Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas), by 5 percentage points, 41 percent to 36 percent, with 17 percent expressing no opinion, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Cruz was leading O'Rourke by 3 points in an April Quinnipiac University poll, though that same poll had Cruz up by 11 points in May.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) June 25, 2018
Cruz is more unpopular than O'Rourke, who represents the West Texas district centered in El Paso, but he also has better name recognition — 41 percent of voters have a favorable view of Cruz and 42 percent view him unfavorably, while 37 percent view O'Rourke favorably and 24 percent have an unfavorable view. This poll "is an early look at the 2018 general election, a survey of registered voters — not of the 'likely voters' whose intentions will become clearer in the weeks immediately preceding the election," The Texas Tribune notes. "If recent history is the guide, most registered voters won't vote in November."
"The numbers also reflect, perhaps, the faint rumble of excitement from Democrats and wariness from Republicans who together are wondering what kind of midterm election President Donald Trump might inspire," the Tribune says. And Trump is only moderately popular in deep-red Texas — 47 percent approve of his job performance while 44 percent disapprove in the new poll. Democrats have never liked Trump, said UT government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. "And he would have been in a disaster area, except Republicans really ran to him. They like the way that he deals with the Democrats." The UT/TT poll was conducted online among 1,200 registered voters June 8-17, and it has an overall margin of error of ±2.83 percentage points. Peter Weber
One person was killed and another injured Sunday afternoon during a shooting inside a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in Fallon, Nevada, about 63 miles east of Reno.
KTVN-TV reports that the suspect, John K. O'Connor, 48, is in custody, and the person who was injured sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg. A spokesperson for the LDS Church told CBS News, "We express our love to those in this congregation and our prayers for the victims and their families. Local leaders are ministering to them at this time."
KTVN says at least 50 people were inside the church during the shooting, and O'Connor left and went back to his home, where he was arrested. Police said the motive is not yet known. Catherine Garcia
In 2015, accused Russian agent Maria Butina met with senior officials at the U.S. Treasury Department and Federal Reserve while working as an interpreter for Alexander Torshin, then the Russian Central Bank's deputy governor, Reuters reports.
Torshin and Butina had one meeting with Nathan Sheets, then Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, and another with Stanley Fischer, then Fed vice chairman, with both arranged by the Center for the National Interest. The pro-Russia foreign policy think tank put together a report regarding its Russia-related activities from 2013 to 2015, Reuters reports, and said the meetings helped bring together "leading figures from the financial institutions of the United States and Russia."
Butina, 29, pleaded not guilty last week to charges she acted as a foreign agent for Russia. Fischer told Reuters he did meet with Torshin, who has close ties to Putin, and his interpreter, but couldn't remember much beyond that they discussed "the state of the Russian economy." Catherine Garcia
Mondelez Global, the manufacturer of Ritz Crackers products, has announced a voluntary recall of some varieties, due to concerns over salmonella.
Mondelez said the supplier of whey powder for its crackers recalled the ingredient because of the possible presence of the bacteria. The recall affects Ritz Bits Cheese, Ritz Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, Ritz Bacon Cracker Sandwiches with Cheese, Ritz Whole Wheat Cracker Sandwiches with White Cheddar Cheese, Ritz Everything Cracker Sandwiches with Cream Cheese, and Mixed Cookie, with expiration dates from Jan. 14, 2019 to April 13, 2019.
Salmonella can make young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems seriously ill. Mondelez said that so far, they have not received any complaints from consumers about salmonella, and the recall is out of an abundance of caution. Catherine Garcia
On Sunday, a suicide bombing near Kabul's international airport left at least 14 dead and 40 injured.
Police said the blast happened near an airport entrance where supporters of exiled Afghan Vice President Rashid Dostum were waiting to see him drive by in his motorcade. Dostum was back in Afghanistan after more than a year in Turkey, and was in an armored vehicle when the bombing took place; he was not hurt. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed at least one child and several members of Afghan security forces.
Dostum has been accused of human rights abuses stretching back to 2001, and last year, his guards allegedly seized political rival Ahmed Eshchi and tortured him; Dostum denies the allegations. Catherine Garcia
Pro-surveillance GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham suddenly supports surveillance reform following the Carter Page documents
"This morning the president is again accusing the Justice Department and the FBI of misleading courts and illegally surveilling his campaign," CBS host Margaret Brennan said to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Face the Nation Sunday, referring to President Trump's angry response to the Carter Page surveillance documents. "Is he wrong?"
"No," Graham replied, breaking with his Senate GOP colleague, Florida's Marco Rubio. Graham then called for scrutiny of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, which approved the spying on Page.
"I think that the whole FISA award process needs to be looked at," he said. "The warrant on Carter Page was supported mostly by the dossier that came from [Christopher] Steele, who [was] being paid by the Democratic Party to do opposition research; and the dossier was collected, I think, from Russian intelligence services; and if you ask the FBI today how much of the dossier on Trump has been verified, [it's] almost none of it."
The extent to which the warrants were based on the dossier is subject to debate along predictably partisan lines. Less predictable is Graham's sudden discovery within himself of suspicion of the FISA court: Before Trump took office, the senator was a stalwart opponent of limits on the court's power, repeatedly voting to permit warrantless surveillance and prevent reform. In 2015, he claimed "anybody who neuters" the FISA court's "roving wiretap" program "is going to be partially responsible for the next [terrorist] attack." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump claims the FBI spied on and undermined his presidential campaign in 2016 for partisan purposes. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) does not.
Responding to Saturday's publication of the FBI's application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in connection to Russian election interference, Rubio said on CNN Sunday he "has a different view on it."
The feds "knew who [Page] was even before the campaign," Rubio explained on State of the Union. "I don't believe that them looking into Carter Page means they were spying on the campaign," he continued. "I also don't think it proves anything about collusion. ... I don't think it's part of any broader plot. The only plot here is the plot to interfere in our election by the Russians."
Also contra Trump, Rubio argued the FBI did not do "anything wrong" in its application to spy on Page: "I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons ... for why they wanted to look at Carter Page."
Rubio also addressed Trump's recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Trump's plan for a second summit with Putin this fall. Watch the whole interview below. Bonnie Kristian
Authorities are searching for a University of Iowa student named Mollie Tibbetts, 20, who disappeared Wednesday while out for an evening jog. Tibbetts was running in Brooklyn, a small town about halfway between Iowa City and Des Moines. She gave no indication anything was wrong before her jog, her boyfriend said.
URGENT: My wife’s cousin, Mollie Tibbetts, has been missing since Wed., July 18.
She’ll be a sophomore at the @uiowa & is home for summer break in Brooklyn, IA. It is so unlike her to be out of touch
from family and friends.
Please RT so we can spread the word. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/Jjn9v9ZIHk
— Brian Wagner (@BrianRWagner) July 21, 2018
"Everything's on the table, unfortunately," said Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel. "We're hoping that she's somewhere with a friend, and she'll show up Monday or Tuesday, and everything will get back to normal." Bonnie Kristian