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US News July 2019: Get the latest monthly headline news from multiple news sources and news links. Get real facts, real news from major news originations.  

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN
(CNN) - A Quinnipiac University poll out this week shows that a majority (51%) of voters believe that President Donald Trump is a racist. Forty-five percent say that he is not. To opponents of the President, this poll may not be surprising. But think about it for a second. This isn't just the normal opposition you'd expect to a president. This is a majority of voters saying their president is a racist. Compare these numbers to a Harris poll from September 1968. Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a segregationist, was running for president as an opponent to the Civil Rights movement. As he campaigned, 41% agreed when asked whether Wallace was a racist. That was basically even with the 40% who disagreed with the statement. There are a few ways to look at these numbers, and none are complementary to Trump. You can say that more voters believe Trump is racist than believed a segregationist running for president in 1968 was. You could be generous to Trump and say that the spread between racist and not a racist (5 points in Trump's case and 1 point in Wallace's case) is closer because more voters were undecided on Wallace. Even so, the net margin for Trump being a racist is wider than it was in Wallace's case. Perhaps, the one bit of decent news for Trump in these numbers is that they are fairly stable. Even before Trump's most recent comments, many voters thought he was racist. In the summer of 2018, 49% of voters said Trump was racist in a Quinnipiac poll. This was slightly higher than the 47% who said he wasn't racist.

By Dave Levinthal - Federal Politics Editor and Senior Reporter
Ten city governments from Arizona to Pennsylvania say the president’s political committee has stiffed them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Do we love law enforcement or what?” President Donald Trump asked a cheering crowd during his “Make America Great Again” political rally Oct. 12 in Lebanon, Ohio. “Thank you, law enforcement!” the president later told officers, who he called “heroes.” But when Lebanon City Hall sent Trump’s campaign a $16,191 invoice for police and other public safety costs associated with his event, Trump didn’t respond. Trump’s campaign likewise ignored Lebanon officials’ follow-up reminders to cover the sum — one rich enough to fund the entire police force for nearly two days in this modest city of 21,000, between Dayton and Cincinnati. The bill remains unpaid. “There’s a lot of benefit when a president comes here: economic benefits, more visibility for our community,” Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer said. “But I would hope and believe the Trump campaign would pay its bills. It’s our taxpayer dollars.” The red ink Trump poured on Lebanon’s thin blue line is no anomaly.

By Matthew Rozsa
As Trump again doubled down, Democrats vying to unseat the president in 2020 shined a light on race at their debate. President Donald Trump doubled down once again Tuesday on his attacks on Baltimore, this time claiming that violent crime in the majority-black city is worse than it is in Honduras, a Latin American country grappling with deadly gang violence. "Baltimore happens to be about the worst case. If you look at it statistically, it’s like, the number of shootings, the number of crimes, the number of everything — this morning, I heard a statistic: Baltimore is worse than Honduras," Trump said. The president appears to have been echoing a conservative talking point, which has become popular since his initial racist onslaught against Baltimore. As the Post pointed out, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA tweeted Monday that Honduran asylum seekers "would be more safe staying home than they would be in Democrat-controlled, American cities." However, Kirk based this on the U.N. statistic stating that the homicide rate is 42.8 per 100,000 people in Honduras and 56 per 100,000 people in Baltimore. That statistic ignores that Honduras is a nation of 9 million people, while Baltimore is a city with 620,000 people.

By Beth Reinhard, Rosalind S. Helderman and Marc Fisher
For the better part of two decades starting in the late 1980s, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump swam in the same social pool. They were neighbors in Florida. They jetted from LaGuardia to Palm Beach together. They partied at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and dined at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. And then, in 2004, they were suddenly rivals, each angling to snag a choice Palm Beach property, an oceanfront manse called Maison de l’Amitie — the House of Friendship — that was being sold out of bankruptcy. Before the auction, Epstein and Trump each tried to work the ref; the trustee in the case, Joseph Luzinski, recalls being lobbied by both camps. “It was something like, Donald saying, ‘You don’t want to do a deal with him, he doesn’t have the money,’ while Epstein was saying: ‘Donald is all talk. He doesn’t have the money,’ ” Luzinski said. “They both really wanted it.”

by Matthew Rozsa
A newly-released tape from Richard Nixon's archives reveals a racist remark from future president Ronald Reagan. A newly-released recording from Richard Nixon's presidency reveals that Ronald Reagan, the next Republican to be elected commander-in-chief, once referred to people from Africa as "monkeys." "Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did," Reagan, then the governor of California, can be heard saying to Nixon during a phone call following China's recognition by the U.N. After Nixon interrupted to affirm what Reagan had said, the governor pressed on. "To see those — those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes," Reagan said. Nixon responded with audible laughter. "Had the story stopped there, it would have been bad enough. Racist venting is still racist. But what happened next showed the dynamic power of racism when it finds enablers," Tim Naftali wrote about the recording in the Atlantic. "Nixon used Reagan’s call as an excuse to adapt his language to make the same point to others. Right after hanging up with Reagan, Nixon sought out Secretary of State William Rogers. When Nixon found Rogers, he mentioned Reagan's comments as a way of arguing that American foreign policy should account for racist views. "As he said, he saw these— these, uh — these cannibals on television last night. And he says, ‘Christ, they weren’t even wearing shoes, and here the United States is going to submit its fate to that,’ and so forth and so on," Nixon told Rogers.

By Aaron Mak
Marianne Williamson’s appearance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre on Tuesday night will probably be remembered for the novelty of hearing someone say “dark psychic force” during a Democratic debate. But the spiritual author and extreme-long-shot candidate also gave the clearest and best-argued answer on the question of whether—and how—the United States ought to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. CNN Don Lemon began a segment on race relations in America by asking former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke how he would heal racial divides and take on President Donald Trump. O’Rourke said we must confront the hate crimes that result from racist rhetoric. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper talked about police reform and universal pre-K. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pitched increasing funding for historically black colleges and universities. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer in his town, describing how he tried to help residents come together after the tragedy. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pressed for improving economic conditions for everyone.

by Tim Naftali
In newly unearthed audio, the then–California governor disparaged African delegates to the United Nations. The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh. The past month has brought presidential racism back into the headlines. This October 1971 exchange between current and future presidents is a reminder that other presidents have subscribed to the racist belief that Africans or African Americans are somehow inferior. The most novel aspect of President Donald Trump’s racist gibes isn’t that he said them, but that he said them in public. The exchange was taped by Nixon, and then later became the responsibility of the Nixon Presidential Library, which I directed from 2007 to 2011. When the National Archives originally released the tape of this conversation, in 2000, the racist portion was apparently withheld to protect Reagan’s privacy. A court order stipulated that the tapes be reviewed chronologically; the chronological review was completed in 2013. Not until 2017 or 2018 did the National Archives begin a general rereview of the earliest Nixon tapes. Reagan’s death, in 2004, eliminated the privacy concerns. Last year, as a researcher, I requested that the conversations involving Ronald Reagan be rereviewed, and two weeks ago, the National Archives released complete versions of the October 1971 conversations involving Reagan online.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed open to testifying in victims' lawsuit if US decides not to seek the death penalty against him. halid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, has indicated a willingness to cooperate in a lawsuit filed by victims seeking damages from Saudi Arabia, if the United States decides not to seek the death penalty against him. Mohammed's offer was disclosed late on Friday in a letter filed in the US District Court in Manhattan by lawyers representing individuals and businesses seeking billions of dollars in damages, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters news agency reported on Monday.  The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the 2001 attacks, in which hijacked airplanes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, and a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 people died. Memorial tribute: Horrors of 9/11 still linger (2:35). Michael Kellogg, a Washington, DC-based lawyer for the Saudi government, declined to comment.

By Daniel Dale, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that African Americans are so delighted with his attacks on the city of Baltimore and US congressman Elijah Cummings, an African American, that they are calling him at the White House in large numbers to thank him. He also claimed that African Americans are generally happy with his performance as president. "What I've done for African Americans, no president, I would say, has done. Now, I'll say this: they are so happy, because I get the calls," he told reporters as he left for a speech in Virginia that was boycotted by black state lawmakers. "They are so happy at what I've been able to do in Baltimore and other Democratic-run, corrupt cities." He continued later: "The African American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy as what a president has done. Not only the lowest unemployment in history for African Americans, not only opportunity zones for, really, the biggest beneficiary the inner city, and not only criminal justice reform. But they're so happy that I pointed out the corrupt politics of Baltimore. It's filthy dirty. It's so horrible. And they are happy as hell." Since the controversy over Trump's comments about Baltimore and Cummings is too new to be captured by most of the available polling data, we can't definitively fact-check Trump's claim about African Americans' views on these remarks -- though it's worth noting that Trump has a history of inventing nonexistent phone calls and making dubious claims about people expressing gratitude him in private conversations. We can, however, definitively fact-check his claim that African Americans are generally pleased with his performance. They are not. Facts First: African Americans are overwhelmingly unhappy with Trump's job performance, polls have consistently shown.

By Carl Hulse
WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell is usually impervious to criticism, even celebrating the nasty nicknames that have been bestowed on him by critics. But Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is incensed with his new moniker, “Moscow Mitch,” and even more miffed that he has been called a “Russian asset” by critics who accuse him of single-handedly blocking stronger election security measures after Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Democrats had been making the case for months, but it was supercharged last week by the testimony of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, who told the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians were back at it “as we sit here.” Mr. McConnell cites several reasons for his opposition — a longstanding resistance to federal control over state elections, newly enacted security improvements that were shown to have worked in the 2018 voting and his suspicion that Democrats are trying to gain partisan advantage with a host of proposals. Republican colleagues say that Mr. McConnell, a longtime foe of tougher campaign finance restrictions and disclosure requirements, is leery of even entering into legislative negotiation that could touch on fund-raising and campaign spending. But whatever Mr. McConnell’s reasoning, criticism of him for impeding a number of election proposals has taken hold — even back home in Kentucky, where the majority leader faces re-election next year. A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know. “Democrats want more aggressive legislation to protect America’s elections after Robert Mueller’s stark warning about Russian interference,” began one report aired on a Louisville television station last week. “Mitch McConnell blocked it.”

by Mandatory Editors
Rudy Giuliani has looked like a crazy person to us for some time now, but in all fairness, you’d have to be to represent Donald Trump. In the wake of Mueller’s testimony, Giuliani has taken to TV to cover the president’s behind and halt the progress of redhead public relations all at once with his new and blatantly fake hair color, a botch job the likes of which we haven’t seen since hair plugs were invented. In an attempt to look perhaps younger, hipper and more camera-friendly, Giuliani instead looks like an aging, degenerate real-life Joker whose looks now match his crazies.

by Brian Naylor
Tuesday morning highlighted the disconnect between President Trump, the political pugilist who's never afraid to punch back at his critics, and President Trump, the head of state of a large, diverse country. As he departed the White House on his way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in what is now the United States, Trump continued his disparaging of Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is black, and said of Cummings' mostly-black constituents, "Those people are living in hell in Baltimore." Two hours later, Trump delivered a speech praising African-American contributions to the U.S. Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the House Oversight Committee that's taken the lead in investigating the Trump Administration, has drawn Trump's ire for demanding reams of records from the White House, most recently, messages from Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serve as presidential advisers. On Tuesday morning, Trump alleged without evidence that Cummings is corrupt and that the long-serving member of Congress was responsible for Baltimore's high crime rate and poverty, saying that Cummings rules the city "with a very iron hand" (as a member of Congress, Cummings represents a portion of Baltimore but has no hand in its governance).

By Amber Phillips
As President Trump’s own FBI director warns that Russians are planning to try to undermine American democracy in the next presidential election, Republican lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are blocking bills aimed at blocking foreign hackers from states’ voting systems. Why? Republicans have policy objections to the legislation, but it seems clear that politics is at the forefront of McConnell’s decision-making. Specifically, the politics of pleasing Trump. Trump is so sensitive to findings that Russians tried to help him win in 2016 that a Cabinet secretary was warned against briefing him on it. He’s repeatedly sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community about whether Russians interfered. He’s said he might accept foreign help in his 2020 reelection. And last month, he made light of it all when he mock-scolded Putin in front of cameras. “Don’t meddle in the election,” he said, waving a finger and wearing a smile.

The president wants intelligence that will hurt his enemies, not challenge his opinions.
By Fred Kaplan
It was only a matter of time before President Donald Trump started going after the intelligence agencies. When it comes to analyzing global politics, facts tend to have an anti-Trump bias, and the sin of Dan Coats—the just-ousted director of national intelligence—is that he told Trump too many unsettling facts. The nominee to replace Coats, Trump announced on Sunday, is John Ratcliffe, a two-term Republican congressman from Texas, whose only remote qualification for the job is his service on the House Intelligence Committee for the past six months. More to the point, Ratcliffe’s spirited criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller in last week’s hearing—including the recital of one of the more preposterous conspiracy theories ever unreeled on the subject—demonstrated that he would embody everything this president wants in a Cabinet secretary: total loyalty to Trump. And that is the problem. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with the idea that foreign threats could be more swiftly detected, analyzed, and reported if some supra-entity coordinated the findings of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, which, until then, had often worked with little common purpose.

