- Associated Press - Monday, July 16, 2018

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI (AP) - Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s insistence that Russia’s hands were clean.

Trump’s comments, at a joint news conference Monday after summit talks with Putin, drew heavy criticism back in the U.S., including from prominent Republicans. Sen. John McCain was most outspoken, declaring that Trump made a “conscious choice to defend a tyrant” and achieved “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Trump made the U.S. “look like a pushover.”

In Helsinki, Putin said he did indeed want to Trump to win in 2016 - because of his policies - but took no action to make it happen.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” said Trump, repeatedly denouncing the special counsel investigation into Russian interference efforts, which intelligence officials warn are ongoing.



“I don’t see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election,’ Trump said.

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Analysis: Slogan becomes ‘Me First’ as Trump meets Putin

WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan morphed Monday into “Me First” as the president unloaded on his own intelligence community and Justice Department to portray himself as the victim of a conspiracy to deny him legitimacy. Trump also blamed American “foolishness and stupidity” for the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations, returning to themes he has repeated at political rallies around the United States.

This time, though, he was on foreign soil, standing next to Vladimir Putin, the very man whose government is accused of interfering in the 2016 election to favor Trump. As such, his extraordinary performance fueled criticism of his presidency from both the right and left. And it will likely embolden Putin, who faced no pushback from Trump over the election allegations or a long list of other Kremlin actions, ranging from Syria to Ukraine.

Sure enough, critics and even some usually reliable defenders were quick to pounce.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a cautious Trump supporter, said, “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.” And Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been critical of the Russia probe, said that “Russia is not our friend” and expressed hope that Trump’s national security aides could convince him that “it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.”

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Russian hackers used US online infrastructure against itself

WASHINGTON (AP) - Exactly seven months before the 2016 presidential election, Russian government hackers made it onto a Democratic committee’s network.

One of their carefully crafted fraudulent emails had hit pay dirt, enticing an employee to click a link and enter her password.

That breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was the first significant step in gaining access to the Democratic National Committee network.

To steal politically-sensitive information, prosecutors say, the hackers exploited some of the United States’ own computer infrastructure against it, using servers they leased in Arizona and Illinois. The details were included in an indictment released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, who accused the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, of taking part in a wide-ranging conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The companies operating the servers were not identified in the court papers.

The Russians are accused of exploiting their access to inexpensive, powerful servers worldwide - conveniently available for rental - that can be used to commit crimes with impunity. Reaching across oceans and into networks without borders can obfuscate their origins.

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Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU (AP) - An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent molten rock crashing through the roof of a sightseeing boat off Hawaii’s Big Island, injuring 23 people Monday, officials said.

A woman in her 20s was in serious condition with a broken thigh bone, the Hawaii County Fire Department said. Three others were in stable condition at a hospital with unspecified injuries. The rest of the passengers suffered burns, scrapes and other superficial injuries.

They were aboard a tour boat that takes visitors to see lava plunging into the ocean from a volcano that has been erupting for two months. The lava punctured the boat’s roof, leaving a gaping hole, firefighters said.

Shane Turpin, the owner and captain of the vessel that was hit, said he never saw the explosion that rained molten rocks down on top of his boat.

He and his tour group had been in the area for about 20 minutes making passes of the ocean entry about 500 yards offshore, Turpin said.

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Judge temporarily halts deportation of reunified families

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A federal judge on Monday ordered a temporary halt to deportations of immigrant families reunited after being separated at the border, as the Trump administration races to meet a July 26 deadline for putting thousands of children back in their parents’ arms.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw imposed a delay of at least a week after a request from the American Civil Liberties Union, which cited “persistent and increasing rumors … that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification.”

Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart opposed the delay but did not address the rumors in court.

The ACLU requested that parents have at least one week to decide whether to pursue asylum in the U.S. after they are reunited with their children. The judge held off on deciding that issue until the government outlines its objections in writing by next Monday.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told reporters that he was “extremely pleased” by the halt and that parents need time to think over with their children and advisers whether to seek asylum.

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Elon Musk’s social media conduct may be bad for his business

Whether it’s investors betting against his stock or reporters or analysts who ask tough questions, Elon Musk has fought back, often around the clock on Twitter.

In the past few months, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has become a bigger, more snarling presence on social media. But when Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile in front of 22.2 million Twitter followers Sunday, he may have gone one tweet too far.

