"President Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has some explaining to do," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. On Monday night, the Post reported that Trump had personally dictated the statement put out on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting Trump Jr. agreed to in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, also attended by White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The president, flying back from Germany on Air Force One and overriding the tell-everything plan concocted by his advisers, reportedly worked with Trump Jr. to write a statement to The New York Times insisting that the meeting was "primarily" about adoption and "was not a campaign issue," when in fact it was arranged to discuss alleged Russian opposition research on Hillary Clinton. The problem for Sekulow, Blake notes, is that in several TV interviews he unequivocally denied that the president had anything to do with Trump Jr.'s statement.
On June 12, Sekulow told George Stephanopoulos that the Times' June 11 report was "incorrect," and "the president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20, the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I'm sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that." He then told CNN's New Day that "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president." On June 16, he told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press: "I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr."
"I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement" -- Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
Sekulow issued the Trump administration's response to the Post's inquiries, too, responding to a detailed list of questions about Trump's involvement in the statement-drafting with one sentence: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests Sekulow's past statements could "be grounds for serious sanctions by the bar," but they could also involve him deeper in the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Peter Weber
Hamas on Saturday announced it has accepted a ceasefire deal in the contested Gaza Strip after fighting on Friday left four Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead. The temporary peace was brokered by officials from Egypt and the United Nations.
Israel has yet to confirm its acceptance of the agreement, but the Israeli military said in a statement Saturday it has "decided to maintain a full civilian routine in the communities close to the Gaza Strip," suggesting a cessation in hostilities. Nevertheless, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also reported an Israeli tank targeted a Hamas outpost Saturday morning after "a number of suspects" allegedly crossed a border fence into Israel for a brief time.
This is the second ceasefire in a week, punctuating the worst conflict in Gaza since 2014. Palestinians have been protesting at the Gaza border fence since March, and about 140 Palestinians — including protesters, militants, and medical workers — have been killed in that span. Thousands more have been wounded, including journalists. One IDF soldier has been killed and 10 Israelis injured. Bonnie Kristian
Florida man who fatally shot another over a parking spot won't be charged due to Stand Your Ground law
Police in Clearwater, Florida, declined to arrest or charge a man who fatally shot another over a handicapped parking spot because they believe he is likely shielded by the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law.
"I don't make the law. I enforce the law," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri at a press conference Friday. "The law in the state of Florida today is that people have a right to stand their ground and have a right to defend themselves when they believe that they are in harm."
Gualtieri noted the state's attorney's office will review the case and could decide to bring charges if it seems realistic to "overcome that heavy burden at a Stand Your Ground hearing of proving by clear and convincing evidence [the shooter] was not entitled to use force in this circumstance."
The shooting took place at a convenience store Thursday afternoon. The shooter, Michael Drejka, confronted a woman, Britany Jacobs, who had parked in a handicapped spot to wait while her boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, and their 5-year-old son went inside the store.
When McGlockton and the boy came outside, he saw the argument and intervened, forcibly pushing Drejka to the ground. From there, Drejka fired a single round at McGlockton's chest with his handgun, for which he had a valid concealed carry permit. McGlockton died at a hospital soon after. Bonnie Kristian
They appeared together at a rally for Democrat James Thompson, who is challenging GOP incumbent Rep. Ron Estes for his House seat. "People told me Kansas was a Republican state," Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd. "It sure doesn't look that way."
Some attendees were not previously familiar with Ocasio-Cortez, who burst onto the national scene this summer with an upset primary win against the No. 4 House Democrat, Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), in her Bronx district. In Kansas, she touted the broad appeal of her platform. "What you have shown me, and what we will show in the Bronx, is that working people in Kansas share the same values — the same values — as working people anywhere else," she said.
Ayub Ali, 61, was stocking shelves when a robber forced him to open the cash register. The robber took the money and left, but then returned to shoot Ali, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
A suspect identified as Tyrone Fields Jr., 19, was arrested Friday based on security camera footage from the store. He has been charged with murder and robbery with firearm.
Ali is survived by his wife and four children, the youngest of whom is just 22 months old. "It's hard for them to accept it," said a family representative. "He [met] everyone with a smile." Bonnie Kristian
Trump's intelligence chief chuckled about Putin visiting Washington. Is he next on the chopping block?
Is a laugh enough to get you fired in Trump's White House? President Trump is "exasperated" with his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, Politico reported Friday night, after the intelligence chief publicly chuckled Thursday at the idea of another Trump summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"That's going to be special," DNI Coats said of Trump's invitation to Putin to visit Washington this fall, indicating he did not know of the meeting plan in advance. A former Trump administration official described the administration as in "meltdown" over Coats' comments, and Reuters reports White House staff are alarmed Coats was kept in the dark about the forthcoming Putin visit.
Some sources suggested to Politico the DNI, who is 75, may soon wish to retire — or that he may become Trump's newest target for firing. "He was not particularly eager to take the job to begin with and was sort of talked into it on the theory of when the president asks, you should serve," explained one of Politico's sources. Should Coats leave or be forced out, Politico notes, Trump may have a difficult time replacing him, especially given Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump on Twitter Saturday lashed out against his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for reportedly making recordings of Trump two months before the 2016 election discussing payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence her about an alleged affair.
Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) - almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
Per Friday reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times, the FBI gained access to the recordings when the agency raided Cohen's office earlier this year. Cohen is under investigation for potential campaign finance violations committed while paying hush money to cover up the president's alleged extramarital liaisons. Bonnie Kristian
Demonstrating he has never met a dead horse he did not want to beat, President Trump tweeted Friday evening NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, proposing unpaid suspensions for repeat protesters:
The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again - can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018
The NFL announced Thursday it would not enforce its policy, implemented earlier this year, of requiring players to stand during the national anthem. The new rule was introduced after uproar — most loudly from Trump himself — over athletes' decision to protest institutional racism and police brutality by kneeling while the song is performed. The policy is now subject to a complaint filed by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and is under confidential review.