The U.S. at a glance ...
Rally violence: Rival protest groups armed with clubs, axes, and brass knuckles clashed this week at a free-speech rally in downtown Portland, one of the epicenters of growing public discord over Donald Trump’s presidency. At least 14 people were arrested at the event, which was organized by the conservative group Patriot Prayer—and held a week after two men were fatally stabbed on a light-rail train after intervening to defend young women who were verbally attacked by a passenger shouting anti- Muslim threats. Right-wing demonstrators wearing Americana garb, some of them members of the vigilante group the Fraternal Order of Alt- Knights, faced off against blackclad anti-fascist, or “antifa,” activists, with members of both sides bearing makeshift shields. Other items confiscated from rally attendees included piles of bricks, crowbars, canisters of mace, and hammers. “It’s almost like a street fight,” said Portland Sgt. Pete Simpson.
Election hacking leak: A federal government contractor was charged this week with leaking a top-secret NSA document to TheIntercept.com, hours after the news outlet published an explosive report revealing that Russian hackers carried out a cyberattack on a Florida-based voting software firm ahead of the 2016 election. Russian military intelligence apparently used data gathered from the hack to send spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials. There’s no evidence any votes or voter registration records were affected, but Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) later claimed that Russian hackers had targeted other state election systems not mentioned in the NSA report. Reality Winner, 25, who worked for contractor Pluribus International at a facility in Georgia, has been charged under the Espionage Act with leaking the classified report. Agents traced the leak back to Winner by examining her office’s printer records.
State College, Pa.
Sandusky scandal: Three former Penn State officials were sentenced to jail last week for failing to report former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky to authorities when they heard about his sexual abuse of children. Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. In 2001, then– graduate coaching assistant Mike McQueary told administrators he saw Sandusky molesting a boy in a team shower. But the officials—former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz, and former Athletic Director Tim Curley—failed to report Sandusky to child welfare authorities or police. Sandusky wasn’t arrested until 2011, after a tip. “All three ignored the opportunity to put an end to [Sandusky’s] crimes when they had a chance to,” said Judge John Boccabella, who sentenced Spanier and Schultz to two months in jail, and Curley to three months.
Workplace shooting: A disgruntled exemployee carried out a shooting rampage at an Orlando awning factory this week, killing five former colleagues before turning the gun on himself. John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, was fired from his job at the company, Fiamma Inc., in April. A U.S. Army veteran who was honorably discharged in 1999, Neumann had a criminal history, including a DUI and minor drug possession, and had previously been accused of assaulting another employee. He also had another “negative relationship” with at least one of his victims, said police, and the boss who fired him feared he would seek revenge. Neumann sneaked into the factory through a rear door, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a hunting knife, and individually targeted employees. When one woman encountered Neumann, he pointed his gun at her and told her to leave the building. When police arrived, Neumann had already committed suicide, they said.
New York City
Trump charity corruption? Eric Trump funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for child cancer research into the Trump family business, according to a Forbes investigation this week— allegedly using charitable funds to pay for lavish events at Trump golf courses. For a decade, the Eric Trump Foundation has hosted annual golf charity events at Trump courses in aid of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Eric Trump has told reporters that he used the courses for free, but Forbes reported that the foundation used donations to pay for sizable fees charged by the Trump Organization; listed costs for the one-day event were $322,000 in 2015. “I don’t care if it’s my son or not—everybody gets billed,’” President Trump reportedly said of the events. Another $500,000 in donations intended for St. Jude’s was allegedly donated to other charities.
Russia probe: President Trump asked the nation’s top intelligence official to persuade former FBI Director James Comey to back away from investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, The Washington Post reported this week. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats was at a White House briefing in March when Trump complained about the way Comey was handling the FBI’s Russia probe, Coats reportedly told associates, and asked him to intervene. Coats believed talking to Comey would be inappropriate, sources said. In testimony to the Senate this week, Coats said he “never felt pressured” to influence the probe but declined to discuss conversations he’d had with the president. A separate Post report revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently offered to resign amid an increasingly strained relationship with Trump. The president is said to be furious at Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, which Trump believes precipitated the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.