Trump tells McCain, 'a crusty voice in Washington,' to get well soon because Republicans 'need his vote'
President Trump on Monday wished "crusty" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) a speedy recovery from his recent surgery. "We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He's a crusty voice in Washington. Plus, we need his vote," Trump said Monday during his speech at the Made In America Showcase, an event intended to highlight the Trump administration's focus on "America first" policies.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 17, 2017
McCain's recent surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye has put the fate of Senate Republicans' health-care bill in question. McCain's office said he could be back to work within days of the operation, but neurosurgery experts now say his recovery could take at least a week or two. Senate Republican leadership was aiming to vote as soon as this week on the plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but because two Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Ky.) — have already come out against the bill, McCain's vote is absolutely necessary for the bill to pass. Becca Stanek
Remember Stephen Bannon? Once hailed as the architect of President Trump's ascent to power, the controversial populist adviser has vanished from the spotlight in recent weeks "for the sake of self-preservation," Politico reports.
Bannon reportedly inadvertently raised the ire of Trump after being portrayed as the puppetmaster behind the president on SNL and getting his own Time magazine cover under the moniker "the Great Manipulator." He has notably been excluded from Trump's recent trips to Europe and has removed himself from his former frequent spot in the Oval Office, relocating to a conference table in White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus' office.
Senior administration officials have taken note of his sudden absence, deeming Bannon "AWOL" and "invisible."
[Bannon] now plays a surprisingly minor role in key administration policy debates. White House aides speculate about whether Bannon is trying to protect his job amidst long-running talk of a White House staff purge. Several West Wing advisers said they expect Trump to decide once and for all on a White House shakeup during his planned vacation next month, when he is expected to consult with friends beyond the Beltway. "If there is a big staff shakeup, it will be in August," said a senior White House aide. "My guess is that Bannon probably sees that and doesn't want to be in the press." [Politico]
On July 9, three teenage boys watched a disabled man drown in a pond in Cocoa, Florida, east of Orlando, and they filmed the man's death on a cellphone and taunted him for the duration of the 2-minute video, which they then posted to social media, police say. The teens, age 14 to 16, did not call for help or tell authorities about the death of Jamel Dunn, 32; his fiancée reported him missing on July 12 and his body was recovered from the pond on July 14. A woman who says she is Dunn's sister, Simone Scott, came across the video and posted it on Facebook last weekend, and police identified the boys and questioned them. At least one of them showed no remorse, Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said.
Near the beginning of the video, the audio of which was posted by Florida Today, one boy is heard shouting at Dunn, "Get out the water, you're gonna die." The kids laughed. "He keeps putting his head under," another boy said. "Wow." "Bro, you scared to see a dead person?" one of the boys asked another. Finally, one of the teens said, "Oh, he just died," and they laughed some more.
Police are not going to file any charges against the teens, at the recommendation of state prosecutors, because they did not violate any Florida laws. Floridians are not legally obliged to assist people in distress or call for help. "If there was (a law like that) we would charge them," Martinez tells CNN. "The family is frustrated," she said, and "the detectives are frustrated, that we cannot hold anyone accountable for this." In a statement, the state attorney's office said that while no laws were broken, "we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn."
Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe was more direct. "As chief of police, there are times when I wish I could do more, but I'm a firm believer in that good will always win over evil," he said. "It may not come in our lifetime, but there will be justice." Peter Weber
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met "more than just three times" at the G-20 summit earlier this month, but he downplayed the interactions, likening the world leaders to children in kindergarten, NBC News reports.
"When you are brought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?" Lavrov asked by way of illustration. "I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or 10 minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom."
President Trump is undoubtedly a man who likes his bullet points, but Axios reports that six months into his term, the U.S. commander-in-chief still can't pay attention through a national security briefing. "Can you believe this guy?" Trump has reportedly joked as his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, was talking.
McMaster is normally "crisp, linear, [and] dry," Axios adds, but has recently "started to adjust by making shorter points and [speaking in] a more colloquial tone" — that is, he's getting better at communicating in Trumpese. But even still, "Trump likes to be discursive and will frequently turn to others or meander into other subjects while McMaster is briefing him," Axios reports.
That might not be encouraging news to 76 percent of Americans who think the United States is going to enter a "major war" in the next four years. Read more about how administration officials are learning to communicate with Trump at Axios. Jeva Lange
Lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who has represented President Trump since the early 2000s, is out as the president's personal attorney, CBS News reports. The details of the ousting are not immediately clear, although the shakeup comes as the Russia investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, turns its attention toward the Trump family's business dealings despite the efforts of the president's lawyers.
Additionally, Kasowitz recently sent several threatening, expletive-filled emails to a stranger who told him to resign, with the attorney later blaming his language on exhaustion following "a very long day."
Lawyers Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, and John Dowd remain to represent Trump. Jeva Lange
The Trump administration will announce a ban on travel to North Korea by U.S. citizens on July 27, effective 30 days later, two tour agencies said Friday. "We have just been informed that the U.S. government will no longer be allowing U.S. citizens to travel to the DPRK," or North Korea, China-based Young Pioneers Tours said in a statement. "After the 30-day grace period any U.S. national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government." Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneers Tours, told BBC News that his company was given the information by the Swedish embassy, which handles U.S. affairs in North Korea.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had reportedly been considering such a ban since April, but the effort was accelerated after the death last month of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, an American student who was arrested in North Korea in January 2016, sentenced to 15 years hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster, then returned to the U.S. in a coma from which he never awoke. Koryo Tours' Simon Cockerill tells the BBC his agency had also been told about the coming ban by the Swedish embassy, and said he was disappointed by the decision. "It's unfortunate for the industry but also for North Koreans who want to know what Americans are really like," he said. The U.S. has not confirmed the news.
Update 7:37 a.m. ET: Unidentified U.S. officials confirmed to The Associated Press early Friday that Tillerson has decided to enact a "geographical travel restriction" for North Korea, making it illegal to enter the country on a U.S. passport. Peter Weber
Early Friday morning, a strong earthquake struck the Agean Sea between the Greek island of Kos and the Turkish coastal town Bodrum. At least two vacationers, one from Turkey and the other from Sweden, were killed in the old town of Kos when a popular tourist bar, the White Corner Club, collapsed. At least five other people were seriously injured, and there were some 70 minor injuries and significant flooding reported in Bodrum. Greek officials said the earthquake was a magnitude 6.5, with the epicenter 6 miles deep, 10 miles east-northeast of Kos, and 6 miles south of Bodrum. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was a 6.7-magnitude temblor.
"There was banging, there was shaking, the light was swinging, banging on the ceiling, crockery falling out of the cupboards, and pans were making noise," Christopher Hackland, a Scottish diving instructor, told The Associated Press. Tens of thousands of vacationers spent the rest of the night outside, sleeping on beach sunbeds or wherever else they could find a resting spot. Along with the tourist bar, the ferry terminal, several churches, a 14th century castle, and an old mosque were also damaged in the quake. You can see some of Hackland's raw video of the damage in the AP clip below. Peter Weber