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DC Roundup: Kushner Testifies, Senate Health Care Vote, Russia Sanctions

  • VOA News

FILE - White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.

Developments in Washington, D.C., over the weekend include upcoming congressional testimony from President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort; an upcoming vote in the Senate on its latest health care legislation; a tweet storm by the president early Saturday; and the resignation of former White House communications director Sean Spicer and the addition of the new head, Anthony Scaramucci.

FILE - Republican leaders, left to right, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and John Thune speak with the media after a lunch meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss health care at the White House
FILE - Republican leaders, left to right, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and John Thune speak with the media after a lunch meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss health care at the White House

5 Reasons Why Health Care Bill Would Fail, 3 Why it May Not --
There are many reasons why the Senate will probably reject Republicans' crowning bill razing much of former President Barack Obama's health care law. There are fewer why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might revive it and avert a GOP humiliation. Leaders say the Senate will vote Tuesday on their health care legislation. They've postponed votes twice because too many Republicans were poised to vote no. That could happen again.

Trump's New Message Guru Wants 'a More Positive Mojo' -- Trump's new communications adviser says it's time to hit the "reset button." Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci pledged to begin "an era of a new good feeling" and said he hopes to "create a more positive mojo." He also promised to crack down on information leaks and pledged to better focus the message coming from the White House.

From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Trump Son-in-Law Expected on Capitol Hill for Russia Testimony -- The probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election crosses into new territory this week as congressional committees seek information from two of Trump’s family members, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is expected to make the first of two appearances on Capitol Hill Monday. In closed-door sessions, Kushner is slated to answer questions before the Senate and House intelligence committees. Both are expected to seek information about Kushner’s Russia contacts, including a December meeting with Russia’s ambassador and, last June, with a Russian attorney and other figures connected to Moscow.

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, left, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, left, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump's Position Uncertain as US Congressional Leaders Reach Accord on Russia Sanctions -- The U.S. Congress is moving toward adoption of new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, but it was unclear Sunday whether Trump would sign the legislation. Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, told CNN, "You've got to ask President Trump. My guess is he's going to make that decision soon." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News "the White House supports where the legislation is now." Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached accord Saturday on the measure, which does not include changes Trump wanted to make it easier for him to lift penalties against Moscow.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak in this photo tweeted by the Russian embassy.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak in this photo tweeted by the Russian embassy.

Kislyak Ends Term As Russia’s Ambassador To Washington -- Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s controversial ambassador to Washington, on Saturday departed from the United States as he ended his nine-year term as Moscow’s chief diplomat to its main global rival. The Russian Embassy said his departure was part of a scheduled reassignment for the 66-year-old ambassador. Russian state-run Interfax news agency quoted a source as saying Kislyak’s next move could be to become a member of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council.

Trump Blames New York Times for Ruining Plans to Kill IS Leader -- Trump criticized The New York Times on Saturday on Twitter for allegedly ruining a U.S. attempt to assassinate Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The president did not provide details or explain how the Times supposedly ruined plans to kill Baghdadi, but his tweet was posted minutes after a Fox News Channel segment about information leaks was broadcast. A i spokesman, meanwhile, has asked the White House for details about Trump's tweet, according to a Times statement provided to Politico.

FILE - The USS Gerald R. Ford embarks on the first of its sea trials to test various state-of-the-art systems on its own power for the first time, from Newport News, Virginia, in an undated photo provided by the U.S. Navy.
FILE - The USS Gerald R. Ford embarks on the first of its sea trials to test various state-of-the-art systems on its own power for the first time, from Newport News, Virginia, in an undated photo provided by the U.S. Navy.

Trump Helps Commission New Warship, Says Vessel Sends ‘Message to the World’ -- Trump helped commission Saturday the USS Gerald R. Ford, a technologically advanced nearly $13-billion warship that he said sends a "100,000 ton message to the world" and will cause enemies of the U.S. to "shake with fear." After three years of delays and billions of dollars of cost overruns, Trump officially turned over the first of the next generation nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to the U.S. Navy at Naval Station Norfolk in the southeastern state of Virginia. "Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong," he said.

South China Sea Dispute Smolders as Trump Administration Weighs Approach -- The first six months of the Trump administration saw relatively few confrontations over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea; however, analysts and officials say the lack of public conflict does not mean the issues have disappeared.​

FILE - Then CIA Director John Brennan (L) speaks to then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the Justice Department in Washington, Jan. 17, 2014.
FILE - Then CIA Director John Brennan (L) speaks to then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the Justice Department in Washington, Jan. 17, 2014.

Former Top US Intel Officials Criticize Trump's Stance on Russia -- Two former top U.S. intelligence officials harshly criticized Trump on Friday for not standing up to Russia for meddling in the presidential election, one of them wondering aloud whether the president's real aim is to make “Russia great again.” Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan didn't hold back their anger about Trump's past disparaging comments about the intelligence agencies and their assessment that Moscow deliberately interfered in the election and tried to sow discord in the United States.​

New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci speaks to members of the media in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, July 21, 2017.
New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci speaks to members of the media in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, July 21, 2017.

Trump Communications Director Awaits US Approval to Sell Business -- Scaramucci agreed in January to sell his hedge fund firm to clear the way for a job with Trump, but he has yet to receive US permission to sell to a group led by Chinese conglomerate HNA. Scaramucci, the Trump administration’s new communications director, has yet to get approval from U.S. regulators to sell his hedge fund firm to a group led by Chinese conglomerate HNA, according to a person familiar with the matter.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer listens to a reporter's question during a briefing at the White House, June 20, 2017 in Washington.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer listens to a reporter's question during a briefing at the White House, June 20, 2017 in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Spicer Resigns -- White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned. Sources quoted in media reports say his decision to step down is linked to the appointment of new White House communications director Scaramucci. They say Trump's spokesman offered his resignation shortly after Scaramucci, a New York financier, was named.​

From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Trump's Eldest Son, Former Campaign Chairman in Talks to Meet with Senate Judiciary Committee -- The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is in talks with Trump's eldest son and his former campaign chairman about holding a private interview with the two next week in its investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. election. The committee said Friday that Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are negotiating with the committee about being interviewed and are also discussing the possibility of turning over documents. Another Senate committee, the Intelligence Committee, says it will meet privately on Monday with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, about the Russia investigation. Kushner is also expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee the following day.​

Indiana Carrier Plant to Notify Workers of Layoffs, Outlined in Trump Deal -- The U.S. Carrier factory where Trump says he saved 800 jobs from moving to Mexico is expected to notify 300 people this week that they are being laid off. The layoff notices are expected to start as early as Thursday, exactly six months since Trump took office. The layoffs are part of a deal Trump made with the company in December to prevent deeper cuts at the Indianapolis plant.

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