East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 13, 2017, Page Page 7A, Image 7

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    NATION/WORLD
Thursday, April 13, 2017
BRIEFLY
Alabama Senate
votes to allow
church to form
police department
MONTGOMERY, Ala.
(AP) — The Alabama
Senate has voted to allow
a church to form its own
police force.
Lawmakers on Tuesday
voted 24-4 to allow
Briarwood Presbyterian
Church in Birmingham to
establish a law enforcement
department.
The church says it needs
its own police officers to
keep its school as well as
its more than 4,000 person
congregation safe.
Critics of the bill argue
that a police department that
reports to church officials
could be used to cover up
crimes.
The state has given a
few private universities the
authority to have a police
force, but never a church or
non-school entity.
Police experts have said
such a police department
would be unprecedented in
the U.S.
Former Trump
campaign chair
to register as
foreign agent
WASHINGTON (AP) —
President Donald Trump’s
former campaign chairman
Paul Manafort will register
with the Justice Department
as a foreign agent for
lobbying work he did on
behalf of political interests
in Ukraine, led at the time
by a pro-Russian political
party, his spokesman said
Wednesday.
Manafort is the second
Trump campaign adviser to
have to register as a foreign
agent since the election. The
confirmation that he intends
to register comes as the
Trump administration has
been facing heavy scrutiny
over the foreign ties of
former campaign advisers
and other Trump associates.
By registering
retroactively, Manafort will
be acknowledging that he
failed to properly disclose
his work to the Justice
Department as required by
federal law.
The Justice Department
rarely prosecutes such
violations of the Foreign
Agent Registration Act, but
Manafort will now have to
publicly and specifically
detail his foreign agent
work. That includes which
American government
agencies and officials he
sought to influence, how he
was paid and the details of
contracts he signed as part of
the work. Manafort was able
to keep much of that out of
public view.
Manafort began
discussions with the
government about his
lobbying activities after
Trump hired him in March
2016, Manafort spokesman
Jason Maloni said, although
it was unclear whether those
conversations occurred
before or after Trump
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forced Manafort to resign in
August.
Manafort’s resignation
from the campaign came
immediately after the AP
had reported that Manafort’s
consulting firm between
2012 and 2014 orchestrated
a covert Washington
lobbying operation on behalf
of Ukraine’s ruling party
without disclosing that it was
working as a foreign agent.
Trump says
China won’t be
labeled a currency
manipulator
WASHINGTON
(AP) — Backing away
from a campaign pledge,
President Donald Trump
said Wednesday that his
administration won’t
label China a currency
manipulator in a report due
this week, though he does
think the U.S. dollar “is
getting too strong.”
Trump also said in an
interview at the White
House with The Wall Street
Journal that he would prefer
that the Federal Reserve
keep interest rates relatively
low.
The president also left
open the possibility of
re-nominating Janet Yellen
for a second four-year term
as Fed chair. That would
mark another shift from his
campaign position that he
would likely replace Yellen
when her term as chair ends.
The decision not to
label China a currency
manipulator represents one
of the sharpest reversals of
Trump’s brief presidency.
Trump began to bash China
in the 2015 speech that
began his campaign, saying
Beijing kept its currency
artificially low to give its
manufacturers an unfair
advantage in global trade.
As a candidate, Trump
pledged to instruct his
Treasury secretary to
label China a currency
manipulator immediately
after he took office.
East Oregonian
Page 7A
Trump declares U.S.-Russia
relations may be at ‘all-time low’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Laying
bare deep and dangerous divisions
on Syria and other issues, President
Donald Trump declared Wednesday
that U.S. relations with Russia “may
be at an all-time low.” His top diplomat
offered a similarly grim assessment
from the other side of the globe
after meeting with Vladimir Putin in
Moscow.
“Right now we’re not getting along
with Russia at all,” Trump said flatly
during a White House news confer-
ence. It was stark evidence that the
president is moving ever further from
his campaign promises to establish
better ties with Moscow.
Only weeks ago, it appeared that
Trump, who praised Putin throughout
the U.S. election campaign, was poised
for a potentially historic rapprochement
with Russia.
But any such expectations have
crashed into reality amid the nasty
back-and-forth over Syria and ongoing
U.S. investigations into Russia’s
alleged interference in America’s U.S.
presidential election.
“It’d be a fantastic thing if we got
along with Putin and if we got along
with Russia,” Trump said. But he
clearly wasn’t counting on it.
“That could happen, and it may not
happen,” he said. “It may be just the
opposite.”
Not long before Trump spoke in
Washington, Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson struck a similar tone after an
almost two-hour meeting with Putin,
saying the two countries had reached a
“low point” in relations.
Trump, who last week ordered
airstrikes on a Syrian air base in
retaliation for a chemical weapons
attack, was asked Wednesday if Syria
could have launched the attack without
Russia’s knowledge. Trump said it was
“certainly possible” though “probably
unlikely.”
The newly hardened view of
Moscow comes as the president has
tried to shake suspicions about the
motives behind his campaign calls
for warmer relations. As the FBI and
multiple congressional committees
investigate possible collusion between
Russia and Trump’s campaign, the
president and his aides can now point
to his hard-line stance on Assad as
evidence he’s willing to stand up to
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
President Donald Trump pauses during a news conference with NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Wednesday.
Putin.
More than 80 people were killed in
what the U.S. has described as a nerve
gas attack that Syrian President Bashar
Assad’s forces undoubtedly carried out.
Russia says rebels were responsible for
whatever chemical agent was used,
which the Trump administration calls a
disinformation campaign.
Not long before Trump spoke,
Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N.
resolution that would have condemned
the chemical weapons attack and
demanded a speedy investigation.
The dim view of U.S.-Russian
ties from both Trump and Tillerson
reflected the former Cold War foes’
inability to forge better relations, as
Trump until recently has advocated.
Allegations of collusion between
Russian officials and Trump campaign
associates also have weakened Trump’s
ability to make concessions to Russia
in any agreement, lest he be accused
of rewarding bad behavior. Russia
wants the U.S. to eliminate sanctions
on Moscow related to its 2014 annex-
ation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and
support for pro-Russian separatists in
eastern Ukraine.
Until the chemical attack, the
Trump administration had sought
to step back from the U.S. position
that Assad should leave power. But
Tillerson repeated the administration’s
new belief that “the reign of the Assad
family is coming to an end.”
Beyond Syria, Russia’s alleged
meddling in the U.S. presidential elec-
tion also hovered over what was the
first face-to-face encounter between
Putin and any Trump administration
Cabinet member.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov blasted U.S. claims that it
has “irrefutable evidence” of election
interference.
“We have not seen a single fact, or
even a hint of facts,” he said. “I do not
know who saw them. No one showed
us anything, no one said anything,
although we repeatedly asked to
produce the details on which these
unfounded accusations lie.”
He also rejected American claims of
certain evidence that Assad ordered the
chemical attack.
Still, Tillerson sought to stress the
positives from his meetings. He said
working groups would be established
to improve U.S.-Russian ties and
identify problems. He said the two
sides would also discuss disagreements
on Syria and how to end the country’s
six-year civil war.
But such hopes appeared optimistic
as the diplomats outlined their sharply
diverging views on Syria. Tillerson said
Syria’s government had committed
more than 50 attacks using chlorine
or other chemical weapons over the
duration of the conflict.