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Kremlin “pleased” with Helsinki summit, US and Western intelligence assesses

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CNN Reports:

Russian officials were “pleased” with the Helsinki summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, US and Western intelligence agencies have found, according to two intelligence sources with knowledge of the assessments.

The assessments, based on a broad range of intelligence, indicate that the Kremlin believes the July 16 summit delivered a better outcome than it had expected, but that Moscow is perplexed that Trump is not delivering more Russia-friendly policies in its aftermath.

The intelligence sources say the Russians were particularly satisfied with the press conference the two leaders gave in Helsinki after Trump and Putin met for about two hours without staff and accompanied only by translators. In the 45-minute press conference, Trump discredited US intelligence and American policies more broadly, saying “the United States has been foolish” about ties with Russia, a country that has engaged in ongoing attacks on US democracy.

A spokesperson for the Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to request for comment.

The administration’s decision last week to impose sanctions on Russia for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter left Russian officials puzzled that the President is not delivering more favorable policies.

Trump has repeatedly called for warmer relations with Moscow, but the Kremlin is neglecting to factor in the considerable role that Congress and others play in US policy-making, a Western intelligence official said.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s comments last week reflected the deflated Russian hopes for improved ties with Washington or at least less punitive US policies.

“President Putin said in Helsinki that Russia still has hopes for the creation of a constructive relationship with Washington…We are sorry that often we are not met with cooperation on this account,” Peskov said Aug. 9 in a regular press call with reporters.

Peskov’s comments contrasted sharply with the evaluation Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered immediately after the summit, when he said that the talks had been “better than super.”

Trump’s performance in Helsinki sparked unusually public criticism, even from within his own party.

The administration’s decision to impose the sanctions followed a July 26 letter from GOP Congressman Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, urging the White House to comply with a law requiring the US to levy sanctions against countries that violate the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.

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All Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped

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CHICAGO (AP) — Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett say charges alleging he lied to police about an attack have been dropped.


Smollett’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a Tuesday morning statement that Smollett’s record “has been wiped clean.” Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.

A spokeswoman for Cook County prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to messages requesting comment.

Police and prosecutors have said the black and gay actor falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and to promote his career.

The prosecutor who made the surprise decision to drop charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett for allegedly making false assault claims said the dropped and expunged charges are not an indication of the actor’s innocence.

“We didn’t exonerate him,” Joe Magats, the top assistant to Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, said in a statement tweeted out by New York Times correspondent Julie Bosman.

The prosecutor said he “saw no problems with the police investigation or the evidence against Smollett,” Bosman tweeted, adding that the actor’s charges were dropped “in return for his agreement to do community service” and for the forfeiture of “his bond to the city of Chicago.”

“We work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime,” Magats said. “Public safety is our number one priority. I don’t see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety.”

“We stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case,” the prosecutor said. “The mere fact that it was disposed of in an alternative manner does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities in the case or the evidence.”

Magats’ statement contrasts claims made by Smollett’s lawyers, who said the dropped and expunged charges were not part of a deal and that the actor would not be doing any additional community service.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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US Chief Justice John Roberts Rejects Bid To Halt Trump Bump Stock Ban

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday rejected a bid by gun rights activists to put on hold President Donald Trump’s administration’s ban on “bump stock” gun attachments that enable semi-automatic weapons to be fired rapidly.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor has not yet acted on another similar request.

The ban goes into effect on Tuesday but lower courts have yet to rule on an appeals brought by gun rights activists. An appeals court in Washington already has said that the ban will not go into effect in relation to the specific people and groups involved in that case.

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Gun Rights Groups Ask Supreme Court To Halt Trump Bump Stock Ban

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Gun rights groups are asking the Supreme Court to stop the Trump administration from beginning to enforce its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns.


The groups asked the court Monday to get involved in the issue and keep the government from beginning to enforce the ban for now. The ban set to go into effect Tuesday has put the Trump administration in the unusual position of arguing against gun rights groups. It’s unclear how quickly the court will act.

President Donald Trump said last year that the government would move to ban bump stocks. The action followed a 2017 shooting in Las Vegas in which a gunman attached bump stocks to assault-style rifles he used to shoot concertgoers. Fifty-eight people were killed.

Developing…this will be updated.

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