A gunman who opened fire on festivalgoers, killing three people – including two children – and injuring at least 12 in northern California appeared to reference a white supremacist book on Instagram just hours before the tragedy. California has strict gun laws. Here's how the Gilroy gunman evaded them Sunday’s attack, in which the 19-year-old suspect started shooting, apparently indiscriminately, with an AK-47 style rifle at the Gilroy garlic festival, a popular food and music event about 70 miles south of San Francisco, has shocked the community. The three young people killed, two of whom were children, have been named as Stephen Romero, six, Keyla Salazar, 13, both from San Jose, and Trevor Irby, 25, from upstate New York. An Instagram account bearing the name of the suspect – identified by police as Santino William Legan – published a picture before the shooting with a “fire danger high today” sign. A caption cited a text dating from 1890, alongside racist comments. The account was later taken down. Legan was shot dead by the police after opening fire at the festival.

The central bank is expected to cut rates this week in part to offset President Donald Trump’s trade war. In the case of Donald Trump vs. the U.S. Federal Reserve, the president of the United States is likely to secure a winning verdict this week. Central bank officials are expected to cut interest rates for the first time since the global financial crisis not because Trump demanded it. Instead, they will move in part because the president’s bruising trade policy has helped fuel a global manufacturing slowdown and injected deep uncertainty into executive suites around the world. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell won’t directly say it directly after his meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. But the central bank will reverse course at least in part to save the Trump economy from Trump. “There is just no question that Powell has been 'Trumped' here,” said Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist of Yardeni Research Inc. “Just read Powell’s comments during his recent congressional testimony and trade comes up eight times in the context of weighing on the global economy. All Trump had to do was keep up geopolitical trade uncertainty for a while and he’d get the Fed to cut rates.”

By Rene Marsh, CNN
(CNN) - Two Transportation Security Administration officers have been placed on leave after a racist display was found inside a TSA workstation at Miami International Airport. Three TSA officers discovered two stuffed gorillas tied together and hanging with a noose on July 21, according to four TSA employees with knowledge of the situation and a picture obtained by CNN. A TSA employee with knowledge of the situation told CNN the display was hanging from a "pole right in the center of the TSA workstation located underneath the airport where passengers' checked luggage is screened before being placed on aircraft." The three officers notified their manager, but according to an employee with knowledge of the situation, the manager "tried to downplay the noose and gorilla display, saying it wasn't racist, it was just a joke." The manager's reaction further upset the three officers, the TSA employee said. According to an internal email obtained by CNN, the incident prompted the agency to launch an internal investigation, and two officers have since been placed on leave.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom embraced a politically explosive and legally dubious attempt to pry loose President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Tuesday, signing legislation that would boot Trump from California primary ballots if he doesn’t make his filings public. For Democrats who wield absolute control over Sacramento, the measure offered a chance to directly confront a president who is deeply unpopular among most California voters — and for Newsom to escalate his long-standing feud with the president while distinguishing himself from Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar measure in 2017. Newsom rarely hesitates to throw punches at Trump, habitually assailing the president on Twitter as the California Department of Justice challenges the administration over dozens of policies. Before becoming governor, Newsom regularly called out Trump for not disclosing his tax returns and insinuated that Trump was hiding damaging information. If developments in Washington are any indication, a legal challenge is all but inevitable. Trump has sued to rebuff House Democrats who are subpoenaing his tax returns and challenged New York officials who enacted a law that could expose the president’s financial records. And Newsom's signature could push his already-contentious relationship with Trump into volatile new territory — potentially imperiling California's relationship with Washington.

By Peter Irons, author of "A People’s History of the Supreme Court"
Presidents are free to oppose and criticize laws passed by Congress but not to block their execution for reasons of racial animus.  He attempted “to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach the Congress of the United States.” He delivered “with a loud voice, intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues, and has uttered loud threats and bitter menaces, against Congress [and] the laws of the United States, amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes.” He has brought the “high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule and disgrace.” Sound like someone we all know? These charges certainly describe President Donald Trump’s deplorable behavior and its effects on Congress, the presidency, and — most importantly — the divisions he has exploited and widened among the American people, as well as the damage he has caused to America’s standing and role in the world community. But they aren’t an imaginary list of offenses compiled by Congress to hold Trump accountable for his transgressions; they are actual excerpts from Article 10, the most important of the 11 impeachment articles brought by Congress against an earlier president: Andrew Johnson. Johnson’s deep-rooted racism, along with his verbal excoriation of his congressional foes as “treasonous” — something our current president has also done — led to his impeachment in 1868. Article 10 of his impeachment indictment provides a legal basis and historical precedent for making a president’s racist speech an impeachable offense, by itself, as evidence of unfitness to hold the highest and most powerful office in the land.

By Bess Levin
Twenty senators have urged the Treasury to give the wealthy another tax cut via executive order. A sitting U.S. president who can’t stop attacking black and brown people. A never-ending trade war that has necessitated more than one multibillion-dollar farm bailout. A humanitarian crisis on the border of his own state. These are just a handful of the many issues that Senator Ted Cruz could be focused on. Instead, he’s currently devoting his efforts to a much more important cause: demanding another tax cut for the rich, this time without Congress’s approval. In a letter sent to Steve Mnuchin on Monday, the senator from Texas urged the Treasury Secretary to use his “authority” to index capital gains to inflation, a move that would almost exclusively benefit the mega-rich. Claiming, falsely, that the United States economy “has experienced historic levels of growth as a result of Congress and the current administration’s policies such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Cruz insists that it is now crucial for the Treasury Department to adjust capital gains for inflation “so that everyday Americans can continue to enjoy better lives and livelihoods.” And by “everyday Americans,” he of course means (but doesn’t say) the spectacularly wealthy. Missing from Cruz’s call for Mnuchin to use “executive authority” to end this “unfair” treatment of taxpayers, which was signed by 20 of his Republican colleagues, is the fact that, according to the Penn Wharton Budget model, a whopping 86% of the benefit of indexing capital gains to inflation would go to the 1 percent (and reduce annual tax revenue by an estimated $102 billion over a decade). Perhaps seeking to address this criticism, Cruz claimed that changing how capital gains are taxed “would…unlock capital for investment, increase wages, create new jobs, and grow the economy, benefiting Americans across all income levels.” In other words, he’s arguing that the executive branch should give the super-rich another tax cut and it’ll benefit everyone because of trickle-down economics which—checks notes—has never actually worked. Including in the case of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

By John Myers Sacramento Bureau Chief
President Trump will be ineligible for California’s primary ballot next year unless he discloses his tax returns under a state law that immediately took effect Tuesday, an unprecedented mandate that is almost certain to spark a high-profile court fight and might encourage other states to adopt their own unconventional rules for presidential candidates. The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on his final day to take action and passed on a strict party-line vote in the Legislature, requires all presidential candidates to submit five years of income tax filings. They must do so by late November in order to secure a spot on California’s presidential primary ballot in March. State elections officials will post the financial documents online, although certain private information must first be redacted. “As one of the largest economies in the world and home to one in nine Americans eligible to vote, California has a special responsibility to require this information of presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” Newsom said in a statement that accompanied his signature on the bill approved by the Legislature earlier this month. “These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence. The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

By Will Sommer
The Proud Boys claim they’re just a men’s club. But their members have been threatening critics by surprising them at home. Members of the far-right Proud Boys men’s group allegedly made a threatening late-night visit recently to the home of one of their critics, the latest in the group’s escalating actions against its detractors. Gwen Snyder, an amateur researcher in Philadelphia who tracks the group’s movements, wasn’t at home when a group of men visited her residence around 11 p.m. on June 29. Instead, the men talked to her neighbor, according to Snyder, and warned that Snyder needed to stop posting the names of Proud Boys members and other information on Twitter. “You tell that fat bitch she better stop,” one of the Proud Boys allegedly said, according to Snyder. The Proud Boys, a group of self-described “Western chauvinists” founded by right-wing comedian Gavin McInnes, have sought to portray themselves as a harmless fraternal organization devoted mostly to supporting Trump and drinking beer. Proud Boys regularly attend Republican events in their black-and-gold polo shirt uniforms, and Proud Boys have served as a security detail for former Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone. Even as they’ve been embraced by some parts of the Republican Party, Proud Boys have repeatedly violently attacked counterprotesters. Proud Boys in New York City and Portland are currently facing criminal charges over violence surrounding political rallies. In June, a group of Proud Boys attempted to confront people protesting Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff in Florida, but were stopped by a line of police.

By Nick Visser
Dozens of wealthy families in Illinois have reportedly been using a controversial tactic to help their children pay for college: They give up legal guardianship so the teenagers can claim dramatically lower incomes and earn need-based financial aid, according to reports from two news organizations published Monday. ProPublica and The Wall Street Journal each detailed the efforts in separate articles after uncovering dozens of applications filed by Chicago-area parents to financially divorce themselves from their kids over the past year and a half. As part of the strategy, wealthy parents allegedly file paperwork to transfer legal custody of their kids to other relatives, friends or even co-workers. When the transfers are complete — often during their junior or senior years of high school — students are then able to declare themselves financially independent on college applications. In one instance detailed by the Journal, a student whose parents owned a $1.2 million home only had to declare $4,200 in income from a summer job.

Federal prosecutors this week charged a Seattle woman with stealing data from more than 100 million credit applications made with Capital One Financial Corp. Incredibly, much of this breached played out publicly over several months on social media and other open online platforms. What follows is a closer look at the accused, and what this incident may mean for consumers and businesses. Paige “erratic” Thompson, in an undated photo posted to her Slack channel. On July 29, FBI agents arrested Paige A. Thompson on suspicion of downloading nearly 30 GB of Capital One credit application data from a rented cloud data server. Capital One said the incident affected approximately 100 million people in the United States and six million in Canada. That data included approximately 140,000 Social Security numbers and approximately 80,000 bank account numbers on U.S. consumers, and roughly 1 million Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) for Canadian credit card customers. “Importantly, no credit card account numbers or log-in credentials were compromised and over 99 percent of Social Security numbers were not compromised,” Capital One said in a statement posted to its site.

By Morgan Gstalter
The hashtag #MoscowMitchMcTreason began trending on Twitter Tuesday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back against the nickname "Moscow Mitch" in a fiery speech from the Senate floor. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker, dubbed McConnell “Moscow Mitch” after McConnell on Friday blocked two election security measures. The hashtag #MoscowMitch quickly began trending on Twitter following Scarborough's comments. McConnell responded on Monday, decrying the attacks against him as “modern-day McCarthyism.” “I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir Putin,” McConnell said. “These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed," he added. "They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy.”

President Donald Trump is exaggerating his role in bringing economic gains to black Americans. Brushing off criticism that his tweets against nonwhite lawmakers are racist, Mr. Trump asserts that he's done plenty to improve the fortunes of African Americans as seen by their low unemployment rate, while Democrats have done nothing. That's not the case. Mr. Trump also tweeted on Sunday that he unemployment for African Americans "is the lowest (best) in the history of the United States. No President has come close to doing this before!" But that's an exaggeration, given that the most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under President Barack Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.

By Gregory Wallace
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge on Monday dodged a decision for now over whether congressional Democrats can request and receive the President's New York state tax returns by asking the parties to figure out a solution themselves. US District Court Judge Carl Nichols acknowledged President Donald Trump's concerns that his New York state tax returns could be requested and provided before the courts have time to consider constitutional and other legal issues with the request. But he also gave a nod to arguments from the House Ways and Means Committee, and the state of New York, about what type of review from the courts is even appropriate in the circumstances. So Nichols ordered attorneys for the three parties to meet and propose a solution by 6 p.m. on Tuesday. He was particularly critical of the committee's insistence that it had an absolute right to make the requests. "Defendants are unwilling to do anything other than to squeeze this into a very narrow aperture," he said. Rather than issue an order himself, Nichols directed the parties to use their "creativity" to reach an agreement that would delay the returns from being requested or provided. He suggested the parties could remove him from an "awkward" situation -- being asked to consider the consequences of a potential House request, which has not yet been made. Douglas Letter, an attorney for the House committee, argued the House has an absolute right to request the tax records that cannot be challenged in court -- particularly given that there are "conceivable" justifications for requesting the records. For example, he said, the committee could use them to review federal tax auditing law.

By Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's attacks on Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings haven't gained as much internal support at the White House as his earlier attacks on the "Squad," according to administration officials. But there are no signs Trump believes his strategy is wrong or is planning to pull back his attacks on the African American lawmaker from Baltimore. One official confirmed that some aides express discomfort at the attacks, which do not appear to have been part of a larger strategy, during a Monday staff meeting first reported by The New York Times. Instead, aides said Trump has long expressed annoyance at Cummings' attempts to investigate members of the administration and identified Baltimore as a target over the weekend. Trump was particularly irked at the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which Cummings chairs, moving to obtain information related to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump has told people he believes his children, who are also government employees, are being unfairly targeted.

