Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is now the focus of investigators probing Trump-Russia collusion, in particular a series of meetings held by Kushner in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous report at the Washington Post.
Kushner will cooperate with any probe into meetings he held with Russians, his attorney said yesterday, Peter Nicholas, Carol E. Lee and Shane Harris reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
The suspension of Kushner’s security clearance while he is under F.B.I. investigation was called for by the Democratic National Committee, Mark Hensch reports at the Hill.
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders now have broad authority to issue subpoenas in the Trump-Russia investigation without the need for a full committee vote, the Chairman of the committee Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said yesterday, the Hill’s Katie Bo Williams reporting.
A request by the House Oversight Committee and other congressional panels for the memos of former F.B.I. director James Comey detailing his conversations with President Tump was declined by the F.B.I. yesterday, Austin Wright reports at POLITICO.
Lawmakers are calling on special counsel Robert Mueller to explain what precisely his investigation into Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is targeting, the top Democrat on a Judiciary subcommittee Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse telling CNN’s Manu Raju that if Flynn is cooperating with the Justice Department – a “reasonable hypothesis” – then Congressional investigations that have subpoenaed Flynn could undercut Mueller’s investigation.
The F.B.I. has finally contacted Ukrainian politician Mustafa Nayyem about Paul Manafort who spent a long time as a political operative serving pro-Russian individuals in Ukraine before becoming Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Nayyem confirmed, adding that he and other Ukrainian officials are willing to cooperate with the F.B.I. and have wanted to do so for years. Anna Nemtsova and Spencer Ackerman write at The Daily Beast.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights does not imply his guilt, yet Congress is making it seem that way – and has been doing a terrible job of safeguarding the privilege against self-incrimination for years, Andy Wright writes at POLITICO MAGAZINE.
TRUMP IN EUROPE
President Trump will attend a G7 summit in Sicily, Italy, today, the last leg of his first overseas trip in office, where a tough debate is expected on various issues including extremism and the threat posed by North Korea, the BBC reports.
Trump is “looking at” the future of U.S. sanctions on Russia and has “many options,” White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told the AP as Trump headed for the G7 summit last night, where Russia is expected to be a topic.
President Trump quickly dispelled any illusions that he was on a relationship-mending tour of Europe in his speech at the N.A.T.O. summit in Brussels yesterday, attacking allies for what he called their “chronic underpayments” to the alliance, Michael D. Shear, Mark Landler and James Kanter report at the New York Times.
The lack of specific endorsement of N.A.T.O.’s Article 5 common defense provision in President Trump’s speech to at the alliance’s summit yesterday left European diplomats disheartened and underlined tensions that arose as a result of Trump’s anti-N.A.T.O. campaign rhetoric, Julian E. Barnes and Carol E. Lee write at the Wall Street Journal.
By speaking at an event commemorating Article 5 and specifically referring to and praising Article 5’s invocation following the 9/11 attacks, was the president really trying to send a subtle message that the U.S. won’t honor its N.A.T.O. commitments? The Wall Street Journal editorial board warns that suggesting as much without evidence in order to drive a wedge between allies “simply to make Mr. Trump look bad” serves only Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He failed.” Yesterday’s N.A.T.O. summit was a chance for President Trump to demonstrate that he would honor the example of his predecessors in heading a strong and unified alliance that has been and should remain the bulwark of Western security, instead he lectured members, and there were indications that he remains at odds with allies over Russia, writes the New York Times editorial board.
Rather than thanking N.A.T.O. allies for answering America’s call and sending their troops to Afghanistan after 9/11, President Trump chose to berate them about the money they owed, write Michael Daly at The Daily Beast.
President Trump’s “scolding and ignorant” speech prolonged the uncertainty among U.S. allies about Washington’s intentions regarding N.A.T.O., and came after administration officials were briefed that Trump’s speech would have clear vocabulary on the issue of America’s attitude toward Article 5, writes Julian Borger at the Guardian.
DONALD TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY
The “dangerous consequences” of President Trump’s first trip abroad have already begun, the bloodiest repression by Bahraini security forces in years in a raid on an opposition encampment just two days after Trump promised the nation’s king that there would be no more “strain” between his and the U.S.’ governments used as an example by the Washington Post editorial board.
Donald Trump gave a free pass to Saudi Arabia, the country responsible for the spread of radical Islamist terrorism such as was seen in Manchester, England, this week, during his first trip abroad as president, Fareed Zakaria writes at the Washington Post.
While Trump’s “ultimate deal” approach to peace in the Middle East has caused no great harm as yet, it will distract and detract from the “remarkable progress” being made elsewhere in the region, Charles Krauthammer writes at the Washington Post.
Selling another $110 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis is at best President Trump extorting the Kingdom, at worst turning the U.S. into Saudi Arabia’s mercenary in the Middle East –either way it will not reduce “the burden” on the American military nor support “the long-term security of Saudi Arabia” as the State Department says, the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif writes at the New York Times.
