10 things you need to know today: July 22, 2017
Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary, U.S. intel reportedly suggests Sessions talked Trump campaign with Russia, and more
Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday, telling President Trump he "vehemently disagreed with the appointment" of Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director earlier Friday. Trump reportedly asked Spicer to stay on, but Spicer declined, calling Scaramucci's selection a major mistake. The communications job has been open since Mike Dubke's brief tenure ended in May. Spicer will remain in the White House through August, at which point White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will replace him. Scaramucci has a history of criticizing Trump, but the president claimed Saturday he was a very early campaign supporter.
U.S. intel reportedly suggests Sessions talked Trump campaign with Russia
Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow he discussed campaign matters on two occasions with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator and Trump campaign surrogate, during the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday night, citing U.S. intelligence intercepts of Kislyak's communications. Sessions initially said he "did not have communications with the Russians," then later said the talks were not about campaign matters. "A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!" President Trump tweeted Saturday in response to the story.
Trump renews call for Clinton investigation
President Trump was up and tweeting early Saturday, offering his thoughts on a range of topics centrally including his desire to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigate Hillary Clinton instead of his own team. "So many people are asking why isn't the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?" Trump wrote. "What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.," he continued, adding, "My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!"
Mueller requests White House preserve documents related to Trump Jr. meeting
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly requested the White House keep all documentation related to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer last year. "Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between [Trump Jr.] and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation" of "any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump," Mueller's notice said. The request covers text messages, emails, voicemail, and other communications, including "any decisions made regarding the recent disclosures."
Trump Jr. makes deal for private Senate testimony
Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort have reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify behind closed doors about their 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The committee's leadership threatened the pair with subpoenas if they did not testify voluntarily for the Senate investigation of Russian election meddling running in parallel with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. President Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was also at the meeting, will testify before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees for their Russia inquiries this coming week.
Lawyer at Trump Jr. meeting once represented Russian spy agency
The Kremlin-linked lawyer Donald Trump Jr. met in June 2016 counts Russia's spy agency, FSB, among her past clients, Reuters reports. Documents show Natalia Veselnitskaya represented the successor to the KGB in a Moscow property case between 2005 and 2013. Veselnitskaya has denied her connection to the Kremlin, and there is no proof she was working for Moscow during the Trump Jr. meeting. Veselnitskaya says she is willing to testify before the Senate: "If the Senate wishes to hear the real story, I will be happy to speak up and share everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump."
Kushner reports at least $10 million in 77 previously undisclosed assets
Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser, disclosed 77 previously unreported assets in paperwork released Friday. Kushner's attorneys said these assets were "inadvertently omitted" in previous disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics, which certified the new disclosures as part of the "ordinary review process." The assets are valued between $10 and $50 million, depending on where each item falls in the valuation ranges on the federal forms. Kushner's wife, Ivanka Trump, also a presidential adviser, reported assets valued around $66 million and $13.5 million in 2016 income in additional disclosures filed Friday.
U.S. bans travel to North Korea
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday authorized a ban preventing travel to North Korea by U.S. citizens. The decision will take effect in a little over a month and will make it illegal to enter North Korea with a U.S. passport, two tour organizers said. "After the 30-day grace period any U.S. national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government," China-based Young Pioneers Tours said in a statement. Young Pioneers Tours and Koryo Tours said they were given the dates and other information by the Swedish embassy, which handles U.S. affairs in North Korea.
U.S. soldier indicted on terrorism charges
A U.S. soldier was indicted on terrorism charges by a federal grand jury in Hawaii Friday. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang is accused of attempting to provide material aid to the Islamic State, including leaked U.S. military documents, as well as planning a mass shooting after pledging his allegiance to ISIS. He was arrested by the FBI earlier this month and is held without bail. Kang's attorney is pursuing a mental health defense, arguing Kang may suffer from known mental illness which the military did not appropriately address.
Minneapolis police chief resigns after fatal shooting of unarmed woman
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned from her post Friday at the request of the city's mayor, Betsy Hodges. The Minneapolis Police Department has come under heavy criticism after an officer fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman, Justine Damond, who called 911 to report a suspected crime near her home. Though the officers involved were wearing body cameras, they were turned off at the time of Damond's death. Hodges said in a statement it is "clear [Harteau] has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis" after multiple high-profile cases of police violence in Minnesota's Twin Cities since 2015.