GOP senators say latest Trump-Russia revelation is overblown
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Polls show Zionist Union, under new leadership, surge to second place

PA said preparing to cut welfare stipends to 80,000 families in Gaza; Qatar says it will keep aiding Hamas-ruled Gaza

  • Avi Gabbay outside a primary polling station in Jerusalem on July 4, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Avi Gabbay outside a primary polling station in Jerusalem on July 4, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Palestinian children during a heatwave at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
    Palestinian children during a heatwave at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
  • Palestinians rally in support of Qatar at a Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on June 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
    Palestinians rally in support of Qatar at a Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on June 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
  • US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Amman, March 28, 2017. (Wafa/Thair Ghnaim)
    US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Amman, March 28, 2017. (Wafa/Thair Ghnaim)
  • Illustrative: IDF soldiers run along the beach, February 13, 2014. ( Omer Shaul/IDF Spokesperson/Flickr)
    Illustrative: IDF soldiers run along the beach, February 13, 2014. ( Omer Shaul/IDF Spokesperson/Flickr)
  • Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
    Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during the 22nd World Petroleum Congress opening ceremony on July 9, 2017 in Istanbul.  AFP/OZAN KOSE)
    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during the 22nd World Petroleum Congress opening ceremony on July 9, 2017 in Istanbul. AFP/OZAN KOSE)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.

Labor leader Gabbay: ‘The campaign to replace Netanyahu begins today’

Avi Gabbay, the new head of the Labor party as of yesterday’s primary, tells activists and reporters at the party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv that “the campaign to replace Netanyahu begins today.”

“The State of Israel is headed to elections, we just don’t know the date,” he says.

He adds that his victory has brought “electricity” to the party. “The party’s switchboard crashed. The membership website crashed. People want to join, to strengthen us, to support change.”

The party “needs at least 100,000 members by the next election,” he adds, nearly twice its current number of over 52,000.

Top US diplomat lands in Qatar, hoping to help end Gulf rift

DOHA, Qatar — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Qatar on a mission to break the deadlock between the tiny, energy-rich Gulf nation and four Arab neighbors that is seriously straining relations among the American allies.

The visit is Tillerson’s second stop on a shuttle-diplomacy circuit that is also expected to take him to Saudi Arabia, which shares Qatar’s only land border and is the most powerful of the four countries lined up against it.

He meets with Qatar’s 37-year-old emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, upon arrival in sweltering Doha.

The pair is joined by Qatar’s foreign minister as well as the emir’s brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, a key point person for the United States on counterterrorism issues.

The four nations broke off relations with Qatar and cut air, sea and land routes with it in early June and have accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups. They later issued a 13-point list of demands to restore relations and gave Doha 10 days to comply. The demands include Qatar shutting down news outlets, including the media network Al-Jazeera, cutting ties with Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.

— AP

Former navy chief named in submarine graft inquiry

The IDF major general investigated Tuesday as part of the Israel Police’s “Case 3000” inquiry into possible graft in Israel’s purchase of German-made submarines is named as former Israeli Navy chief Eliezer Marom.

Marom was questioned for several hours this morning at the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit in Lod.

Rebels say they shot down Syria warplane near ceasefire zone

Rebel groups shoot down a Syrian government warplane on Tuesday near a ceasefire zone in the country’s south, the factions and a monitoring group say.

Two rebel groups that operate in southeast Syria, the Lions of the East Army and the Ahmad al-Abdo Forces, issue a joint statement on Tuesday saying they had downed the aircraft.

“The plane was shot down and crashed in regime-controlled territory. We have no information on the pilot,” says Fares al-Munjed, communications head for the Ahmad al-Abdo Forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor confirms that the rebel groups had hit the plane near a village on the administrative border between the provinces of Rural Damascus and Sweida.

Sweida province is part of a new ceasefire deal negotiated by the United States, Russia, and Jordan that went into effect on Sunday.

— AFP

Police arrest 26 Palestinians for entering Israel illegally

Israel Police officers stop a bus in the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm and find 26 Palestinians from the West Bank who are in Israel illegally.

A 27th man on the bus, also a West Bank Palestinian, had an entry permit.

