Reaction unfolded over the holiday weekend. Administration officials came to Kushner’s defense, and congressional Democrats raised new concerns about his role in the White House. The president, upon returning from his first international trip, took to Twitter and criticized “fake news” five times on Sunday.
We’ll tell you more about this latest Trump-Russia controversy and other big news you may have missed over the holiday weekend.
ON KUSHNER AND RUSSIA …
Kushner’s meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak took place in December 2016, during the Trump team’s transition into the White House. It’s common for senior officials of an incoming presidential administration to contact foreign leaders. But Kushner’s apparent request to set up a communications back-channel at a Russian diplomatic facility to circumvent U.S. monitoring during the presidential transition would have carried security risks for both Russia and the Trump team, The Post reported.
The entire idea “seems extremely naive or absolutely crazy,” one former senior intelligence official told The Post.
This revelation is the latest in a larger pattern of Trump’s closest advisers attempting to obscure their ties and contacts with Russian officials, amid multiple investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly played down the news, but White House officials have largely remained silent in response to The Post’s story.
“Just because you have a back-channel, if indeed that’s what Jared was after, doesn’t mean that he then keeps everything secret,” Kelly said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I mean, he shares that.”
Several congressional Democrats called for additional probing into Kushner’s reported meeting, and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Kushner’s security clearance should be reviewed.
THE PRESIDENT IS BACK HOME … AND ON TWITTER
Trump returned home on Saturday after his nine-day maiden trip overseas and picked up where he left off — amid legal and political troubles over his team’s ties to Russian officials. And he returned to Twitter. Trump fired off 10 tweets on Sunday, five of them bemoaning “#FakeNews media.” He did not respond specifically to the latest news about his son-in-law, but he accused reporters of making up sources and stories.
MERKEL DECLARES A NEW CHAPTER IN U.S.-EUROPE RELATIONS
After contentious meetings with Trump during his first foreign trip, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Europe no longer can depend on the United States.
Trump scolded European leaders in a speech at a NATO ceremony for failing to spend sufficient money on defense, refused to endorse the global climate change agreement, and faulted Germany for its trade practices.
Trump, who criticized European leaders and NATO partner countries throughout the presidential campaign, declared his first foreign trip a “great success for America.”
STABBINGS IN PORTLAND …
Two men were killed and a third was injured in a stabbing Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Ore. Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, had tried to intervene when a passenger was “ranting and raving” and shouting anti-Muslim insults at two young women, police said.
The passenger then became angry at the men, and fatally stabbed Best and Meche. A third victim, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, survived the attack and was being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was arrested. Local media reports described the north Portland resident as a “known white supremacist” in the area.
NORTH KOREA LAUNCHES ANOTHER MISSILE …
North Korea launched a new short-range ballistic missile on Monday morning, the country’s third launch in three weeks and 12th this year.
The Scud-like missile flew about 280 miles and landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has been pursuing his weapons program in defiance of the international community, at a rate that has alarmed analysts.
R.I.P. GREGG ALLMAN …
Gregg Allman, founding member of the Southern rock band Allman Brothers, died on Saturday in his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 69. We’ll leave you with a video tribute to his career and his band’s greatest hits.