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DC Roundup: Sessions to Testify, Obstruction of Justice?, Qatar Crisis, Trump to Poland

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump attends a roundtable on infrastructure at the Department of Transportation in Washington, Jume 9, 2017.

Developments in Washington, D.C., over the weekend include Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreeing to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republicans asking President Donald Trump to come clean about possible taped conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, the continuing Gulf crisis involving a blockade of Qatar by other countries in the region, and the question of whether the president could be charged with obstruction of justice regarding the investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential eleciton.

FILE - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to speak before a meeting at the Department of Justice in Washington, April 18, 2017.
FILE - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to speak before a meeting at the Department of Justice in Washington, April 18, 2017.

US Lawmakers Await Sessions' Testimony -- U.S. lawmakers said Sunday they want answers from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he testifies this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election. “There’s a question of his [Sessions’] participation in the firing of (former FBI) Director (James) Comey,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said on Fox News Sunday. “Then, there have been allegations, publicly, of meetings that go beyond the meetings that he has already declared he had with representatives of Russia’s government. That will come up.”

President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 9, 2017.
President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 9, 2017.

Can Trump Be Indicted for Obstruction of Justice? -- Did Trump break the law when he allegedly asked then-FBI Director Comey in February to stop his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn? The question is at the heart of a legal debate a day after Comey disclosed during closely watched congressional testimony that Trump asked him to end his investigation of Flynn’s suspected ties to Russia.

Fellow Republicans Press Trump About Tapes -- Fellow Republicans are pressing Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI Director Comey. And if he does, they want the president to hand them over to Congress or else possibly face a subpoena.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba, March 22, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba, March 22, 2016.

Trump Readies New US Policy Toward Cuba -- Trump is preparing to announce new policies toward Cuba that most likely will roll back parts of former President Barack Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the island nation, according to a senior administration official and other sources. The official said presidential aides were finalizing their review of U.S.-Cuba relations and were expected to send recommendations to Trump and his national security team in the coming days.

Trump to Visit Poland in July, Before G-20 Summit in Germany -- U.S. President Donald Trump will visit NATO ally Poland before he heads to Germany for the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in July, the White House announced.

Britain Denies That Trump State Visit Delayed -- Prime Minister Theresa May's office said on Sunday there had been no change to plans for Trump's to come to Britain on a state visit, after the Guardian newspaper reported the trip had been postponed. The paper, citing an unnamed adviser at May's Downing Street office who was in the room at the time, reported Trump had told May by telephone in recent weeks that he did not want to come if there were likely to be large-scale protests.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt attends during a summit of Environment ministers from the G7 group of industrialized nations in Bologna, Italy, June11, 2017.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt attends during a summit of Environment ministers from the G7 group of industrialized nations in Bologna, Italy, June11, 2017.

Trump's Environment Official Skipping Much of G-7 Summit -- Italy says the top environment official in Trump administration is leaving a Group of Seven summit before it ends. Italy's environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, who is leading the two-day environment meeting in Bologna, told reporters that Scott Pruitt participated in an opening session about climate Sunday morning but then was departing due to a commitment.

Gulf Nations, Qatar Ease Diplomatic Rift Slightly -- Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates signaled Sunday they may allow some Qataris to stay in their countries amid a diplomatic rift with the Gulf nation. Qatar meanwhile pledged those nations’ citizens will have “complete freedom” to stay in the energy-rich country.

Kuwait Says Qatar Willing to Listen to Gulf Concerns -- Qatar is ready to listen to the concerns of Gulf Arab states that have cut diplomatic and economic ties, Kuwait said on Sunday as it tried to mediate solution to the worst regional crisis in years. Saudi Arabia and allies Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed ties with Qatar last week, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and arch-foe Iran - charges Doha denies.

Former Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft is seated before President Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey arrive at an installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Oct. 28, 2013.
Former Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft is seated before President Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey arrive at an installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Oct. 28, 2013.

Qatar, in Regional Crisis, Hires Former US Attorney General -- Qatar has paid $2.5 million to the law firm of a former attorney general under fprmer U.S. President George W. Bush to audit its efforts at stopping terrorism funding, a matter at the heart of the Gulf diplomatic crisis that erupted last week. John Ashcroft personally will lead his Washington-based firm's efforts "to evaluate, verify and as necessary, strengthen the client's anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing" compliance, according to documents filed to the U.S. Justice Department.

From left, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
From left, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Biden Joins Voices Asking Romney to Consider Utah Senate Race -- Former Vice President Joe Biden has encouraged onetime GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for the Senate in Utah if longtime Republican incumbent Orrin Hatch decides to retire next year. Biden made the recommendation to Romney Friday evening at the Utah resort where Romney was hosting an annual invitation-only business and politics summit.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017, in Washington.
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017, in Washington.

What's Next for Comey? Maybe Law, Corporate Work, Politics -- The former FBI director boldly challenged the president who fired him, accused the Trump administration of lying and supplied material that could be used to build a case against Trump. But after stepping away from the Capitol Hill spotlight, where he's always seemed comfortable, the 56-year-old veteran lawman now confronts the same question long faced by Washington officials after their government service.

Justice Department Says Suit Against Trump Should be Dropped -- The U.S. Department of Justice Friday called for the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging Trump violated the constitution by accepting foreign payments at his hotels. The lawsuit, filed in January, said Trump violates the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause, which bars him from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval, by maintaining ownership over his business empire despite ceding day-to-day control to his sons.

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