Washington Roundup: Special Prosecutor, Trump Woes Roil Capitol Hill, Markets
Developments Wednesday concerning President Donald Trump include a special prosecutor named to oversee an investigation of Russia’s influence in the 2016 presidential election; Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer of an Oval Office transcript; political anxieties affecting U.S. markets; and the president addresses U.S. Coast Guard ceremony:
Former FBI Head Mueller Named Special Prosecutor in Russia Probe — 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 late Wednesday. President Donald Trump responded, saying, “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
Who Is Robert Mueller? — A look at the man chosen to be special prosecutor in the Russia-U.S.
Crisis-weary Capitol Hill Tense Over Latest Trump, Comey Allegations — Shock and surprise are now part of the routine on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers start each morning grappling with a new political reality brought on by revelations from the night before. A day that began with allegations that Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating links between Russia and his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, ended with the game-changing Justice Department appointment of former FBI Director Mueller as the Russia investigation special counsel.
Trump’s Woes Trigger More Alarms on Capitol Hill — For weeks, most Republican lawmakers limited their comments about the crisis-plagued Trump administration to vague expressions of concern � if they commented at all. That common stance began to shift late Tuesday after media reports surfaced that former FBI director Comey had written memos alleging Trump pressured him to halt an investigation of Flynn’s ties to Russia.
Did Trump Ask FBI to End Investigation Into Flynn? — Following a bombshell revelation that President Trump may have asked then-FBI Director Comey to drop the agency’s probe into former national security adviser Flynn, a powerful Republican congressional committee chairman has asked the FBI to hand over Comey’s notes on the incident within a week.
Facing Congressional Inquiries, Trump Blames Media for His Troubles — Stock markets tumbled, the dollar’s value sank and worried Republicans wondered what else could go wrong Wednesday as Trump faced congressional inquiries into allegations he tried to derail an FBI investigation of Flynn and disclosed classified intelligence to Russia.
Putin: I Can Prove Trump Passed No Secrets — Russian President Vladimir Putin says President Trump never passed any classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when they met last week in Washington, and he has the transcripts to prove it.
Could Trump Be Indicted for Obstruction of Justice? — The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump asked Comey to let go of the investigation into Flynn, and since then, opposition lawmakers have been lining up to accuse Trump of obstructing justice.
Defiant Trump Slams Critics During Coast Guard Commencement Speech — President Trump used his speech Wednesday at the United States Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony to slam his critics, especially the news media, and tout his accomplishments so far as commander-in-chief.
US Stocks, Dollar and Bonds Falter Amid Political Worries — U.S. stocks, the dollar, and government bonds were down in Wednesday’s trading amid investor worries about controversial actions and comments from Trump. The major U.S. stock indexes fell 1.8 percent or more, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 372 points.
US Concerned After Erdogan Supporters Clash With Protesters in Washington — The U.S. State Department on Thursday expressed concern “in the strongest possible terms” over Tuesday’s violent clash involving supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some U.S. officials criticized the supporters as the aggressors against peaceful protesters, saying their actions outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington violated American protections on free speech.
Tensions Persist After Erdogan-Trump Meeting — Turkish President Erdogan is attempting to put a positive spin on his Washington encounter with his U.S. counterpart Trump, calling it a “new awakening” in bilateral relations. But behind joint commitments “to work together in the war against terrorism,” reaction has been cool in Turkey, with a recognition that the much-heralded “pivotal” encounter failed to deliver any breakthrough in ongoing points of bilateral tension.
Trump Presses Turkey for Release of US ‘Security Risk’ Pastor — The case of a U.S. pastor jailed in southern Turkey since October after lawyers say the government deemed him a “security risk” has been elevated to the highest levels of U.S.-Turkey diplomacy. The White House and the legal team for American Protestant missionary Andrew Brunson said Trump raised concerns about his detention during meetings with his Turkish counterpart this week.
Saudi Summit May Host Both US President Trump and Sudan’s al-Bashir — Analysts and rights advocates are expressing concern about reports that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been invited to a summit this weekend in Saudi Arabia that Trump also expects to attend. The invitation to Bashir has stirred controversy, as the Sudanese leader has been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Trump to Give Speech on Islam While in Saudi Arabia — Trump plans to give a major speech on the Islamic faith during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, home to the religion’s major shrines. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Tuesday that Trump, who is leaving for Saudi Arabia on Friday, would meet and have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries and deliver an inspiring, direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam.
Immigrant Arrests Increase Under Trump — The rollback of an Obama-era policy that prioritized the arrest and deportation of immigrants with a criminal background over those without a rap sheet is having the intended effect, according to data provided Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Possible US Troop Increase in Afghanistan Aimed at Breaking Stalemate — The president is considering whether to send up to 5,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a decision expected to come before a NATO summit on May 25. But the question being asked is what can the U.S. achieve with such a small number of extra troops in a country where 350,000 Afghan security forces are already engaged in battle.
US Extends Obama-era Nuclear Sanctions Relief for Iran — The Trump administration has announced that it will continue nuclear sanctions relief for Iran, keeping in place an Obama-era deal.
Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke, Trump Supporter, Joins Homeland Security — Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who built a following among conservatives with his provocative social media presence and strong support of Trump, said Wednesday that he’s taken a job as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.
Many Nations Pin Climate Hopes on China, India As Hopes for Trump Fade — Many countries are pinning their hopes on China and India to lead efforts to slow climate change amid a growing sense of resignation that U.S. President Trump will either withdraw from a global pact or stay and play a minimal role. Delegates at the May 8-18 negotiations in Bonn on a detailed “rule book” for the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first U.N. talks since Trump took office, say there is less foreboding than when Washington last broke with global climate efforts in 2001.
Source: Voice of America