By Jeff Cox
President Donald Trump ripped into China in a series of tweets Tuesday just as the two sides are set to resume stalled negotiations toward a much-anticipated trade agreement. The president claimed that China is not buying more U.S. agricultural products as it promised to do and may be slow-walking the talks as it awaits the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. “China is doing very badly, worst year in 27 - was supposed to start buying our agricultural product now - no signs that they are doing so. That is the problem with China, they just don’t come through,” Trump wrote. The criticism comes as an entourage led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are in Shanghai to meet with their Chinese counterparts. While U.S. officials have tamped down expectations for a major deal this week, there is hope that at least some progress can be made in the tit-for-tat tariff battle that began about a year and a half ago. The stock market struggled at the open in the wake of Trump’s trade comments, with the Dow industrials off by about 100 points in early trading.

Analysis by Michael Warren
Washington (CNN) - When Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib accused Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of racism earlier this year, one of his "best friends," House Oversight Committee chairman and Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings immediately jumped to his defense.
When Cummings was attacked on similar grounds by President Donald Trump over the weekend, it took a bit longer for Meadows to publicly repay the favor. On Saturday and Sunday, Trump went after Cummings on Twitter, calling the veteran Democratic lawmaker a "racist" and his district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess." Trump's comments hung in the air for days, sparking yet another conversation about the President's race-focused rhetoric. Republicans largely stayed silent, including Meadows, whose warm relationship with Cummings prompted questions about his reticence to defend his friend. When Meadows finally did issue a reply, it came two days later and second-hand, delivered live on air by CNN contributor and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. The statement was a perfect distillation of the way Republicans have tip-toed around Trump's inflammatory language about race -- and avoided criticizing the President directly. "No one works harder for his district than Elijah. He's passionate about the people he represents, and no, Elijah is not a racist," Santorum read aloud. The statement also absolved the President of being a racist and included a promise by Meadows to "go to Baltimore with President Trump to see what they could do to remediate some of the problems they have there." To be sure, Meadows finds himself in bind. The North Carolina Republican has cultivated a close and fruitful relationship with Trump, who often focuses his ire toward minority members of Congress. Meadows' friendship with Cummings gave him no choice but to come to the Democrat's defense. That's especially true following the incident with Tlaib this past February, when Meadows publicly called on that friendship to defend himself.

Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
A Texas man was stopped at an airport in Maryland on Monday when airport security found a missile launcher in his checked luggage, authorities said. Transportation Security Administration officials and airport police tracked the man down at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and brought him in for questioning after they located the military weapon. The man, who was not identified by the TSA, is from Jacksonville, Texas, and told agents that he was active duty military. He said he was returning from Kuwait, and "he wanted to keep the missile launcher as a souvenir," TSA said in a statement.

President Trump seems eager to divert attention from impeachment and investigations, but distractions work only if they distract.
by David A. Graham
If former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to the House last week wasn’t the clear victory that many Democrats had hoped it would be, there are indications it didn’t go as well for President Donald Trump as he and his allies have claimed either. The first evidence came on Friday afternoon, when the president gave a series of nonsensical sound bites to reporters, saying that Barack Obama had ruined the White House HVAC system and calling for an investigation of how Obama, the author of a critically acclaimed memoir and a former president of the United States, got a book deal. As it turned out, this was merely a warm-up for what was to come: a scorched-earth racist rant against Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, and his district in Baltimore. The rant has extended into a third day and now also targets Al Sharpton, who Trump claims hates white people. Not since the fall of 1814 has there been such a concerted assault on the Charm City from the south, but don’t expect any anthems to be written about this battle. Even without the example of Trump’s fusillade against the “squad” of Democratic congresswomen earlier this month, this routine is by now familiar. Faced with a series of headlines that he doesn’t like, Trump endeavors to change the subject, by whatever means necessary. It’s reminiscent of the old parody motivational poster that reads, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Or, in Trump’s case: “The tweeting will continue until the chyrons improve.” In the past, this has worked well for Trump. His ability to change the subject has managed to prevent sustained attention on some of the biggest scandals of his political career. But there are limitations to this tactic, as the oxymoronic poster suggests, and they may be emerging right now.

By Tom Porter
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats repeatedly found his warnings about the threat posed by Russia suppressed by the White House, The New York Times reported Sunday amid his resignation from the post. According to The Times, Coats has often found himself at odds with President Donald Trump over Russia, a situation that worsened in recent months. Coats saw Russia as an adversary to the US, The Times wrote, and pushed for closer cooperation with European countries to counter it, but the White House did not agree.  Several times Coats saw his language on the Kremlin's activities watered down by the White House, according to The Times. A secret report by Coats on Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2018 midterms by spreading disinformation was reportedly altered by the White House. A public statement on Coats' conclusions contained less critical language than the original, The Times said.

By Ruben Vives, Richard Winton, Hannah Fry, Matthew Ormseth, Laura J. Nelson, Colleen Shalby, Hailey Branson-Potts
GILROY, Calif.  —  In the hours before Santino William Legan is alleged to have begun firing into a crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, police say the 19-year-old posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “Ayyy garlic festival time come get wasted on overpriced ...,” using an expletive. He also posted a photo of a Smokey Bear sign warning about fire danger with a caption instructing people to read the novel “Might Is Right” by Ragnar Redbeard, authorities said. The book, published in 1890, includes discredited principles related to Social Darwinism that have been used to justify racism, slavery and colonialism, said Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center on Hate and Extremism.

William Cummings, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and the Rev. Al Sharpton engaged in a fierce Twitter war Monday as the civil rights activist went to Baltimore to denounce the president's attacks on the city and Rep. Elijah Cummings. "I have known Al for 25 years," Trump tweeted in response to a post from Sharpton on his trip to Baltimore. Trump said they went to boxing matches together with promoter Don King and "always got along well." "He 'loved Trump!' He would ask me for favors often," the president tweeted. He then called Sharpton a "con man" and "a troublemaker, always looking for a score." "Hates Whites & Cops," Trump added.  

William Cummings, USA TODAY
President Donald Trump and many congressional Republicans treated former special counsel Robert's Mueller's testimony last week before two House committees as a victory, but for Democrats like Rep. Jerry Nadler the possibility of impeachment proceedings against the president remains very real. "My personal view is that he richly deserves impeachment," Nadler said during an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "He has done many impeachable offenses. He's violated the law six ways from Sunday." But the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, said his personal view on whether the president should be impeached is not the issue. "The question is, 'Can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?'" he said. To that end, Nadler said House Democrats and his committee will continue to gather evidence and investigate "the corruptions of the administration, the abuses of power, what Mueller showed, the possible violations of the Emoluments Clause; all the things that might cause us to recommend articles of impeachment." During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney conceded that the impeachment battle is "far from over," but he said Nadler's was trying to take down the president because he is "facing a primary from his left in New York." "He is falling over himself to become more and more progressive in order to try and keep his job and not lose to the next AOC," Mulvaney said, referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's upset win over Rep. Joseph Crowley in New York's June 2018 Democratic primary. He said only left-wing Democrats still wanted to pursue the "bizarre" course of impeachment.

By Jordan Weissmann - Slate
This week, much of the story that the White House likes to tell about its economic record fell apart. It’s not just that growth appears to have slowed, though it has. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that the country’s gross domestic product expanded at a middling 2.1 percent annual rate during the the second quarter, down from 3.1 percent over the first three months of 2019. This was only a preliminary estimate, a guesstimate really; the government will gather more data and revise that number in the coming months. But it was clearly worrisome to Donald Trump, who tried in vain to put a glass-half-full spin on the news while also placing blame for any weakness on his nemeses at the Federal Reserve. Friday’s report also robbed the White House of a favorite talking point. Previously, the government believed that the economy grew by more than 3 percent in 2018, a mark it hadn’t hit in more than a decade. This milestone led Trump (or, really, his press shop) to boast that he had “accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.” He was particularly jazzed that growth hit 4.1 percent for one quarter that year. It turns out we didn’t reach 3 percent growth after all. In its annual data revisions, which also dropped Friday, the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew by just 2.5 percent or 2.9 percent in 2018, depending on exactly how you measure it. It also turns out that growth never actually hit 4 percent in the second quarter of 2018, which—despite being sort of meaningless—had been a point of pride for Trump. In short, goodbye, bragging rights. Of course, whether or not our GDP growth rate managed to pass a somewhat arbitrary numerical threshold isn’t all that important in the scheme of things. But Friday’s numbers also dealt a deeper blow to the White House’s narrative about how it has supposedly resuscitated the economy from the doldrums of the late Obama years. Trump and his advisers like to claim that by loosening up regulations and cutting taxes on corporations, the administration unleashed a flood of new business investment that has helped push growth along. Their case has always been fairly flimsy: Much of the growth in business investment over the last couple of years was driven by the oil and gas industry, as frackers ramped up drilling in response to higher prices. Still, there was at least some uptick in business investment outside the fossil fuels sector that they could point to as proof that they were doing something right. After the Commerce Department’s latest data revisions, that no longer seems to be the case. As Harvard Kennedy School economist and former Obama adviser Jason Furman notes, business investment outside of oil and mining has actually slowed down during the Trump administration. It’s possible the investment would be even weaker were it not for Trump’s tax cuts and deregulatory moves. But on the face of things, there’s really no obvious case to be made that they’ve unleashed a boom in business investment.

By Emma Snaith, Zamira Rahim, Conrad Duncan
Twitter tirade comes after backlash over president’s attack on congressman’s ‘filthy’ district. Donald Trump has accused Nancy Pelosi of “playing the race card” after she condemned a series of vicious tweets he directed at black congressman Elijah Cummings. The US president described Mr Cummings' Baltimore district as a “filthy” and “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live”. It comes after the US House judiciary committee asked a judge to force the release of grand jury evidence from the Mueller investigation, as calls for Mr Trump’s impeachment grow.

By Renae Merle
The report did not recommend any specific action be taken regarding Eric Blankenstein, the former CFPB policy director who is now at HUD.  A former top Trump administration appointee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “may have abused his authority” and “misused his position for private gain” in an attempt to defuse an article from The Washington Post about online posts in which he questioned whether the n-word was racist, according to an inspector general’s report. Before the article was published, Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the CFPB responsible for enforcing the country’s fair lending laws, asked a subordinate to write a statement in support of him that also “created the appearance of a violation” of ethics rules, according to the report, which was obtained by The Post through the offices of Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio). The subordinate, Patrice Ficklin, told investigators she didn’t feel she had a choice and was given little time to write the statement in which she described Blankenstein as “collegial, thoughtful and meticulous.” Ficklin, a career official who serves as assistant director of the Fair Lending Office, was not named in the heavily redacted 14-page report, but the statement cited in the report matches one provided by the CFPB from Ficklin.

by Tara John, CNN  
Bialystok, Poland (CNN)Drag queens strut, rainbow flags flutter in the breeze, and smiling marchers form heart symbols with their hands.
From certain angles, the pride parade looks just like other such events held around the world, from San Francisco to Berlin, London to Taipei. But behind the glitter and glamor, there is a darker side to this celebration: Cher's "Believe" blasting from the sound system isn't simply music to dance to; it is there to drown out the boos, the bangs of flash-bombs and the chants of "perverts!" Because this is no ordinary pride gathering: It is the first-ever equality march in the deeply conservative Polish city of Bialystok, where the LGBTQ community's increasing visibility has sparked a backlash. The northeastern city of 298,000 is located in the Bible-belt region of Podlasie, which is a stronghold of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and has become synonymous with far-right movements. "Many of the acts of xenophobic aggression have been committed in Podlasie compared to other regions in Poland," Rafal Pankowski, from the anti-extremism group Never Again, told CNN. The mayor of Bialystok, Tadeusz Truskolaski, an independent, is eager to change that reputation. Unlike some centrist and right-wing counterparts in Poland, who have attempted to ban pride marches from their cities -- Truskolaski let the Bialystock event proceed -- despite widespread criticism from officials in the PiS.

By Jacqueline Thomsen
Attorney General William Barr on Monday reversed a 2018 immigration board ruling that found that a migrant whose immediate family member was persecuted in their home country may be able to claim asylum. The order is yet another hit to the United States' asylum laws and the most recent action taken by U.S. authorities in recent weeks that would affect asylum rules and procedures. In this latest decision, Barr effectively tightened a measure in the Immigration and Nationality Act that states a migrant can be granted asylum if they show they have been or will be persecuted because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Barr wrote that the Board of Immigration Appeals has previously found that those in a “particular social group” under asylum laws must share “a common immutable characteristic.”

