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Trump knew for weeks that aide was being misleading over Russia: White House

Russian President Putin and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Flynn attend an exhibition marking the anniversary of RT channel in MoscowBy Steve Holland and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump knew for weeks that national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the White House about his contacts with Russia but did not immediately force him out, an administration spokesman said on Tuesday. Trump was informed in late January that Flynn had not told Vice President Mike Pence the whole truth about conversations he had before Trump took office with Russia's ambassador to the United States, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Trump backs Middle East peace, even if not tied to two-state solution

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses joint news conference with Trudeau at the White House in WashingtonU.S. President Donald Trump supports the goal of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, even if it does not involve the two-state solution, a senior White House official said on Tuesday. Speaking a day before Trump holds a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the official said peace was the ultimate goal. "Whether that comes in the form of a two–state solution if that's what the parties want, or something else," the official said, adding that Trump would not try to "dictate" a solution.

NY Times says Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russian intelligence

The Latest: Times reports calls between Trump team, Russia(Reuters) - Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing four current and former U.S. officials. U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said, according to the Times. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election, the newspaper said.

House Democrats escalate effort to obtain Trump tax returns

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with Steve Mnuchin to swear him in as Treasury Secretary in the White HouseCongressional Democrats on Tuesday tried but failed to pressure Republicans into seeking President Donald Trump's tax returns, saying the scandal over Michael Flynn made it imperative to find out whether the president has business ties to Russia. A day after the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee dismissed the idea, the panel's Democrats proposed an amendment demanding that the committee ask the Treasury Department for copies of Trump's returns by March 1. "Unless this amendment is adopted, we will never see the president's tax returns while he's in office," Representative Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat, told committee Chairman Kevin Brady at a public hearing.

Roses are red, violets are blue, for presidents and first ladies too

Roses are red, violets are blue, for presidents and first ladies tooValentine’s Day: It’s all about flowers, chocolates and declining to comment on the ouster of the national security adviser.

Trump dumped Flynn over ‘trust issue,’ spokesman says

Trump dumped Flynn over ‘trust issue,’ spokesman saysPresident Trump requested Michael Flynn’s resignation after a weekslong review of his contacts with a Russian diplomat led Trump to conclude he could no longer trust his national security adviser, the White House said Tuesday. “The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation,” press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters. Spicer did not detail the nature of the “other questionable instances,” but officials pointed to news accounts of Flynn’s temper and of National Security Council dysfunction.

Office of Government Ethics calls on White House to probe Conway’s ‘commercial’ for Ivanka Trump
The Trump administration has fielded calls for investigations on at least two fronts this week. In a letter dated Monday, the U.S. government’s top ethics chief called on the White House to investigate top President Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway over comments she made promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand at the White House. In a letter to Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to President Trump, Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, said there is “strong reason to believe” that Conway violated a “standards of conduct” rule prohibiting presidential appointees from appearing in a television commercial to promote a product.

Rep. Swalwell questions Trump’s loyalty: Is he with Russia or the U.S.?

Rep. Swalwell questions Trump’s loyalty: Is he with Russia or the U.S.?Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., delivered a scathing condemnation of President Trump in the aftermath of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation late Monday. In a conversation with Yahoo News on Tuesday morning, Swalwell, the lead Democrat on the CIA Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said there’s a wealth of evidence leading him to question whether Trump is loyal to the United States or Russia. “The Republicans may have the majorities in Congress and their candidate may have won the White House, but [the Democrats] are not helpless.

Ryan says Trump was ‘right to ask’ for Flynn’s resignation

Paul Ryan on Flynn: ‘The president made the right decision to ask for his resignation’House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he supports the ouster of President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn. “You cannot have a national security adviser misleading the vice president and others,” Ryan told reporters at a weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill. The comments followed a report that Flynn had discussed easing American sanctions imposed on Moscow in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — and had misled the administration about his conversations with Moscow.

Questions swirl after it emerges Trump told weeks ago that Flynn misled over Russia calls

Questions swirl after it emerges Trump told weeks ago that Flynn misled over Russia callsQuestions continue to swirl in the wake of Michael Flynn's resignation as national security adviser, including which White House officials knew -- and when -- about Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump administration transition. According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, President Trump was informed of the Justice Department's findings in a briefing from his White House counsel on Jan. 26. Flynn wrote in his resignation letter that he "inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador," but questions about the legality of the calls remain at large.

