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Iranian President known as ‘Butcher of Tehran’ killed in helicopter crash

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Iranian President, known as the “Butcher of Tehran” is dead after his helicopter crashed in a remote region of the country on Sunday, reported officials and state media. President Ebrahim Raisi, 63, his foreign minister, and other passengers were found dead by rescuers at the crash site early Monday morning.

Raisi’s helicopter was found around dawn Monday in a mountainous area about 12 hours after it went down in hazardous weather. State news agency Mehr reported “all passengers of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister were martyred.” An Israeli official quickly publicly stated “It wasn’t us,” Monday.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Raisi was returning home with Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and local officials through heavy clouds and dense fog after traveling to neighboring country Azerbaijan to open a new dam with President Ilham Aliyev.

State media initially reported the aircraft had experienced a “hard landing” and that initial rescue efforts were stymied due to severe wind and fog and the region’s rugged, unforgiving terrain.

The New York Post reported that days after Iran’s failed missile and drone strike against Israel last month, Raisi rattled his saber at an annual military parade, threatening a “massive and harsh” response should Israel retaliate, and warning that if Tehran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain of the Zionist regime.”

The Post added that messages of condolence have been pouring in from Iran’s allies, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Raisi “a true friend of Russia,” while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply shocked and saddened.”

Iranian state TV suspended regular programming after news of the crash, instead broadcasting mass gatherings around the country showing supporters solemnly praying for Raisi.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson Vows to Take Legal Action After DOJ Declines to Prosecute Merrick Garland

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House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed disappointment on Friday over the Justice Department’s (DOJ) decision not to prosecute Attorney General Merrick Garland after the House voted to hold him in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. Johnson announced plans to take the subpoena to federal court and certify the contempt reports.

The DOJ stated that Garland’s refusal to comply with the subpoena, which instructed him to turn over an audio recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur, did not “constitute a crime.” This decision follows the GOP-led House’s vote on Wednesday to hold Garland in contempt, passing the resolution with a 216–207 vote.

“The House disagrees with the assertions in the letter from the Department of Justice,” Johnson wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “As Speaker, I will be certifying the contempt reports to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. It is sadly predictable that the Biden Administration’s Justice Department will not prosecute Garland for defying congressional subpoenas even though the department aggressively prosecuted Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for the same thing.”

Johnson criticized the DOJ’s decision as “another example” of what he perceives as the Biden administration’s two-tiered system of justice. He emphasized that the House would pursue the enforcement of the subpoena against Garland in federal court. The contempt order was issued after President Biden invoked executive privilege over the tapes, though Congress has received a transcript of the interview.

In a statement following the House’s contempt vote, Garland blasted the decision, accusing House Republicans of weaponizing their power for partisan purposes. “Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland stated. “I will always stand up for this department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

The Justice Department’s refusal to prosecute Garland underscores ongoing tensions between the executive branch and the GOP-led House. The situation reflects broader disputes over congressional oversight, executive privilege, and the handling of classified information.

As Speaker Johnson moves forward with legal action, the outcome could set significant precedents for the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch. The decision to pursue enforcement of the subpoena in federal court will be closely watched, as it may influence future interactions between legislative investigators and executive officials.

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