May 18, 2017

From VOA news in Washington.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been named special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of "Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters," the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says his decision to appoint a special counsel, also known as special prosecutor, does not mean "a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.

"I have made no such determination," Rosenstein said in a statement. "What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."

Stock markets tumbled, the dollar's value sank and worried Republicans wondered what else could go wrong Wednesday as President Donald Trump faced congressional inquiries into allegations he tried to derail an FBI investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and disclosed classified intelligence to Russia.

"Nobody knows where this really goes from here," one White House official told Politico, a Washington political news site. "What is next?"

On the other side of the partisan divide, a small but growing number of Democrats are speaking openly about impeachment, arguing that Trump obstructed justice when he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to "go easy" in its probe of Flynn's ties to Russia.

This is VOA news.

The Trump administration has announced that it will continue nuclear sanctions relief for Iran, keeping in place an Obama-era deal.

Under the 2015 deal, sanctions punishing Iran for its nuclear program were waived in exchange for Iran's commitment to roll back the program. But continuing the sanctions relief requires the renewal of a six-month waiver. The most recent waiver, issued by former Secretary of State John Kerry in December, was set to expire this week.

But the administration also imposed unrelated sanctions on two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company and members of a China-based network for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program.

The U.S. State Department said Thursday it will express concern "in the strongest possible terms" over Tuesday's violent clash involving supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Some U.S. officials criticized them as the aggressors against peaceful protesters, saying their actions outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington violated American protections on free speech.

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest," State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said in a statement. "We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms."

D.C. police said they were checking reports that two men who were arrested were among the Turkish leaders' guards, adding that other suspects are being sought.

The U.N. Security Council held a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, where anti-government protests have rocked the country for more than six weeks amid a worsening economic and humanitarian situation.

The United States called for the meeting, which marks the first time the 15-nation council, which is responsible for international peace and security, has taken up the matter.

"In Venezuela, we are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis," U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said ahead of the meeting. "Peaceful protesters have been injured, arrested and even killed by their own government. Medicine is unavailable, hospitals lack supplies, and it has become difficult to find food."

That's the latest world news from VOA.