrontation.”

Attitudes toward immigrants have hardened in Denmark since the migration crisis of 2015 and 2016, when more than a million people from Africa and the Middle East fled to Europe, with thousands arriving in Denmark.

Anti-immigrant laws enacted since then have made the country less welcoming, but attitudes like Mr. Paludan’s remain outside the mainstream. On Sunday, Mr. Paludan was joined by just one supporter: the videographer who filmed him throwing the book into the air and letting it fall to the ground, an intensely offensive act to Muslims.

On Monday, pundits carefully articulated both their disgust at Mr. Paludan’s actions and their concerns to protect freedom of expression.

“Yes, it’s costing both money and resources, and yes, it’s bitter to the people living in Norrebro,” the newspaper Politiken said in an editorial on Monday. “But that’s the cost of living in a democracy, and that cannot and should not be qualified.”

In 2005, the Danish government defended a newspaper’s right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Responses to the cartoons included arson attacks on Danish embassies in Muslim countries and a thwarted assault on the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

On Sunday, Soren Pape Poulsen, the Danish justice minister, likened Mr. Paludan’s events to “a circus” and suggested on Twitter that he be ignored.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen wrote on Twitter that Mr. Paludan’s actions were “senseless provocations.” He urged Danes to counter them “with arguments — not with violence.”

Norrebro has long been a haven for students, artists, immigrants, left-leaning activists and young families, a district where residents can stroll through a historic cemetery, shop for artisanal beer or buy kebabs from the several Turkish or Middle Eastern grills there.

Despite the gentrification, the district also has a lengthy history of violent civil unrest. In 1993, protests in Norrebro against closer integration with the European Union turned into rioting. Since the 1980s, there have been many clashes between the police and squatters, the worst of them in 2006 and 2007.

Mr. Paludan has vowed to continue his public events, and he said he would return to Norrebro on Tuesday.

On Monday, Danish police, citing concerns about public order, said that they were banning a demonstration organized by Mr. Paludan later that evening in Albertslund, west of Copenhagen.





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The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things.

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The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of President Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Mr. Trump that a special counsel had been appointed in May 2017, Mr. Trump grew angry: “I’m fucked,” he said, believing his presidency was ruined. He told Mr. Sessions, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller, only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. In June 2017, the president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn resisted. Rather than carry out the president’s order, he decided he would rather resign.

Two days later, Mr. Trump asked another trusted adviser, Corey Lewandowski, to tell Mr. Sessions to end the investigation. Mr. Lewandowski did not want to, so he punted to a colleague, Rick Dearborn. He, too, “was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.”

Mr. Trump was angry that Mr. Sessions recused himself from the investigation. (Vol. II, Page 78)


One of the unanswered questions of the past two years — which helped fuel the F.B.I. investigation, congressional inquiries and journalistic scrutiny — is why so many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities.

The report recaps one false statement after another. Just a few examples:

Mr. Trump was livid when journalists revealed that he had unsuccessfully ordered Mr. Mueller’s firing. The president tried to get Mr. McGahn to say publicly that was false, but Mr. McGahn refused, saying that the news reports were accurate. Mr. Mueller’s report notably declared that Mr. McGahn was “credible.”

Mr. Trump also pressed the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to give a news conference about the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. The White House press office wanted Mr. Rosenstein to say it was his idea. Mr. Rosenstein told the president that a news conference was a bad idea “because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth.”


The president has spent the past two years denouncing the news media. He has repeatedly accused reporters of making up sources to destroy his presidency. The report, though, shows not only that some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, but also that White House officials knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

In May 2017, for instance, The New York Times disclosed that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the president’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Trump tweeted, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

“Despite those denials,” Mr. Mueller wrote, “substantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account.”

In another instance, Mr. Trump appeared to use criticism of the news media as a legal strategy. He attacked a Times article suggesting that his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, might cooperate with the Justice Department and provide information about Mr. Trump.


Mr. Trump was quick to declare the report a total vindication.

