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Secret Service denies vetting Trump Jr meeting

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The U.S. Secret Service on Sunday denied a suggestion from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer that it had vetted a meeting between the president’s son and Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign.

Donald Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he met in New York with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after he was told she might have damaging information about his father’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me,” Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s legal team, said on Sunday on the ABC news program “This Week.”

In an emailed response to questions about Sekulow’s comments, Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said the younger Trump was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trump’s son and two senior campaign officials.

“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time,” the statement said.

According to emails released by Trump Jr. last week, he eagerly agreed to meet Veselnitskaya, who he was told was a Russian government lawyer. Veselnitskaya has said she is a private lawyer and denies having Kremlin ties.

On Friday, NBC News reported that a lobbyist who was once a Soviet counter-intelligence officer participated in the meeting, which was also attended by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the president’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

The meeting appears to be the most tangible evidence of a connection between Trump’s election campaign and Russia, a subject that has prompted investigations by congressional committees and a federal special counsel.

Moscow has denied any interference and the president and Trump Jr. have denied any collusion.

Sekulow’s comments about the Secret Service drew quick criticism, including from Frances Townsend, who advised former Republican President George W. Bush on homeland security.

“Ok let’s try to deflect blame & throw those in @SecretService who protect @POTUS @realDonaldTrump @FLOTUS & family under the bus,” she said on Twitter.

The Secret Service’s mission is to provide physical protection for the U.S. president. The agency also protects major presidential candidates. But its role in vetting people who meet with a U.S. president or candidates is limited to ensuring physical safety.


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Republican Senator Lee undecided on tax bill, seeks child credit changes: aide

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© Reuters. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) walks to the Senate floor prior to a health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican Senator Mike Lee has not decided whether to support a Republican tax bill and wants changes to the child tax credit, an aide to the lawmaker said on Thursday.

Both Lee and Republican Senator Marco Rubio want more of the proposed child tax credit to be refundable, Conn Carroll, Lee’s communications director said, adding Lee is “undecided on the tax bill as currently written.”

The sweeping tax bill needs a simple majority to pass in the Senate, in which Republicans hold 52 of the 100 seats and no Democrats are expected to support it.

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Airbus confirms management shake-up By Reuters

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© Reuters. Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury stands near a multi-role military helicopter EC 725 by Airbus Helicopters at an international military fair in Kielce

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus (PA:) confirmed a top management shake-up on Friday, following weeks of turmoil at the European planemaker.

Chief operating officer and planemaking chief Fabrice Bregier will step down in February 2018, while chief executive Tom Enders will not seek a new mandate when his term expires in 2019, the company said.

Guillaume Faury, currently chief executive of Airbus Helicopters, will succeed Bregier as president of the main commercial aircraft division, it said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

The company said the board had acted to secure an orderly succession at the world’s second-largest planemaker, which has been beset by rivalries and abrupt changes in the past.

During 2018, the board will assess internal and external candidates for the CEO role with a view to announcing Enders’ successor in good time for confirmation at the 2019 annual shareholder meeting, the statement said.

Bregier, a 56-year-old Frenchman who has long been seen as the natural heir to Enders, has told the board he does not intend to be part of the selection process for the CEO position in 2019, and will therefore step down in February 2018 to “pursue other interests,” the statement said.

However, Bregier hinted at the long-running battle with Enders over status and responsibility which many people in the company say contributed to his unscheduled departure, listing the various titles he had held while running the planes unit.

Enders said he would work to ensure a smooth transition.

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