The White House is in crisis mode following revelations that Donald Trump’s own son openly embraced an effort by the Russian government to peddle information incriminating Hillary Clinton in an attempt to help Trump win the election. On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. personally released a series of emails dealing with a meeting he had in June 2016 at Trump Tower with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and a person described to Trump Jr. as a “Russian government attorney.” The meeting has been the focus of a series of articles in recent days by The New York Times. Trump Jr. released the emails shortly after the Times told him they were about to publish the content of the emails. The explosive emails begin with a message from music publicist Rob Goldstone about how the crown prosecutor of Russia had offered to provide the Trump campaign with “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Goldstone went on to say, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Minutes later, Trump Jr. replied, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” Within a week—on June 9—Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney—Natalia Veselnitskaya—at Trump Tower. The meeting had been kept secret until Kushner recently made reference to it in a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance. This is Donald Trump Jr. speaking out about the meeting on Tuesday.
Donald Trump Jr.: “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. Again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press.”
Also on Tuesday, Trump Jr. said his father knew nothing about the meeting or the email exchange, during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Sean Hannity: “Did you tell your father anything about this?”
Donald Trump Jr.: “No. It was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have even remembered it, until you start scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.”
But many are questioning Trump Jr.’s claim, pointing to remarks Donald Trump made on the campaign trail just hours after Trump Jr. confirmed the meeting with the Russian attorney.
Donald Trump: “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
That was candidate Donald Trump, speaking on June 7, only hours after his son confirmed the meeting with the Kremlin-linked lawyer. The meeting took place on June 9, two days after this speech.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. hired a personal lawyer amid the ongoing controversy. The attorney, Alan Futerfas, began his career as a top defense lawyer for the mob. The White House has been almost entirely silent amid the growing scandal. White House press briefings have all been off camera this week. On Tuesday, during another off-camera press briefing, deputy White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a short statement by President Trump, in which he said, “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
President Trump himself has been out of the public view for the last three days, and he’s flying out to Paris tonight for a trip to France for Bastille Day on Friday. Vice President Mike Pence is publicly trying to distance himself from the scandal. On Tuesday, Pence’s spokesperson said the Trump Jr. meeting took place before Pence joined Trump’s campaign.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Republican operatives have reportedly launched a campaign to discredit the journalists reporting on Trump Jr.'s meeting. That's according to The Washington Post, which reports the effort includes scouring through the reporters’ previous work dating back years, demanding corrections and blasting any errors on social media and on right-wing news outlets.
Amid the widening White House scandal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed the Senate’s August recess by two weeks. McConnell is vowing to unveil a new version of the Republican healthcare plan on Thursday and says he’s pushing for a vote on the legislation next week.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The news of the day is that, as I think you already know, we’ll be on healthcare next week. We’ll be laying out a revised version of the repeal-and-replace effort, the text of that, on Thursday morning. We hope to have a CBO score by the beginning of the week and a motion to proceed to that bill next week.”
Multiple previous Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have failed, after Republicans failed to muster enough votes from their own party. The latest Senate Republican healthcare plan would cause 22 million people to lose their health insurance over the next decade.
Russia is ramping up its threats of retaliation if the United States does not lift sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in December over the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. This is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Sergey Lavrov: “In reply to your question about the Russian real estate in the United States, we are closely following the situation. We are still hopeful that the U.S., as a proponent of the rule of law, will finally respect their international obligations. If this is not the case, if Washington decides not to solve this issue, we will have to take retaliatory measures.”
Amnesty International says the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces violated international law and may have committed war crimes during the battle to seize control of Mosul from ISIS.
Nicolette Waldman: “Amnesty International found that both ISIS as well as Iraqi and coalition forces inflicted massive harm on civilians during the battle for west Mosul. On the one hand, ISIS was systematically moving thousands of civilians into the fighting, and then they trapped them there. And then, on the other hand, Iraqi and coalition forces bombarded these same areas with a relentless series of attacks that killed and injured thousands of civilians.”
