Despite new hacking reports, Donald Trump pushes for closer ties to Russia

Despite new hacking reports, Donald Trump pushes for closer ties to Russia
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. President Donald Trump announces the Air Traffic Control Initiative during an event in the East Room of the White House on June 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed a letter of principal that would privatize the
Source: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. President Donald Trump announces the Air Traffic Control Initiative during an event in the East Room of the White House on June 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed a letter of principal that would privatize the
Source: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, the Intercept published a story based on a classified National Security Agency document that said Russian hackers targeted more than 100 local election officials and a voting software company days before the presidential election.

Hours later, the Justice Department announced a federal contractor had been arrested on Saturday. Reality Leigh Winner, 25, was charged with mailing classified information to the Intercept. (The publication said the tip was anonymous.)

Winner's arrest is the first high-profile detention of a federal employee for leaking classified information. Trump has long pushed for locking up people who leak information to journalists. He's even reportedly suggested jailing those journalists.

The arrest comes amid reports that Trump is not pleased with the Justice Department. Trump has soured on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeting vociferously that the department was wrong to weaken the original "travel ban."

But despite the latest details on Russian hacking, Trump is calling for improved relations with Russia. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in New Zealand that Trump has instructed him to boost ties with the country — regardless of news back in the United States. Tillerson said Trump told him to "stabilize that relationship, so it does not deteriorate further."

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What we're watching

Today: A 25-year-old federal contractor was arrested and charged with leaking classified information.

More: That came two days before the Intercept published a document from the National Security Agency about Russian hacking.

Even more: Donald Trump will not prevent James Comey from testifying.

Yes, more: Division between the United Kingdom and the United States widening.

Trump's agenda today: Meeting with House and Senate leaders about health care and tax reform. Having dinner with members of Congress. Meeting with national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The latest Trump tweets

Trump has been playing fast and loose on Twitter over the past 24 hours, tweeting Monday night, "That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!"

It was a response to criticism he faced earlier that day for tweets that put his already beleaguered executive order in an even more legally precarious position as it heads to the Supreme Court.

By Tuesday morning, Trump had already pivoted: "Big meeting today with Republican leadership concerning tax cuts and health care,” he tweeted. “We are all pushing hard — must get it right!"

A White House staff member told journalists Monday night that the administration wants Congress to wrap up health care and the 2018 budget before the summer recess.

Politico reported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a vote on health care by the Fourth of July recess. Technical requirements give the Senate about 10 working days to get their legislation finalized.

But soon after, Trump was off policy again: “The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use social media,” he tweeted. “They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.” (Of course, polling shows it’s voters, not the mainstream media, who largely would like to see Trump cool it with social media.)

White House: Let Comey testify

A Trump spokeswoman said Monday the president will not invoke executive privilege to keep former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The testimony is set for Thursday morning. Trump's "war room" did not ultimately come into being. That means Trump's outside counsel in New York, Marc Kasowitz, will handle questions.

U.S. vs. U.K.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the British government to revoke its invite to Trump for a state visit. Prime Minister Theresa May said it was wrong for Trump to attack London's mayor.

News and insight you cannot miss:

• (Almost) every Democrat might run for president.

Financial disclosures from 349 Trump-installed officials.

• EPA administrator Scott Pruitt claimed Trump created 50,000 jobs in coal. Very wrong.

• The U.S. acting ambassador to China has resigned over Trump's decision on the Paris climate agreement. That comes after Trump claimed Democrats block his nominees, despite the fact he has made few nominations and Republicans control the Senate. Only five of 53 top jobs at the Pentagon, for example, have been filled.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Will Drabold

Will Drabold is a policy writer at Mic. He writes Navigating Trump's America, Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America. He is based in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at wdrabold@mic.com

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