In a major setback to President Trump, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate Trump’s ban on all refugees and citizens of six majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. In the majority decision, Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote that Trump’s executive order uses “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The Justice Department has vowed to challenge the appeals court ruling and take it to the Supreme Court.
In Montana, Republican tech millionaire Greg Gianforte has won a special election for the state’s sole congressional seat a day after he was charged with assaulting a reporter. Gianforte won just over 50 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger Rob Quist, who received 44 percent. On Wednesday, Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor and repeatedly punched him, after Jacobs tried to ask about the Republican healthcare plan. Gianforte addressed the incident during his victory speech last night.
Greg Gianforte: “Last night, I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back. And I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did. And for that, I’m sorry.”
More than $6 million was spent by outside groups in Montana’s special election—90 percent of the money favored Gianforte.
The Washington Post is reporting President Trump’s son-in-law and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, has become a focus of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. According to the Post, investigators are focusing on meetings Kushner had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the head of a Russian bank which had been under U.S. sanctions. The Post reports Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.
President Trump met with NATO leaders in Brussels Thursday and accused certain member countries of owing “massive amounts of money” to the U.S. and NATO.
President Donald Trump: “Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.”
Under NATO rules, state contributions are considered voluntary. Meanwhile, Trump made headlines in Brussels when he was videotaped apparently shoving the prime minister of Montenegro in order to get to the front of the group of world leaders.
In news from Egypt, at least 24 Coptic Christians have died after gunmen opened fire on a bus heading to a monastery south of Cairo. The attack comes less than two months after 46 people died in a pair of bombings targeting Coptic churches.
In other news from Egypt, the government has blocked access to many news sites, including Al Jazeera, Huffington Post Arabic and Mada Masr, which is the leading independent news outlet in Egypt.
In Britain, an eighth arrest has been made in connection to Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester that killed 22 people. This comes as investigators are attempting to piece together the recent whereabouts of the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, who died in the blast. Authorities believe the Manchester-born man was recently in Libya and then traveled back to Britain via Turkey and Germany. Abedi’s sister said she believed he carried out the bombings as revenge for the wars in the Middle East. She said, “I think he saw children—Muslim children—dying everywhere, and wanted revenge.”
The Manchester bombing comes just weeks before British voters head to the polls for a general election. Earlier today, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there is a link between foreign policy and the growing terror threat.
bq. Jeremy Corbyn: “We must be brave enough to admit that the 'war on terror' is not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”
In Syria, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have reportedly killed at least 35 civilians—including five children—in the eastern town of Mayadeen. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes hit a series of residential buildings.
The Pentagon has admitted in a new report at least 105 Iraqi civilians died in a U.S. airstrike in Mosul in March—making it one of the deadliest U.S. bombings of the war. But U.S. Central Command blamed the high death toll on explosives that militants from the so-called Islamic State were storing in the targeted building. The Pentagon’s death estimate is far lower than previous counts. Iraqi civil defense forces initially put the death toll at 278 civilians.
On Capitol Hill, bipartisan resolutions have been introduced in the Senate and House to block President Trump’s $110 billion Saudi arms deal. The Senate bill was introduced by Republican Rand Paul and Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken. In a statement, Senator Paul said, “Given Saudi Arabia’s past support of terror, poor human rights record, and questionable tactics in its war in Yemen, Congress must carefully consider and thoroughly debate if selling them billions of dollars of arms is in our best national security interest at this time.”
While Trump was visiting Brussels on his first European trip as president, Barack Obama spoke in Berlin Thursday. He never mentioned Trump by name but said countries should not hide behind walls. He also expressed concern that progress made on healthcare reform in the United States will soon be rolled back.
Barack Obama: “Certainly, I have some regrets that we weren’t able to get everyone healthcare. And obviously, some of the progress we made was–is now imperiled, because there’s still a significant debate taking place in the United States. But the point, though, is, is that for those 20 million people, their lives have been better. And we’ve set a standard of what’s possible that people can then build on.”
Obama’s remarks came a day after the Congressional Budget Office said the new Republican healthcare plan would cause 23 million people to lose their healthcare by 2026.