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Trump committed to ‘dismantling Russia’s spy networks,’ State Dept. says

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk after a meeting on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 30, 2018

Undersecretary of State Heather Nauert tweeted this week that President Donald Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May are committed to combating the threat of Russia’s spy networks in the two countries.

The leaders spoke with one another on Wednesday following the continued investigation into the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. earlier this month.

The conversation was confirmed in a White House press release, which stated that Trump and May “agreed on the importance of dismantling Russia’s spy networks in the United Kingdom and the United States to curtail Russian clandestine activities and prevent future chemical weapons attacks on either country’s soil.”

The briefing also mentioned that Trump and May discussed the passage of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, which was included under last week’s omnibus spending bill.

The act, which the White House says will “improve law enforcement cooperation,” drastically expands international law enforcement powers. Originally a standalone bill introduced by two Republican senators in February, the CLOUD Act will also improve access to stored electronic data by law enforcement, domestically and abroad.

The CLOUD Act was also a coordinated effort by the likes of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Oath, who, in a joint statement in February, all expressed their support for the legislation. After the act was passed, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith also issued an individual statement outlining his company’s position on the matter.

New revelations in a handful of Russian-related events have shed light on the importance of properly handling Russia’s so-called spy network, which seems to have influence in nearly every part of the world.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday called the March 4 nerve agent poising of a former Russian spy and his daughter “attempted murder” by the Russian government. He also called the nerve agent a “weapon of mass destruction.” It was the first chemical weapons attack in Europe since World War II.

In typical Kremlin fashion, Russia denied any involvement, saying Moscow is  “not to blame” for the event.

In response, the U.S. and U.K. expelled dozens of Russian diplomats from the countries.

And this week, BuzzFeed News exposed that a document written by Christopher Steele reveals the true cause of death for Russian czar Mikhail Lesin. Sources with knowledge of the document allege that the circumstances surrounding Lesin’s death were suspicious, and that he was likely bludgeoned to death by Russian enforcers in his Washington, D.C., hotel room – an order that was likely handed down from Russian President Vladimir Putin. This contradicts the official government investigation that concluded Lesin died after multiple falls caused by an alcoholic episode.