Developments in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday include President Donald Trump sending a series of early morning tweets that Russia must be laughing at the U.S. over investigations, longtime Republican Senator John McCain calling Russia a bigger challenge than Islamic State; the U.S. successfully testing a missile defense system, and the White House communications director resigns:
Trump: Russians Must Be Laughing at US Probes of Moscow Election Meddling — U.S. President Donald Trump says that Russian officials “must be laughing” at the United States with its escalating investigations into Moscow’s meddling in last year’s election, which he claimed was “a lame excuse” adopted by opposition Democrats to explain losing the White House.
McCain: Russia, Putin ‘Greatest Challenge We Have’ — U.S. Senator John McCain said Monday he views Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, as the “greatest challenge we have,” even more so than that posed by the Islamic State group. Speaking during a visit to Australia, McCain told the Australian Broadcasting Company Russia has tried to “destroy the very fundamental of democracy” with efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election and others elsewhere in the world.
White House Communications Chief Resigns — The White House communications director has resigned in what could be the first of several changes in President Donald Trump’s senior staff as he attempts to shape a response to investigations of his aides’ links to Russia.
WATCH: White House press secretary Spicer talks about Trump-Merkel relationship
Trump: Germany Not Adequately Contributing to NATO — U.S. President Donald Trump has reiterated his accusation that Germany does not pay its fair share of dues in NATO, three days after a meeting with the country’s leader that the White House said went well.
US Successfully Tests Missile Defense System — The Pentagon says its first-ever missile defense test involving an ICBM was a success. “The intercept of a complex threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment,” Vice Admiral Jim Syring of the Missile Defense Agency said. Tuesday’s test involved two separate missile launches. A simulated attack intercontinental ballistic missile was fired from a tiny island in the Pacific. A second missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
WATCH: ICBM missile test
Senate Democrats Ask Trump for Answers on China Trademarks — A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, requesting information about a raft of trademark approvals from China this year that they say may violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on gifts from foreign governments. Alan Garten, chief legal officer of The Trump Organization, did not respond immediately to a request for comment. He has previously said that Trump’s trademark activity in China predates his election and noted that Trump has stepped away from managing his company.
Overlooked and Insidious: Back-bay Flooding Plagues Millions — Nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy delivered a wake-up call, the problem of back-bay flooding is coming into sharper focus. Studies are under way, money is starting to flow toward the problem, and the realization that destruction of wetlands for development along such shores is partly to blame is leading to discussion about building codes. ButPresident Donald Trump’s budget proposal, released last week, would cut a combined $452 million from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Homeland Security department for research grants, flood mapping and analysis.
Path Cleared for Congress to Consider US Arms Sale to Riyadh — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has authorized the State Department to notify Congress of the Trump administration’s sale of precision-guided munitions for Saudi Arabia to use in its Yemen campaign, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday. The notification is one of the last steps in the arms sale process and triggers a formal 30-day review to allow members of Congress to attempt to pass legislation to stop any sale.
State Dept. Defends Trump for Not Publicly Mentioning Human Rights in Saudi Arabia — A senior State Department official has defended President Donald Trump at an on-camera briefing for not mentioning human rights during his recent speech in Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, a reporter asked Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones what he would say to critics who say the president’s speech on countering terrorism in Riyadh basically gave Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region a “free pass” on human rights abuses. “I think the fact that, you know, you can argue that by taking it out of the public debate and having those conversations directly and quietly will be more effective.”