Top News Stories for Today – July 12, 2017
Trump Jr. Russia controversy
Donald Trump Jr. went on Hannity Tuesday night to discuss the meeting he had in June 2016 with a Russian attorney who promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton, announcing that with his release of emails regarding the incident on Tuesday morning, “this is all of it.” Trump Jr. said when he received an email from publicist Rod Goldstone, saying the Russian government wanted to help Donald Trump and had damaging information on Clinton, sirens didn’t go off.
“I wanted to hear him out and play it out and see what happens,” he said. Trump Jr. said he entered the meeting not knowing who was going to be there, and after some small talk with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the discussion turned to Russian adoptions, and he was only “listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who set up the meeting.” Trump Jr., who said he did not tell his father about the meeting because “there was nothing to tell,” in retrospect “probably would have done things a little differently,” he concluded. “This was before the Russia mania, before they were building this up in the press. For me, this was opposition research, they had something, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I’d heard about … it went nowhere.” The Week
Trump’s legal team unhappy with Jared Kushner
The private lawyers representing President Trump are not pleased with his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who they say is “whispering in the president’s ear” about the Russia investigation, completely leaving the attorneys out of the loop, several people close to the legal team told The New York Times Tuesday.
Kushner was at a June 2016 meeting with his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr., as well as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and a Kremlin-connected Russian attorney who said she had compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Kushner did not mention the meeting on his security clearance forms, only copping to it recently. The legal team thinks he’s now more worried about saving his own skin than protecting Trump, the Times reports, suggesting lead attorney Marc Kasowitz may resign. People close to the president told the Times Trump does not like how Kasowitz is handling the probe into Russian meddling during last year’s election. The New York Times, The Week
US judge halts Iraqis’ deportation until court review
A federal judge on Tuesday halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the US. Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department, which argued US district judges do not have jurisdiction.
Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month who are mostly Christians, fear attacks over their religion if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the US. Al Jazeera
McConnell delays August recess as health-care debate looms
The Senate’s August recess will start two weeks later than scheduled, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday. The annual month-long recess now will not begin until the third week of August to allow the Senate time to “complete its work on the health-care reform” and then “turn to other important issues including the National Defense Authorization Act and the backlog of critical nominations.”
McConnell blamed the delay on Democrats’ “obstruction,” claiming they have “mindlessly stalled” nominations and shown “a lack of cooperation.” McConnell has struggled in recent weeks to secure enough Republican support to hold a vote on the bill he crafted to repeal and replace ObamaCare. NBC News, The Week
Joe Scarborough is leaving the Republican Party
Morning Joe host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night’s The Late Show that the GOP has “betrayed its core values” in the last several years, and he plans to leave the party and become an independent. Scarborough said he watched as Donald Trump said in December 2015 he supported a ban on letting Muslims enter the United States, and in February 2016 pretended he did not know who white supremacist David Duke was, and “you didn’t have any Republicans coming out saying, ‘I could never support Donald Trump because he’s racist.’ They’d have thousands of other excuses why, but always overlooked that.”
After Scarborough called their behavior “disgusting,” Colbert asked, “But aren’t you a Republican?” “I am a Republican, but I’m not going to be a Republican anymore,” Scarborough responded. “I’m going to become an independent.” He did not say when he plans on officially leaving the party. Twitter, The Week
No proof Islamic State leader dead
The commander of coalition forces in Iraq said he hoped Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “deader than a doornail,” but he cautioned that regardless of whether the terror leader was alive or dead, the fight to reclaim all of Iraq from the group’s grip was far from over. “I don’t have a clue,” Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told Pentagon reporters Tuesday when asked about Baghdadi’s fate during a briefing from Baghdad.
There has been a steady stream of reports regarding Baghdadi’s death in recent weeks, including claims by the Russians, the Syrians and the Iranians. VOA
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