Hours after President Trump provoked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter, suggesting he is "short and fat," the White House chief of staff said he tells aides not to react to Trump's comments on social media.
"Someone, I read the other day, said we all just react to the tweets," said Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, speaking with a group of reporters after a presidential news conference Sunday in Vietnam. "We don’t. I don’t. I don’t allow the staff to. We know what we’re doing.”
Kelly said, "Believe it or not, I do not follow the tweets.”
President Donald Trump said Russia's Vladimir Putin once again vehemently denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections during their discussions on the sidelines of an economic summit Saturday. Trump declined to say whether he believed Putin, but made clear he's not interested in dwelling on the issue.
“He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did,” Trump said of Putin, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as he traveled to Hanoi, the second-to-last stop of his Asia trip.
“Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.’ And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it,” Trump said, noting that Putin is “very insulted” by the accusation. Trump called the accusation an “artificial barrier” erected by Democrats — once again casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia did try to interfere in the election to help Trump win.
Mitt Romney emerged Friday as one of the few Republicans calling unconditionally for Roy Moore to quit the U.S. Senate race in Alabama following allegations that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich also broke with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and many other fellow Republicans who have urged Moore to drop out of the campaign only if the alleged 1979 incident turns out to be true.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona was the first major Republican to call on Moore to step aside Thursday following the explosive allegation by Leigh Corfman, the woman who told the Washington Post about the alleged sexual encounter when she was a teen.
President Trump approached Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday evening before a scheduled group photo at the APEC summit in Vietnam.
As Trump stuck out his hand to shake the Kremlin leader's hand, he patted Putin on the shoulder. Both men were dressed in traditional Vietnamese shirts. The two leaders exchanged brief pleasantries before returning to their places in the photo shoot.
The FBI is seeking to determine if former national security advisor Michael Flynn met with senior Turkish officials ahead of President Trump's inauguration to discuss the possibility of Flynn secretly carrying out directives from Ankara while in the White House, according to published reports.
As part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe into Russian interference with U.S. elections, witnesses have been questioned about an alleged December 2016 meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials at the 21 club in New York, not far from Trump Tower, sources told NBC.
The questions were part of a criminal inquiry into Flynn's paid lobbying efforts for Turkey after he was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and joined the Trump campaign as a senior advisor.
The U.S. is nearing agreement with Russia on establishing additional ceasefire zones in Syria, a key step to finally resolving that country's brutal civil war.
Some officials had suggested agreement could be announced in a meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of Friday's Asia summit in Vietnam. Moscow announced the meeting would take place, but the White House has said no "formal" encounter is planned.
Nevertheless, State Department officials said that as the battle in Syria shifts from fighting the largely defeated Islamic State, more attention is focusing on the festering civil war and post-war reconstruction. Russia backs the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad while the U.S. at least nominally supports an armed opposition.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that the mass arrests in Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are a matter of concern and should be watched carefully for broader repercussions throughout the region.
Tillerson, speaking to reporters onboard a flight from Beijing to Vietnam as part of President Trump's Asia tour, struck a more cautionary note than his boss, who has expressed unconditional support for the de facto Saudi leader.
Tillerson told reporters he had spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, who allayed some of his concerns, but added: "How disruptive it’s going to be remains to be seen."
President Trump, under pressure to respond to an allegation that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore nearly four decades ago molested a 14-year-old girl, issued a noncommital statement through his press secretary Friday.
“Like most Americans the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. "However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."
Sanders said Trump, on his way to address a summit of Pacific Rim nations in Vietnam, wanted to "remain focused on representing our country on his historic trip to Asia."
The White House announced Friday that President Trump would not hold an official meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday, though Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said an informal pull-aside is "certainly possible and likely."
Any meeting with Putin could attract unwanted attention to a White House that is dealing with the intensifying investigation over potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.
Trump said on his way to Asia last week that he "expected" to meet with the Russian leader during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit\in Vietnam. A Putin aide told Russian media that the meeting was confirmed.