The tweet, later deleted, sent investors away from Tesla stock and could expose the temperamental rocket scientist to a libel suit. In the tweets, Musk strayed from a vigorous defense of his companies into personal insult, with no facts to back it up.

“This has nothing to do with defending Tesla,” said Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan. “This goes over a line where he can’t claim ‘Well, my big sin is that I go too far in defending the company.’”

In a TV interview, British diver Vern Unsworth criticized Musk and SpaceX engineers for sending a small submarine to help divers rescue the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave. The submarine was not used. Unsworth called it a “PR stunt” and said it wouldn’t have worked anyway.

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CNN’s Cooper calls Trump’s summit performance ‘disgraceful’

NEW YORK (AP) - Seconds after President Donald Trump’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin ended Monday, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper called the American leader’s performance “disgraceful.”

It was the most startling of several strong media reactions to the session, televised live by the largest American broadcasters and cable news networks, primarily because of Cooper’s role. He was the news anchor directing CNN’s coverage, as opposed to a pundit paid to be opinionated.

“You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, certainly that I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Cooper later said it was embarrassing and compared the way Trump repeatedly brings up the issue of former opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails to something the autistic lead character in the movie “Rain Man” might do.

For the president, it’s likely to add another to his list of grievances about a network he has denounced as “fake news.” The White House over the weekend took action following CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s attempt to interject a question into a Trump news conference Friday by pulling Trump national security adviser John Bolton from a planned appearance on Jake Tapper’s weekend show.

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Stranded woman drank water from moss after California crash

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An Oregon woman who was badly injured and stranded for a week after her Jeep plunged 250 feet over a cliff into the ocean near Big Sur in California says she survived by drinking fresh water dripping from moss until she was rescued by a couple hiking along the beach.

From her hospital bed, 23-year-old Angela Hernandez posted a detailed account Sunday night on Facebook of her survival after the crash.

The Portland woman said she spent each day walking the isolated stretch of beach, searching for help, and was unable to make her way back up to the highway.

She said she had a brain hemorrhage, collapsed lung, broken ribs and collarbones, and severe sunburn.

“For her to survive for seven days on the coast with waves crashing over you at times, with injuries that she had, is amazing,” Monterey County Sheriff Steve Bernal said. “She was a fighter. She had the will to survive and I think most people in that situation probably wouldn’t have lasted that long.”

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World Cup win gives France new set of heroes, needed boost

PARIS (AP) - The welcome was grand, the emotion visceral as France’s victorious World Cup team rolled down Paris’ Champs-Elysees Avenue in an open-top bus Monday while tens of thousands of people cheered with unrestrained pride and jets streamed the national colors - blue, white, red - overhead.

The crowd that waited for hours to greet the soccer team, under a hot sun and amid celebratory smoke bombs that choked the air, got its moment hours after the team returned from Russia to hoist the gold trophy on French soil for the second time in 20 years.

The national team’s 4-2 win over Croatia on Sunday gave France a new set of heroes, many of whom represent the changing face of a diverse, multicultural country with which not all French citizens have yet reckoned.

The red carpet welcome for the World Cup winners continued at the Elysee Palace, where President Emmanuel Macron threw an informal garden party that had 1,000 children and 300 athletes from local soccer clubs as guests.

Many of the invited clubs are based in the poor neighborhoods French that produced the players who made up France’s youthful, diverse World Cup team, including 19-year-old breakout star Kylian Mbappe. Members of the club he grew up with in suburban Bondy attended the party.

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Amazon’s Prime Day runs into early snags

NEW YORK (AP) - Amazon’s website ran into some early snags Monday on its much-hyped Prime Day, an embarrassment for the tech company on the shopping holiday it created.

Shoppers clicking on many Prime Day links after the 3 p.m. ET launch in the U.S. got only images of dogs - some quite abashed-looking - with the words, “Uh-oh. Something went wrong on our end.” People took to social media to complain that they couldn’t order items.

By about 4:30 p.m., many Prime Day links were working, and Amazon said later Monday that it was working to resolve the glitches.

In an email to The Associated Press, it said “many are shopping successfully” and that in the first hour of Prime Day in the U.S., customers ordered more items than in the same time frame last year.

Still, the hiccups could mute sales and send shoppers elsewhere during one of Amazon’s busiest sales periods that’s also a key time for it to sign up new Prime members. Shoppers have lots of options, as many other chains have offered sales and promotions to try to capitalize on the Prime Day spending.

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