But federal authorities went out of their way not to exonerate Mr. Trump. They wrote that his conduct in office “presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

If the evidence cleared the president, Mr. Mueller would have said so. It didn’t. (Vol. II, Page 8)


Mr. Trump repeatedly said he was eager to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller’s team, despite his lawyers’ insistence that doing so would be a terrible idea.

The report makes clear why his lawyers were so worried about it. Mr. Mueller had a huge cache of unanswered questions, misleading and conflicting statements, and unexplained actions with which to confront the president. Sitting for an interview, the report makes clear, would have exposed Mr. Trump to far more problems.

Mr. Mueller said he chose not to subpoena the president because a court fight would delay the investigation. But that decision meant that the authorities were never able to ask the central question in the obstruction case: What was Mr. Trump thinking when he tried repeatedly to undermine the federal investigation?

Mr. Mueller believed he had the authority to subpoena the president. (Vol. II, Page 13)


Mr. Mueller makes explicit what Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on: Russia secretly manipulated the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation ultimately found no evidence that anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign participated in that effort, but the report reveals in stark detail the many suspicious interactions that had the F.B.I. so worried. Many of those have been reported, but the report amounts to a compendium that helps explain the origins of the F.B.I. investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

For instance, it has long been known that George Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. But the report goes much further, revealing that Mr. Papadopoulos suggested an explicit offer by the Russian government to work with the Trump campaign to sabotage Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Papadopoulos indicated that Russia wanted to coordinate with the Trump campaign. (Vol. I, Page 89)


Prosecutors describe a president who was preoccupied with ending a federal investigation, a White House that repeatedly told misleading and changing stories, and a presidential campaign that was in repeated contact with Russian officials for reasons that are not always clear.

Even though prosecutors concluded that didn’t amount to provably criminal conduct, the report is astounding in its sweep. Yet it is also a reminder of how much the public has learned over the past two years about Mr. Trump’s conduct.

If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time, the political fallout would normally be devastating. The consequences of the report remain to be seen, but if people are not surprised or shocked by the revelations, then Mr. Trump may have benefited by the steady drip of news stories he has so loudly criticized.

The special counsel suggests a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump to harm the investigation. (Vol. II, Page 157)





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The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things.

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The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of President Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Mr. Trump that a special counsel had been appointed in May 2017, Mr. Trump grew angry: “I’m fucked,” he said, believing his presidency was ruined. He told Mr. Sessions, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller, only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. In June 2017, the president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn resisted. Rather than carry out the president’s order, he decided he would rather resign.

One of the unanswered questions of the past two years — which helped fuel the F.B.I. investigation, congressional inquiries and journalistic scrutiny — is why so many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities.

The report recaps one false statement after another. Just a few examples:

Mr. Trump was livid when journalists revealed that he had unsuccessfully ordered Mr. Mueller’s firing. The president tried to get Mr. McGahn to say publicly that was false, but Mr. McGahn refused, saying that the news reports were accurate. Mr. Mueller’s report notably declared that Mr. McGahn was “credible.”

Mr. Trump also pressed the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to give a news conference about the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. The White House press office wanted Mr. Rosenstein to say it was his idea. Mr. Rosenstein told the president that a news conference was a bad idea “because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth.”

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, admitted issuing a statement to the news media “in the heat of the moment that was not founded on anything.”

No, F.B.I. agents didn’t actually call the White House offering support for Mr. Comey’s firing. (Vol. II, Page 72)

Mr. Mueller can’t explain why the stories about Mr. Comey’s firing keep changing. (Vol. II, Page 77)


The president has spent the past two years denouncing the news media. He has repeatedly accused reporters of making up sources to destroy his presidency. The report, though, shows not only that some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, but also that White House officials knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

In May 2017, for instance, The New York Times disclosed that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the president’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Trump tweeted, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

“Despite those denials,” Mr. Mueller wrote, “substantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account.”

In another instance, Mr. Trump appeared to use criticism of the news media as a legal strategy. He attacked a Times article suggesting that his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, might cooperate with the Justice Department and provide information about Mr. Trump.