By Isabel Vincent
A mysterious do-nothing charity founded by Jeffrey Epstein’s socialite gal pal is being investigated by the FBI for possible links to the convicted pedophile, The Post has learned. The TerraMar Project was incorporated in London and Delaware in 2012, purportedly to raise awareness of environmental and other issues facing the oceans, and exclusively funded by hundreds of thousands in loans by heiress Ghislaine Maxwell, public filings show. Maxwell, 57, the daughter of the late British media mogul Robert Maxwell, has been accused by three women of procuring girls to work as sex slaves for convicted pedophile Epstein, according to court filings. Two of the women said both Maxwell and Epstein sexually assaulted them. She has not been charged with a crime. Maxwell was listed as president of TerraMar, and her Upper East Side home was its official office. She pumped $283,429 into it between 2012 and 2017. In that time, the so-called charity gave out a total of $874 in grants. Between 2002 and 2005, Epstein used his private jets — dubbed the “Lolita Express” — to shuttle girls for sex between his estates in New York, Palm Beach, Fla., and the Virgin Islands, according to prosecutors. One girl, aged 19 at the time — whose name appears on the manifests of two Epstein flights in February 2005 from JFK Airport to Columbus, Ohio, and Palm Beach — became a member of the founding board of directors of the Maxwell charity seven years later. She also lived in a three-bedroom, $430,000 home in Teaneck, NJ, that is linked in public documents to Maxwell, although neighbors told The Post they never saw Maxwell at the property.

by Susie Neilson
Maryland leaders and residents are condemning a series of tweets by President Trump on Saturday that attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings and derided the black congressman's district as "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess." Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA......  — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019. Cummings, a Democrat, has represented Maryland's 7th congressional district since 1996. The district comprises over half of Baltimore city and much of Baltimore and Howard counties. The district, which is majority black, has a median income of $60,929 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By Marshall Cohen and Sara Murray, CNN
(CNN) - Prosecutors want to show a clip from "The Godfather Part II" at Roger Stone's upcoming trial on perjury and obstruction charges, according to new court filings. In a filing Friday afternoon, prosecutors asked a judge for permission to show a four-minute clip from the 1974 classic mob film. Stone, a longtime friend and supporter of President Donald Trump, referred to a character while trying to convince an associate to stonewall a House committee that was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. "Start practicing your Pantagele [sic]," Stone allegedly texted radio show host Randy Credico while discussing Credico's potential testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, according to court filings. Prosecutors have said Stone made up a cover story involving Credico to hide his efforts in 2016 to reach WikiLeaks -- and that he urged Credico to follow his lead under oath. In the movie, mafia figure Frank Pentangeli lies to a Senate committee that was investigating organized crime. Prosecutors want to show that scene to jurors at Stone's trial. Former special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Stone earlier this year as part of the Russia probe. The trial is scheduled to begin on November 5, almost exactly three years after the 2016 election. Prosecutors also said on Friday that they also want to use a series of videos of Stone at trial in which he brags, during the 2016 presidential campaign, that he is in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In the videos, Stone makes claims such as: "I actually have communicated with Assange." But while they want to bring in the Assange videos, prosecutors are seeking to quash evidence and arguments about Russian hacks against Democratic targets and allegations that Russians coordinated with the Trump campaign.

By Nicole Goodkind
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell squashed two bills intended to ensure voting security on Thursday, just one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russians were attempting to sabotage the 2020 presidential elections "as we sit here." McConnell said he wouldn't allow a vote on the bills because they were "so partisan," but, as previously reported, earlier this year McConnell received a slew of donations from four of the top voting machine lobbyists in the country. "Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent," said McConnell on the Senate floor. The plans would likely burden the two largest electronic voting machine vendors in the United States, Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, with new regulations and financial burdens. Together, the companies make up about 80 percent of all voting machines used in the country and both have far-reaching lobbying arms in Washington D.C. Many of those lobbyists have contributed to the McConnell campaign, reported Sludge last month, an investigative outlet that focuses on money in politics. Sludge found that Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck lobbyist David Cohen, who has worked on behalf of Dominion Voting Systems this year, donated $2,000 to McConnell during this time. Brian Wild, who works with Cohen and has also lobbied Dominion, gave McConnell $1,000.

Posted By Ian Schwartz
MSNBC 'Morning Joe' host Joe Scarborough went on a rant Friday denouncing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for blocking a series of election security bills. JOE SCARBOROUGH: He is aiding and abetting Putin's ongoing attempts to subvert U.S. democracy, according to the Republican FBI, CIA, DNI… All Republicans are saying Russia is trying to subvert U.S. democracy and Moscow Mitch won't even let the Senate take a vote on it. That is un-American... How can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel Committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying, to what the FBI director is saying, to what the DNI is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military intel community is saying?

By Dana Milbank
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset. This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves. Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding. Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.” Not three hours after Mueller finished testifying, Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, went to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent to pass legislation requiring presidential campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of assistance from agents of foreign governments. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) was there to represent her leader’s interests. “I object,” she said.

By Sophia Tesfaye
How did Republicans react to Robert Mueller's testimony? By lying, deflecting and blocking election security bills. The integrity of American elections was compromised long before Donald Trump’s shocking victory in 2016, but former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday made clear that one political party is actively subverting attempts to protect our democracy. Hours after Mueller testified about foreign election interference before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday afternoon, the Republican-controlled Senate moved to block four separate bills to defend the U.S. democratic process. "Over the course of my career, I've seen a number of challenges to our democracy," Mueller said in his opening remarks. "The Russian government's effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. As I said on May 29, this deserves the attention of every American." Muller told the committee that the Russian effort “wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” He later told lawmakers that "much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions — not just by the Russians, but others as well.” Researchers have already reported suspected Iranian disinformation campaigns on most major social media platforms this year. What Mueller said, coupled with his report — which found that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” — is breathtaking. Russia's disinformation campaign in 2016 spent more than $1 million a month, as Mueller reported in an indictment last year. When given an opportunity to question Mueller, however, some Republicans on the Intelligence Committee actually challenged him on his findings, complaining that he was baselessly defaming the Kremlin.

by Chris Baynes
US president says has given attorney general William Barr permission to share files with 'whoever he wants' Donald Trump has given the US attorney general permission to share classified information about the Russia investigation with Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence Committee ranking member who has called for Justice Department and FBI officials to be jailed over the probe. The US president said he had given William Barr “a total release” of documents relating to the investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, and had also “given him authorisation to release it to whoever he wants”. “He’s got everything; everything he needs, he’s got,” he told Sean Hannity in an interview on Fox News on Thursday night. Mr Trump added: “He’s the attorney general of the United States, he’s has got a lot of very good people under him that I guess are involved and I gave them a total release. So, all of it’s been released and he has all of it. “I’ve also given him authorisation to release it to whoever he wants, whether it’s his people or frankly perhaps people like Devin Nunes, who is a star.”

By Kathryn Watson
Hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that Russians are still meddling in the U.S. political system, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the advancement of legislation to secure the nation's election system. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also blocked a set of bills on election security Wednesday. In blocking the legislation crafted by Senate Democrats to provide more funding for election security, McConnell declared the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation's elections. One bill McConnell objected to would have both required the use of paper ballots and provided funding for the Election Assistance Commission. He also objected to legislation that would have required campaigns and candidates to report offers offers of election-related aid from foreign governments.

By By Shane Croucher
The hashtag #MoscowMitch was trending on Twitter on Friday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election bills designed to deter interference by Russia and other states, claiming it was "partisan legislation" by the Democratic Party. It followed special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday that Russia is still attempting to interfere in American democracy, further to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with a view to disrupting the 2020 contest. Then on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report detailing Russian interference dating back to at least 2014 through to 2017 that targeted U.S. election infrastructure with an "unprecedented level of activity." Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough used the moniker "Moscow Mitch" in reference to McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, multiple times during his MSNBC show on Friday, and tore into the congressional leader for several minutes. Scarborough made reference to an effort in 2016 ahead of the election by President Barack Obama to sound the alarm to American voters about Russian interference by urging congressional leaders to sign a bipartisan statement condemning it publicly. At the time, according to The Washington Post, McConnell rebuffed Obama's suggestion, and said he would view the White House talking publicly about Russian interference before polling day as an act of partisanship designed to aid the then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

By David E. Sanger and Catie Edmondson
WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time. But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out. The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.” While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems. A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know. It concluded that while there was no evidence that any votes were changed in actual voting machines, “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data” in the Illinois voter database. The committee found no evidence that they did so.

By Rep. Eric Swalwell
The special counsel laid bare this president’s disdain for the rule of law. It’s time for Congress to exercise its constitutional duty. Congress must launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump — immediately. Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees Wednesday has left us with no other rational course of action. Doing so isn’t about partisan advantage in 2020; it’s not even about Trump. Impeaching him is about protecting America. Here is why: We heard — in Mueller’s own voice, without the president’s and attorney general’s distortions — that the special counsel’s investigation uncovered Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign’s embrace of this help and the president’s obstruction of justice during the investigation of it. It’s clear that Russia interfered in our election. It’s clear that it did so to help Trump win, and it’s clear that Trump benefited from Russia’s help and asked them to help further. “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious,” Mueller told the Judiciary Committee. Hours later, asked in the Intelligence Committee hearing whether future political campaigns could accept foreign interference, he replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

By Jeff Stein
The Internal Revenue Service turned President Richard Nixon’s tax returns over to a congressional committee the same day in 1973 that the panel requested them for a review, according to letters released by House Democrats on Thursday. The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the president’s tax returns are “unprecedented,” and suggest a split between this administration and past IRS officials over the interpretation of the law. On Dec. 13, 1973, Laurence N. Woodworth of the Joint Committee on Taxation asked the IRS commissioner to review Nixon’s tax returns from 1969 through 1972, according to the documents. Nixon had asked the congressional committee to review the documents amid the widening Watergate scandal. In a letter to the committee also dated Dec. 13, 1973, IRS Commissioner Donald C. Alexander said that enclosed in his response were attachments of “true copies of the original joint federal income tax returns filed by Richard M. and Patricia R. Nixon” for the years requested.

By Lauren Fox and Ellie Kaufman, CNN
(CNN) - House Ways and Means Committee Democrats are arguing that newly reviewed documents dating to the Nixon administration reveal that the law a congressional committee used to request President Donald Trump's tax returns has been used to request presidential tax information from the IRS before and that committee received it. They cite newly surfaced documents that show that when the Joint Committee on Taxation undertook an investigation of former President Richard Nixon's tax returns that he turned over to Congress, there was tax information that was not covered in that voluntarily disclosure that the committee got directly from the IRS through 6103. In response to a request from House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, Thomas Barthold -- the chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation -- wrote that he had reviewed materials from the committee's files on Nixon. "Based on this review, I can state that the Joint Committee staff sought and received, under its legal authority, confidential information directly from the Internal Revenue Service," Barthold wrote.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation declaring Saturday "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day," in honor of the Confederate Army general who was a slave trader and an early member of the Ku Klux Klan. Under Tennessee law, governors are required to proclaim six dates as "days of special observance" including July 13 as "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day"; June 3 as "Memorial Day" or "Confederate Decoration Day"; and January 19 as "Robert E. Lee Day."  The Republican governor signed the proclamation on Wednesday, sparking backlash on social media from some lawmakers and local leaders. The controversy sprung up as there's a nationwide debate about removing some of the country's Confederate monuments, memorials and symbols. Defenders say the memorials mark history and honor heritage, while critics argue they are racist symbols of America's dark legacy of slavery. "Nathan Bedford Forrest is a recognized military figure in American history and a native Tennessean," the proclamation says. Lee told The Tennessean Thursday that he signed the bill "because the law requires that I do that and I haven't looked at changing that law."

By Yaron Steinbuch
A Minnesota congressional candidate hoping to unseat Ilhan Omar with promises of being tough on crime faces felony shoplifting charges, according to a report. Danielle Stella, a 31-year-old supporter of President Trump, was arrested twice this year in the thefts of 279 items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and $40 worth of goods from a grocery store, The Guardian reported. “I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law,” the special-education teacher told the news outlet. “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides,” added Stella, who this week described Minneapolis as “the crime capital of our country.” Stella told police that she “remembers arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she “normally she goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people,” according to a criminal complaint cited by The Guardian.

By Mark Moore
Rep. Ilhan Omar said Americans should be “more fearful of white men” when discussing the threat of “jihadist terrorism.” The Minnesota progressive was asked in a resurfaced interview with Al Jazeera from August 2018 about the rise of Islamophobia, citing the attacks that killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path in 2017 and the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14. “I would say our country should be more fearful of white men across our country because they are actually causing most of the deaths within this country,” Omar answered. “And so if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe — Americans safe inside of this country — we should be profiling, monitoring, and creating policies to fight the radicalization of white men,” she continued. - She does have a point White Nationalist and Right Wing Extremists Have Killed More Americans Than Terrorist

President Donald Trump scored a major victory at the Supreme Court on Friday, as the justices lifted a lower court order blocking a key part of his plan to expand the border wall with Mexico. The Justice Department had asked the justices to stay a pair of rulings an Oakland-based federal judge issued in May and June blocking Trump’s plan to use about $2.5 billion in unspent military funds for wall projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico. All the Republican-appointed justices voted in favor of allowing Trump to proceed with that aspect of his plan while litigation over the issue continues. All the Democratic-appointed justices dissented, except for Justice Stephen Breyer who said he would have allowed the contracting process to move forward but blocked actual construction. The president touted the ruling in a tweet Friday evening: "Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!" However, the ruling may not signal that all challenges to the border wall funding in dispute are certain to fail.

