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McFaul expected to meet with Trump’s top adviser on Russia at White House

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Michael A. McFaul, a former U.S. diplomat and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will visit the White House on Tuesday for a private meeting with President Trump’s top adviser on Russia, according to two people familiar with the planned meeting.

McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, will meet with Fiona Hill, a senior director on the National Security Council who joined the president for last week’s summit with Putin in Helsinki, said the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Hill is widely seen within the administration as one of Trump’s most hawkish advisers on Russia and has written extensively and critically of Putin, including a 2013 biography of the former KGB officer.

Hill’s influence on Trump has drawn new scrutiny in recent days as the president has made overtures to Putin. But her willingness to meet with McFaul could be a sign that she is, at the least, interested in connecting with the Stanford University professor as McFaul deals with the fallout from an offer from Putin to Trump.

Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was considering Putin’s proposal for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to visit Moscow to interrogate Russian hacking suspects in exchange for Russians’ interrogating U.S. officials, including McFaul. Trump initially described the offer as an “interesting idea.”

Sanders, however, later ruled out the suggestion in a statement Thursday, following intense criticism from both Republicans and Democrats about the possibility of sending Americans abroad to be questioned by Russian intelligence officials.

Former secretary of state John F. Kerry tweeted that the offer was “not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous.” And the Republican-controlled Senate voted 98 to 0 Thursday to approve a resolution urging the United States not to make any current or former U.S. diplomats available to Putin.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said. “Hopefully, President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

It is unclear whether Hill and McFaul have a specific agenda for the meeting or if the Trump administration is considering taking further steps to reassure McFaul that he is not at risk of being sent to Russia as part of any future agreement with Putin, the people said. The White House announced last week that the president had invited Putin to visit Washington this fall.

After The Washington Post posted this story on Monday, McFaul tweeted, “I am coming to DC today to try to meet with several US government officials to urge them to communicate with their Russian counterparts about the negative consequences of further harassing former US officials like me.”

McFaul added that he believes it is a “low probability event” that Russia would indict him or others, but he is seeking to ensure it is a “zero probability event.”

As the summit unfolded in Helsinki and the two leaders held a news conference, McFaul wondered on Twitter whether Hill agreed with the president’s political embrace of the Russian leader.

“I remember all the tough talk on Russia from [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s confirmation hearings, [national security adviser John] Bolton’s TV appearances, and Fiona Hill’s writings,” McFaul said. “I wonder what they were thinking today.”

Speaking last Wednesday on MSNBC, McFaul said he was stunned by the administration’s response to Putin’s offer.

“It’s been a weird couple of days,” McFaul said. “I was totally flabbergasted by why the White House would not defend me.”

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

A second White House official said McFaul requested a meeting with the National Security Council and added that the NSC accepted out of courtesy.

McFaul declined to comment.

McFaul served as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, a tumultuous period in relations between the two countries. President Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act into law in 2012, prompting retaliation from Russia that included banning U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. McFaul was often the target of anti-American attacks in the Russian media and said he ended up being Putin’s “personal foe.”

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Samantha Schmidt contributed to this report.

 

This article was written by Robert Costa from The Washington Post

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Billionaire Financier David Koch Dead At Age 79 From Prostate Cancer

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(NTS) — Billionaire tycoon and controversial political activist David Koch, one of the wealthiest people in the world and a significant contributor to libertarian and conservative movements, has died after a decades-long struggle with cancer, his brother states. He was 79 years old.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David,” Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch said in a statement on Friday morning. “Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life.”

David was diagnosed with prostate cancer approximately three decades ago, and he retreated from Koch Industries in June 2018, when his brother said David’s well-being had “continued to deteriorate” since being hospitalized in the summer of 2016. David held the title director emeritus.

“Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live,” Charles said. “David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his stubbornness kept the cancer at bay. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.”

David Koch and his elder brother, Charles, have been an instrumental force in conservative American campaignings since the early 1980s. Their influence fundamentally originates from a fortune which centered around Koch Industries, which was established by their father Fred Koch in 1940.

Over the years, the Koch brothers have donated large quantities of money in assistance of organizations to assemble voters and to promote conservative and libertarian politicians. In 1980, David was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate, but Republican candidate Ronald Reagan defeated he and his running mate Ed Clark.

The Koch brothers were disparaging of President Donald Trump and started a multi-million dollar campaign against his tariffs, which led to a tweet from the president last summer. “The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Trump tweeted.

Two years earlier, just months before the 2016 presidential election, Trump took another swipe at the Koch brothers. “I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch. Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!”, Trump tweeted.

At the time of David’s death, his net worth was assessed to be $42.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, making him the 11th richest person in the world. In 2015, the magazine ranked him as the 29th most powerful person in the world.

In addition to being a political donor, David was also a long-time philanthropist. He and his foundation bestowed hundreds of millions to cancer research and medical centers, and he served as a board member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He also contributed $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, $65 million to renovate the plaza at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and $1 million to support education programs for visitors to the September 11 Memorial & Museum.

His wife Julia and their three children survive.

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Cardinal George Pell’s Appeal Denied; Convictions On Sex Abuse Will Stand

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MELBOURNE, Australia — An Australian court has confirmed convictions against the most superior Catholic to be found condemned of child sex abuse.


The Victoria state Court of Appeal by a 2-1 majority ruling published Wednesday denied Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of the unanimous verdicts a jury issued in December finding Pope Francis’ former finance minister condemned of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.

At the time, Pell had just become archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city and had established an international-first reimbursement method for victims of clergical sexual abuse.

His lawyers are predicted to appeal the decision in the High Court, Australia’s final arbitrator.

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Attorney Cites Trump’s Rhetoric In National Anthem Attack On Montana Teenager

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Curt James Brockway, 39, is charged with felony assault on a minor.(Montana Department of Corrections)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a Montana man accused of throwing a 13-year-old boy to the ground at a rodeo because the teenager didn’t remove his hat during the national anthem says his client believes he was acting on an order from President Trump.


Attorney Lance Jasper told the Missoulian newspaper that the president’s “rhetoric” contributed to 39-year-old Curt Brockway’s disposition when he grabbed the boy by the throat and slammed him to the ground, fracturing his skull at the Mineral County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Jasper said Brockway is an Army veteran who believes he was acting on an order by his commander in chief. He adds that Brockway’s decision-making has been affected by a brain injury he suffered in a vehicle crash.

Brockway is charged with felony assault on a minor.

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