The entire group is placed under arrest and taken for questioning. Within a few hours, 16 are released back to the West Bank, while police seek extended remands for the rest.

4,649 combat veterans suffer from PTSD

The Defense Ministry publishes new statistics for soldiers affected by post-traumatic stress ahead of today’s hearings on the subject in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The Disabled Rehabilitation Department in the Defense Ministry recognizes and supports 4,649 former and current soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, the ministry says in a statement.

Of those, 143 served in Israel’s most recent war, Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014.

Vandal carves 30 swastikas into wet concrete in Brooklyn

New York police are searching for a man who carved about 30 swastikas into wet concrete in Brooklyn.

The Midwood neighborhood where the incident occurred early Saturday morning is predominantly Jewish, and home to at least nine large Orthodox synagogues, a branch of Touro College, and two historic non-Orthodox synagogues.

The vandal, believed to be a teenager, is captured on video carving the swastikas in the concrete over the course of 35 minutes. He also takes photos of his handiwork. The graffiti was discovered on Monday and reported to police, the New York Daily News reports.

The incident is under investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

— JTA

Kremlin-linked lawyer describes meeting Trump’s son

A Russian lawyer tells NBC’s “Today” show that she was summoned to Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign to meet with Donald Trump Jr. and asked if she had information on the Clinton campaign. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, tells NBC she received a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with the Trump campaign. She says she didn’t have information on the Clinton campaign and has never worked for the Russian government.

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow, Russia. (Yury Martyanov/Kommersant Photo via AP)
Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, November 8, 2016, in Moscow, Russia. (Yury Martyanov/Kommersant Photo via AP)

NBC’s “Today” and MSNBC air an interview with the lawyer on Tuesday. It’s her first public comment since Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he made time for the meeting hoping to get information on Clinton, his father’s Democratic presidential opponent.

Veselnitskaya says Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, attended the meeting but left after a few minutes. Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, also attended but never participated and spent much of the meeting on his phone. It wasn’t clear from the NBC report who in the meeting asked her for information.

On Clinton, she says through a translator: “It’s quite possible they were looking for information. They wanted it so badly.”

— AP

Top European court upholds Belgian ban on full-face veil

The European Court of Human Rights upholds a Belgian ban on wearing the full-face niqab veil in public.

The court rules that the restriction seeks to guarantee social cohesion, the “protection of the rights and freedoms of others” and that it was “necessary in a democratic society,” a statement says.

It says a bylaw adopted in June 2008 in the three municipalities of Pepinster, Dison and Verviers “could be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of ‘living together’ as an element of the ‘protection of the rights and freedoms of others.'”

The court says a country should also be given a “wide margin of appreciation in deciding whether and to what extent a limitation of the right to manifest one’s religion or beliefs was ‘necessary.'”

Belgium banned the wearing of the full-face veil under a June 2011 law. It prohibits appearing in public “with a face masked or hidden, in whole or in part, in such a way as to be unidentifiable.”

Violations can result in fines and up to seven days in jail.

France was the first European country to ban the niqab in April 2011.

— AFP

Gaza may already be ‘unlivable,’ UN official says

The Gaza Strip may already be “unlivable,” a United Nations official warns, after a decade of Hamas rule and a crippling Israeli blockade.

Robert Piper, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the West Bank and Gaza, tells AFP in an interview to mark a new report on living conditions in Gaza that all the “indicators are going in the wrong direction.”

“We predicted some years ago that Gaza would fast become unlivable on a host of indicators and that deadline is actually approaching even faster than we predicted — from health access, to energy to water,” he says. A 2012 UN report predicted the Palestinian enclave would be “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to ease the blockade.

Piper points out that power supplies were down to as little as two hours a day in Gaza, where medical care had been slashed and youth unemployment was over 60 percent.

In such circumstances “for most of us that unlivability point has already been passed,” he says. “And yet somehow the Gazans soldier on.”

The new UN report, “Gaza — Ten Years Later,” also says more than 95% of Gaza’s water is now unfit for drinking.

— AFP

Greenblatt, Friedman meet Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem

White House peace envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with senior Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem. He is joined by US Consul General Donald Blome and, in an unusual move, also US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

“They had an open, cordial, and frank discussion on many topics related to peace negotiations,” a senior White House official tells The Times of Israel. “The administration believes that in order to give everyone the best chance to reach an ultimate deal, it is critical to have negotiators that are close with the president and that is why the team includes Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman.”

