President Trump urged the Republican Congress today to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even as senators began leaving Washington, D.C., for the Fourth of July recess with no plans in sight to vote on a replacement healthcare bill. In a tweet early this morning, Trump wrote, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called off a planned vote on a Senate healthcare bill after some members of his party balked over a Congressional Budget Office report that found it would add 22 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured. Other Republicans said they’d oppose the Senate bill because it doesn’t go far enough.
In Washington, D.C., President Trump sparked outrage even among members of his own Republican Party Thursday, after he attacked talk show hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. In a Twitter rant, Trump tweeted, “I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” This is Mika Brzezinski responding to Trump on MSNBC this morning.
Mika Brzezinski: “It does worry me about the country. … He appears to have a fragile, impetuous, childlike ego, that we’ve seen over and over again, especially with women. It’s like he can’t take it.”
In a piece titled “Donald Trump is Not Well” in today’s Washington Post, Brzezinski and Scarborough write, “America’s leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president.” Trump’s tweets drew fire across the political spectrum, including from Republican Congressmember Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, who tweeted, “This is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women.” In Washington, the White House was unapologetic over the comments. This is Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites within the media or Hollywood or anywhere else.”
Trump’s attack on Mika Brzezinski came a day after he interrupted a phone call congratulating Ireland’s new prime minister on his election victory to single out a female reporter from Ireland.
President Donald Trump: “We have a lot of—well, we have a lot of your Irish press watching us. They’re just now leaving the room. And where are you from? Go ahead. Come here. Come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?”
Caitríona Perry: “I’m from RTE News.”
President Donald Trump: ”RTE, oh, good!”
Caitríona Perry: “The Taoiseach will know me. Caitríona Perry.”
President Donald Trump: “Caitríona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.”
Caitríona Perry later recalled the incident as “bizarre.” Trump has a history of sexist comments. In a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” video, Trump is caught on a hot microphone openly boasting about sexually assaulting women. During a presidential debate in 2015, Trump was asked by then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about his history of sexist comments.
Megyn Kelly: “You’ve called women you don’t like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals.' Your Twitter account has several”—
Donald Trump: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
Megyn Kelly: “No, it wasn’t. Your Twitter account”—
Donald Trump: “Thank you.”
Megyn Kelly: “For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.”
Donald Trump: “Yes, I’m sure it was.”
Megyn Kelly’s questions led Trump to attack her on the campaign trail. This is Donald Trump speaking in August of 2015 making another reference to women and blood, as he did Thursday to Mika Brzezinski.
Donald Trump: “She gets out, and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.”
At least 13 women have accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances.
A now-deceased GOP opposition researcher, Peter W. Smith, with ties to ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, contacted hackers in the midst of the 2016 election campaign hoping they had emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s personal server. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal exposé published Thursday. According to the Journal, Smith explicitly outlined his connection with Flynn in his recruiting emails. In one email, Smith said Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, was helping with the effort. Trump and his administration have long maintained that there is no evidence of collusion between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates.
The United Nations warns humanity has just three years left to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions or risk facing a world that’s uninhabitable to many of its residents. The warning by six climate experts was published in the journal Nature. It finds that without immediate action by 2020, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by more than the 2-degree Celsius upper limit set by the Paris climate accord.
The warning came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said this year’s G20 summit in Hamburg will focus on climate change.
Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The European Union stands fully behind its Paris commitment, and it will rapidly and decisively implement the agreement. Furthermore, since the decision by the United States of America to leave the Paris climate deal, we are more determined than ever to make it a success.”
The White House said President Trump will meet next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20.
Meanwhile, in Tacoma, Washington, members of the Puyallup Tribe and their allies held a protest Thursday at the construction site of a liquefied natural gas facility. The protest came ahead of a July 14 court appearance for six water protectors who chained themselves to construction equipment at the site last May in a bid to halt the project, which would hold up to 8 million gallons of liquefied fracked gas near a residential neighborhood.
