10 things you need to know today: July 7, 2017
Trump and Putin head into their first official meeting, protesters clash with police as G-20 summit begins, and more
Trump and Putin head into first face-to-face meeting
On Friday, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin headed into their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. Trump campaigned on a pledge to seek ways to work with Putin, but he will be expected to confront Putin over Russia's conduct in Syria and Ukraine, and over Russia's attempt to interfere in last year's U.S. presidential election. On a stop in Poland Thursday before heading to Hamburg, Trump called for Russia to "cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran," and join nations fighting "in defense of civilization itself." Trump sent conflicting signals on Moscow's election interference, however, saying "nobody really knows for sure" who tried to influence the vote. Putin said after a meeting on the G-20 sidelines with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa that financial sanctions over politics damages mutual confidence and the global economy, an apparent jab at Western sanctions against Russia.
Protesters clash with German police ahead of G-20 summit
Violent protests erupted in Germany Thursday on the eve of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, where President Trump will have his first face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines Friday. German security forces in riot gear used water cannons and pepper spray to break up an anti-capitalist march. Some people in a group of about 12,000 protesters that included about 1,000 from the "black bloc" anarchist group threw rocks and bottles at police, carrying signs saying "Welcome to hell." Police said at least 76 officers were injured. Some protesters were arrested, but authorities could not say how many as of Thursday night.
Government ethics watchdog resigns after clashing with Trump
Walter M. Shaub Jr. announced that he is resigning as director of the federal Office of Government Ethics on Thursday after repeatedly clashing with President Trump over conflicts of interest. "There isn't much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation," Shaub told The New York Times. "O.G.E.'s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened." Shaub will step down effective July 19, months ahead of the scheduled end of his five-year term. He will move on to push for ethics reforms at a nonpartisan advocacy group. The Times noted that Shaub's early exit will allow Trump to "begin putting his mark on the agency overseeing the federal government's vast ethics program."
McConnell says GOP must pass health bill or shore up ObamaCare
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that Republicans would have to draft a bill with Democrats to shore up ObamaCare's existing insurance markets if his party fails to pass the GOP's proposal to replace much of the Affordable Care Act. "If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur," McConnell said. "No action is not an alternative. We've got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state." McConnell last week raised the possibility of negotiating with Democrats if the Senate can't get 50 of the 52 GOP senators together to pass the Republican plan, but his remarks marked the first time he suggested the possibility of looking for ways to improve ObamaCare.
Tesla shares continue plunge
Tesla's stock continued to slide on Thursday, dropping another 5 percent to bring its three-day decline to about 12 percent following disappointing quarterly results. The drop came just two weeks after shares in the electric car maker reached an all-time high, and as the company prepared to start production of its first mass-market car, the Model 3, on Friday. The dive cost Tesla its recently attained title as the biggest U.S. car company by market capitalization, with General Motors reclaiming the top spot with a value of $52.7 billion as Tesla slipped to $51.6 billion. Tesla reported this week that deliveries had fallen short of expectations in recent months due to production problems with its 100 kilowatt-hour battery packs.
Illinois overrides governor's veto to end historic budget impasse
The Illinois House passed a budget bill on Thursday, overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner's (R) vetoes and giving Illinois its first spending plan in more than two years. The vote ended the longest fiscal impasse in the U.S. since at least the Great Depression. Illinois is facing a $6.2 billion annual deficit, and it has $14.7 billion in bills that are past due. The new spending blueprint will raise an estimated $5 billion more annually, largely thanks to a permanent 32 percent hike in the state income tax rate. The plan also reduces spending by more than $2 billion.
States sue DeVos for delaying rules protecting student borrowers
A coalition of 18 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Besty DeVos and her department for trying to scrap Obama administration rules intended to protect students if they are defrauded by for-profit schools. The Obama-era policies revamped the decades-old "borrower defense" rule allowing students to apply to have student loans forgiven if predatory schools use illegal or deceptive tactics to get them to borrow money so they can pay to attend. Obama administration revisions, scheduled to take effect July 1, aimed to simplify the claims process, and make schools pay more of the cost to discharge loans. The states said DeVos violated federal law by suspending the changes and saying she would have a committee rewrite them. Education Department Press Secretary Liz Hill said the suit was "ideologically driven."
France aims to end sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040
France said Thursday that it would work toward ending the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, joining a movement to stop using traditional internal combustion engines in cars and trucks. "It's a very difficult objective," said Nicolas Hulot, France's environment minister. "But the solutions are there." Some other nations, such as Norway and India, have set even more ambitious goals, and the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo said this week it would shift to an all electric and hybrid lineup by 2019. France joined other European nations in pushing ahead with environmental offensives despite President Trump's withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, vowing to stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year, and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022.
Judge denies Hawaii's request to exempt grandparents from Trump travel ban
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu rejected Hawaii's bid to exempt grandparents from President Trump's temporary travel ban on people from six majority-Muslim nations on Thursday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26 that parts of the ban could take effect before the court reviews the ban this fall. The U.S. is suspending the issuing of new visas for 90 days, except in cases where applicants can prove they have a close relative already in the U.S. Hawaii wanted to get grandparents added to the list, but Watson said that decision was up to the Supreme Court, so Hawaii would have to ask the high court to clarify who qualifies as a "bona fide" relative under its ruling, and how the administration can implement the ban, which supporters say will help keep out terrorists but opponents say discriminates against Muslims. Watson said he wouldn't try to "usurp the prerogative of the Supreme Court to interpret its own order."
Judge says Cosby's retrial will be in November
A Pennsylvania judge said Thursday that actor and comedian Bill Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges will be in November. Cosby's first trial ended in a mistrial last month when the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision after six days of deliberations. Cosby is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, one of dozens of women who have come forward to allege Cosby drugged and assaulted them. The jury reportedly split 10-2 in favor of convicting Cosby, 79, on charges that he digitally penetrated Constand without her consent, and on the allegation that he gave her drugs or alcohol to impair her. Cosby says the 2004 encounter was consensual.