Washington Roundup: Leak of Intelligence Denied, Travel Ban in Court
Developments on Monday concerning President Donald Trump, reports the president leaked highly classified intelligence information to Russian officials, the continuing controversy around the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump's upcoming travels, news that the president's youngest son will attend a private Maryland school in the fall:
White House Denies Trump Leaked Highly Classified Intelligence to Russian Officials � U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and other members of the Trump administration have denied the accuracy of published reports that the president revealed highly classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office. The original story, first reported by The Washington Post, "is false," McMaster told reporters on the White House grounds late Monday. Several U.S. news organizations reported that the president, in the Oval Office meeting, disclosed information considered highly classified.
Trump Downplays Comey Controversy, Says Search for New FBI Director 'Moving Rapidly' � White House officials on Monday continued to deflect criticism of Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey and insisted the search to name his successor was moving quickly. Six days after Trump fired Comey, the firestorm over the decision raged on in Washington, with Democrats ramping up their calls for a special prosecutor to look into possible Russia-Trump ties.
Trump Signals Shift in Middle East Strategy With Symbolic First Stop in Saudi Arabia � President Trump is about to embark on his first foreign trip, a nine-day journey that takes him to the seats of the world's three great Abrahamic (monotheistic) religions and signals a 180-degree shift from his predecessor's approach toward the Middle East.
Tillerson: Trump Concerned About Moving Embassy to Jerusalem � U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president is concerned about how moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would affect the Mideast peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted immediately to Tillerson, saying, "Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will not harm the peace process. It will do the opposite. It will advance it by righting an historical wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel."
Israeli TV: US Tells Israeli Officials Western Wall is 'Not Your Territory' � Israeli officials are reported to be shocked and "astonished" after a U.S. official allegedly told them the Western Wall � Judaism's holiest site � is in the West Bank and "not your territory." The exchange, reported by Israel's Channel 2 television, is threatening to create a fierce diplomatic storm as Israel gets ready for a visit by Trump later this week.
Lawyers Argue in Second US Travel Ban Appeal Hearing � A second U.S. appellate court this month is considering whether to uphold the suspension of travel restrictions for the nationals of six countries to the United States, as well as the arrival of refugees. Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in Seattle on Monday morning, after the government challenged a decision by a judge in Hawaii that paused the most substantive parts of a revised executive order issued by President Donald Trump in March.
Trump: Search for New FBI Director Moving 'Rapidly' � President Trump said the search for a new FBI director is moving "very rapidly" following his decision last week to fire Comey, who was leading the investigation into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election and links between Trump campaign aides and Moscow interests.
Deputy AG to Brief Senate on Trump's Firing of FBI's Comey � Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will conduct a classified briefing on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) for the full U.S. Senate on the president's firing last week of the FBI director, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.
First Lady: Barron to Attend Private Episcopal School in MD � First lady Melania Trump said on Monday that her son, Barron, will attend St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, a private school, beginning this fall.
Trump Taps Callista Gingrich to be Ambassador to Vatican � The Trump administration has tapped the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, days before Trump embarks on his first foreign trip.
Trump: We Will 'Take Care Of' Violent Crimes Against Police � President Donald Trump is asking the Justice Department to develop strategies to prevent and prosecute violent crimes against law enforcement. Trump says in the Oval Office that police officers have "had it with what's going on" and notes that 118 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2016. Trump signed a proclamation to mark Peace Officers' Memorial Week and Police Week. He was speaking Monday to the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers Urge Trump to Avoid Picking Partisan for FBI Job � As the president considers a replacement for fired FBI Director Comey, lawmakers are urging the president to steer clear of appointing any politicians. The advice came Sunday amid more criticism over Trump's dismissal of Comey during an FBI probe of Russia's meddling with last year's election and any ties to the Trump campaign. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said the Founding Fathers created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now "eroding."
Source: Voice of America