Iraq’s army on Thursday declared an end to the so-called Islamic caliphate, as the U.S.-backed coalition captured the ruins of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul from ISIS. The mosque was the site where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014. Its capture came as Iranian media reported Baghdadi is “definitely dead.” That follows Russian reports last month that Baghdadi died in a Russian airstrike in Syria. Meanwhile, heavy fighting continues in parts of Mosul, where tens of thousands remain trapped in the Old City with little access to food, water and medicine. The journalistic monitoring group Airwars reports at least 80 civilians were killed Thursday after shelling and airstrikes hit their houses around the Grand al-Nuri Mosque. That follows reports that a family of five was killed and a 4-year-old boy was severely injured in an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday.
In France, a 43-year-old Armenian man was arrested Thursday after attempting to ram his SUV into a crowd outside a mosque. Witnesses say the driver was thwarted in his attempts to kill Muslims, only because his vehicle struck barriers put in place to protect the mosque.
In Hong Kong, Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected thousands of People’s Liberation Army soldiers today in the largest military parade the city has seen since Britain handed over control of the territory in 1997. President Xi’s visit came amid a massive security lockdown and after police arrested pro-democracy demonstrators calling for greater autonomy in Hong Kong under the so-called “one country, two systems” policy. Among those arrested was Joshua Wong, who helped lead massive protests three years ago calling for greater political freedom. This is Hong Kong legislator and activist Claudia Mo.
Claudia Mo: “We need this Chinese leader to know that the 'one country, two system' promise has been a sham, a fraud and a cheat. There’s nonstop Beijing interference in Hong Kong’s development, especially in the political development. We’re very, very resentful about not having true democracy.”
At the Vatican, a senior cardinal and top adviser to Pope Francis will return to Australia to face charges of sexual assault. Cardinal George Pell is the third-highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking from the Vatican, Cardinal Pell said Pope Francis granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.
Cardinal George Pell: “I’m looking forward finally to having my day in court. I’m innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”
Cardinal Pell has been ordered to appear in court next month. In 2014, the Vatican admitted nearly 850 priests have been dismissed and more than 2,500 have been disciplined in a sprawling sexual abuse scandal dating back decades.
Back in the United States, the House of Representatives passed a pair of immigration bills Thursday that critics say are aimed at demonizing undocumented immigrants. The first bill, known as “Kate’s Law,” adds penalties to deported immigrants who re-enter the U.S. It was approved on a vote of 257 to 167, mostly along party lines. Among those opposed was New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler: “This bill is nothing less than fearmongering, based on the widely debunked myth that immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than native-born Americans, when in fact we know it is just the opposite.”
A second House bill approved Thursday would cut off federal grants from sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities.
In more immigration news, attorneys general in 10 states say they’ll sue the Trump administration unless it ends the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants legal protection for some young immigrants to live and work in the United States. In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday, Ken Paxton of Texas and nine other Republican attorneys general say they’re prepared to challenge the entire DACA program in court unless the White House rescinds the policy.
President Trump’s ban on refugees and travelers from six majority-Muslim nations went partially into effect Thursday evening. Under a Supreme Court ruling earlier this week lifting a stay against the ban, people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen who don’t have close family or business relationships may be denied visas and kept out of the U.S. On Thursday, the Trump administration said it will interpret “close family” to mean parents, children, siblings and in-laws. Among those excluded will be grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and cousins. The State Department said late Thursday it will allow fiancés from the affected countries to travel, after initially saying they, too, would be banned.
An election commission established by President Trump has asked all 50 states to hand over detailed personal information about U.S. voters, in a move that civil rights advocates say is aimed at suppressing voter turnout. The request was made by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and vice chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Kobach has pushed for the strictest voter identification laws in the country and advocated for a “proof-of-citizenship” requirement at the state and federal levels. At least three states—California, Connecticut and Virginia—said they would refuse to comply with the request. In a statement, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “This meritless inquisition opens the door for a misguided and ill-advised Commission to take steps to target and harass voters and could lead to purging of the voter rolls.”
And Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday voted by a wide margin to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt children, is expected to sail through Germany’s upper house next week. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted “no,” saying marriage should only be between women and men.