U.S. House Speaker backs intelligence panel chair in Russia probe | Reuters
By Doina Chiacu | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON The top Republican in Congress on Tuesday stood by Devin Nunes, an ally of President Donald Trump who heads the House of Representatives intelligence committee and is under fire for his handling of an investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump's election campaign. Democrats accuse Nunes of being too close to the president to be able to head the probe. Some of Nunes' fellow Republicans have questioned his objectivity after he made a controversial announcement last week about U.S
By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON The top Republican in Congress on Tuesday stood by Devin Nunes, an ally of President Donald Trump who heads the House of Representatives intelligence committee and is under fire for his handling of an investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump's election campaign. Democrats accuse Nunes of being too close to the president to be able to head the probe. Some of Nunes' fellow Republicans have questioned his objectivity after he made a controversial announcement last week about U.S. spy agency surveillance.House Speaker Paul Ryan, asked at a news conference whether Nunes should step aside from the investigation and if he knew the source of Nunes' claims about surveillance, said: "No and no."At an event in the White House, Trump declined to comment on whether Nunes should step back. The specter of possible Russian influence on the election in Trump's favor has cast a shadow over the president's first two months in office.
Nunes announced last week without providing a source that he had information Trump associates may have been ensnared in incidental intelligence collection before the president took office in January. The lawmaker acknowledged visiting the White House before making the announcement but has declined to say who he met there.
Critics say that Nunes' disclosure was an effort to justify Trump's unfounded accusations this month that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had directed surveillance on Trump Tower during the election campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia's role in the election, wants to question Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, about meetings he held with the Russian ambassador and a Russian banker in December. Nunes, who was a member of the team that ran Trump's transition to the presidency after the Nov. 8 election, told reporters on Tuesday the House panel's investigation was moving forward. Asked whether he would recuse himself, he said, "The investigation continues."
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in an email that "Speaker Ryan has full confidence that Chairman Nunes is conducting a thorough, fair, and credible investigation." But Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, influential foreign policy hawks, joined Democrats in questioning Nunes' objectivity although they stopped short of calling on him to remove himself from the probe as Democrats have done. "I think he put his objectivity in question, at the very least," Graham said on NBC's "Today" show. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Grant McCool)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.