Saturday, April 21, 2018
Politics

Tillerson to go to Russia but will skip NATO meeting next month

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Russia next month, a week after a NATO summit meeting he is skipping, State Department officials said Monday.

Tillerson's trip to Moscow, right after he flies to Italy for a meeting of ministers from the Group of Seven countries, comes at a time when the Kremlin's alleged cyberattacks during the presidential campaign and its meetings with several Trump campaign officials are being scrutinized by the FBI and Congress.

The White House appears to be trying to tackle the controversy head on by dispatching Tillerson, who conducted oil negotiations with Russia when he headed ExxonMobil and was awarded a presidential medal of friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Often, U.S. and Russian diplomats meet in a third country, so they don't convey the impression either is catering to the other.

Tillerson has been notably absent from several meetings with foreign leaders, causing some critics to question whether he has much influence over foreign policy in the Trump administration. His visit to Moscow, which was first reported by Reuters, could help dispel that impression.

State Department officials would not confirm that the reason Tillerson will skip the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on April 5 and 6 is because he will be attending President Trump's meeting with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Tillerson met with Xi last weekend in Beijing to discuss the growing threat from North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Hinting that Tillerson will be present when Xi talks with Trump, a State Department official said Tillerson told Xi he hoped they would meet again "very soon."

One stop that is not on Tillerson's schedule next month is NATO headquarters in Brussels, where foreign ministers from Europe will be gathering at a meeting Tillerson would normally be expected to attend. But officials said Tillerson did not consider it imperative to go because he will meet some two dozen of the same foreign ministers in Washington on Wednesday for a summit on combating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. And he talked with many of them at a meeting in Bonn last month.

Tom Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs who is the number two diplomat in the absence of a deputy secretary, will represent the United States at the NATO meeting.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18