President Obama on Sunday defended his approach to Moscow, saying in a television interview that he did not “underestimate” Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite the recent U.S. intelligence report that concluded the Russian leader ordered a hacking campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election. “I don’t think I underestimated him, but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyberhacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating,” Obama said on ABC News’s “This Week.” He said he ordered intelligence agencies to investigate “to make sure that we understand this is something that Putin has been doing for quite some time in Europe, initially in the former satellite states where there are a lot of Russian speakers, but increasingly in Western democracies.” According to the report, Russian operatives hacked into the emails of Democratic National Committee and leaked them in an attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help Donald Trump’s campaign. After meeting with intelligence officials about the report on Friday, Trump acknowledged foreign attempt to breach U.S. groups, but maintained the Russian operation had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”
—Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential figure in Iranian politics who served as president from 1989 to 1997, has died. He was 82.
—Officials continue to investigate the deadly shooting at an airport in Florida that left five travelers dead and six others wounded Friday. Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, was charged Saturday with three felony crimes and could face the death penalty if convicted.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Obama on Putin and Hacking: 'I Don't Think I Underestimated Him'
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's Former President, Dies
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Sunday, state-run media reports. He was 82. The politician had a heart attack earlier in the day and was hospitalized in Tehran, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Rafsanjani was an influential figure in Iranian politics for more than 30 years. He served as president between 1989 and 1997. At the time of his death, he was the head of the Expediency Council, which interprets the country’s constitution and advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Investigation of the Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter
Police continue to investigate the suspect in a deadly Florida airport shooting that left five people dead and six others wounded on Friday. Federal prosecutors on Saturday charged Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran from Alaska, with three federal crimes that each carries the death penalty. The FBI interviewed Santiago, a former National Guard soldier, for several hours after the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Police have also interviewed about 175 people about the case, the AP reports. The FBI said Santiago came to an agency field office in Alaska in November, and said the U.S. government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch videos from the Islamic State terrorist group. Officers seized a gun he had left inside his vehicle and took him to receive a mental-health evaluation. Santiago’s girlfriend came to pick up their newborn child, whom Santiago had left in his car. On the day of the Fort Lauderdale shooting, Santiago arrived at the airport from Anchorage. Officials have not yet publicly announced a motive for the crime. “Indications are that he came here to carry out this horrific attack,” FBI Agent George Piro said at a press conference Saturday. “We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack.”