New era for consumer protection as Republicans take helm of watchdog agency

New era for consumer protection as Republicans take helm of watchdog agencyConsumer groups are bracing for a more pro-industry approach to safety, fearful that strides made in the name of product safety will be rolled back, as Republicans take the helm of the nation’s key consumer safety agency. The Trump Administration last week elevated Ann Marie Buerkle, a Republican appointed to the commission in 2013, to the post of acting chairman. Buerkle replaces outgoing chair Elliot Kaye, a Democrat who stared down industry groups during the nearly three years he was in the position, calling out businesses for not being proactive enough on safety.

UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile launch

UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile launchThe U.N. Security Council "condemned" the recent ballistic missile launch by North Korea, calling it a "grave violation" of Pyongyang’s obligations, a statement said Monday. The Council also called on member states to "redouble their efforts" to fully implement the measures imposed on North Korea in those resolutions. “We call on all members of the Security Council to use every available resource to make it clear to the North Korean regime – and its enablers – that these launches are unacceptable," Haley said in a statement.

Parents of transgender students appeal to Trump on bathrooms
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of parents across the country have called on President Donald Trump to embrace Obama-era protections for transgender students that call for letting them use school bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity.

Russia cloud over Trump not likely to fade with Flynn exit

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is questioned by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, on the ouster of Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Questions about the Trump administration's ties to Russia are hardly going to disappear with the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn. Investigations are underway, and more are likely by the new administration and on Capitol Hill.

The Latest: Times reports calls between Trump team, Russia

Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon stands with her six grandchildren as Vice President Mike Pence signs the affidavit of appointment during her swearing in ceremony Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

Pick for Medicare post faces questions on Indiana contracts

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2017 file photo, Seema Verma, left, then President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, gets on an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Verma, President Trump's pick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid consulted Vice President Mike Pence on health care issues while he was Indiana's governor, a post she maintained amid a web of business arrangements, including one that ethics experts say conflicted with her public duties. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci File)INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — President Donald Trump's pick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid advised Vice President Mike Pence on health care issues while he was Indiana's governor, a post she maintained amid a web of business arrangements — including one that ethics experts say conflicted with her public duties.

Chicago toddler shot and killed in latest spasm of violence
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago toddler was shot and killed on Tuesday in what police suspect was a "gang hit" on a man in a vehicle with her, just a few days after two young girls were shot in the head. It marked the latest spasm of violence in a city struggling to contain such attacks.

Business Roundtable softening stance on political transparency?
Document suggests a shift in attitude by lobbying powerhouse.

White House spotlight: Tracking Donald Trump
The Center for Public Integrity's continuing coverage of the president's promise to 'drain the swamp'

Big Oil’s grip on California
In America’s greenest state, the industry has spent $122 million in the past six years to shape regulation and legislation.

Syria refugees shrug off peace talks but dream of home

The UN refugee agency says Jordan has taken in 655,000 Syrians since the start of the conflict, but Amman says the number is much higher at 1.4 millionAlmost six years into a war that has devastated their country, Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon say they expect nothing of peace talks this month but still dream of going home. "I don't think anything will come of the talks" this week in Kazakhstan and the next in Switzerland, says Ahmad al-Khabouri, 32, at a refugee camp in Jordan. Sitting beside him outside his shop, Khabouri's 65-year-old uncle says he still thinks about his home and surrounding fields in Daraa, the southern cradle of Syria's uprising.

NATO braces for first talks with Trump's defence chief

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has voiced support for NATO, in contrast with the sceptical President Donald Trump, and has been tougher on Russia than his bossNATO allies meet new US Defence Secretary James Mattis for the first time in Brussels Wednesday, seeking reassurance over President Donald Trump's commitment but bracing for military spending demands. Pentagon head Mattis has voiced support for the transatlantic alliance, in contrast with the sceptical Trump, and has been tougher on Russia than his boss, whose views worry NATO's eastern European member states in particular. In a sign that the Trump administration's pressure on the issue is bearing fruit, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on the eve of the meeting that boosting spending was a top priority.

Syria talks delayed due to 'technical reasons': Kazakhstan

Talks in Astana on the Syria conflict, pushed by regime supporter Moscow, are seen as a warm-up for UN-led negotiations on the protracted war due in Geneva on February 23  Kazakhstan said Wednesday a new round of Astana talks on the Syria conflict led by Russia, Turkey and Iran scheduled to begin February 15 would be delayed by a day due to unexplained "technical reasons". "The negotiations have been moved to February 16 for technical reasons," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP by telephone without elaboration.