UK TERROR ATTACK
The U.K. resumed intelligence sharing with the U.S. after a temporary suspension regarding information related to the Manchester suicide attack this week, the AP reports.
The U.S. Justice Department was ordered to investigate who was behind the alleged leaks by President Trump yesterday, who called them “deeply troubling,” Erik Ortiz reports at NBC News.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May followed through on her promise to rebuke President Trump for the leaks of intelligence relating to the Manchester attack by U.S. intelligence at the gathering of N.A.T.O. leaders in Brussels yesterday, according to a U.K. government official. Marion Solletty, Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper report at POLITICO.
Investigators are focusing on Libya and the Islamic State’s presence there in an effort to discover the motives and possible accomplices of suicide bomber Salman Abedi responsible for the deaths of 22 people at Manchester Arena Monday night, Sudarsan Raghavan reports at the Washington Post.
British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will change U.K. foreign policy and discard the “war on terror” if his party Labour win next month’s general election, he will say today, on the basis that military interventions since 2001 have failed to avert the threat of violent attacks at home and have in fact only served to increased it, the AP reports.
The leak of details of the Manchester attack by U.S. sources has not damaged the U.K. police’s investigation. The Guardian unpicks the real reasons behind the shock and outrage among the U.K.’s security establishment at the publication of some of the details of the attack by American media after receiving them from the U.S. security community.
It is clear that the security relationship between America and the U.K. can no longer be taken for granted, and the U.K. should now prioritize its alliances with its European neighbors, writes Martin Kettle at the Guardian.
There is something “particularly American” about leaking, according to Scott Shane at the New York Times.
More than 100 civilians were killed in a U.S. airstrike on a suspected Islamic State position in March, most death the result of a secondary blast from munitions stored in a residential area by the Islamist State, a U.S. military investigation concluded yesterday, Ben Kesling reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
Poland is ready to increase the number of troops in the Middle East and help to train engineers and technicians for the Iraqi army, Poland’s leaders said at a N.A.T.O. summit in Brussels last night, the AP reporting.
US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 21 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on May 24. Separately, partner forces conducted 13 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
An airstrike in the Islamic State-held Syrian town of al-Mayadin killed at least 35 civilians, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition telling Reuters that its forces had conducted strikes close to the town and were assessing the results.
The Shayrat airfield is operational again after being struck by U.S. Tomahawk missiles in April in response to a chemical attack blamed on the Assad regime, BuzzFeed’s Nancy A. Youssef reports.
The KOREAN PENINSULA
North Korea is a “big problem” but it “will be solved,” President Trump reassured his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at a meeting ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Italy today, Reuters reporting.
The U.S. wants to “pre-negotiate” new U.N. sanctions against North Korea with China before Pyongyang carries out another missile test, a senior State Department said today, Charles Clover and Tom Mitchell reporting at the Financial Times.
China is aware that time is limited in terms of reining in North Korea’s nuclear program through negotiations and is open to the idea of further sanctions against Kim Jong-un’s regime, the acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs Susan Thornton said today, Michael Martina reporting at Reuters.
China has stepped up inspections and policing along its border with North Korea as part of enforcing U.N. sanctions aimed at stopping Pyongyang’s nuclear program, Thornton also said, citing Chinese officials. Christopher Bodeen reports at the AP.
A U.S. resolution condemning the violence by Turkish bodyguards against protesters during a recent visit to Washington by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was rejected by Turkey, a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement released last night calling it “one-sided” and claiming that it “distorted the facts,” the AP reports.
Over 4,000 Turkish judges and prosecutors have been removed on suspicion of involvement in last year’s failed coup, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag confirmed today, Reuters reporting.
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
Hacker “Guccifer 2.0” behind the publishing of D.N.C. memos and Clinton-aid emails on websites that upended the 2016 presidential election also privately send Democratic voter-turnout analyses to a Republican political operative in Florida called Aaron Nevins, reveal Alexandra Berzon and Rob Barry at the Wall Street Journal.
Homeland Security’s response to the recent WannaCry ransomware attack was cited as a success by Secretary John Kelly, speaking before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee yesterday, the Hill’s Morgan Chalfant reports.
The MUSLIM BAN
The president’s request to reinstate his revised travel ban was rejected by a federal appeals court yesterday which ruled that the temporary embargo on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” Brent Kendall reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department will ask the Supreme Court to review the court’s decision, with which is “strongly disagrees,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said yesterday, Jordan Fabian reporting at the Hill.
China will increase its military capabilities after the U.S. sailed a Navy destroyer near an artificial island it lays claim to in the South China Sea, a Chinese defense ministry spokesperson said yesterday, Jeremy Page reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
Former front-runner to replace fired F.B.I. director James Comey Sen. Joe Lieberman formally withdrew from consideration in a letter sent to President Trump Wednesday, Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.