By Sinéad Baker and Rosie Perper
The man who created the fake presidential seal that was displayed on a giant screen behind US President Donald Trump at a conference on Tuesday told The Washington Post that he designed it as a "goofy thing" and never thought it would get so much attention. Charles Leazott, a former Republican who said he can't stand Trump, told The Post that while he was delighted to see his protest image behind the president, he is now getting abuse online as a result of the seal's newfound fame. Trump delivered a speech to thousands of young, cheering supporters at the Turning Point USA conference in Washington, DC. No one in the audience appeared to notice that behind him was a presidential seal that featured a double-headed bald eagle — resembling the Russian national symbol — holding golf clubs instead of the arrows that appear on the actual presidential seal.

By Reis Thebault and Michael Brice-Saddler
Charles Leazott hadn’t thought about the seal in months. The 46-year-old graphic designer threw it together after the 2016 presidential election — it was one part joke, one part catharsis. He used to be a proud Republican. He voted for George W. Bush. Twice. But Donald J. Trump’s GOP was no longer his party. So he created a mock presidential seal to prove his point. He substituted the arrows in the eagle’s claw for a set of golf clubs — a nod to the new president’s favorite pastime. In the other set of talons, he swapped the olive branch for a wad of cash and replaced the United States’ Latin motto with a Spanish insult. Then, his coup de grace: a two-headed imperial bird lifted straight from the Russian coat of arms, an homage to the president’s checkered history with the adversarial country. “This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created,” the Richmond resident said in an interview with The Washington Post. The seal wasn’t meant for a wide audience. But then, years later, it wound up stretched across a jumbo-tron screen behind an unwitting President Trump as he spoke to a conference packed with hundreds of his young supporters.

By Sean Rossman, USA TODAY
The graphic artist who created a fake presidential seal that mocked President Donald Trump went from anonymity to anti-Trump folk hero this week after the president stood before the seal during a gathering of conservative teens on Tuesday. Turning Point USA, the organization that hosted Trump at its Teen Action Summit in Washington, say "a last-minute A/V mistake" caused the doctored seal to flank a gleaming Trump while he was onstage at the Washington Marriott Marquis. But the man who created it, Charles Leazott, according to multiple media reports, explains it this way. "There are only two options here," Leazott told Forbes. "This really was an accident and their incompetence knows no bounds (or) someone did this on purpose and they're lying to cover that fact up." Breaking down the symbolism: Golf clubs, double-headed eagle are in the doctored image. The Washington Post reported that Leazott, 46, is a former Republican from Richmond, Virginia, who twice voted for George W. Bush.

By David E. Sanger and Catie Edmondson
WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time, but at the demand of American intelligence agencies the committee was forced to redact its findings so heavily that key lessons for the 2020 election are blacked out. Even key findings at the beginning of the report were heavily redacted. The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came just 24 hours after the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.” It also landed hours after Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, personally stepped forward to block consideration of a package of election security bills.

There’s nothing wrong with defending the president during a scandal. But denying reality helps no one.
By Jonathan Bernstein
Some things are so obvious that no one even bothers to mention them. So I want to be clear: House Republicans embarrassed themselves Wednesday at former special counsel Robert Mueller’s hearings. There’s nothing wrong with politicians defending a president of the same party during a scandal. It’s their job, in fact, to point out where evidence is weak, conclusions assume too much, or stories have holes in them. Nor is it a problem when they try to place a scandal in context if (as is often the case) a media frenzy or overeager out-party has exaggerated the importance of some instance of wrongdoing. Many Republicans played that role during Watergate, and while they were burned by a president who couldn’t be trusted, historians have been relatively kind to them. That’s not what happened Wednesday. Instead of reading carefully into the evidence and finding contradictions or loose ends, House Republicans largely busied themselves with conspiracy theories. It wasn’t Donald Trump and his campaign who welcomed and benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election; it was Hillary Clinton! Never mind what U.S. intelligence agencies and Senate investigators have concluded. Never mind that this reality-denying line of inquiry left lawmakers defending Wikileaks and even, seemingly, the Russian agents indicted by Mueller.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was asked whether Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday gave him any pause about how President Donald Trump had behaved during the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Here's how McCarthy responded: "No, this President has not done anything wrong in the process, so no, I don't have a problem with this President." Really? That's what McCarthy took from a) the 448-page Mueller report and b) Mueller's five hours of testimony on Capitol Hill? That Mueller's conclusions suggest the President had "not done anything wrong in the process"? If so, McCarthy missed the boat. By a lot. Like the size of the Atlantic Ocean a lot. What McCarthy seems to be saying is that because Mueller didn't recommend charges against Trump -- and Attorney General William Barr made the decision not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice -- that means, ipso facto, that Trump did nothing wrong here. Which, of course, is inaccurate on a variety of levels. Start with the question of collusion. Mueller didn't say there was no collusion. In fact, he detailed in the report -- and again on Wednesday -- that the Trump campaign not only welcomed but encouraged Russian involvement to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. (That runs directly counter to the version of events that Trump allies offered.) And that Trump's praise for and encouragement of WikiLeaks was "problematic," adding that what Trump had done was give "some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal behavior."

By Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Speaking on Tuesday at a student activist conference hosted by the conservative advocacy organization Turning Point USA, President Donald Trump walked onstage in front of a presidential seal that, upon closer examination, appears to have been altered to include symbols representing Russia and golf. The Washington Post first reported on the altered seal. As Trump walked onstage to a cheering audience, two presidential seals flashed on screen. The seal directly behind Trump was the authentic presidential seal. One of the seals, however, was not like the others. Upon closer examination, the seal on Trump's right includes a double-headed eagle, unlike the single head of the traditional presidential seal, and seems to resemble the Russian coat of arms. The seal has a complex history, notes the Victoria and Albert Museum, but one of the more common interpretations is that the two heads represent east and west, "an allegory sometimes for unity, and sometimes for absolute monarchy." It could be a reference to Trump's sometimes-controversial relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The eagle also appears to be holding several golf clubs instead of arrows in its claws, perhaps a reference to Trump's affinity for golf. Additionally, instead of "e pluribus unum," the scroll above the eagle appears to say "45 es un titere," which appears to translate from Spanish to mean "45 is a puppet." It is not clear where the image originated, though, or who was responsible for the mixup.

By Zachary Cohen and Barbara Starr, CNN
Washington (CNN)Sixteen US Marines were arrested Thursday for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to a statement from the Marine Corps.
The arrests took place in a dramatic fashion on Thursday morning at Camp Pendleton, California, during a battalion formation.
"Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests," the statement said. "None of the Marines arrested or detained for questioning served in support of the Southwest Border Support mission." Eight other Marines were also questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today's arrests, the Marine Corps said. A US official told CNN that Thursday's arrests are related to an incident that occurred earlier this month in which two Marines from Camp Pendleton were charged with transporting undocumented immigrants for financial gain. Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero, both lance corporals, were arrested after their vehicle was pulled over by Border Patrol agents about 20 miles east of the Tecate port of entry. Law was driving, and Salazar-Quintero was in the passenger seat. There were three passengers in the back of the car, and they told the agent they were Mexican citizens, had no immigration papers and were not permitted to enter the United States, according to the complaint. The three immigrants apprehended from the back of Law's car told Border Patrol agents that they'd made arrangements to be smuggled into the United States and had been told via cellphone to get into Law's car. Two of the migrants said they were planning to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the country, the complaint says. One planned on traveling to Los Angeles, the other to New Jersey. The driver and passenger, under questioning, began pointing fingers at one another, the complaint says, detailing their involvement in a smuggling operation. According to their service records supplied by the US Marine Corps, both of the men charged earlier in the month are riflemen with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. They have been awarded the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism service medals. Capt. Christopher Harrison, Marine Corps spokesman, previously told CNN that the corps is "aware of the charges facing Lance Cpl. Law and Lance Cpl. Salazar-Quintero."

By JEFF AMY - Associated Press
Three University of Mississippi students have been suspended from their fraternity and face a possible civil rights investigation after a photo surfaced showing them posing with guns beside a bullet-pocked and often vandalized historic marker to lynching victim Emmett Till. The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting first published a story about it Thursday, saying the image had circulated on the men’s social media accounts. Ole Miss spokesman Rod Guajardo said the image was reported in March to the university’s Bias Incident Response Team, which takes reports of incidents where students, faculty or staff are targeted because of their race or other characteristics. Guajardo said university police asked the FBI to investigate, but says the FBI declined to open an inquiry because the photo “did not pose a specific threat.” Brett Carr, a spokesman for the FBI’s Jackson office, declined to comment Thursday. However, U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar told the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting that the information has been referred to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for further investigation. “We will be working with them closely,” he said. While calling the image “offensive and hurtful,” Guajardo said the university hasn’t disciplined the students because the off-campus picture wasn’t part of a university event.

By Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's pick for the top spokeswoman job at the Treasury Department repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that suggested then-President Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim who was sympathetic to America's enemies. Monica Crowley, who was appointed by Trump last week as assistant treasury secretary for public affairs, made multiple comments spreading these false claims on her personal blog and in at least one tweet between 2009 and 2015, according to a review by CNN's KFile team. Crowley also endorsed a story claiming Obama was an "Islamic community organizer" trying to conform the United States to Sharia law and claimed conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate were "legitimate concerns." During Obama's presidency, Trump was one of the most prominent voices pushing the so-called birther conspiracy theories questioning Obama's birthplace. When he was seeking the presidency himself and under continual questioning, Trump finally admitted that Obama was born in the US but offered no apologies or explanation for the years he spent sowing doubt about Obama's origins. Crowley, formerly a syndicated radio host, columnist and Fox News contributor, was originally chosen by Trump in December 2016 to be the senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council. She withdrew herself from consideration for that position after CNN's KFile team uncovered extensive plagiarism in her book and doctoral thesis. Crowley did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Treasury Department also did not respond to a request for comment.

By Emily Dixon, CNN
(CNN) - A group of armed men stole a haul of gold and other precious metals worth at least $30 million from a Brazilian airport Thursday, according to Brazilian state news agency Agencia Brasil. Eight men targeted a cargo terminal at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, driving two trucks that resembled those driven by Brazilian federal police, the agency said. At the terminal, four men exited the truck wearing face coverings, Reuters reported, saying that at least one carried a rifle. The armed men took two airport workers hostage, Reuters said. One was the airport's logistics supervisor, according to Agencia Brasil, which said the hostages were released unharmed.

By Joshua Keating
Mark Esper is just the latest lobbyist to join Trump’s Cabinet. Compared with some of the other events taking place on Capitol Hill this week, Mark Esper’s confirmation as defense secretary on Tuesday was a largely drama-free affair: Esper, a former lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, sailed through with a 90–8 vote, ending the longest period without a confirmed secretary in the history of the Defense Department. Esper is one of three acting secretaries who’ve served since Jim Mattis resigned in December, including Patrick Shanahan, who was initially nominated by President Donald Trump to take on the role permanently but withdrew from consideration in June amid revelations of domestic violence involving his ex-wife and son. At a time when the president is casually talking about killing 10 million people in Afghanistan, it makes sense that Esper was an uncontroversial nominee, but outside the Trumpian context, it’s still regrettable that he didn’t face a little more scrutiny. At this point, senators might have voted for anyone with a pulse to take over the Pentagon. Esper boasts not only a pulse but a résumé that includes fighting in the Army during the first Gulf War, extensive experience in defense policy, and a positively regarded tenure as secretary of the Army. The answers he gave during his written and public testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee reveal very conventional defense establishment—as opposed to Trumpian—views: He believes in the value of U.S. alliances including NATO, views Russia as an adversary, and is wary of hasty troop withdrawals.

By Tucker Higgins
The federal government will resume executing death-row inmates after nearly two decades without doing so, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five inmates convicted of murder and other crimes. The executions have been scheduled for December 2019 and January 2020. The department also announced a new execution protocol, replacing the three-drug cocktail previously used in federal executions with the single drug, pentobarbital. The last federal execution was carried out in 2003. There are 62 individuals on federal death row, according to a tracker maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center. The Supreme Court outlawed state and federal death penalty laws in the 1972 decision Furman v. Georgia. The decision invalidated the laws then on the books, but did not outlaw the death penalty under all circumstances, leading states and the federal government to draft new legislation. The federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, and expanded by Congress in 1994. No federal executions took place, however, until 2001, according to to the Bureau of Prisons.

