Top News Stories for Today – July 22, 2017
Trump’s latest approval ratings
Trump set a new record low for a second-quarter presidential job approval rating in the history of modern polling, falling below any of his predecessors’ with an average 38.8 percent of the public’s approval between April 20 and July 19, a Gallup poll published Friday revealed. That number is below his first-quarter 41.3 percent average and far below the historical average second-quarter rating of 62 percent.
He’s now officially the least popular new president in American history, with only a number of other previous commanders in chief facing such low quarterly approval ratings throughout their entire tenures in the Oval Office: Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
Trump’s continued decline in popularity so early on into his presidency could soon jeopardize the insurgent, conservative agenda he promised his base throughout the 2016 presidential election: building a wall, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, vastly increasing immigrant detention and deportations by the millions. Newsweek
Trump Jr. Russia scandal
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly requested the White House keep all documentation related to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer. “[T]he Special Counsel’s office is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump,” Mueller’s letter read. “Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between [Trump Jr.] and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation.”
The request covers text messages, emails, voicemail, and other communications. Meanwhile, President Trump and his lawyers are actively looking at ways to undermine, discredit, or fire Mueller, including compiling a list of his potential conflicts of interest. CNN, The Washington Post, The Week
Sean Spicer resigns as WH press secretary
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday, after telling President Trump that he “vehemently disagreed with the appointment” of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times reports. Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime Trump supporter, was named communications director earlier Friday. Trump reportedly asked Spicer to stay on, but Spicer declined, calling Scaramucci’s appointment a major mistake.
Scaramucci had previously been working at the US Export-Import Bank. In a tweet Friday, Spicer said it had been an “honor and a privilege” to serve as press secretary, and said he would remain in the White House through August. White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will replace Spicer as the new press secretary. The New York Times, Axios,, The Week
Russian lawyer at Trump Jr. meeting represented Russian spy agency
The Kremlin-linked lawyer Donald Trump Jr. met with during his controversial Trump Tower rendezvous in June 2016 counts Russia’s spy agency, FSB, among her past clients, Reuters reports. Natalia Veselnitskaya represented the successor to the KGB in a Moscow property case between 2005 and 2013, documents show.
Veselnitskaya has denied her connection to the Kremlin and there is no proof she was working for the government when she met with Trump Jr., although her past connection will likely raise questions. Veselnitskaya has said she would be willing to testify before the Senate: “If the Senate wishes to hear the real story, I will be happy to speak up and share everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump,” she told RT. Reuters, CNN, The Week
Report: Sessions discussed policy with Russian ambassador
Russia’s ambassador to the US told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related issues with Jeff Sessions, who is now the attorney general, The Washington Post reported Friday. Russian envoy Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions, who was then a GOP senator from Alabama, were intercepted by US spy agencies that monitor Russian communications, according to the Post, which cited current and former US officials.
The conversations included discussions on US-Russia relations under a Trump administration and Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues, according to a former US intelligence official. Sessions initially failed to disclose that he met with Kislyak during the campaign, and then denied that the meetings were anything more than standard discussions in his capacity as a US senator and were not related to the Trump campaign. In a press conference in March, Sessions equivocally denied having meetings with Russian agents including Kislyak about the campaign, and blasted news reports that he acted as an intermediary between Trump surrogates and Russia as “false.” The Hill
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