Tolerance test as Muslim Indonesia's capital votes

Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (C), better known as "Ahok", flanked by his wife Veronica (R) and son Nicholas (L) show off their ballot papers in Jakarta on February 15, 2017Jakarta's Christian governor who is standing trial for blasphemy fought to cling on to his job Wednesday in a high-stakes election seen as a test of religious tolerance in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama faces two prominent Muslim challengers in the race to lead the teeming capital of 10 million, as local elections take place around the country. The claims drew hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims onto the streets of Jakarta in major protests last year, and Purnama has been put on trial in a case criticised as unfair and politically motivated.

Central bankers take up arms against protectionism

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe says building barriers between people is not the way to build liberal prosperityOfficially concerned only with monetary policy, central bankers the world over are weighing in on political debates as fears of economic damage from protectionism mount. "Protectionism will only lead to a loss of prosperity for all," warned European Central Bank board member Yves Mersch on Friday. The Luxembourger's words came just three weeks after US President Donald Trump took office with a speech that hammered home his "America first" stance, fuelling concern that the US billionaire plans to shake up global trade rules.

Assassinated brother of N. Korea leader to undergo autopsy

Kim Jong-Nam fell out of favour with the North Korean hierarchy following a botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passportThe body of the assassinated half-brother of North Korea's leader is to undergo an autopsy on Wednesday, police said as they searched for those responsible for the Cold War-style killing at a Malaysian airport. Two women are believed to have used some kind of poison to kill Kim Jong-Nam, with reports from Malaysia and South Korea saying he had been stabbed with poison-tipped needles or had chemicals sprayed in his face. The assassination, which came as North Korea readied to celebrate the birthday this week of the two men's father, illustrates the "brutal and inhuman" nature of the Pyongyang regime led by Kim Jong-Un, Seoul said.

White House tries to insulate Trump from Russia scandal

The White House announced that Michael Flynn has resigned as President Donald Trump's national security advisor, amid escalating controversy over his contacts with MoscowThe White House battled Tuesday to insulate Donald Trump from a scandal over his top aide's contacts with Russia, as it emerged that the president was aware of the problem for weeks before acting. With calls for an independent investigation gathering pace, the White House admitted that Trump was told three weeks ago that national security advisor Michael Flynn may have misled colleagues about his Kremlin contacts. The retired three-star general and former head of US defense intelligence initially denied discussing sanctions strategy with Russia's ambassador Sergey Kislyak before taking office.

White House will not insist on two-state solution in Mideast

US President Donald Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is expected to express a desire to help broker an Israeli-Palestinian solutionThe White House signaled a sharp break with decades of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House. A senior White House official said the United States would no longer seek to dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement, but would support what the two sides agree to together. "A two-state solution that doesn't bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Trump's White House: Five takeaways from Tuesday

White House was in crisis mode after the resignation of a top aide, a possible ethics breach by another advisor and president's alleged use of an unsecured smartphoneDonald Trump's White House was in crisis mode following the resignation of a top aide, as it emerged the president knew for weeks about Michael Flynn's controversial Kremlin contacts before deciding to act. As pressure mounted for an independent probe into allegations that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador, the White House revealed that Trump was told three weeks ago that his aide may have misled colleagues about the calls. Trump's national security advisor was finally asked to resign after what the White House said was a weekslong internal investigation that turned up no evidence of wrongdoing but "eroded" trust.

Trump immigration storm buffets LA 2024 Olympics bid

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly backed the LA 2024 campaign, even while Los Angeles's Mayor Eric Garcetti (pictured) has criticized his immigration policiesDonald Trump may have given his unequivocal support to Los Angeles's bid for the 2024 Olympics but the tumultuous first few weeks of his presidency have dealt a blow to the city's hopes of staging the games, analysts say. Los Angeles and Paris are regarded as front-runners ahead of Budapest in the race for the Games, which will end at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Lima in September to choose the winner. Trump has repeatedly backed the LA 2024 campaign, even while Los Angeles's Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti, a key leader of the bid, has criticized his administration's policies on immigration.

Sheriff lifts evacuation order for residents near California dam

A home is seen marooned as the surrounding property is submerged in flood water in Oroville, California on February 13, 2017A sheriff lifted a mandatory evacuation order in northern California, which had impacted nearly 200,000 people in an area under threat of catastrophic failure at the tallest dam in the United States. The Butte County Sheriff's Department announced it had reduced the evacuation order to a warning, allowing people in downstream communities from Oroville Dam -- 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Sacramento -- to return home.