According to Israeli reports, the Palestinian negotiating team asked to meet Greenblatt in Jerusalem because they were unwilling to host Friedman in Ramallah.

As an ambassador accredited to the State of Israel, Friedman would usually not attend bilateral meetings with the Palestinian Authority.

— Raphael Ahren

Top Democrat on US House intel committee vows inquiry into Trump Jr. Russia meet

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee says the report that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer last year in the expectation of getting damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign is “a very big deal.”

California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff tells CNN that his committee, which is investigating possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, would summon the meeting participants “to get to the bottom of it.”

The New York Times reported late Monday that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the source of the information was the Russian government. Schiff says the report, if true, represents “an offer by the Russian government to help interfere in the American election on behalf of one of the candidates” and the first time “the inner circle of the Trump family…have direct contact with the Russians promising” information on Clinton.

In a statement, Trump Jr.’s New York-based attorney Alan Futerfas calls the Times report “much ado about nothing.”

— AP

Woman killed, 2 hurt in West Bank car crash

One woman is killed in a head-on collision on Route 5 near Oranit in the northern West Bank.

According to police, two others, both women, are moderately and lightly hurt, respectively, and are being taken to a nearby hospital.

The road is closed to traffic at the moment, according to a statement from police.

Qatar says it will keep aiding Hamas-ruled Gaza

A Qatari envoy says the energy-rich nation will continue development projects in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, despite a rift with its Gulf neighbors stemming in part from its ties with the group.

Mohammed El-Amadi speaks as he signs a new agreement with a Palestinian contractor to build eight residential buildings.

Qatar has been the largest single donor to Gaza over the past five years, disbursing about a half billion dollars for housing, reconstruction, infrastructure development, and health projects.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have pressed Qatar to end its support to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, the historical parent of Hamas.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

— AP

After Gaza report, Israel’s UN envoy slams Hamas ‘exploitation of aid’

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon says today’s UN report on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip “proves without a doubt that the rule of Hamas terrorists over the past ten years has not only led to unending attacks on innocent Israelis, but has also brought nothing but pain and destruction to the residents of Gaza.”

In a statement, Danon slams Hamas’s “continued exploitation of humanitarian aid by this terrorist organization,” saying it “harms Palestinian civilians and sabotages the efforts of the international community. It is time for the UN to finally designate Hamas a terrorist organization and to demand that the Palestinian leadership abandon its support of incitement and terror.”

Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at a United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)
Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at a United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)

US conducts successful missile intercept test amid N. Korea tensions

The US military conducts a successful test of a missile intercept system, officials say, as tensions soar following North Korea’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach Alaska.

The test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system sees a ballistic missile target air-launched from an Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii.

“A THAAD weapon system located at (Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska) in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target,” the US Missile Defense Agency says in a statement.

THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

THAAD maker Lockheed Martin says this is the first time the system had intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Richard McDaniel, a Lockheed vice president, says in a statement the system performed “flawlessly.”

Though such exercises are planned months in advance, it comes after North Korea’s first-ever test-firing last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching parts of the United States including Alaska.

— AFP

PA said preparing to cut welfare stipends to 80,000 families in Gaza

The Palestinian Authority is reportedly continuing its policy of pressuring Hamas through cuts to its financial support for Gaza, this time by planned cuts to welfare subsidies for poor families in the Strip.

According to the Haaretz daily, citing a source “close to [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas,” some 80,000 Gaza families receive several thousand shekels each month in welfare stipends from the PA. About 60,000 are “linked to Hamas,” the source is quoted as saying. “Their financial situation is relatively good and they don’t need the stipend, while the remaining families have additional sources of income.”

The cuts to the “Hamas-linked” families are likely to be permanent, the source indicates, while those for non-Hamas recipients are temporary.

US soldier arrested after pledging loyalty to Islamic State

An active duty US soldier is arrested on terrorism charges after authorities say he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and said he wanted to “kill a bunch of people.”

