DC Roundup: Revised Cuba Policy, Russia Investigation Tweets, Scalise Recovery

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Friday include President Donald Trump announcing his revision of Obama administration policies on Cuba, Trump tweeting anger again at the Russia probe investigators, news of the team being built by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, an update on wounded Congressman Steve Scalise, and policy changes involving illegal immigrants and their children.

Trump Revises Obama's Opening to Cuba but Leaves Much Untouched -- Saying he was "canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," President Donald Trump on Friday began undoing some parts of his predecessor's historic opening to the island nation. The new measures included tighter restrictions on tourism travel and a prohibition of financial dealings with entities tied to Cuban military and intelligence services. Cuba's military conglomerate GAESA is estimated to control more than half the country's economy.

Trump Keeps Railing at Russia Probe; Kushner Deals Reportedly Draw Scrutiny -- Trump continued a campaign on Twitter on Friday against the investigations into possible links between his campaign and Russia. Trump said he was "being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt." It was unclear whether the president was referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Reporters who shouted questions for clarification after Trump stepped off Marine One on his return to the White House on Friday from a Miami trip got no answers.

As Russia Probe Widens, Special Counsel Builds Up Team -- One hunted terrorists in the 1990s for the FBI and later helped build a criminal case against 9/11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. Another headed the federal task force investigating the Enron corporate scandal of the 2000s.

A third has argued more than 100 criminal cases before the Supreme Court as the Department of Justice's deputy solicitor general. They are among the team of high-powered lawyers Special Counsel Robert Mueller hired recently to examine Russian interference in last year's U.S. presidential election, and to determine whether there was collusion between Moscow and Trump's campaign staff before he was elected president in November.

Wounded US Congressman Better, Still 'Critical' -- A physician treating U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, who was seriously wounded in an attack on Republican lawmakers at a baseball field near Washington, said Friday that his vital signs were stable but that he was still in critical condition. Dr. Jack Sava, director of trauma at Medstar Washington Hospital, told reporters that multiple surgeries appeared to have brought multiple internal hemorrhages under control. The doctor said Scalise was in shock and near death because of extensive blood loss when he arrived at the hospital by helicopter Wednesday.

Trump Finances: Mar-a-Lago, DC Hotel Revenue Up -- Trump's Washington hotel saw almost $20 million in revenue during its first few months of operation, a period that coincided with his election and inauguration as the 45th president. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he's visited seven times as president, pulled in millions of dollars more than it had previously. The new details are included in a financial disclosure that Trump voluntarily submitted Friday to the Office of Government Ethics, the first snapshot of the Trump Organization's finances after its longtime leader became president.

Hopes of Protection Quashed for Some Undocumented US Immigrants -- The Trump administration has officially ended an Obama-era effort to give the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents temporary reprieve from deportation and allow them to work legally. A Texas court blocked the 2014 program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) before it went into effect, so the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's announcement late Thursday does not end any protections in place. The agency said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum rescinding DAPA because there is no credible path forward to litigate" the policy.

Pentagon: No Decision on US Troop Numbers in Afghanistan -- The Pentagon said Friday that the defense secretary has not yet decided how many U.S. troops to commit to the fight in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary James Mattis "has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan, wrote Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White. As he said throughout the week in testimony, the revised Afghanistan strategy will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks.

US Congressional Leaders Look for Answers to Africa's Food Insecurity -- In 2003, Roger Thurow was a journalist assigned to cover the looming famine in Ethiopia. Upon arriving in the country, he was given a warning by a World Food Program worker who told him that looking into the eyes of someone dying of hunger becomes a disease of the soul. Ten years later, Thurow returned to see what had happened to Hagirso. He found the boy was physically stunted, only coming up slightly above an adult's waist and was cognitively stunted, learning at a first-grade level.

US Skeptical of Russian Claim it Killed IS Leader -- U.S. officials are highly skeptical about reports that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have been killed in an airstrike last month. Russia's army said Friday that one of its airstrikes in Syria in late May targeting IS commanders might have killed the terror group's leader, but a senior Trump administration official said the U.S. wasn't convinced al-Baghdadi was dead. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, the official said there were "a number of infirmities" in the story that left them nervous.

Detention of Chinese Insurance Company Chief Not Without Risks -- China's recent detention of Wu Xiaohui, head of the massive insurance conglomerate Anbang Insurance company, is seen by some as a crucial turning point in Chinese President Xi Jinping's crackdown on wealthy corrupt business people, or big crocodiles as they are called here. But that turning point is not without its risks, analysts note, given that Wu is said to have powerful political backers and millions of policy holders.

Trump Seen Hindering Europe's Populist Right as Centrists Gain Ground -- 2017 was described as the year that right-wing populists would take charge in Europe, echoing the election of Trump in the United States. But it has not played out like that at the polls. Centrist Emmanuel Macron scored a crushing victory in France, and the far-right U.K. Independence Party was all but wiped out in Britain as the ruling Conservatives lost their majority. Analysts think Trump may in fact be hindering Europe's populist right.

Trump's Cuba Shift Leaves Some Obama Policies in Place -- Trump on Friday ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on U.S. business dealings with the Caribbean island's military, saying he was canceling former President Barack Obama's "terrible and misguided deal" with Havana.

Source: Voice of America

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