News brief: Big stories of the day

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 25, 2019, 09.00 AM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Read the top 5 stories of the morning here. 

Trump declares 'complete exoneration' after Mueller report finds no collusion with Russia

US President Donald Trump declared Sunday that he had been completely exonerated after his campaign was cleared of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, in a major boost for his re-election hopes.

The long-awaited final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Moscow's election meddling concluded that no member or associate of the campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia in its plot to boost Trump in the vote more than two years ago.

While not completely absolving the president, Attorney General Bill Barr's letter to Congress summarizing the still-secret Mueller report cleared a dark cloud that had hung over the Trump's legitimacy since he took office in January 2017.

'Huge jump' in Rahul Gandhi's income, says BJP, asks where it's coming from

The BJP said Sunday that there had been a "huge jump" in Congress President Rahul Gandhi's income and asked where the money was coming from. 

The BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference on Sunday that Rahul's income, according to his election affidavits, had risen from over Rs 55 lakh in 2004 to Rs 9 crore in 2014. 

"How can an MP, who is not a professional, witness such a jump in his income?" Patra asked. 


Pakistan: Minor Hindu girls approach court, man suspected to have assisted in their wedding held

A man suspected to have assisted in solemnising the wedding of two Pakistani Hindu minor girls, who were reportedly abducted and forcefully converted to Islam, was arrested on Sunday, as the teenagers approached a court in Pakistan's Punjab province seeking protection, according to a media report. 

The two girls, Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were allegedly kidnapped by a group of "influential" men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown solemnising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering nationwide outrage.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also ordered a probe into the issue.

Stricken Norway cruise ship reaches port after airlift drama

A cruise liner that ran into trouble in stormy seas off Norway reached port under its own steam Sunday after hundreds of passengers were winched to safety by helicopter in a spectacular rescue operation.

Escorted by tugboats, the Viking Sky arrived in the port of Molde at around 4:15 pm (1515 GMT), television images showed. Nearly a third of its 1,373 passengers and crew had already been airlifted off the ship.

The cruise liner lost power and started drifting on Saturday afternoon two kilometres (1.2 miles) off a stretch of Norwegian coastline notorious for shipwrecks.

On the back foot, Democrats demand release of full Mueller report

Top congressional Democrats said Sunday it was "urgent" that the full report on Russian interference in the 2016 US election be publicly released, stressing it does not exonerate Donald Trump.

The president was quick to claim vindication by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report findings which, according to a summary by Attorney General Bill Barr, found that no Trump campaign official was involved in Russian conspiracies to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Such a conclusion would no doubt blunt a key weapon for Democrats desperate to oust Trump in 2020.