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, who oversees the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, denied the U.S.-led coalition broke international law, claiming instead the campaign against ISIS is the “most precise campaign in the history of warfare.” Thousands of civilians were killed during the nine-month battle in Mosul, and nearly 1 million residents were forced to flee their homes.
The United Nations is expressing concern for Syrian civilians trapped inside Raqqa amid ongoing U.S.-led airstrikes and the ground offensive by U.S.-backed troops to seize control of the city from ISIS.
Andrej Mahecic: “The U.N. estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 people remain trapped in Raqqa city, although certainly, over numbers, getting the precise numbers is difficult, given the lack of access. Availability of food, water, medicine, electricity and other essentials has been dwindling, with the situation rapidly deteriorating. It is imperative that trapped civilians are able to secure safe passage out to reach safety, shelter and protection.”
A new report released today by the journalistic monitoring group Airwars says civilian deaths likely caused by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria in June were at their highest level since the coalition’s bombing campaign began in 2014. Airwars says a record 4,400 munitions were fired into Raqqa in June by the U.S.-led coalition—over four times more than in May. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it has evidence that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria. It’s the latest report of Baghdadi’s death, which has not been confirmed by ISIS. Last month, Russia claimed it may have killed Baghdadi in an airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa in northern Syria.
Unnamed U.S. officials say the Trump administration may be planning to significantly ramp up its military and diplomatic involvement in Libya. The plan could include re-establishing a permanent U.S. presence in Libya, which the U.S. has not had since it shuttered its embassy in Tripoli in 2014. It could also include deploying a rotating team of U.S. special operations troops to Libya.
The U.S. Marine Corps says it has sentenced a marine to a reduction in rank and 10 days’ confinement after he pleaded guilty to sharing naked images of fellow female marines in a private male-only Facebook group. As many as 30,000 male marines were members of the invite-only Facebook group called Marines United, in which they shared thousands of naked or sexually suggestive photos of their fellow female marines—along with a barrage of misogynistic comments, including some saying the women should be raped.
The Pentagon says it successfully tested its THAAD anti-missile system for the 14th consecutive time on Tuesday. The test in Alaska comes as tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and North Korea. The U.S. has deployed a THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea amid the rising tensions, despite widespread opposition from South Koreans, including the current president.
In North Carolina, the state Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed a white North Carolina state trooper shot 31-year-old African American Willard Scott in the back, killing him in February as he was running away from the trooper after a traffic stop in Durham. Prosecutors have not yet charged trooper Jerimy Mathis. The case is reminiscent of the police killing of Walter Scott, who was fatally shot in the back eight times while he was running away from white police officer Michael Slager in South Carolina in 2015.
Meanwhile, a third mistrial has been declared in the murder case involving a white former Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot his daughter’s African-American boyfriend, reportedly firing multiple shots when the boyfriend reached out to shake the father’s hand. This is the third time a jury has deadlocked over whether to convict former Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler for killing 19-year-old Jeremy Lake. Police say they did not find a gun on Lake or at the scene, contradicting Officer Kepler’s claims he was acting in self-defense.
Tenants and housing rights activists are converging on Washington, D.C., today for a National Tenant March. The march is protesting President Trump’s proposed $7.4 billion cuts to HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees public housing in the United States.
Nearly 70,000 websites and organizations are slated to take part in a massive day of action today aimed at saving net neutrality. Participating websites are displaying messages on their homepages and encouraging users to take action to save the internet as we know it. Supporters of the day of action include internet giants such as Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Reddit. Earlier this year, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined his plan to dismantle net neutrality rules, despite polling that shows most Americans support a free and open internet.
And in Mexico, protesters gathered outside the attorney general’s office Tuesday to demand justice amid a growing number of femicides in the state of Mexico. This is activist Marta Avalos.
Marta Avalos: “We’re protesting because of the lack of attention and follow-up the authorities give to femicides in the country, because the government does not support us. They give us false figures. And we want them to take into account all the disappearances and homicides, and punish them, reaching the final consequences.”
We’ll go to Mexico later in the broadcast to look at the Mexican government’s surveillance against Mexican activists, journalists and human rights workers.