RUSSIAN COMPLAINS ABOUT SECRET MEETINGS BEING EXPOSED BY LEAKS TO US MEDIA: Speaking to Russian news agencies on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: "You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow: maybe you'll see what you discussed with your counterpart on the pages of Washington Post or on CNN." Ryabkov did not elaborate, but added that the communication with the Trump administration is currently "on the basic level" because he "wouldn't tell my counterparts in Washington what I wouldn't be able to tell you." Ryabkov's comments came several days after top White House adviser Jared Kushner faced allegations that he tried to create back-channel communications with Russia.
TRUMP COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR RESIGNS AMID GROWING TRUMP/RUSSIA SCANDAL: The departure of Michael Dubke, Trump's communications director, comes as aides say Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and revelations of possible ties between his campaign and Moscow. A Republican consultant, Dubke joined the White House team in February after campaign aide Jason Miller — Trump's original choice for communications director — withdrew from the White House team. Dubke founded Crossroads Media, a GOP firm that specializes in political advertising. Dubke is the latest White House staffer to leave this administration as scrutiny intensifies over contacts Trump staffers may have had with Russian government officials during the campaign and transition period.
TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON RHETORIC ABOUT GERMANY AND NATO VIA TWITTER: President Donald Trump has renewed his criticism of Germany following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s suggestion that her country needs to adopt a more independent stance in world affairs. Trump posted a tweet Tuesday saying “we have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change.” Trump rattled some in Europe with his statements on NATO last week. Merkel said Tuesday Germany’s relations with the United States are of “outstanding importance” but it must engage with other key nations going forward. She also suggested in the wake of the Trump visit that Europe’s relationship with Washington had shifted significantly and reiterated her position that “we in Europe have to take our fate into our own hands.”
TRUMP TREATS RULING FAMILIES BETTER THAN DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEADERS: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi praised Trump as someone “capable of doing the impossible” during the president’s first stop in Saudi Arabia, where he addressed more than 50 leaders of Muslim nations. He danced with Saudi royalty, then later struck a multi-billion dollar arms deal with them. In Europe, however, he sparred with European leaders about climate change and engaged in a not-so-warm handshake competition with French President Emmanuel Macron. The difference in the two receptions was striking. “He was received very differently in Europe because he also acted very differently,” said Joerg Wolf, the editor in chief at the Atlantic Initiative research center in Berlin. “He treated the dictators in Saudi Arabia with much more respect and said nicer things about them than he treated his European allies who are all democratically elected.”
TRUMP PROPERTIES DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH KAZAKH MONEY-LAUNDERING SCHEME: The net is closing around a duo of fugitive oligarchs and their kin accused of laundering Kazakh money in posh U.S. real estate — including Trump Organization properties. It’s the latest development in a saga that is reaching into Bayrock Group, an international real estate and investment company that paid the Trump Organization a license fee for the use of its name and an 18 percent ownership stake in the New York hotel and condo project. The Khrapunov family is accused in U.S. lawsuits of “cleaning” illicit money through the purchase and quick resale of U.S. luxury properties, including daughter Elvira Kudryashova’s purchase of three Trump-branded condos in New York and a 9,000-square-foot Studio City mansion flipped in months to pop singer Bruno Mars for $6.5 million.