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Putin says ‘fierce’ US politics hindering summit with Trump

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Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed political ructions in the United States for difficulties in arranging a summit with President Donald Trump, in remarks broadcast on Monday.

Trump said in March the two leaders would meet soon. But since then already fragile ties between Washington and Moscow have been strained further by the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

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Putin said last month the proposed summit was beset by problems and was not working out for now.

Asked by Austrian broadcaster ORF why it was taking so long to arrange, he said: “You have to ask our colleagues in the USA. In my view it is the consequence of the fierce domestic political contest in the United States.”

Putin, who gave ORF an interview ahead of a visit to Austria on Tuesday, did not elaborate.

Trump is under pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election and whether there was collusion with Trump’s campaign – something both he and Moscow deny.

“In one of our last discussions, Donald said he is concerned about the danger of a new arms race. I agree with him entirely,” Putin said in a short extract released ahead of the full interview, to be broadcast on Monday evening.

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Apart from mentioning the U.S. withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Putin did not elaborate.

Trump made a similarly vague reference to the issue in April, when he said “Stop the arms race?” in a tweet that also mentioned providing “help” for the Russian economy.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by John Stonestreet

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Fox News commentator Sean Hannity appears to be knee-deep in Trump’s Ukraine scandal — despite his denials

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Fox News host Sean Hannity raved that he never spoke with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about ousted Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch after a third witness confirmed the alleged call to impeachment investigators.

David Hale, the undersecretary of State for political affairs, testified under oath that Yovanovitch was the victim of a baseless smear campaign led by Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney of President Donald Trump, which led to her ouster. According to a transcript of the closed-door deposition released Monday, the smears originally stemmed from the conservative columnist John Solomon, who wrote in The Hill that former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko had claimed that Yovanovitch gave him a “do not prosecute list.” Lutsenko later retracted that claim.

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Will Sondland turn on Trump? Watch live coverage of Day 4 of the Trump impeachment hearings

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On Wednesday the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold its fourth public impeachment hearing looking into allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office by attempting to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation that would benefit the president politically in return for releasing $400 million in much-needed security aid.

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A historian explains why Robert E. Lee wasn’t a hero — he was a traitor

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There’s a fabled moment from the Battle of Fredericksburg, a gruesome Civil War battle that extinguished several thousand lives, when the commander of a rebel army looked down upon the carnage and said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” That commander, of course, was Robert Lee.

The moment is the stuff of legend. It captures Lee’s humility (he won the battle), compassion, and thoughtfulness. It casts Lee as a reluctant leader who had no choice but to serve his people, and who might have had second thoughts about doing so given the conflict’s tremendous amount of violence and bloodshed. The quote, however, is misleading. Lee was no hero. He was neither noble nor wise. Lee was a traitor who killed United States soldiers, fought for human enslavement, vastly increased the bloodshed of the Civil War, and made embarrassing tactical mistakes.

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