Mr. Trump was quick to declare the report a total vindication.

But federal authorities went out of their way not to exonerate Mr. Trump. They wrote that his conduct in office “presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

If the evidence cleared the president, Mr. Mueller would have said so. It didn’t. (Vol. II, Page 8)


Mr. Trump repeatedly said he was eager to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller’s team, despite his lawyers’ insistence that doing so would be a terrible idea.

The report makes clear why his lawyers were so worried about it. Mr. Mueller had a huge cache of unanswered questions, misleading and conflicting statements, and unexplained actions with which to confront the president. Sitting for an interview, the report makes clear, would have exposed Mr. Trump to far more problems.

Mr. Mueller said he chose not to subpoena the president because a court fight would delay the investigation. But that decision meant that the authorities were never able to ask the central question in the obstruction case: What was Mr. Trump thinking when he tried repeatedly to undermine the federal investigation?

Mr. Mueller believed he had the authority to subpoena the president. (Vol. II, Page 13)


Mr. Mueller makes explicit what Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on: Russia secretly manipulated the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation ultimately found no evidence that anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign participated in that effort, but the report reveals in stark detail the many suspicious interactions that had the F.B.I. so worried. Many of those have been reported, but the report amounts to a compendium that helps explain the origins of the F.B.I. investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

For instance, it has long been known that George Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. But the report goes much further, revealing that Mr. Papadopoulos suggested an explicit offer by the Russian government to work with the Trump campaign to sabotage Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Papadopoulos indicated that Russia wanted to coordinate with the Trump campaign. (Vol. I, Page 89)


Prosecutors describe a president who was preoccupied with ending a federal investigation, a White House that repeatedly told misleading and changing stories, and a presidential campaign that was in repeated contact with Russian officials for reasons that are not always clear.

Even though prosecutors concluded that didn’t amount to provably criminal conduct, the report is astounding in its sweep. Yet it is also a reminder of how much the public has learned over the past two years about Mr. Trump’s conduct.

If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time, the political fallout would normally be devastating. The consequences of the report remain to be seen, but if people are not surprised or shocked by the revelations, then Mr. Trump may have benefited by the steady drip of news stories he has so loudly criticized.

The special counsel suggests a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump to harm the investigation. (Vol. II, Page 157)





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Peace Conference Plans Derailed as Taliban Object to Afghan Delegation

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After several rounds of talks, the Taliban and American negotiators seem to be near a deal on major issues, including the withdrawal of American troops and a Taliban guarantee that international terrorist groups will not be allowed on Afghan soil. But that progress cannot be finalized until Afghans negotiate a political future for the country after the American withdrawal.

After the latest round of talks with Americans last month, the Taliban had quietly agreed to the participation, in a private capacity, of some government officials in the conference this weekend. But they regarded the final list of participants as essentially a government delegation, according to Taliban representatives and Western diplomats. It did not help that the office of Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, in announcing the list on Tuesday, called it “the delegation of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”

Soon after the list’s release, the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement that the Qatari hosts had made it clear “both in written and verbal form” that no one at the conference would be representing the government, and that any official who was there would be participating in a personal capacity.

“The creators of the Kabul list must realize that this is an orderly and prearranged conference in a faraway Gulf country and not an invitation to some wedding or other party at a hotel in Kabul,” Mr. Mujahid said, alluding to the large number of participants.

Even before the latest complication, the makeup of the delegation had been a divisive issue for the political elite in Kabul. The peace talks are overlapping with national elections, in which Mr. Ghani is seeking another five-year term, and the question of who would participate in the conference was caught up in domestic political jostling with every player wanting a piece.

Mr. Ghani’s camp sees the opposition forces, normally divided, as united in one goal: using the peace process to topple him. For their part, opposition groups, along with some Western diplomats, regard Mr. Ghani’s team as stubborn, not genuinely committed to any peace efforts they cannot control, and firm in the belief that they have a better chance at retaining power if the talks are scuttled.



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