WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, disclosed in a statement to members of Congress four distinct interactions with Russians during the presidential campaign and transition period. The 11-page statement provides his first detailed account of meetings over the last year with the Russian ambassador to the United States, a Russian lawyer and a Russian banker.
New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci named President Donald Trump as the anonymous source casting doubt on the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interferedin the 2016 election during a CNN interview on Sunday.
The package punishes Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential elections and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
The White House had objected to a key section of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if Trump attempted to ease or end the sanctions.
The nomination comes amid what could be a thaw in U.S. relations with Russia following the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany this month. The Trump administration is also under fire amid a widening investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possible collusion of Trump campaign associates.
Saturday’s protest in the capital — called “We’re sick of him” — was organized by the Open Russia movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once Russia’s richest man, he was freed by Putin in 2013 after spending a decade in jail for fraud, a charge Khodorkovsky said was politically-motivated.
Those diplomatic concerns forced the flight to refuel at Tokyo’s Narita airport, the flight’s captain told passengers, several of whom posted about it on social media.
House and Senate Intelligence committees both have ongoing investigations into whether Trump associates worked with the Kremlin in an attempt to help Trump win the election.
Page has been at the center of speculation about links between Trump aides and Russia because of his ties to the country and a trip to Moscow in July.
Page and the White House have denied all allegations of improper communications.
Putin was asked specifically about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on Tuesday morning — that Russia is either “incompetent” or has “failed” to hold up its end of the deal to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons, and needed to choose whether to abandon or “maintain its alliance” with Assad.
Tillerson is due to meet today with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow.
CreditPool photo by Evan Vucci
LONDON — Russia’s military buildup in Syria now includes surface-to-air missiles as well as combat aircraft with air-to-air capability, deployments that raise “serious questions” about Moscow’s role in the region, Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.
Russian officials have said that the purpose of the buildup at a base near Latakia, Syria, is to combat the Islamic State.
But the deployment of air defense systems and fighter aircraft — weapons that can be used against a conventionally armed foe but that have little utility against extremist fighters — has spurred concerns that Moscow’s goal is also to establish a military outpost in the Middle East.
It has also added to the Pentagon’s worries about the risk of an inadvertent confrontation between Russia’s military and the American-led coalition that is carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State.
“Clearly the presence of aircraft with air-to-air combat capacity” as well as “surface-to-air missiles raise serious questions, which is precisely why Secretary Carter talked with the Minister of Defense of Russia Shoigu yesterday,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu.
At the White House’s direction, Mr. Carter began a dialogue Friday with Mr. Shoigu aimed at ensuring that American and Russian aircraft avoid unintended incidents as they operate over Syria.
While Mr. Kerry did not provide details, an American official, who requested anonymity because he was discussing intelligence reports, said that a Russian SA-22 air defense system was already in place at Latakia. The United States had observed elements of the system at the base in the last week, but now the launcher and the missiles it fires are there, too, the official said.
The American official added that the four Su-27 aircraft Russia had flown to the air base were armed with air-to-air missiles.
“What’s the air-to-air threat there for them?” asked the official, who called the development “troubling.”
Other American officials suggested, however, that the deployment might simply reflect the Russian military’s standard defensive precautions as it established an air hub in a foreign country.
The prefabricated building Russia has erected at the base now has the capacity to house 2,000 military advisers and personnel. Ferrying weapons and equipment to the base has involved well over 20 flights by Russian Condor transport planes — almost all of which have flown to Syria by passing over Iran and Iraq.
Syria, and the migrant crisis it has spawned, has been a major focus of Mr. Kerry’s trip to Europe. After a meeting Saturday morning with Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, Mr. Kerry said that it was vital to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis but that Moscow was not putting enough pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to make him negotiate seriously.
“We need to get to the negotiation,” Mr. Kerry said at a joint news conference with Mr. Hammond. “That’s what we’re looking for, and we hope Russia and Iran, other countries with influence, will help to bring that about, because that’s what’s preventing this crisis from ending.”