WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is seeking an investigation into leaks related to his interview last week with a congressional panel probing Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.
Details of his eight-hour session with the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 6 were leaked during and after the interview, despite assurances that his comments, which were under oath, would be kept confidential, Trump’s lawyer Alan Futerfas said in a letter to Rep. Michael Conaway, who is leading the committee’s Russia investigation. Futerfas said the leaks undermined the committee and “warrant examination.”
Several hours into the interview, CNN reported that Trump said that he had spoken with White House communications director Hope Hicks about his response to reporters’ questions about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. Later that evening, Democratic members of the committee appeared on television discussing the details of Trump’s interview.
Days later, an email Trump had turned over to the committee was leaked with the wrong date, leading to an inaccurate CNN report suggesting Trump knew about hacked emails before they were released publicly by WikiLeaks.
Trump had been assured prior to the interview that the House Intelligence Committee would keep it confidential unless the full committee voted to release the transcript, Futerfas said in the letter.
National security adviser calls Russia and China ‘threats’ to US liberty
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser described Russia and China as “revisionist powers” posing bellicose threats to the U.S. in a muscular speech that went further than his boss has in criticizing the two countries.
“Geopolitics are back and are back with a vengeance after this holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period,” H.R. McMaster, the director of the National Security Council, said in a speech in Washington on Tuesday. China and Russia, he said, “are undermining the international order and stability. They’re ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law.”
McMaster’s comments, made at an event hosted by a U.K. research group, Policy Exchange, come the week before Trump is set to unveil his national security strategy.
Russia, McMaster said, has pioneered “new generation warfare” that employs “subversion and disinformation and propaganda using cyber tools, operating across multiple domains, that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other, and try to create crises of confidence.”
While McMaster didn’t directly mention election meddling, his comments broadly reflect the activity that prompted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump said last month during a summit in Vietnam that Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured him his country hadn’t tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, contrary to the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.
Russia has with its military “forcibly changed the borders of Europe for the first time since World War II” in Ukraine and Georgia, said McMaster.
China, meanwhile, is engaged in “economic aggression” to challenge a global economic order that “helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty,” McMaster said.
Minnesota governor to announce Senate pick Wednesday
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will announce his choice to replace Sen. Al Franken at a Wednesday news conference, according to a statement from his office.
Franken announced last week his intention to resign after allegations of improper conduct toward more than half a dozen women.
The Wednesday news conference will end days of speculation about whom Dayton would send to Washington and also whether the person intends to run for the office or be a caretaker until the special election in November 2018.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who has been a close confidante of Dayton since his 2010 election, has emerged as a leading contender, though questions have arisen about whether she would run for the office in 2018 and, if she wins, again for the full six-year term in 2020.
—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
11 killed in traffic accident during pilgrimage in Mexico
MEXICO CITY — Eleven Catholic pilgrims died in a traffic accident on Tuesday as they were returning from one of the world’s largest annual Catholic celebrations dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Mexico City.
A truck transporting the pilgrims collided with another vehicle, which hit it from the back on a road linking the capital with the city of Puebla in central Mexico early Tuesday.
Eight of the victims died immediately, the three others in hospital. Thirteen people were reported to have been injured.
The victims were returning from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, one of the top pilgrimage sites in Catholicism dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Nearly 7 million people were estimated to have visited the basilica between Saturday and Tuesday.
Many of the pilgrims moved toward the basilica on their knees, with an image of the Virgin Mary attached to their backs.
Prayers focused on the reconstruction of the country following two earthquakes which killed about 470 people in September.
“Long live the families that are coming together to rebuild a strong and joyful country,” one of the priests shouted prior to a morning Mass.
The basilica stands at a site where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared five times to an indigenous man, Juan Diego, between Dec. 9 and 12, 1531.
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