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July 15, 2017
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Republicans control the Senate 52-48, which gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a narrow margin for passing the GOP health-care bill, expected to be subject to a vote this coming week. Already, two GOP senators, Maine's Susan Collins and Kentucky's Rand Paul, have announced they plan to vote no, leaving McConnell just one defection shy of defeat.

At least four other Republican senators are on the fence: moderates Rob Portman (Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Dean Heller (Nev.), as well as Utah conservative Mike Lee, who is reportedly skeptical of an amendment added to the bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). "They made a pitch for the amendment and Sen. Lee was not convinced," a Lee staffer told The Washington Examiner.

Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote were the Senate split 50-50. Such votes are rare: Just 22 have been cast since former President Reagan took office, and former Vice President Joe Biden, Pence's immediate predecessor, never cast any. Pence, however, has shown himself willing to cast tie-breakers; he has already done so three times since taking office. Bonnie Kristian

10:34 a.m. ET

President Trump will not need to pardon himself, said new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci in an interview on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, so discussing the legality of a presidential self pardon is pointless.

"We haven't even really looked into that," Scaramucci told host Jake Tapper, though he conceded discussing the topic with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. "I'm not sure if [the president] has the right to pardon himself or not," Scaramucci continued, "but it doesn't matter anyway, because that's another one of those stupid hypotheticals. He's not going to have to pardon himself because he's done absolutely nothing wrong."

Sekulow, meanwhile, said in an ABC News appearance Sunday that "pardons have not been discussed" in the Trump White House. Trump tweeted about pardons Saturday, asserting his "complete power to pardon" in an update hot on the heels of a Washington Post report that the president is exploring whether he can use his broad constitutional pardon power on behalf of himself or members of his campaign or family.

Experts are split on the legality of a self pardon, which would be unprecedented in U.S. history, but generally agree it would be deeply inappropriate. Watch an excerpt of Scaramucci's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:16 a.m. ET
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A former primary challenger of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on him to step down from his post in multiple statements this past week following his announcement of a brain cancer diagnosis.

Kelli Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primaries and will challenge Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, for his spot in 2018. "The medical reality of [McCain's] diagnosis is grim," she said in one statement, posted on her website, arguing "Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus" on Senate work.

In a radio interview, Ward suggested herself as McCain's replacement. Bonnie Kristian

10:13 a.m. ET
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Israeli installation of metal detectors and CCTV cameras at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque — the disputed holy site venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif — has been met by mass protest by Palestinians whom Al Jazeera notes believe "the metal detectors may be the first move in the Israelis taking over the compound."

Weekend reports conflict over whether Israeli authorities may be willing to remove the metal detectors. Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai indicated to BBC News Sunday that option could be on the table, but only if another security measure takes the detectors' place. "Any solution be it electronic, cyber or modern technology: Israel is ready for a solution," he said. "We need a security solution; not political or religious."

The security measures were added after a July 14 attack in which two Israeli police officers were fatally shot by men who emerged from the compound armed. At least six people have been killed in violence during or in response to the protests. Bonnie Kristian

10:04 a.m. ET
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Warner Bros. officially announced a forthcoming sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman on Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Star Gal Gadot, who was present for the announcement, will return as Diana Prince. Wonder Woman is expected to be the top-earning blockbuster of the summer, raking in $767.7 million worldwide since its June 2 debut, a record haul for a live-action film with a female director.

The sequel's "story will take place in the U.S., which I think is right," said director Patty Jenkins. "She's Wonder Woman. She's got to come to America. It's time." The script is already under development, and Jenkins is negotiating her return as director. Bonnie Kristian

8:26 a.m. ET
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House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Saturday to place new punitive sanctions on Russia, overriding President Trump's objections. The deal will also sanction North Korea and Russia's ally Iran, targeting the countries for their "destabilizing actions around the world," said a statement from House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Trump intended to ease some sanctions on Russia to foster more positive relations between Moscow and Washington, a plan that raised alarm among congressional Democrats and some Republicans. A Kremlin representative said in a statement to CNN Moscow views the deal "quite negatively."

White House lobbying against the Russian sanctions portion of the bill was unsuccessful, and the legislation could arrive on Trump's desk as soon as the end of the month. Neither chamber has voted on the bill yet, but it is expected to pass both houses with veto-proof majorities. Bonnie Kristian

7:41 a.m. ET

Eight people were found dead, 20 injured, some critically, and another 10 comparatively unharmed in the back compartment of a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, early Sunday morning. Police were alerted after someone who had been inside the truck, which did not have working air conditioning or water supplies, approached a Walmart staff member to ask for water. A Walmart security guard then found the bodies and alerted authorities.

"We're looking at human trafficking crime here," said Police Chief William McManus, adding that the migrants will be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they receive medical care. Two of those who died were reportedly children.

The truck's origin is currently unknown; its driver is in custody. There may have been more people inside the truck than the 38 currently counted, as some are believed to have fled to nearby woods when law enforcement arrived. Bonnie Kristian

July 22, 2017
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A witness who observed and filmed at least part of the death of an unarmed Australian woman, Justine Damond, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has come forward, Minnesota state investigators told the Star Tribune. Any footage would be particularly valuable in this case because the officers involved, who were at Damond's house because she called 911 to report a suspected crime, were wearing body cameras that were not turned on during the incident.

The witness was reportedly bicycling near the alley where Damond was fatally shot and watched her receiving CPR before she died. How much of the interaction the witness saw or caught on camera is not yet known, but the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said in a statement the witness "has been cooperative and provided an interview today."

Minneapolis officer Matthew Harrity, who was driving the squad car from which the shooting took place, already gave investigators a four-hour interview, but officer Mohamed Noor, who fatally shot Damond in the abdomen while still seated in the car, has yet to be interviewed by the BCA, which cannot legally compel his testimony. Noor's attorney "has not provided any update about when, if ever, an interview would be possible," the BCA statement said.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday in response to uproar over Damond's death and other recent police violence cases in the Twin Cities. Bonnie Kristian

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