In the first days following President Donald Trump's inauguration, FBI agents interviewed Michael Flynn about his discussions with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials told The New York Times on Tuesday. If Flynn was "not entirely honest with the FBI" during those discussions, he could face a felony charge.
Flynn resigned as national security adviser late Monday evening after reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence over whether he discussed the possible lifting of sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a call ahead of President Trump's inauguration. Flynn was reportedly investigated in January by the FBI over a possible violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating disputes between the United States and other governments.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the president had been aware of Flynn's conversations with the ambassador for nearly three weeks but Flynn's resignation was "not an issue of law, it was an issue of trust." Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates reportedly informed the White House on Jan. 26 that Flynn could be subject to Russian blackmail, shortly after the FBI conducted their interviews. Jeva Lange
It's official: President Trump is headed to France for Bastille Day. The White House on Wednesday announced that Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation to attend celebrations in France commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a decisive moment in the French Revolution. This year's Bastille Day also marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I.
Aside from attending the annual military parade in Paris on the national French holiday, Trump will also talk economic and terrorism-related issues with Macron. "President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America's strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people," the White House said in a statement.
That reaffirmation might be needed, given Macron and Trump's recent interactions. The two shared an uncomfortably long, white-knuckled handshake in Brussels last month. Shortly after that, Macron issued a brutal rebuttal to Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, during which Macron repurposed Trump's campaign slogan by calling on the world to "make our planet great again." Becca Stanek
Google News has a new look. On Tuesday evening, Google rolled out a redesign of its page that aggregates news stories.
Gone is the search engine-like results page, replaced by a sleeker card-based interface that boxes off stories with related coverage. Users can more easily click around to different topics, thanks to a customizable sections sidebar.
Alongside the increased focus on customizability is a greater emphasis on facts, a relevant addition in the era of "fake news." The newest version of Google News makes fact-checking more readily accessible, with a Fact Check block now planted in the right rail, featuring the latest investigations from sites like PolitiFact and Snopes.
The goal of the redesign was to make the News feature more streamlined and more user-friendly. "Right now, Google News shows too much, and in that it shows too little," Google product manager Anand Paka told Poynter. "Users are not able to connect with the journalism that they come to Google News to see. Our goal here was to make readability a prime focus and pick out elements that are the most important."
CNN's Chris Cuomo fires back after GOP senator cries fake news: 'You tell me what I'm getting wrong'
CNN's Chris Cuomo has had just about enough of Republicans crying "fake news," and he let GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) know it during an interview Wednesday morning. The confrontation was sparked by Johnson claiming that the debate over Senate Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare is "completely distorted using incorrect information."
Cuomo, who had been discussing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's recently released cost estimate of the Senate bill, demanded to know whether Johnson was suggesting he was "using misleading information" by citing the CBO's estimates. "You let me know what I'm saying that is inaccurate," Cuomo said. "Because this whole 'fake' thing needs to end, and it needs to end right now. You tell me what I'm getting wrong, or we'll deal with the numbers as the CBO puts them out."
Johnson insisted he wasn't referring specifically to Cuomo's statements. "I'm talking about the fact that people don't understand the 22 million, and it was a wrong baseline," Johnson said, pointing to the CBO's estimate that 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP health-care plan than under ObamaCare. The CBO, Johnson claimed, had used an outdated baseline assumption to make that comparison.
Watch it below. Becca Stanek
It's a good weekend to get out of town — and not just because of the holiday. American drivers will be treated to the lowest seasonal gas prices in more than a decade, Bloomberg reports, with a national average of $2.21 a gallon, the cheapest Fourth of July fill-up since 2005. This weekend will also mark the first time in 17 years that gas prices are expected to be lower for Independence Day than they were on New Year's Day, Bloomberg adds.
— Bloomberg (@business) June 28, 2017
The national average has been as much as $1.04 a gallon more expensive in the past decade than it will be in 2017. And the low prices may be inspiring Americans to get on the road: A record 44.2 million people plan to travel at least 50 miles away from home this weekend, AAA reports.
"It's thrilling to see gas prices falling just in time for the most-traveled summer holiday," said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Perhaps we can finally get rid of the myth that gas prices go up for the holiday." Jeva Lange
Workers employed at a Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump to manufacture shoes have spoken to the media for the first time, detailing nightmarish conditions, long hours, and abuse at the hands of managers, The Associated Press reports. In one particularly upsetting incident, the workers recalled a manager bludgeoning an employee on the head with the heel of a stiletto. "There was a lot of blood. [The employee] went to the factory's nurse station, passing by me," one of the workers recalled.
Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co. is used by several other fashion brands in addition to Ivanka Trump's. Trump's brand, though, has come under particular criticism for its association with the company because of Trump's retained ownership interest in her brand while serving in the government. On Tuesday, for example, the president's eldest daughter skewered China, which has been demoted by the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report to the lowest possible level, claiming the government report was a "clarion call into action in defense of the vulnerable and the exploited" — but she has yet to comment on the conditions at her supplier's factory.
Recently, three human rights investigators for the New York-based China Labor Watch were detained and accused of secretly recording inside the factory. The group's founder, Li Qiang, said the reports out of the Ganzhou factory are "among the worst he has seen in nearly two decades investigating labor abuses," AP writes. "His group says pay can be as low as a dollar an hour, in violation of China's labor laws. According to China Labor Watch investigators, until recently, workers might get only two days off — or less — per month."
Historically, successful presidents are both "revered and feared" by their fellow party members in Congress, The Washington Post reported. President Trump, it seems, is neither.
In spite of Trump's "mix of bravado, threats, and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers," the roiling Republican debate over health care has revealed Trump might not be the commanding force he thinks he is, the Post reported:
In private conversations on Capitol Hill, Trump is often not taken seriously. Some Republican lawmakers consider some of his promises — such as making Mexico pay for a new border wall — fantastical. They are exhausted and at times exasperated by his hopscotching from one subject to the next, chronicled in his pithy and provocative tweets. They are quick to point out how little command he demonstrates of policy. And they have come to regard some of his threats as empty, concluding that crossing the president poses little danger.
"The House health-care vote shows he does have juice, particularly with people on the right," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. "The Senate health-care vote shows that people feel that health care is a defining issue and that it'd be pretty hard for any politician to push a senator into taking a vote that's going to have consequences for the rest of their life."
Asked if he personally fears Trump, Graham chuckled before saying, "No." [The Washington Post]
Shortly after the article was published, Trump on Wednesday morning fired off one of his signature "pithy and provocative tweets" making clear just how much stock he puts in The Washington Post's reporting:
The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017
Five months after visiting the Obama White House to celebrate their 2016 World Series win, the Chicago Cubs expressed mixed feelings about the team's invitation to the Trump White House on Wednesday. "I just don't feel like I want to go," reliever Pedro Strop admitted to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Other Cubs were similarly ambivalent, with pitcher Justin Grimm saying he'd go if he didn't have family in town and relief pitcher Hector Rondon adding, "I prefer to stay in my room, get rest, and get prepared for the game."
Of 22 players interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times, 10 said they were skipping the White House visit. But first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "I'm going because it's the United States of America, and I'd rather not live anywhere else except this country. It's an honor. No political ties. It's the White House." Pitcher Mike Montgomery, who is also attending, was not quite as enthusiastic as his teammate but said it would be "maybe a little disrespectful to turn it down."
Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. is turning down the invitation — because he has better plans. "I'm trying to go see, like, the dinosaur museums," he said. Jeva Lange