By Ted Barrett and Kevin Collier, CNN
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi on Wednesday blocked the advancement of a trio of bills aimed at strengthening election security just hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned of the continued threat that foreign powers interfering in US elections. Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ron Wyden of Oregon had advocated for the bills on the Senate floor, asking for unanimous consent to pass the package, but that ask can be halted with an objection from any senator. Two of those bills would require campaigns to report to federal authorities any attempts by foreign entities to interfere in US elections, and the third is aimed at protecting from hackers the personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers. Hyde-Smith objected to each unanimous consent request in keeping with GOP arguments that Congress has already responded to election security needs for the upcoming election. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a tweet Wednesday evening.

By Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor
Mueller did not exactly exude charisma, but his testimony before Congress was illuminating when distilled down to the key moments. In the opening minutes of Wednesday’s first hearing with former special counsel Robert Mueller, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., pointedly asked, “Did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Mueller’s one-word response? “No.” It was one of the more climactic moments of Mueller’s many hours of testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, which says all you need to know about the rest of that time. Anyone hoping for or expecting loud outbursts and emotional testimony has perhaps spent too much time watching fictitious courtroom dramas. This isn’t the WWE, it’s the United States Congress. But while the substance of Mueller’s testimony was often less than entertaining, it was an important moment in the saga that has been Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump reportedly was “triumphant” as he watched the event. But perceptions of the testimony are likely to vary widely in the immediate aftermath. This isn’t surprising. Much like the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate, how you experienced this hearing will likely color your impressions of it. In 1960, those who listened to the debate thought Richard Nixon performed better, but those who watched it on television seemed to favor John F. Kennedy.

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Hundreds of red flags were raised internally within the Trump administration about how families were being separated at the US-Mexico border, including some from months before the controversial "zero tolerance" policy was announced, according to documents reviewed by CNN. The documents include anecdotes of children allegedly blindsided when they were separated from their parents after being apprehended at the southern border. One referral received by the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties describes a 14-year-old who said he was separated from his father in May 2018 "after a meal break while in custody, and was told by officers that his father would be deported." In another, an 11-year-old stated that he "was called aside by an officer and then he did not see his father again." A 10-year-old with "poor communication skills" was allegedly separated from his mother in June 2018. Taken together, the documents provide a rare glimpse into how one part of the Trump administration -- the Department of Health and Human Services -- was flagging cases of concern to another part -- the Department of Homeland Security -- during a tumultuous time that eventually resulted in the separation of thousands of families apprehended at the southern border. HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is charged with the care of unaccompanied migrant children, instructed staff to submit significant incident reports for alleged cases of family separation once the agency started seeing an uptick in cases, according to the agency.

by Ryan Lucas
The Senate intelligence committee has released its report detailing Russia's targeting of election systems in 2016 along with recommendations for protecting American elections from foreign interference. The committee's final report on election security appeared Thursday as the 2020 presidential race gets underway in what promises to be a bitter and divisive election battle. It also followed former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's stark warning to lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia's sprawling influence operation of 2016 was not a one-and-done. "No, it wasn't a single attempt," Mueller said during some six hours of testimony about his Russia investigation, before two House committees. "They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign."

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, say it's investigating the business relationship between its CEO, Les Wexner, and Jeffrey Epstein. A new report in the New York Times shows the pair had a closer relationship than Epstein acting as Wexner's personal money manager. Epstein, a longtime associate of Wexner's, is accused of running a sex-trafficking enterprise, in which he paid girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors say he used employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences, and then paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse. He has pleaded not guilty. Wexner has not been implicated in Epstein's alleged crimes in any way. When Epstein was arrested earlier this month, Wexner told L Brand employees that he denied knowledge of the illegal activity of which Epstein stands accused. Wexner didn't respond to CNN's request for comment about the Times' story. Epstein's lawyer's didn't immediately respond to CNN's request for comment about the Times' story.

"Ricky, te botamos!" ("Ricky, we threw you out!") the jubilant crowd chanted after the governor's announcement.
By Nicole Acevedo, Alex Johnson and Gabe Gutierrez
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation Wednesday days after demonstrators at the island's largest protest in recent history called for his ouster over a scandal involving leaked private chats, as well as corruption investigations and arrests. His resignation, effective Aug. 2, came late Wednesday night on a recorded video published on Facebook. In the message, he touted what he considered accomplishments of his tenure, saying he fought corruption and made strides for different communities. "My only North Star has been the well-being of my island," he said. Crowds in the streets, which for almost two weeks had been calling for the governor to step down, immediately erupted in joyous chants, cheering "Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico!" "Ricky, te botamos!" ("Ricky, we threw you out!") the jubilant crowd chanted after the governor's announcement.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic congressman who asked former special counsel Robert Mueller if Justice Department guidance stopped him from indicting President Donald Trump says he thinks Mueller walked back his initial response because it amounted to labeling Trump "a felon in the White House." California Rep. Ted Lieu had asked Mueller if the Office of Legal Counsel guidance against indicting a sitting president was the reason he didn't indict Trump. Mueller said that was "correct" at first. He later clarified, stating, "As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime." Appearing on "Anderson Cooper 360," Lieu said that he believes Mueller's initial answer is "what he actually believes." "I believe he fully understood my question. It was a logical extension of me getting him to establish the three elements of obstruction of justice were met and I think it's what he actually believes," Lieu told Cooper.. "I think he may have walked it back because he understood that what that means is we got a felon in the White House and that's what the hearing showed today, that Donald Trump committed multiple acts of obstruction of justice." "Those are felonies," he added. "What the American people and Congress choose to do with that information we'll see in the next few days and weeks." Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees Wednesday to discuss the report he released in April on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller's initial response to Lieu contradicted what Justice Department officials have said were the answers from the special counsel team during a March 5 meeting that included Mueller and his top lieutenants along with Attorney General William Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and other officials.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
Delivering a painful defeat to the Trump administration's most sweeping effort to single-handedly overhaul the asylum system without Congress, a federal judge on Wednesday blocked a rule that made most migrants from Central America and other countries ineligible for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed to issue a temporary injunction halting the policy while he reviews the merits of a legal challenge spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In his order, Tigar seemed to agree with the concerns raised by the plaintiffs that policy could result in the U.S. government sending asylum seekers back to dangerous circumstances just because they did not seek protection in countries like Mexico. The judge noted Mexico does not have as robust of an asylum system as the U.S. to guarantee people safe haven.  

by Bobby Allyn
In an about-face, the Pennsylvania school district that threatened to place children in foster care over past-due cafeteria bills is now accepting donations following its initial rejection of those who offered help, a decision that left many observers puzzled. Wyoming Valley West, a financially struggling school district about three hours north of Philadelphia, was initially not interested in charitable contributions after the school district sent letters to dozens of families demanding lunch money payments. The district said the families faced the possibility of being taken to court over the custody of their children. But in a statement released Wednesday evening, the president of the school district's board, Joseph Mazur, apologized for the letter's "tone." "It wasn't the intention of the district to harm or inconvenience any of the families of our school district," Mazur said.

By David A. Graham - Staff writer at The Atlantic
A Democrat asked the former special counsel whether the president had met each of the three elements necessary to prove obstruction of justice. Mueller’s answers spoke volumes. There’s a logical disconnect in volume 2 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that is unmissable to any careful reader. As Mueller explains in the report, a charge of obstruction of justice requires three elements: an obstructive act, a nexus with an official proceeding, and corrupt intent. And in the report, Mueller’s team laid out several cases where President Donald Trump committed an obstructive act, in connection with an official proceeding, with what Mueller’s team concluded could be a corrupt intent. But because Mueller had decided at the outset of his report that he could not and would not charge the president with crimes, thanks to Justice Department guidance and in the interest of fairness, Mueller did not make the otherwise obvious jump from laying out the ways that Trump’s behavior met the three-prong test to actually stating that Trump obstructed justice. During today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries sought to demonstrate the disconnect by walking Mueller through the three-prong test. “Let me refer you to page 87 and 88 of volume 2 where you conclude the attempt to remove the special counsel would qualify as an obstructive act if it would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand-jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry. Correct?” Jeffries asked.

William Cummings, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Former special counsel Robert Mueller has made few public statements since his May 2017 appointment to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential coordination with the Trump campaign. Though the results of his work were made public in a 448-page report in April, many on Capitol Hill and around the country were anxious to hear from him directly about the investigation. After some wrangling, debates and delays, on Wednesday Mueller finally appeared to testify before Congress. Through it all, the stoic Mueller kept his cool and kept his vow to stick with what was in the text of his report. But there were still some fireworks and moments of humor during his more than four-hour appearance. Here are some of the highlights: A 'most serious' challenge to our democracy. Mueller, who was at the head of the FBI when terrorist attacks killed thousands of Americans on September 11, 2001, said he considered the Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election was one of the worst threats to U.S. he had witnessed. "Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy," Mueller said in his opening statement. "The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. As I said on May 29, this deserves the attention of every American." 'It is not a witch hunt'

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, watched former special counsel Robert Mueller's highly anticipated testimony Wednesday in a packed common room of inmates a federal prison in New York. In a statement provided to CNN, Cohen -- writing from Federal Correctional Institution Otisville in Orange County, New York -- expressed disappointment with Mueller's "reluctance" to extrapolate beyond the report he released in April. "Mr. Mueller today had the world stage to answer questions regarding obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Sadly, his reluctance just continues to leave the debate open and those responsible free from prosecution ... for the moment," he said. "The American people deserve more!" Cohen is currently serving a three year sentence in the New York facility. In August 2018, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations tied to hush money payments he made or orchestrated on behalf of Trump. In February, he testified about Trump's involvement in hush-money payments to women and his knowledge of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone's efforts to contact WikiLeaks. In his testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, Mueller offered mostly terse responses to pointed questions from lawmakers in an attempt to let his report guide his testimony. While Mueller refused to entertain questions about the Steele dossier -- an opposition research document put together by former British spy Christopher Steele -- as it related to his investigation, Cohen added Wednesday the testimony "confirmed" allegations made in the document against him were false.

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement
‘So Far I’ve Been Ghosted’ A Colorado county sheriff whose department handled security for a Vice President Mike Pence campaign fundraising event in Aspen isn’t sure who is going to pay for his deputies’ time – and is worried taxpayers might have to foot the bill. “I’m concerned we’re gonna get stiffed,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said after Monday’s event, as the Post Independent reported. The fundraiser was billed as an “intimate” $35,000 per couple event, headlined by the Vice President, and held, ironically, at a private club owned by two gay men. Pence has made a career out of his anti-LGBTQ policies. “Usually this time, we’re aware of who’s going to pay,” Sheriff DiSalvo said. “I’ve been trying for a week and I still can’t get anyone to tell me who the Caribou Club host is. So far I’ve been ghosted.” The Sheriff estimated overtime costs for his deputies would be $10,000 to $20,000.

By Jacqueline Thomsen
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday that federal prosecutors will not prosecute Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross following a House vote to hold the officials in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas. “The Department of Justice’s long-standing position is that we will not prosecute an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The House had rebuked the Trump Cabinet members by passing a criminal contempt resolution earlier this month, largely along party lines. However, it was widely presumed that the Justice Department would not pursue a criminal referral against the top DOJ official. The full House vote came after the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed the Commerce and Justice departments earlier this year for documents relating to since-abandoned efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The panel voted largely along party lines last month to hold Barr and Ross in contempt for failing to comply with those subpoenas. The agencies told lawmakers shortly before the vote was scheduled to be held that President Trump had asserted executive privilege over the requested documents.

By Philip Bump
Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wasted no time during his House Judiciary Committee testimony Wednesday in undercutting President Trump’s ongoing insistence that Mueller’s probe cleared him of all wrongdoing. In fact, it was only about an hour after Trump’s most recent claim that there was “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION” that Mueller slowly read into the record an opening statement that made obvious how wrong Trump was. “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller said. But: “We did not address ‘collusion,’ which is not a legal term. Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy. It was not.”

By Justin Baragona
“Yes, that was news,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi, whose question provoked the answer, told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t anticipate that.” Towards the end of Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, the former special counsel indicated that the FBI is currently investigating matters of blackmail and compromise involving those were in President Donald Trump’s orbit. During his allotted time, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) noted that because it was outside the Mueller investigation’s purview, the final report did not reach any counterintelligence conclusions regarding “any Trump administration officials who may be vulnerable to compromise or blackmail by Russia.” “Those decisions were probably made in the FBI,” Mueller, himself a former head of the FBI, replied. “We referred to the counterintelligence goals of our investigation which were secondary to any criminal wrongdoing we could find.” Krishnamoorthi, meanwhile, pointed out that the report also did not address whether Russian oligarchs engaged in money laundering through the president’s businesses. “And, of course, your office did not obtain the president’s tax returns, which could otherwise show foreign financial services, correct?” Krishnamoorthi asked. “I’m not going to get into that,” Mueller responded.

