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August 1, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) wrote a column for Politico today about why the U.S. should ally itself with Israel in the Hamas conflict.

Perry writes that he can't imagine "the terror that the people of Israel must live with every day," thanks to potential bombs and Hamas tunnels. Perry also defends Israel's actions against Hamas:

Thousands of miles away, it might be convenient to criticize Israel for having the temerity to defend itself against these murderous terrorist attacks... Anyone tempted to suggest Israel has used a disproportionate amount of force to defend itself needs to remember the origins of this latest round of violence. It's Hamas that continued to launch rockets, despite Israel's willingness to discuss and abide by multiple cease-fires. It's Hamas that uses Palestinians as human shields to protect its leaders and its arsenals, and to preserve its extensive system of tunnels. And it's Hamas that would, if given the opportunity, take the life of every Israeli within range of its thousands of rockets. [Politico]

Perry also describes his personal trips to Israel, where he saw families terrified for their children's safety as well as the aftermath of missile strikes. He contends that Israel needs the "vigorous support" of the United States, saying the U.S. should demand "the total removal of every missile in Gaza" and the destruction of all Hamas tunnels. Read Perry's full article over at Politico. Meghan DeMaria

5:14 p.m. ET

The New Yorker announced Monday in statement that it would no longer be working with reporter Ryan Lizza, due to potentially inappropriate behavior:

Lizza was The New Yorker's Washington correspondent for 10 years as well as a frequent on-air contributor for CNN. Shortly after The New Yorker made its announcement about Lizza, CNN said in a statement that Lizza "will not appear on CNN while we look into this matter."

Lizza became something of a sensation over the summer after he received a surreal phone call from then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, in which Scaramucci unloaded on then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon in rather colorful language. Scaramucci was fired four days after Lizza published details of their conversation.

In a statement to Politico's Michael Calderone, Lizza claimed that The New Yorker's decision "was a terrible mistake" and denied that he'd acted improperly. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:56 p.m. ET

Three people were injured Monday when a man detonated an explosive in a Midtown Manhattan subway station. The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was wearing "an improvised, low-tech explosive device" that he "intentionally detonated" around 7:20 a.m. ET Monday morning in the subway station below the Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.

Ullah, who is of Bangladeshi descent and lives in Brooklyn, was taken into custody after the blast. He sustained the most serious injuries, though he and the three injured passersby all escaped life-threatening harm. Ullah apparently told police he constructed the explosive at his workplace, while CNN reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, that Ullah may have been motivated to act by Israeli aggression.

In response to the attack, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed America's "failed immigration policies." He said in a statement that Monday's explosion, along with the truck-based attack in October near the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, were due to policies that "do not serve the national interest," like "the diversity lottery and chain migration."

"It is a failure of logic and sound policy not to adopt a merit-based immigration system," Sessions said, adding that a merit-based policy would mean "welcoming the best and the brightest and turning away not only terrorists, but gang members, fraudsters, drunk drivers, and child abusers." Read his full statement below. Kimberly Alters

4:12 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A nuclear energy executive who used to work with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn claims that a whistleblower gave inaccurate information about an alleged text exchange that occurred during President Trump's inauguration, Politico reported Monday. Last week, Politico reported that a whistleblower wrote in July to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, about text messages Flynn had allegedly sent during the inauguration ceremony to Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners.

Flynn, who advised ACU, a nuclear energy investment firm, between 2015 and 2016, apparently told Copson that sanctions against Russia would get "ripped up" upon Trump's ascent to the Oval Office. Per the whistleblower, Flynn also wrote in a text that ACU's plan to build a dozen nuclear plants in the Middle East with Russian partners was "good to go."

On Friday, Thomas Cochran, a top adviser for ACU, wrote in a letter to Cummings, "The only text message Mr. Copson received on Inauguration Day came at 1:49 p.m.," directly contradicting the whistleblower's claim that Copson showed off a text sent by Flynn at 12:11 p.m. that day. Cochran claimed that because Copson "did not receive a text message from General Flynn during the inauguration, other allegations of the 'whistleblower' are equally false and unfounded."

Cummings responded Friday directly to Copson, asking him to appear before Oversight Committee staff for an interview. He poked holes in Cochran's logic, saying Copson could have provided an incomplete transcript of exchanged messages, or that communications could have occurred over an encrypted messaging service.

Cummings also questioned why Copson wasn't speaking for himself: "It appears that your colleague [Cochran] is suggesting that you did not meet the whistleblower at all and that you had no conversation relating to General Flynn," Cummings wrote to Copson. "It remains unclear why your colleague sent this letter rather than you." Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:29 p.m. ET

President Trump signed a directive Monday aimed at refocusing "America's space program on human exploration and discovery." The directive signals the administration's intention to send "American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars," spokesman Hogan Gidley clarified earlier in the day to Reuters.

Despite America having already checked the moon off its to-do list in 1969, Trump said "this time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond." Watch Trump's full comments below, and read James Poulos explain why the most important thing Trump can do is take us to Mars at The Week. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET

The White House responded to several of President Trump's accusers coming forward on Monday for a "round two" of sexual harassment allegations by saying that the "American people knew this and voted for the president" anyway.

The White House has firmly and continually denied that Trump sexually harassed women even though U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told CBS on Sunday that Trump's accusers "should be heard." In a statement Monday, the White House added: "These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year's campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory."

In response to a question on the same topic Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "In this case the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses and several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process."

Despite denying the women's accusations, Sanders also said: "This took place long before [Trump] was elected president. People of this country had a decisive election, supported president Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process." Watch below. Jeva Lange

2:39 p.m. ET

The America First Project, a self-described super PAC of attack dogs for President Trump's agenda, sent a 12-year-old girl from Virginia to interview Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a move described by Bustle as "somewhat questionable." Moore is accused of having pursued, and in one case assaulted, teenage girls as young as 14.

The America First Project's Jennifer Lawrence says in the video that "after everything that's happened in this Alabama Senate race up until this point, we thought it was important … to bring Millie [March] here to show that there's a wide range of people who support Judge Roy Moore." It's not the first time the young interviewer, Millie March, has appeared in an America First Project video — her rave review of Trump's agenda at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) went viral last February.

March wanted to know if Moore would help Trump build the wall, what issues are important to Alabama voters, and what characteristics make a good senator. Some parts went better than others:

Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

1:56 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A Nebraska Republican National Committee member submitted her resignation Monday in protest of the RNC's support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Politico reports. Moore is accused by a number of women of having pursued — and in one case assaulted — them while they were teenagers.

"I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race," said the committeewoman, Joyce Simmons. "There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend's comments by Sen. Shelby."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said this weekend that while he'd "rather see the Republican win … I couldn't vote for Roy Moore."

Simmons submitted her resignation to RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Friday. "I will miss so many of you that I knew well," Simmons said in her email to colleagues Monday, "and wish I could have continued my service to the national Republican Party that I used to know well." Jeva Lange

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