The FBI arrested Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, 34, in a suburb of Honolulu over the weekend after a yearlong investigation involving multiple undercover officers and confidential informants. He made an initial appearance in federal court on Monday.

Kang’s court-appointed defense attorney, Birney Bervar, says it appears his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues of which the government was aware but neglected to treat.

A 26-page affidavit from FBI Special Agent Jimmy Chen filed in court Monday detailed how Kang thought he was dealing with people working for Islamic State but who were actually undercover agents.

Paul Delacourt, the FBI special agent in charge of the Hawaii bureau, says Kang gave military documents to people he believed would give them to Islamic State, but none of them got to the organization.

On Saturday, agents arrested him after he pledged loyalty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and said he wanted to “take his rifle, his magazines and kill ‘a bunch of people.'”

The affidavit alleges he told an FBI source that “Hitler was right, saying he believed in the mass killing of Jews.”

— AP

Soros ‘distressed’ by ‘anti-Semitic’ Hungary campaign

US billionaire George Soros hits back at a Hungarian government anti-immigration poster and media campaign that he says uses “anti-Semitic” imagery.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the 86-year-old says in a rare statement.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” or Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

Hungary’s largest Jewish organization, Mazsihisz, has called on Orban to stop the campaign, with its head Andras Heisler writing to Prime Minister Viktor Orban that the “poisonous messages harm the whole of Hungary.”

Some opposition activists and citizens have also begun taking down some of the posters from billboards.

Soros says he was “heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community” have spoken out.

— AFP

US stocks tumble on Trump Jr. Russia emails

Wall Street stocks tumble precipitously just before midday Tuesday in the US after Donald Trump, Jr. releases emails showing he embraced Russia’s efforts to support his father’s presidential campaign.

US stocks had been flat to positive prior to the revelations released on Twitter, which revived worries that President Donald Trump’s Russia travails could derail his agenda.

This file photo taken on December 06, 2016 shows Donald Trump Jr. as he walks around Trump Tower in New York. (AFP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
This file photo taken on December 06, 2016 shows Donald Trump Jr. as he walks around Trump Tower in New York. (AFP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls as far as 0.6 percent immediately after the news broke, but by 1545 GMT, is down 0.3% at 21,341.18.

The broad-based S&P 500 also drops 0.3% to 2,420.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index loses less than 0.1% at 6,174.07.

Trump junior was told by an interlocutor that he could get “very high level and sensitive information” that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

The revelations come amid ongoing probes of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russians. They also raise questions about the string of denials from Trump and his team that the campaign colluded with Russian government hackers whom US officials have blamed for attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

— AFP

Channel 2 poll shows Gabbay-led Zionist Union returned to second place

The first major poll after Avi Gabbay’s victory in Labor’s leadership primary yesterday shows the Labor-led Zionist Union faction at second place to Likud, ahead of centrist Yesh Atid.

According to the Channel 2 poll, Likud wins 25 seats, Zionist Union at 20, Yesh Atid 18, Jewish Home 13, the Arab Joint List 13, Kulanu 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beytenu 6, Shas 5, Meretz 5.

The poll puts Zionist Union, a Labor-led alliance with Hatnua, at far higher than other polls in recent months, which have shown it crash as low as 12 seats — but still four seats less than the faction’s current 24-seat showing in the Knesset.

Trump envoy Greenblatt meets with families of Israelis held in Gaza

Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, meets with the families of Israelis believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

Greenblatt, who arrived in Israel this week, met Monday evening with the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed to discuss the situation of the two men, a statement from the White House says. The family of Jumaa Abu Ghanima was unable to attend the meeting.

Greenblatt “expressed outrage that Hamas has not allowed the Israelis, some of whom may need medical assistance, to communicate with their families and return home,” according to the readout. He also “expressed his sincere hope that all three Israelis would be returned to their families immediately.”

Mengistu, 30, of Ashkelon, is believed to have voluntarily climbed over the security fence between Israel and Gaza in September 2014 and has not been heard from since. He is mentally ill, according to his family. Sayed also crossed into Gaza on his own and is said to be mentally ill. Hamas in Gaza also holds the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St. Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

— JTA

Channel 10 poll also shows Gabbay-led Zionist Union surge into second place

Channel 10 seems to back up the finding of a Channel 2 poll that the new Labor-led Zionist Union — led since yesterday by new Labor leader Avi Gabbay — has pushed ahead of Yesh Atid into second place.