Analysis by Marshall Cohen, CNN
(CNN) - Former special counsel Robert Mueller hasn't testified on Capitol Hill in six years, and his performance on Wednesday was notably shakier during his high-stakes return. Many of Mueller's responses were halting and wobbly. His voice was stilted at times. He let Republicans speak over him and sometimes stood down when given opportunities to fight back. After a brief break, he showed flickers of humor and his demeanor warmed up slightly. On several occasions, Mueller struggled to follow along with the convoluted, rapid-fire questions from Republicans, which would be challenging for any witness to navigate. He asked lawmakers to repeat themselves throughout the House Judiciary Committee hearing, even when they spoke slowly. This same style continued at the House Intelligence Committee in the afternoon. It's not clear whether this was an intentional strategy or a reflection of a culture clash between a veteran public servant and the current political climate. On the eve of the hearings, the Justice Department imposed sweeping limits on what Mueller could discuss. Even though legal analysts have questioned some of those restrictions -- Mueller is a private citizen, after all -- Mueller said at the very beginning he'd honor these limitations. Two sources close to Mueller told CNN that the former special counsel was trying to be careful and keeping his answers as close to the report as possible. This fits with Mueller's lifelong style as a by-the-book prosecutor, not a grandstander who might seize the moment to put on a show. He kept things dry while surrounded by partisans from both parties in the middle of a political food fight. Republicans wanted to bolster the President, Democrats tried to drag him down.

By Nicole Acevedo
An investigation commissioned by the House of Representatives found five offenses that constitute grounds for impeachment.
The Puerto Rican Legislature is ready to initiate an impeachment process against embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The news on Wednesday came after three attorneys commissioned by the president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Carlos Méndez Núñez, found five offenses that constitute grounds for impeachment, according to Telemundo and other news outlets. Rosselló's public affairs secretary, Anthony Maceira, issued a statement reacting to rumors about the governor's possible resignation. “Rosselló hasn't resigned and is presently in Puerto Rico," the statement read. "We reiterate that any official communication will be shared with the media." The news follows the island's largest protest in recent history calling for Rosselló's ouster over scandals involving leaked private chats as well as corruption investigations and arrests.

By Dareh Gregorian
The special counsel's report said he never came to a determination about whether the president should be charged because of DOJ rules.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that he did not indict President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice charges because of Department of Justice guidelines barring a sitting president from being indicted — but later clarified his remarks. The confusion came amid questioning from Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California during Mueller's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. Lieu recounted the three elements needed for the crime of obstruction of justice. "I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met, and I'd like to ask you the reason, again, you did not indict Donald Trump is because of the OLC (the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel) opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?" Lieu asked. "That is correct," Mueller asked.

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner of Michael Flynn, on a pair of foreign-agent felony charges stemming from work the two men did for Turkish interests during the final months of the Trump presidential campaign in 2016. The verdicts, returned by jurors in Alexandria, Va., after a weeklong trial and only about four hours of deliberation, amount to a belated courtroom victory for special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated the $600,000 lobbying and public relations contract at the heart of the case and then handed the matter off to other federal prosecutors after Flynn’s guilty plea to a false-statement charge in 2017. Rafiekian, 67, faces up to 15 years in prison on the two felony counts against him: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the U.S., and conspiracy to violate that law as well as to submit false statements to the Justice Department in a foreign-agent filing. Defendants are typically sentenced in accord with federal sentencing guidelines that result in far less than the maximum.

By William Cummings, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Former special counsel Robert Mueller has made few public statements since his May 2017 appointment to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential coordination with the Trump campaign. Though the results of his work were made public in a 448-page report in April, many on Capitol Hill and around the country were anxious to hear from him directly about the investigation. After some wrangling, debates and delays, on Wednesday Mueller finally appeared to testify before Congress. Mueller insisted that his testimony would not go beyond what was in his report but members of the House Judiciary Committee nonetheless did their best to get Mueller to say more about what he learned in his nearly two-years on the case. Through it all, the stoic Mueller kept his cool and kept his vow to stick with what was in the text of his report. But there were still some fireworks and moments of humor during his more than four-hour appearance. Here are some of the highlights:

By Corey Dukes and Justin Vail
Wednesday’s congressional hearings with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are unlikely to reveal many new facts, since Mueller has vowed to use only the contents of his report as his “testimony.” But that doesn’t mean his appearance will serve no purpose. Few members of the public have had the time to study the 448-page Mueller report. Think of Wednesday’s testimony, then, as a sort-of audio book for the rest of us. The hearings are likely to provide an opportunity for many Americans to learn about details of the Mueller’s investigation they haven’t fully grasped before — about how the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance of a foreign adversary and how the president himself obstructed the government’s probe. What will matter even more, however, is how Congress responds to the hearings. Mueller’s testimony should set the stage for bipartisan legislative action aimed at securing elections, restoring the rule of law and preventing future abuses of presidential power. The facts of the Mueller report make clear that lawmakers have a job to do, and they should commit to legislative reforms that will get it done.

During Robert Mueller's testimony, the former special counsel agrees that the Russian government believed it would benefit from Donald Trump winning the 2016 election.

CBS News
Robert Mueller explained at the House Judiciary Committee hearing why his office did not charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. He later suggested that such charges could potentially be filed after a sitting president leaves office.

Fact-checking the Robert Mueller hearings
By Holmes Lybrand and Daniel Dale, CNN
(CNN) - On Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller faces lawmakers at two separate hearings. We are fact checking the whole event, starting with President Donald Trump's attempts to set the agenda with a series of early-morning Mueller-related tweets. Before the hearing began, Trump tweeted eight times about Mueller and the investigation. He made false and misleading claims. Here's a rundown:

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - The big day is underway. After months of legal wrangling -- and more than 100 days after the release of his report detailing Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election -- former special counsel Robert Mueller will take questions from Capitol Hill lawmakers throughout the day. I am watching all of it and offering some key takeaways throughout the hearings, which I will add here as they happen in real time. (Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary Committee this morning and the House Intelligence Committee this afternoon.) They're below.

By Kevin Breuninger
In a historic trip to Capitol Hill, Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was not “totally exonerated” by the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference, as Trump has frequently claimed. The former special counsel, who was answering questions about the probe for the first time since he took it over in May 2017, also testified that Trump could be prosecuted for potential crimes after he leaves office. A Department of Justice legal opinion, which Mueller followed during his probe, states that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller was asked about the findings of his two-year investigation during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces a second hearing before the House Intelligence Committee later Wednesday. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., asked Mueller if Trump was “correct” in his repeated claims that the report “found that there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him.” “That is not what your report said, is it?” Nadler asked. Mueller responded: “Correct. That is not what the report said.”

By Alex Ward
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the House Judiciary Committee chair, got the special counsel to say that right at the beginning. In just five minutes, House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) prompted special counsel Robert Mueller to knock down President Donald Trump’s main talking points about “no obstruction.” Nadler, as the panel’s chair, got to ask the long-anticipated hearing’s first questions. He used the opportunity both to set the tone for Wednesday morning and to get Mueller to refute the president’s repeated claim that he didn’t obstruct justice during Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

By Dan Mangan
Special counsel Robert Mueller began his testimony before a House panel on Wednesday with an opening statement that called Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election that sent President Donald Trump to the White House among the “most serious” challenges to American democracy. Mueller is expected to testify on Capitol Hill for hours about his investigation into Russian interference, possible coordination by members of Trump’s campaign, and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself. “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy,” Mueller said before he began being questioned by members of the House committee. “The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. As I said on May 29, this deserves the attention of every American.”

By mark osborne, joshua hoyos and meghan keneally
The chief of staff to Puerto Rico's embattled governor has resigned amid mounting pressure on the office and calls for the governor himself to resign.  Gov. Ricardo Rossello and his staff are accused of making homophobic, misogynistic and sexist comments against opponents and critics and mocking victims of Hurricane Maria. The streets of San Juan have been filled with protesters over the past 11 days. Tens of thousands turned out to massive protests on Monday, which ended in police firing tear gas at some protesters late in the night.

By Michelle Lou, CNN
(CNN) - Before you head to the beach this summer, you might want to double-check the water conditions. Last year, nearly 60% of 4,523 beaches tested across the United States demonstrated unsafe water pollution levels on at least one day, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonprofits Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. These 2,620 beaches had bacteria levels that exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency's "Beach Action Value" threshold, which it recommends states use to provide an early alert to beachgoers who may be particularly sensitive to contaminants. On the higher end of the scale in the new report, Inner Cabrillo Beach in Los Angeles County had 85 potentially unsafe days out of 175 days sampled. By contrast, Bethany Beach in Delaware's Sussex County tested potentially unsafe on one of 33 sampled days. The report compiled data from sampling conducted by local, state and federal agencies submitted to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council's Water Quality Portal. It warned that sewage and fecal contamination of swimming areas pose a public health threat. Humans who come into contact with it can develop gastrointestinal illness, respiratory disease, infections and skin rashes, the report said.

By Will Sommer
Danielle Stella is running to unseat Donald Trump’s favorite target. She also seems to be deep into Q. A Republican House candidate challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has made frequent references to the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, potentially making her the latest QAnon believer to run for federal office in 2020. Danielle Stella, a Minneapolis special education teacher, made a stir on the right-wing internet in June when she launched her campaign against Omar, a frequent target of President  Donald Trump. But her campaign strategy appears to include outreach to QAnon fans, with Stella’s Twitter account posting twice last week using the hashtag “#WWG1WGA” — a reference to the QAnon motto “Where we go one, we go all.” Stella’s Twitter account also follows a number of prominent QAnon promoters.

By Aris Folley
A Pennsylvania school district that recently came under fire after threatening parents that their kids could be recommended to be put in foster care if they didn’t pay off their school lunch debts has turned down an offer from a local businessman to clear the debts, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to the local paper, the Wyoming Valley West school board rejected an offer from Todd Carmichael, the CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters headquartered in Philadelphia, to pay off over $22,000 worth of debt for local students. In an op-ed Carmichael wrote that was published in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice on Tuesday, the businessman said that he had worked with his team to “reach out to the school district to let them know we were eager to donate the full amount outstanding, reported as $22,467.”  “On Monday, we talked to School Board President Joseph Mazur to determine the best way to transfer the funds in order to wipe the slate clean and restore dignity to the 1,000 families who received these threatening letters,” he continued. “Shockingly, Mr. Mazur turned us down. I can’t explain or justify his actions. Let me be clear: we offered over $22,000 with no strings attached. And he said ‘No,’” Carmichael went on to write. “Mr. Mazur, I am offering to pay this debt in full. By saying no, you are not just shaming families who elected you, but you are placing this burden on WVW taxpayers, and that is completely unfair,” he added.

A public school district in Pennsylvania that faced a national outcry after threatening to place children in foster care over unpaid cafeteria debt has received several offers to pay off the entire delinquent meal tab, but school officials do not seem interested. In a letter sent on July 9 to about 40 parents in the Wyoming Valley West School District in an effort to collect the debt, officials warned that if it went unpaid, "The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care." According to Luzerne County Manager David Pedri, at least five donors have stepped forward willing to satisfy the $22,000 in debt accrued by dozens of students whose parents did not give them money to pay for the meals. A prominent media figure is among those who has tried to settle the students' debt. An assistant to this person, who requested anonymity, told NPR that attempts to reach school officials were unsuccessful. "These are gracious and kindhearted people, and I have forwarded their information over to the Wyoming Valley West School District for their review," Pedri said. Another one of the potential donors is Todd Carmichael, the Philadelphia-based chief executive of coffee-roasting company La Colombe. In an interview with NPR, Carmichael said he grew up poor, one of four kids raised by a single mom outside Spokane, Wash. Hearing about a school in rural Pennsylvania threatening to remove children from a household for not being able to pay a lunch bill struck a nerve with him.

Emails Show DeVos Aides Pulled Strings for Failing For-Profit Colleges
By Erica L. Green and Stacy Cowley
WASHINGTON — Dream Center Education Holdings, a subsidiary of a Los Angeles-based megachurch, had no experience in higher education when it petitioned the federal Education Department to let it take over a troubled chain of for-profit trade schools. But the organization’s chairman, Randall K. Barton, told the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, that the foundation wanted to “help people live better lives.” The purchase was blessed despite Dream Center’s lack of experience and questionable finances by an administration favorable to for-profit education. But barely a year later, the company tumbled into insolvency, dozens of its colleges closed abruptly and thousands of students were left with no degree after paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Making matters worse, the college is accused of enrolling new students and taking their taxpayer-supported financial aid dollars even after some of its campuses had lost their accreditation, which rendered their credits worthless.

By Michael Brice-Saddler
President Trump believes the Constitution gives him a wide breadth of power. That’s the message he delivered ― not for the first time — on Tuesday while addressing a crowd of teenagers and young adults at the Turning Point USA Teen Student Action Summit in Washington. There are numerous viral video clips from Trump’s 80-minute speech at the conference, but one of the most controversial moments came as he discussed Article II of the Constitution, which describes the powers of the president. Trump lamented the duration and cost of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which he has repeatedly said found “no collusion, no obstruction.” “Then, I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president,” he said. “But I don’t even talk about that.” Political pundits flooded social media with that clip, though most of the videos didn’t include the Mueller-probe context. Trump in his Tuesday speech also attacked “the Squad” — four liberal congresswomen who are critical of the president — and falsely claimed Democrats saw wins in the 2018 elections because undocumented immigrants voted “many times — not just twice.” Article II grants the president “executive power.” It does not indicate the president has total power. Article II is the same part of the Constitution that describes some of Congress’s oversight responsibilities, including over the office of the presidency. It also details how the president may be removed from office via impeachment. - No Trump the president cannot do anything he wants to that is the reason the constitution includes impeachment.  Impeachment was included for people like you who commit crimes and misdemeanors.

By Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
Washington (CNN) - He's loomed -- mostly unseen -- over all but a few months of President Donald Trump's tenure. On Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller moves from the wings to center stage, occupying a spotlight the President would prefer just fade.
Trump has spent the last several days on the phone and in conversation with aides and allies discussing Mueller's upcoming testimony, CNN has learned. Instead of anxiety, the President has expressed irritation at having to watch the man who has shadowed his presidency sit down before two congressional committees Wednesday. Trump has been quizzing people around him about what they expect while complaining that Democrats will never let the Russia investigation go. He bemoaned the "Russian witch hunt" a day ahead of the former special counsel's testimony, asking an audience of conservative youth "should I talk about it for a sec" before laying into the probe. "First of all, it's very bad for our country," Trump said. "It makes it very hard to deal with Russia. We should be able to. They're a nuclear power. They have a big country. And we should be able to deal with them without having this artificial stuff." Later, he noted Mueller's coming appearance with disdain. "I saw Mueller's testifying tomorrow," he said. "How many times? Two-and-a-half years! And actually it started practically from the time I came down on the escalator."

By Kevin Breuninger
President Donald Trump on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee, as well as New York state’s attorney general and its tax chief, to block the disclosure of years of his tax returns. The president’s lawsuit, which was filed “in his capacity as a private citizen,” came less than a month after the Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to obtain Trump’s federal returns. Trump’s new legal action intervenes in that suit, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Trump’s lawyers argue that the House panel “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” to use a recently passed New York state law to get Trump’s returns. They also claim that that state law violated the president’s First Amendment rights, because it was enacted to “discriminate and retaliate against President Trump for his speech and politics.” “We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end Presidential harassment,” said Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow in a statement. “The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution.” - What is Donald J. Trump hiding? Why does he not show us his taxes if he has nothing to hide? Trump wanted to see Obama’s birth certificate we want to see Trump’s taxes.

By Barkha Dutt
Monday’s meeting between President Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was meant to prioritize Afghanistan and the ongoing U.S.-Taliban talks. Instead, Trump’s clumsy handling of the meeting has ended up making it all about relations between India and Pakistan — and left New Delhi with no option but to effectively say what many others have said before: that Trump is a liar. First, Trump boasted that he could win the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan “in a week,” a comment so absurd and ill-informed that it is unworthy of a rebuttal. Then he waded into the middle of a tenuous relationship between Delhi and Islamabad, governments that are only just emerging from the shadows of heightened tensions. He claimed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to play the role of mediator between the two countries and offered to get involved in a bid to resolve the long-standing dispute over the Kashmir issue. These remarks caused an immediate political furor in India, as they upended India’s long-standing position: that there is no room for a third party in the Kashmir conversation between India and Pakistan.

Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of long-harbored and deep-seated “inherent racism,” as the president has launched into another week of fiery attacks on the Minnesota Democrat and three other freshman progressive congresswomen. “Right now, even when we’re talking about the president, people will say, you know, his remarks are racist, and we’ll forget the inherent racism that has always been part of him,” Omar said, criticizing how Trump “always takes an opportunity to others to vilify them and destroy their existence and ability to access our justice system.” Omar went on to cite Trump’s calls three decades ago to reinstate the death penalty amid the “Central Park Five” case — a campaign by the real estate mogul that Omar characterized Tuesday as “going out of your way to ask for lynching for five innocent young men.” Omar’s remarks at the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy conference in Washington came less than an hour after Trump namechecked the lawmaker in a tweet, referencing her and the liberal House Democrats he has also repeatedly strafed: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

By Thomas Volscho
A FOIA of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office work-release and visitor logs for the financier turned up some troubling inconsistencies. Jeffrey Epstein’s lenient 2008 conviction for his sexual assaults on adolescent girls may be described as one of the greatest travesties of justice in recent history. Brad Edwards, an attorney for many of Epstein’s victims, announced last week that Epstein continued to prey on young women while serving his sentence in Palm Beach. Unlike other sex offenders in Florida, Epstein had his own wing of the Palm Beach County jail and liberal work-release policies. Due to this new information, the Miami Herald reported, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) has suddenly opened an internal-affairs investigation of Epstein’s incarceration. As part of my research on the Epstein case, I sent an FOIA request earlier this summer to the PBSO concerning Jeffrey Epstein (inmate No. W35755). I asked for two records: Work-Release List entries and the Visitor Information Log. Six days later, I received an email requesting that I phone to clarify my request. I thought this was strange because “Work-Release List” and “Visitor Information Log” are the exact names of documents that I already knew the PBSO maintained. The officer I spoke to on the phone seemed reluctant to provide the records. He intimated that they were for an older inmate and probably not kept. When I pressed him, he then described the records as possibly hand-written and difficult to obtain. It seemed as if there might be no records, but then inexplicably, several days later, an email with three PDF attachments arrived in my inbox.

By Bess Levin
The president’s attorney apparently forgot that one of Epstein’s closest pals was Donald Trump, himself. If the Mueller probe taught the world one thing, it’s that anyone professionally associated with Rudy Giuliani should demand a clause in his contract barring him from speaking publicly on their behalf. Last year, for example, in a series of interviews that made his unhinged rant against ferrets look sane, Giuliani suggested that Donald Trump fired James Comey in order to obstruct his investigations; that the president had colluded with Russia but that doing so wasn’t a crime; and that attorneys at his law firm regularly took it upon themselves to pay off porn stars alleging affairs with their clients—to say nothing of cringeworthy fantasies he offered up about riding to Ivanka Trump’s rescue. Now that the Russia matter has mostly concluded—save for testimony by Robert Mueller that could potentially change the impeachment calculus—Giuliani has been forced to find new ways to stick both feet in his mouth. On Monday, he found one! Appearing on Hill.TV, the former New York City mayor told the hosts of “Rising” that the fallout from the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case is “obviously going to implicate a lot of people—I can’t tell you who but it’s not going to end up with just Jeffrey Epstein.“ While that is certainly the consensus—reporter Nick Bryant, who obtained Epstein’s “black book,” said in an interview with Vanity Fair that the scandal will “go all the way up to Mount Olympus”—one person you could say is definitely implicated in the scandal is Giuliani’s own client, Donald Trump. The same Donald Trump who hosted a “calendar girl” party at Mar-a-Lago in 1992, the guest list for which consisted of him, Epstein, and “28 girls.” It is also the same Donald Trump who was videotaped dancing and joking with Epstein at another party at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by young cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. In fact, Trump remained on extremely friendly terms with Epstein for at least another decade, telling New York in 2002 that Epstein was a “terrific guy” and “a lot of fun to be with,” adding, “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Six years later, Epstein would be convicted of sex crimes by a Florida state court.

By Dan Mangan
Check out these names. The “black book” of Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier and now-accused child sex trafficker, is a smorgasbord of high-profile, powerful people, including Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and convicted sex assailant and comedian Bill Cosby, Epstein’s former neighbor. Then there’s supermarket mogul Ron Burkle, Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, late Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, media titan Rupert Murdoch, and movie director Woody Allen, New York magazine notes in a new article detailing the contents of Epstein’s private phone book and private plane’s flight logs. The article contains summaries of Epstein’s relationships with various well-heeled people whose names appear in those documents including President Donald Trump, who once called Epstein a “terrific guy” in an interview with New York, and Bill Clinton, who traveled multiple times on Epstein’s plane. Trump’s first wife, Ivana, is in the book, as is his third wife, Melania, and his daughter, Ivanka, currently senior advisor to the president. Epstein’s address book originally was published in 2015 by the defunct news site Gawker, after its content was revealed in a court case. “Along with the logs of Epstein’s private plane, released in 2015, the book paints a picture of a man deeply enmeshed in the highest social circles,” New York says in its article. New York notes that a woman whose name appears on flight manifests of Epstein’s jet — “including Bill Clinton’s trip across Africa, and who wound up working at the Clinton Foundation” — is one of five women whom Epstein recommended as an assistant for Charlie Rose, the then host of a PBS talk show. Rose ended up hiring three of Epstein’s recommendations, the magazine reported.

By Aimee Picchi
The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would limit Americans' access to food stamps, reportedly removing more than 3 million people from the federal program. The plan would eliminate automatic enrollment in food stamps for poor families who receive welfare benefits. The rule would erase what U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called a "loophole" in welfare benefits. Currently, 43 states allow families who qualify for the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, or TANF, to automatically receive food-stamp benefits, a link that the USDA wants to sever. Ending that practice would cut food-stamp spending by $2.5 billion per year, Reuters reported. While income limits for TANF programs vary by state, the welfare program typically is restricted to low-income families. For instance, Georgia requires a family of three to earn less than $784 per month, or $9,408 per year, and have less than $1,000 in assets. While policy experts say the food-stamp program is one of the nation's most successful anti-poverty programs, the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers want to scale it back, claiming that many of its beneficiaries don't need such assistance given the strong economy.

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 35 migrants as part of an operation targeting families with court-ordered removals, a Department of Homeland Security official confirmed to CNN on Tuesday. The raids were planned to target around 2,000 migrant families who had been ordered removed by an immigration judge, but the latest numbers provided by the official show the arrests fell short of that goal. The New York Times first reported the apprehension numbers. The operation came under intense scrutiny after President Donald Trump announced it was imminent. He later postponed the raids, but confirmed when they were set to begin shortly before they started last week.

by Anna Giaritelli
SAN DIEGO, California — The Trump administration has not installed a single mile of new wall in a previously fenceless part of the U.S.-Mexico border in the 30 months since President Trump assumed office, despite his campaign promise to construct a “big beautiful wall.” In a statement last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency overseeing border barrier construction, confirmed that all the fencing completed since Trump took office is "in place of dilapidated designs" because the existing fence was in need of replacement. The agency said that it had built 51 miles of steel bollard fence with funding that was set aside during fiscal 2017 and 2018. But while the funding was meant both to replace outdated walls and to place barriers where there previously had been none, the government has only completed the replacement projects. The projects to secure areas with no fence are still in the works. The 50 miles of completed replacement barrier is a 10-mile gain since early April. In Trump’s two and a half years in office, his administration has installed an average 1.7 miles of barrier per month, and none of it in areas that did not previously have some sort of barrier. A total 205 miles of new and replacement barrier has been funded in the two and a half years since Trump took office. A senior administration official told the Washington Examiner that Border Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers moved faster on replacement projects than the new ones because the approval process for environmental and zoning permits was far less extensive than areas of the border with no barrier. A second senior official defended the administration's progress and blamed Democrats in Congress for blocking funding for additional projects the White House has tried to move on. - Trump is lying to the American people once again; replacing existing fencing is not adding new fencing.

By William Cummings, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – A Louisiana police officer last week said in a Facebook post that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a "vile idiot" who should be shot.  A screenshot of the post by veteran Gretna police officer Charlie Rispoli was taken by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. In it, Rispoli shares a blog post that falsely claims the New York Democrat said "We pay soldiers too much." "This vile idiot needs a round," reads Rispoli's remarks above Ocasio-Cortez's image. "And I don't mean the kind she used to serve," he adds, referring to her prior career as a bartender. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson said the post was "disturbing" but did not believe Rispoli, who has been with the department since 2005, intended it as a genuine threat, The Times-Picayune reported. "I will tell you this: This will not go unchecked," Lawson said, according to the newspaper. "I’m not going to take this lightly and this will be dealt with on our end. It’s not something we want someone that’s affiliated with our department to make these types of statements. That’s not going to happen." The Gretna Police Department did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment. Rispoli's post comes amid mounting concern for elected officials' safety in an increasingly rancorous political climate.

By Aaron Rupar
“No obstruction ... We had a total no-collusion finding.” During a lengthy and at times wild White House press availability alongside Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan on Monday, President Donald Trump was asked if he plans to watch former special counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated congressional testimony on Wednesday. Trump said he might watch “a little bit.” Some outlets highlighted that revelation as a key takeaway from Trump’s remarks about Mueller. But perhaps more notably, in the span of just over one minute of talking, Trump told at least six demonstrable lies about Mueller and his investigation. The blizzard of falsehoods suggests that Trump anticipates Mueller’s testimony and its aftermath won’t be good for him, so he’s doing his best to do some preemptive gaslighting. “We had a total no-collusion finding” Trump began by saying that while he might watch some of Mueller’s testimony, he won’t watch much, “because you can’t take all those bites out of the apple.” He then completely mischaracterized the bottom-line findings of the Mueller report. “We had no collusion, no obstruction, we had no nothing,” Trump said. “We had a total no-collusion finding.”

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