Top News Stories for Today – July 21, 2017
Mueller to examine Trump business as part of Russia probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into President Trump’s business transactions as part of the ongoing probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russians who sought to influence the 2016 election, according to a Thursday report in Bloomberg reports.
The news comes a day after Trump told The New York Times that Mueller would cross a line if he expanded the probe to his business ties. Mueller is the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to investigate Russian election meddling and alleged collusion by members of the Trump campaign. The Hill
Dems see huge field emerging to take on Trump
Democrats are expecting one of their party’s biggest fields in history will battle to take on President Trump in the 2020 election. They say Trump’s low approval ratings, his lack of legislative accomplishments and the lingering controversy surrounding multiple investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 race have a number of Democrats positioning themselves for a White House run.
“So long as Trump is hanging around [with approval ratings] in the 40s, potential challengers will be attracted like moths to a flame,” said David Wade, a Democratic strategist who served as a top aide to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in his 2004 presidential run. Another factor? The lack of a whale candidate who might scare off other rivals. For the first time since Kerry was the party’s nominee, no one named Clinton or Obama is expected to run for the Democratic nomination. The Hill
Americans want GOP to work with Dem on ObamaCare
After Senate Republicans huddled Wednesday night to try and figure out a way to pass some kind of bill repealing ObamaCare, two new polls were released Thursday showing that a sizable bipartisan majority wants the GOP to work with Democrats on health-care legislation.
In a CNN/SSRS poll, 77 percent of respondents said they want to see Republicans work with Democrats to pass a health bill with bipartisan support, while only 12 percent wanted the GOP to continue going it alone. In an Associated Press/NORC poll, 8 in 10 respondents said they wanted Republicans to approach Democrats to negotiate, and almost 90 percent wanted Democrats to take the GOP up on that prospective offer. CNN, The Associated Press, The Week
Sessions says he’ll stay as AG despite Trump criticism
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will continue in his job “as long as that is appropriate,” a day after President Donald Trump harshly criticized his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.
In an Oval Office interview Wednesday, Trump told The New York Times he never would have appointed Sessions to head the Justice Department if he had known the former Alabama senator would step back from the Russia probe. VOA
Duterte flies to besieged city despite attacks warning
The Philippine president flew to a military camp in Marawi city which briefly came under fire from militant snipers shortly before he arrived, to cheer troops who have been trying to quell a nearly two-month uprising by Islamic State group-linked militants, who he warned were plotting to attack other cities.
Duterte gave a talk to troops and inspected recovered rebel rifles and other weapons in the camp, which lies outside the battle zone but remains dangerous because of sniper fire and stray bullets. Gunfire crackled and artillery blasts thudded in the background during his four-hour visit. US and Australia have deployed surveillance planes to Marawi, and China has provided weapons for Filipino troops, including those fighting in the besieged city. VOA
Elon Musk gets verbal approval for NYC to DC hyperloop
Billionaire innovator Elon Musk claimed Thursday that he had received “verbal” government approval to build a futuristic underground rail system that would take riders from New York to Washington, DC in less than half an hour. It was not immediately clear what Musk meant by “verbal” government approval, which carries little weight in a world in which tunneling can require navigating a byzantine thicket of regulations.
Tunneling from New York to Washington would require a gargantuan political feat, not to mention a prodigious amount of money. But a White House spokesman said the Trump administration has had “promising conversations” Musk and the Boring Co. and is “committed to transformative infrastructure projects” under the premise that “our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.” USA Today
Trump reportedly building case against Mueller
President Trump and some of his lawyers are actively looking at ways to undermine, discredit, or fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, including compiling a list of potential conflicts of interest that might be used to force out Mueller, The New York Times and The Washington Post report.
The effort has apparently ramped up as Mueller begins digging into Trump’s financial history, and Trump is reportedly especially concerned that Mueller can access his tax returns. Trump has also been talking with aides and his legal team about his constitutional powers to pardon aides, family members, and maybe even himself, the Post reports. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Week
Trump reportedly ditches personal attorney Marc Kasowitz
Lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who has represented President Trump since the early 2000s, is reportedly out as the president’s personal attorney. The details of the ousting are not yet clear, although the shakeup comes as the Russia investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, turns its attention toward the Trump family’s business dealings despite the efforts of the president’s lawyers.
Additionally, Kasowitz recently sent several threatening, expletive-filled emails to a stranger who told him to resign. The attorney later blamed his language on exhaustion following “a very long day.” Lawyers Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, and John Dowd remain to represent Trump. CBS News, The Week
US banning travel to North Korea
The Trump administration is going to ban travel to North Korea by US citizens, unidentified US officials told The Associated Press on Friday. The decision, which will make it illegal to enter North Korea with a US passport, will be announced on July 27, effective 30 days later, two tour organizers said Friday.
“After the 30-day grace period any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government,” China-based Young Pioneers Tours said in a statement. Young Pioneers Tours and Koryo Tours said they were given the dates and other information by the Swedish embassy, which handles US affairs in North Korea. The Associated Press, BBC News
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