Mike Dubke was supposed to take some of the heat off of the much-maligned Sean Spicer.
Mike Dubke was supposed to take some of the heat off of the much-maligned Sean Spicer.

Donald Trump's PR chief quits as Russian rumours swirl

JUST three months after being hired to revamp Donald Trump's problematic public profile, his public relations director - Mike Dubke - has quit.

Mr Dubke is a high-profile and experienced Republican party strategist. His departure comes amid a "reshuffle" of the White House communications unit - including proposals to conduct fewer open and on-camera press briefings.

It comes as new reports suggest that Russian officials were "bragging" about gaining leverage with Donald Trump's inner circle during his election campaign.

Mr Trump, of course, took to Twitter to denounce "fake news" around the subject while also taking a swipe at Germany over the US' trade deficit with the European country.

At the time of Mr Dubke's appointment, US media reported internal discontent among the Trump camp that Mr Dubke had won the top job.

Their argument was that a veteran from the campaign trail would have been better suited to the prestigious, but high-pressure, role of communications director.

It is being reported that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will keep his job.

The appointment, which was supposed to help take the heat off of the much-maligned Mr Spicer, did little to quell the mounting chaos among Mr Trump's communications team.

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up

Mr Dubke is believed to have tendered his resignation on May 18, offering to remain until Mr Trump returned from his overseas tour, which the US president a

The move comes amid rumours of a deeper White House reshuffle, including the possibility of appointing prominent Republican lobbyist David Urban as chief of staff.


Russian government officials reportedly discussed having potentially "derogatory" information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, CNN reported.

According to CNN, one source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centred on whether the Russians had clout over Trump's inner circle.

The source told the news network that the intercepted communications suggested that Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information."

But the sources, privy to the descriptions of the communications written by US intelligence, cautioned the Russian claims to one another "could have been exaggerated or even made up" as part of a disinformation campaign that the Russians did during the election.

No sources said which of Trump's inner circle was discussed.

"The Russians could be overstating their belief to influence," one of the sources told CNN.

As reported by CNN and the New York Times, the US intercepted discussions of Russian officials bragging about cultivating relationships with Trump campaign aides during the campaign, including Mr Trump's now-disgraced national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to influence Mr Trump. Sources also suggested that Mr Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort was also discussed.

A White House spokesman shut down the reports saying: "This is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the President. The reality is, a review of the President's income from the last 10 years showed he had virtually no financial ties at all.

There appears to be no limit to which the President's political opponents will go to perpetuate this false narrative, including illegally leaking classified material. All this does is play into the hands of our adversaries and put our country at risk."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Ronald Zak


Meanwhile, Mr Trump has called Germany's trade and spending policies "very bad", intensifying a row between the allies and immediately earning himself the moniker "destroyer of Western values" from a leading German politician.

Mr Trump took to Twitter overnight in the United States to attack Germany, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel ramped up her doubts about the reliability of Washington as an ally.

The tit-for-tat row has escalated rapidly after Trump criticised major NATO allies over their military spending and refused to endorse a global climate change accord at back-to-back summits last week.

"We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for US This will change," Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

On Monday, Merkel showed how seriously concerned she is about Washington's dependability under Trump by repeating the message that the times when Europe could fully rely on others were "over to a certain extent".

Those comments, which sent shockwaves through Washington, vented Europe's frustration with Trump on climate policy in particular.

Senior German politicians responded swiftly to his tweet.

Martin Schulz, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, told reporters Mr Trump was "the destroyer of all Western values", adding that the US president was undermining the peaceful co-operation of nations based on mutual respect and tolerance.

Thomas Oppermann, head of the Social Democrats' parliamentary group, told reporters: "Donald Trump makes clear with his tweet that he views Germany as a political opponent."

Ms Merkel on Monday repeated almost word for word her message from Sunday, when she told her Bavarian conservative allies in a packed Munich beer tent that "we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands".

But she also finessed her message slightly on Monday, stressing that she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist".

On Tuesday, Ms Merkel repeatedly stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic ties.


It comes as the House intelligence committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia's election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign, according to a congressional aide.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal committee matters.

Cohen, a longtime lawyer for the Trump Organisation, remains a personal lawyer for Mr Trump. He served as a cable television surrogate for the Republicans during the presidential campaign.

The subpoena for Cohen comes as the congressional investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia advance beyond formal requests for information from Trump associates.

The president's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has also received subpoenas from the Senate panel regarding his Russian contacts and his business records. The House intelligence committee has also subpoenaed Mr Flynn, the congressional aide said.

Mr Cohen told ABC News overnight that he had been asked by both the House and Senate intelligence committees to provide information and testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials. Mr Cohen told ABC he turned down the invitations.

In February, The New York Times reported that Mr Cohen helped to broker a Ukraine peace plan that would call for Russian troops to withdraw from Ukraine and a referendum to let Ukrainians decide whether the part of the country seized by Russia in 2014 should be leased to Moscow.

The Russian government denied knowing anything about such a plan.

The Times reported that the peace plan was the work of Felix Sater, a business associate who has helped Mr Trump try to find business in Russia, and Mr Cohen.

Mr Cohen was a fierce defender of Mr Trump during the campaign, often haranguing probing reporters and famously challenging a CNN reporter live on-air to name the specific polls that showed then-candidate Mr Trump behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.

In the early 2000s, he formed his own firm working on a range of legal matters, including malpractice cases, business law and work on an ethanol business in Ukraine. Mr Cohen also owned and operated a handful of taxi medallions, managing a fleet of cabs in New York.

Mr Cohen's business associates in the taxi enterprise included a number of men from the former Soviet Union, including his Ukrainian-born father-in-law. Mr Cohen has made his own unsuccessful attempts at public office, losing a city council race and briefly running for state assembly in New York.



Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin says the allegations of Russian meddling in the US presidential election are "fiction" invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Putin reaffirmed his strong denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails.

The interview was recorded during Mr Putin's Monday trip to Paris and released overnight. He said the claims of Russian meddling are driven by the "desire of those who lost the US elections to improve their standing by accusing Russia of interfering."

Mr Putin added that the "people who lost the vote hate to acknowledge that they indeed lost because the person who won was closer to the people and had a better understanding of what people wanted." Mr Trump made a similar claim in a tweet overnight.

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