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DC Roundup: Trump Criticizes Comey, Mixed Message on Qatar, US Infrastructure Plan

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump shows the size of road planning documents for a highway plan in Maryland while speaking at the Department of Transportation in Washington, June 9, 2017.

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Friday include President Donald Trump saying former FBI Director James Comey wasn't truthful to Senate panel, releasing his infrastructure plan, as well as the White House sending mixed messages on Qatar relations.

WATCH: Testimony rocks Washington

Trump Willing to Answer Questions of Special Counsel About Comey Conversations -- Asked on Friday if he is willing to give sworn testimony about conversations with the former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, President Donald Trump answered "100 percent," but then immediately added: "I didn't say under oath." The president made it clear, however, he is willing to answer questions from Robert Mueller, another former FBI director, who now heads a special investigation looking into Russian influence on U.S. politics.

WATCH: Trump answers questions about Comey testimony

Trump to Reporters: Comey Statements Under Oath Weren't True -- Trump told reporters Friday that former FBI Director Comey's testimony under oath before Congress on Thursday contained statements that weren't true. Trump took questions from reporters in the Rose Garden outside the White House, in his first question-and-answer session with the media since May 18. In answer to a reporter's question, the president denied he had asked for Comey's pledge of loyalty in a private meeting earlier this year.

Comey's Secret Release of Trump Memo Sparks Partisan Debate -- When Comey revealed that he orchestrated a disclosure of damaging details about his conversations with Trump, he demonstrated his savvy use of media and his skills as a Washington operator. He also kicked up a hornet's nest of questions about the legal and ethical implications of the move.

Marc Kasowitz personal attorney of President Donald Trump, leaves a packed room at the National Press Club in Washington, June 8, 2017 after delivering a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.
Marc Kasowitz personal attorney of President Donald Trump, leaves a packed room at the National Press Club in Washington, June 8, 2017 after delivering a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.

Source: Trump Legal Team to File Complaint Over Comey Memos -- Trump's personal lawyer plans to file a complaint early next week about former FBI Director Comey's disclosure of conversations with the president, a person close to the legal team said on Friday.

WATCH: Trump to Qatar: End funding of terrorism

Trump Doubles Down on Qatar, Even as Tillerson Urges Calm in Gulf Crisis -- President Donald Trump on Friday doubled down on his criticism of Qatar, the tiny Gulf country involved in a spiraling diplomatic crisis with its Arab neighbors. "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," Trump said at a Rose Garden news conference. Trump's comments came minutes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for calm and an ease to the blockade imposed against Qatar by its neighbors.

WATCH: Tillerson says to ease blockade of Qatar

Arab Powers Draw Up Qatari Blacklist; Turkey to Send Troops as Gulf Crisis Deepens -- Arab states that have isolated Qatar tightened their squeeze on Friday by putting dozens of figures with links to the country on terrorism blacklists, while Qatar's ally Turkey rushed to its side with plans to send troops, warships and planes. The developments intensified a confrontation between tiny-but-wealthy Qatar and a group of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt that accuse it of fomenting instability. The dispute has created a major diplomatic test for the United States, which is a close ally of the countries on both sides.

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.

Trump Tweets Vindication After Former FBI Chief's Senate Testimony -- Trump took to Twitter Friday to claim "total and complete vindication," one day after fired FBI director Comey told lawmakers that Trump was not a target in the bureau's investigation into Russia.

White House Official Confirms Discussions on S. Korean Missile Defense -- A White House official has confirmed to VOA that Trump, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense discussed South Korea's suspension of deployment of a U.S. anti-ballistic-missile defense system in South Korea. South Korea announced Wednesday that it would delay the installation of the remaining components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system while it was assessing the system's environmental impact.

FILE - Dan Scavino, director of social media and senior adviser to then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, records Trump greeting audience members at a campaign rally in Bangor, Maine, June 29, 2016.
FILE - Dan Scavino, director of social media and senior adviser to then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, records Trump greeting audience members at a campaign rally in Bangor, Maine, June 29, 2016.

Government Agency Says Trump's Social Media Director Broke Law -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Friday that the White House social media director broke the law when he used his Twitter account for campaign purposes. The office said Dan Scavino, one of Trump's longest-serving aides, violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employees from using their government positions to try to influence elections. It said in a letter that it had issued a warning to Scavino.

A coal barge is visible behind President Donald Trump as he speaks about infrastructure at Rivertowne Marina in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 7, 2017.
A coal barge is visible behind President Donald Trump as he speaks about infrastructure at Rivertowne Marina in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 7, 2017.

Trump Says He'll Make US Infrastructure 'Envy of The World' -- Trump says that, thanks to him, U.S. infrastructure will "once again be the envy of the world." Trump is visiting the Department of Transportation's headquarters to highlight his goal of curbing regulations on infrastructure projects.

WATCH: Trump on U.S. infrastructure plans

Trump Targets Immigrants Who Got Deportation Reprieves From Obama -- The Trump administration has moved to reopen the cases of hundreds of illegal immigrants who had been given a reprieve from deportation, according to government data and court documents reviewed by Reuters and interviews with immigration lawyers.

FILE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, Georgia.
FILE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, Georgia.

ICE Shutters Detention Alternative for Asylum-seekers -- The Trump administration is shutting down the least restrictive alternative to detention available to asylum-seekers who have entered the U.S. illegally, The Associated Press has learned. Immigration activists consider the move a callous insult to migrants fleeing traumatic violence and poverty — nearly all the program's participants are Central American mothers and children — by a White House that has prioritized deportations that break up families over assimilating refugees.

Iran Leaders Accuse US, Saudis of Supporting Attacks in Tehran -- Iranian leaders on Friday accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of supporting the Islamic State-claimed dual attacks that killed 17 people in Tehran this week, as thousands of Iranians attended a funeral ceremony for the victims. The country's Supreme Leader said the attacks will add to the hatred that Iranians harbor toward the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., and the panel's ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, preside over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2017.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., and the panel's ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, preside over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2017.

Republican Senator Calls White House Information Shutout 'Nonsense' -- An already contentious move by Republican President Trump to block opposition Democratic lawmakers from getting information about his administration received its most scathing criticism yet Friday — from one of the most powerful Republican members of the U.S. Senate. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, in a more than 2,100-word letter to the White House, asked Trump to rescind unprecedented guidance that told executive agencies they do not have to honor requests for information from lawmakers in the minority party, currently the Democrats. This week in hearings all over Capitol Hill, members of both parties have criticized the information block. Democrats have posited that the Trump administration is trying to hide mistakes, problems or wrongdoing from them.

US Aims to Trim its UN Peacekeeping Bill After Trump's Calls to Slash -- The United States wants to cut $1 billion from the total United Nations peacekeeping budget for the year from July 1 to shave over 10 percent off Washington's share of the bill following calls by Trump for U.S. funding to be slashed.

A worker poses for a photo in front of sacks filled with sugar at Emiliano Zapata sugar mill in Zacatepec de Hidalgo, in Morelos state, Mexico, March 7, 2015.
A worker poses for a photo in front of sacks filled with sugar at Emiliano Zapata sugar mill in Zacatepec de Hidalgo, in Morelos state, Mexico, March 7, 2015.

US Commerce Chief Seen Imposing Mexico Sugar Deal Over Industry Objections -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is likely to impose a new sugar trade deal with Mexico even if final revisions to it fail to win support from the U.S. industry, trade lawyers and experts say.

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