DC Roundup: Poroshenko at White House, Russia Sanctions, Cybersecurity Hearing

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday include President Donald Trump meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, the U.S. Treasury expanding sanctions against Russia and Ukraine separatists, a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing planned for U.S. election officials and cybersecurity experts regarding Russian hacking, and a poll that shows the president’s approval rating at a new low.

White House Hosts Ukraine President, Says Russia Sanctions to Remain in Place — Sanctions against the Russians will remain in place until they are out of eastern Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday as the Ukrainian president visited the White House. We’re going to continue to have sanctions on Russia, and we believe that is part of Ukraine, and so therefore those sanctions will remain,” said Spicer. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, declared himself satisfied with the outcome of White House talks on Tuesday, characterizing the United States as the most reliable, supportive strategic partner for Kyiv.

US Expands Sanctions Against Russia, Ukraine Separatists — The United States Treasury Department announced additional sanctions Tuesday against Russia, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and individuals and companies associated with them. The move comes on the heels of a White House meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Poroshenko.

US Election Officials, Cybersecurity Experts to Testify on Russian Hacking — Just how extensively Russia penetrated state election systems across America last year and how to prevent a repeat will be the focus of an extensive public hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. “We’re trying to focus on all aspects � the aggressive nature of Russia’s attempt to hack all the way down to the state level,” the committee’s chairman, Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, told VOA. The panel will hear from cybersecurity and counterintelligence officials at the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as state election officials and a representative of America’s secretaries of state for all 50 states � officials who are tasked with certifying elections.

Political Spotlight on Trump Son-in-law Gets Brighter — Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide, has been front and center at the White House this week, making his speaking debut before a high-powered gathering of tech executives and heading off on a sensitive diplomatic mission to the Middle East. Kushner, 36, a New York real estate magnate, was close by Trump’s side throughout last year’s political campaign, and he and his family moved to Washington in the first days of the new administration. But he has now moved even more into the political spotlight, leading some critics of Trump to suggest this may be an attempt to divert attention from the leaks and legal troubles that have beset the administration.

US Lawmakers Explain Claim That Trump Violates Constitution — Members of the U.S. Congress met with reporters Tuesday to explain their claim that Trump violated the Constitution for accepting funds from foreign governments through his businesses without congressional approval. Last week nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers filed suit against the president in federal court over the payments that hundreds of Trump businesses have received from foreign governments since the presidential inauguration five months ago. The legal action contends Trump and his representatives have concealed the extent and the amount of the payments.

CBS Poll: Trump Approval Rating Hits New Low — The latest CBS News poll shows Trump’s approval rating at the lowest point of his five-month White House tenure. CBS said Tuesday that Trump’s approval rating is now at 36 percent, with a 57 percent disapproval rating, down from 41-53 percent standing in late April. The survey results are similar, with one exception, to other recent surveys, with Gallup’s three-day tracking poll giving Trump a 56-38 negative approval rating and Quinnipiac University earlier this month showing him with a 57-34 negative standing. Only the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll has shown Trump more favorably, briefly touching at a 50-50 standing last week before falling to a 48-51 negative reading on Monday.

Trump Calls North Korea’s Treatment of Warmbier a ‘Disgrace’ — Trump said the death of Otto Warmbier after the college student’s lengthy detention in North Korea was disgraceful and suggested the outcome might have been different had Warmbier been returned home to the United States earlier. “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Georgia Voting in Closely Watched Congressional Election — Voters in the southern U.S. state of Georgia are choosing their new representative in the House of Representatives on Tuesday in a special election that is being closely watched as a test of Republican strength under the Trump administration and the party’s prospects of holding its majority in House next year.

Israeli PM Says Work Begun on New West Bank Settlement — Israel’s prime minister says ground has been broken for a new West Bank settlement, the first in about two decades, to replace one demolished this year as President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy arrives in the region. Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he has the “privilege”‘ of building the new settlement. On the campaign trail, Trump indicated he would be more sympathetic to settlements than his predecessor. He appears to have backtracked since.

UN Envoy: Israel Flouts UN Security Council Settlement Demand — Israel is flouting a United Nations Security Council demand to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, while both parties are ignoring a call to stop provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, a senior U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.

US State Department Questions Gulf Motives on Qatar Boycott — The U.S. State Department bluntly questioned on Tuesday the motives of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their boycott of Doha, saying it was “mystified” the Gulf states had not released their grievances over Qatar. In Washington’s strongest language yet on the Gulf dispute, the State Department said the more time goes by, “the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Source: Voice of America

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