VOA NEWS

July 13, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jonathan Smith reporting.



President Trump is again criticizing reports that there were links between his presidential campaign and Russia.

On Twitter on Wednesday, he called the reports "the greatest Witch Hunt in political history." His tweet came a day after his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., disclosed emails that showed how he and other key Trump aides met with a Russian lawyer who offered incriminating information about Trump's challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer "starts to look like collusion ... open, knowing collusion with the Russian government" on the part of the Trump campaign team.



A Russian billionaire on Wednesday dismissed as fiction emails released by Donald Trump Jr, which identify him as a potential middleman for allegedly incriminating Kremlin information on Clinton.

An email from British music promoter Rob Goldstone to Trump Jr. claims an offer was made by Russia's general prosecutor to provide the Trump campaign with "official documents" on Clinton during a meeting with real estate mogul Aras Agalarov.

Goldstone says the Russian prosecutor offered to provide the Trump campaign with very high-level and sensitive information as part of Russia and its government's support for his father.

The Agalarov family has established ties to the Trumps but Agalarov dismissed the emails identifying him as a possible go-between for the Trumps and the Kremlin. He said, "I think this is some sort of fiction. I don't know who is making it up."



You're listening to news from the Voice of America in Washington.



House Speaker Paul Ryan said a strong sanctions bill against Russia would come up for a vote soon despite procedural delays [amid] and claims of partisan clashes on Capitol Hill.

The bill has been awaiting a House vote for almost a month since the Senate passed it 98-2. The sanctions debate comes amid intense focus on Russia interference into the 2016 U.S. election and investigation into the nature of the Trump's campaign's relationships with Russian contacts.



State-funded Russian Sputnik Radio has started broadcasting in the Washington, D.C. area in a hoped-for first step in reaching more Americans with what it calls "alternative news."

Sputnik says it gives voice to minority views outside of mainstream media and supports an anti-establishment agenda.

But as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Washington, critics say Sputnik functions as part of a [Russia] Kremlin propaganda machine aimed at undermining Western institutions.

Russia Sputnik Radio says its broadcasting into the Washington D.C. area will allow Americans in the nation's capital to listen to them and not just to what is being said about them.

Sputnik and other Russian state-funded media claim they promote anti-establishment views outside of mainstream media, but not Kremlin propaganda.

Many, like Robert Orttung, who study Kremlin media disagree.

"At the end of the day, that's the purpose of these broadcasters, that's the purpose of Russian foreign policy in general, is to undermine our democracy, undermine the faith of the American people in their own institutions."

Sputnik says people should read, listen and judge for themselves whether it is "alternative news" or Kremlin propaganda.

Daniel Schearf, VOA news, Washington.



Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison.

Lula, as he is commonly known, has denied the charges, plans to appeal the conviction and will remain free during the appeals process.

The federal judge found the popular politician guilty of taking more than a million dollars in kickbacks from an engineering firm and using the money to refurbish a beach front apartment.



Global stock markets rose sharply Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen dampened expectations that the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates more than three times in 2017.

The central bank has already raised rates twice in 2017 and one more rate hike is expected later this year.



You can find more on these and other developing stories from around the world around the clock at voanews.com. I'm Jonathan Smith in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.