Likud wins 29 seats in Channel 10’s latest poll, just one less than its current 30-seat showing. Zionist Union wins 24, matching its current showing. Yesh Atid has 16, Jewish Home 14, the Arab Joint List 8, Yisrael Beytenu 7, Kulanu 6, United Torah Judaism 6, Shas 5 and Meretz 5.

The poll also asks “who you think is most fitting to be prime minister, Netanyahu or Gabbay.” Netanyahu wins handily with 51% of respondents, while the new Labor leader, a political neophyte, gets just 25%.

Saudis to allow girls to play sports in public schools

Saudi Arabia says it will grant girls in public schools access to physical education, a decision that comes after years of calls by women across the kingdom demanding greater rights and access to sports.

The Education Ministry says it will introduce the physical education classes “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations.”

At least one Saudi activist took to Twitter questioning whether this implied that girls will be required to seek the permission of their male guardians, such as a father, before they can play sports. It was also unclear if the classes would be extracurricular or mandatory.

The decision to allow girls to play sports in public schools is significant in Saudi Arabia because women taking part in exercise is still seen as a taboo. Some of the kingdom’s ultraconservatives shun the concept of women’s exercise as “immodest” and say it blurs gender lines.

— AP

GOP senators say latest Trump-Russia revelation is overblown

Republican senators are downplaying revelations that the US president’s son agreed to hear damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s effort to help his father.

Senior Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah calls the matter “overblown,” describing Donald Trump Jr. as “a very nice young man.”

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina appears at a news conference with seven other GOP senators, insisting that Republicans should not be “distracted” by the latest reports on Russia and instead stay focused on their agenda. None of the other attendees at the press conference respond to a question on the new emails released by Trump Jr.

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia says several congressional committees are already looking at the matter.

— AP

Sheila Michaels, iconic feminist who popularized ‘Ms.,’ dies at 78

Sheila Babs Michaels, an iconic figure in feminist and social justice causes who has been credited with popularizing the courtesy title “Ms.,” has died.

Michaels died on June 22 in New York. She was 78 and had been suffering from leukemia.

In a 2009 New York Times article, Ben Zimmer wrote that in 1961, Michaels, then 22 and living in New York, saw “Ms.” on a piece of mail her roommate received. “In fact, she initially took it as a typo, albeit a felicitous one,” Zimmer wrote. “Fiercely independent, Michaels abhorred having her identity defined by marriage. Struck by Ms., she became a one-woman lobbying force for the title as a feminist alternative to ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs.’”

“[I] was looking for a title for a woman who did not ‘belong’ to a man,’” Michaels is quoted as saying in a 2007 story in The Guardian.

By 1970, Gloria Steinem endorsed the term and it steadily grew in public usage. In 1971 “Ms.” was used as the title of the feminist magazine started by Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes.

The Jewish feminist icon was born in St. Louis in 1939.

Sheila Michaels. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Sheila Michaels. (Screen capture: YouTube)

— JTA

Senate Democrats emboldened by Trump Jr. emails

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says emails by US President Donald Trump’s eldest son show that a congressional investigation into Russian election meddling is “all that more important.”

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. released an email exchange in which he showed interest in what was described as a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner dismisses that Trump Jr.’s eager acceptance of help could just be naiveté. He said: “Lying is not a rookie mistake.”

Warner also notes that Trump said in the exchange that the information could be good “especially later in the summer,” and that Clinton’s hacked emails were released around that time.

— AP

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GOP senators say latest Trump-Russia revelation is overblown

Republican senators are downplaying revelations that the US president’s son agreed to hear damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s effort to help his father.

Senior Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah calls the matter “overblown,” describing Donald Trump Jr. as “a very nice young man.”

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina appears at a news conference with seven other GOP senators, insisting that Republicans should not be “distracted” by the latest reports on Russia and instead stay focused on their agenda. None of the other attendees at the press conference respond to a question on the new emails released by Trump Jr.

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia says several congressional committees are already looking at the matter.

— AP