In late May, Qatari government websites were infiltrated by hackers as part of a plan orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates shortly before the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with the country, U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Post Sunday.
It is unclear if the UAE hacked the sites on its own or contracted the task out to someone else, the officials said. On May 24, a story appeared on the Qatar News Agency's website that included fake quotes attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, that were pro-Iran and Hamas. The government said it sent out alerts within 45 minutes saying this was a hoax and the website had been hacked, but a video was posted to the agency's YouTube channel later that day and similar messages appeared on the government's Twitter accounts; even after Qatar made its announcement, Saudi Arabian news agencies were reporting on al-Thani's alleged comments.
The officials told the Post that last week, information gathered by intelligence agencies was analyzed and confirmed that on May 23, senior members of UAE's government spoke about their hacking plan and how to make it happen. The hacking took place not long after President Trump's visit to the region, where he attended a counterterrorism meeting with leaders from across the Persian Gulf. After the fake comments were posted online, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt all announced they were breaking off relations with Qatar.
The UAE's ambassador to the United States told the Post its report was false and his country "had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article." He added that Qatar was "funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas" and "inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors." Catherine Garcia
Ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump was urged by White House officials to be tough with Putin, but he chose to go a different route, several advisers and diplomats told The Washington Post.
Trump received more than 100 pages of briefing materials before the summit, going through a crash course on everything from the Russian annexation of Crimea to meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the Post reports. He was quick to let staffers know that he thought the U.S. "has been foolish" when it comes to Russia, and he spent his prep time "growling" over the indictment last week of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails.
Trump thought the announcement on Friday was intentionally done to hurt him going into the summit, several people told the Post, but one senior official said Trump was actually pleased, because this gave him an opportunity to privately discuss the matter with Putin. Trump had enjoyed his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because "he thinks he can sit down eye to eye with these guys, flatter them and make a deal," and he was enthusiastic about his meeting with Putin. Behind the scenes, diplomats were racing from one European ally to the next, letting them know they didn't need to worry about Trump making any secret deals with Putin. It wasn't enough to soothe any of them, with one European official telling the Post, "These people don't control the reality." Read more about the days before the summit at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
When President Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, "we hit bottom," CNN's Chris Cuomo said Monday night, but there's actually a "blessing in that, because there can be no more debate on which way is up."
Trump "delivered us here with a display of cowardly self-interest," Cuomo said, but this ended up bringing people together. There is a consensus that "Putin is not right, Trump is wrong, we believe our institutions, we trust in our democracy, Russia did interfere, we will not trade facts for feelings of legitimacy, we will not trade our conscious for conspiracy," Cuomo said, and with so many Americans of all political stripes getting outraged, "Trump's luck ran out."
"Russia attacked our democracy," Cuomo continued, and "we won't stand for it. We won't let the president say otherwise, but we're facing a question: Where do we go from here?" Cuomo said one thing he knows for sure is that "you've got Republicans, you've got Democrats, and right now, they're on the same page, and if they move together, they will wind up in a better place." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
When his net worth hit $150 billion on Monday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the richest person in modern history.
The 54-year-old is already the richest person in the world, with his net worth increasing by $52 billion this year. Taking into account inflation, his $150 billion fortune is more than the $100 billion Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had in 1999, which would be worth $149 billion today, USA Today reports.
Bezos' staggering amount of wealth puts him well above his peers, including Gates ($93 billion), Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet ($83 billion), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($83 billion), and Inditex founder Amancio Ortega ($75 billion). Amazon stock closed Monday at $1,822.49, after climbing to a record $1,841.95 earlier in the day. Catherine Garcia
If the New York Daily News doesn't mock one of President Trump's appearances, did it ever really happen?
On the Tuesday front page, Trump's hometown paper targets his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a throwback reference to his campaign comment about being able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not lose any supporters, Trump is shown on the Manhattan street alongside a shirtless Putin, holding a gun up to Uncle Sam. "OPEN TREASON" the front page screams, with "Trump backs enemy Putin over U.S. intel" below.
The Daily News wasn't quite done poking at the president, tweeting that he "derides reports with which he disagrees as 'fake news,' then buys the Russian narrative hook, line, sinker, pole, and boat." Catherine Garcia
.@realdonaldtrump derides reports with which he disagrees as “fake news,” then buys the Russian narrative hook, line, sinker, pole and boat. https://t.co/TGHurpVDKy
An early look at Tuesday's front... pic.twitter.com/BXsoZsIT4B
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 16, 2018
On Monday morning, 23 people were injured after a "lava bomb" hit their tour boat off the Big Island, Hawaiian fire officials said.
An explosion sent molten lava flying through the air, and it burned through the boat's roof and damaged its railing. The boat returned to Wailoa Harbor, with 13 people having to be hospitalized and the rest treated at the scene. One of the victims is a woman in her 20s, who is in serious condition with a fractured femur, fire officials said. Witnesses told CNN they saw passengers getting off the boat with burns and gashes on their legs.
The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting since early May, and has destroyed dozens of homes. The boat was operated by Lava Ocean Tours, Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources said. Passengers pay $220 for tours that show off the lava as it flows into the ocean. Catherine Garcia
While many other Fox News personalities were critical of President Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Tucker Carlson decided to switch things up by accusing Mexico of sending immigrants to the United States to vote in elections.
Tucker Carlson says that Mexico has been more successful at interfering in US elections and does it more routinely than Russia by "packing our electorate" pic.twitter.com/vYk0jyVFUZ
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) July 16, 2018
"I don't think Russia is our close friend or anything like that," Carlson said during an appearance on The Five. "Of course they're trying to interfere in our affairs; they have for a long time. Many countries do, some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico, which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate."
Carlson said he "honestly" couldn't understand "why we need to believe that Russia is the primary issue of American political life. That seems kind of nuts to me." It's "totally fine" for people to disagree with Trump, he continued, "but the idea that where you are on Russia is the defining question, that's kind of demented actually, because it's like No. 115 on the list of real concerns, at least in my mind. Maybe I'm the demented one." Yeah, maybe. Catherine Garcia
On Erin Burnett OutFront Monday night, the CNN host was down a panelist, as Michael Anton, President Trump's former top national security spokesman, bowed out following Trump's much-derided press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Michael Anton was going to be here ... he canceled, and he knows I'm going to tell you this, because he said he could not defend the president on his actions today." - Erin Burnett explains the absence of Trump's fmr. National Security Council spokesman https://t.co/VYnxxVD4Je pic.twitter.com/nveQk3mvTy
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) July 16, 2018
Burnett was joined by journalist Julia Ioffe and CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon, but noted there was a person missing. "Michael Anton was going to be here," she said, but "he canceled, and he knows I'm going to tell you this, because he said he could not defend the president on his actions today." Anton, using a pseudonym, was behind the essay "The Flight 93 Election," which tried to convince conservatives wary of Trump to vote for him anyway because "2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die."
During his joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Trump questioned American intelligence agencies and their findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, sharing that Putin "said it's not Russia ... I don't see any reason why it would be."
UPDATE 10:50 p.m. ET: In a statement to The Hill, Anton said he canceled his appearance because CNN's coverage of Trump's press conference with Putin was "atrocious." Anton said he "knew whatever I said, CNN would try to use me as a cudgel with which to bash the president." He also claimed CNN "threatened to cite that withdrawal on air to bash the president, and that's exactly what they did. It's clear I made the right decision." Catherine Garcia