Hollande demands 'justice' in alleged French police rape

French President Francois Hollande speaks during his visit to Aubervilliers, north of Paris, on February 14, 2017French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday called for "justice" over the alleged rape of a black youth with a police baton, an incident that has sparked 10 nights of rioting and more than 200 arrests. "Justice must be served," Hollande said during a visit to Aubervilliers, located in the tough Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris where a 22-year-old youth worker, identified only as Theo, was assaulted on February 2. The injuries sustained by Theo during a stop-and-search operation in the suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois have sparked clashes with police and arson attacks across the impoverished, ethnically-mixed housing estates that ring the French capital.

Three suspects charged in France over 'terror plot'

An armed gendarme stands guard in a street in Marseillan, southern France, on February 10, 2017, where the suspects were arrested by French anti-terrorist policeTwo men and a 16-year-old girl were charged in southern France on Tuesday on suspicion of planning a terror attack that the authorities believe was imminent, judicial sources said. Sauret and his partner were also charged with making and possessing explosives in an organised group. Police swooped on Friday after the teenager pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a video on social media and she and Sauret, both converts to Islam, bought acetone and hydrogen peroxide -- precursors of an unstable, homemade explosive called TATP.

US tribe asks court to reverse Trump administration on pipeline

Flags flap in the wind on the main thoroughfare of Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 3, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North DakotaThe Native American tribe at the center of protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in the northern United States, on Tuesday asked a federal court to reverse the Trump administration's decision to let the project proceed. Federal authorities reversed course, because of a directive from Trump to "'review and approve' pipeline permits on an expedited basis," the tribe said in its motion, asking the court to vacate the final permits issued to Dakota Access.

Trump signs measure voiding oil anticorruption rule

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with teachers, school administrators and parents in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a measure scrapping anticorruption regulations long opposed by the oil industry. Part of a blitz of recent White House maneuvers against regulation and perceived red tape, the move undoes the requirement for international oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. Created by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the rule, which had not yet taken effect, targeted an area long plagued by bribery and corruption.

British FM hails new Gambia leader, vows stronger ties

A video grab made from The Block Tv Gambia footage shows British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (R) meeting with Gambian President Adama Barrow in Banjul on February 14, 2017UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited The Gambia on Tuesday, where he hailed the arrival of a new government and its bid to rejoin the Commonwealth group of former British colonies. Johnson met President Adama Barrow and Interior Minister Mai Fatty to reset ties with the impoverished West African nation after years of tension with former president Yahya Jammeh. The visit was his first to Africa as Britain's top diplomat, becoming the first British foreign minister to visit The Gambia since it gained independence in 1965.

British FM hails new Gambia leader, vows stronger ties
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited The Gambia on Tuesday, where he hailed the arrival of a new government and its bid to rejoin the Commonwealth group of former British colonies. Johnson met President Adama Barrow and Interior Minister Mai Fatty to reset ties with the impoverished West African nation after years of tension with former president Yahya Jammeh. The visit was his first to Africa as Britain's top diplomat, becoming the first British foreign minister to visit The Gambia since it gained independence in 1965.

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Flynn and Out of Love

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Flynn and Out of LoveToday in 5 Lines White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the “eroding level of trust” between the president and his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, drove Trump to ask for Flynn’s resignation—an account that differs from those of White House reporters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s highly likely that the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate Flynn’s talks with the Russian ambassador. Officials said F.B.I. agents interviewed Flynn shortly after Trump took office. The Office of Government Ethics issued a letter urging the White House to investigate Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to Trump, and “consider taking disciplinary action against her” for endorsing Ivanka Trump’s label. And Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to provide more information on “widespread reports that sensitive information may have been shared or discussed in a common area at Mar-a-Lago” by Trump over the weekend.

Pope willing to meet sides in Venezuela crisis: envoy

Pope Francis encouraged the Venezuelan government and opposition to launch talks last year to ease tensions, but the dialogue broke down in DecemberPope Francis is willing to meet with Venezuela's government and opposition to relaunch efforts to solve the country's volatile political crisis, a Vatican envoy said on Tuesday. An economic crisis sparked by falling oil prices has sparked opposition demands for a vote to remove Maduro. "The pope has expressed his availability, if (the sides) consider it useful" for him to meet with them, the Vatican's envoy in Caracas Aldo Giordano told reporters.

US Secret Service chief to retire

Joseph Clancy, director of the US Secret Service will officially step down from his position on March 4, 2017US Secret Service chief Joseph Clancy will retire in early March, the elite agency tasked with protecting the US president said Tuesday. A former head of US President Barack Obama's detail, Clancy returned from a previous retirement to steer the agency two years ago, amid outcry over several security lapses at the White House that tarnished the agency's image. Clancy -- who prior to his first retirement had served the agency for nearly three decades -- will officially step down once more on March 4, and new US President Donald Trump will appoint his successor.

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