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10 things you need to know today: July 21, 2017

Trump lawyers look for ways to discredit Mueller, O.J. Simpson wins parole, and more


Trump lawyers look for conflicts of interest to discredit Mueller

President Trump's legal team is investigating the backgrounds of aides hired by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit Mueller's work, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the effort. The research covers past donations to Democrats, former clients, and Mueller's relationship to former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump. The president reportedly has been fuming about Mueller's inquiry, particularly his examination of Trump's businesses. The spokesman for Trump's legal team, Mark Corallo, resigned Thursday, adding to the challenges facing Trump's legal advisers.


O.J. Simpson granted parole

The Nevada Parole Board on Thursday granted early release to former football star and actor O.J. Simpson, after he served more than eight years in prison for a 2008 armed robbery. Simpson, 70, was convicted of going to a Las Vegas hotel room with accomplices, two carrying guns, to retrieve some of his sports memorabilia from two dealers. Simpson, whose good-guy image vanished during the trial in which he was acquitted of the 1994 murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, told the parole board, "I've done my time. I'd just like to get back to my family and friends." He could be released as soon as Oct. 1.


2 killed when magnitude-6.7 earthquake hits Greek island

A magnitude-6.7 earthquake hit popular tourist destinations in Greece and Turkey early Friday, killing two people and injuring at least 100. The quake's epicenter was about 6.2 miles south-southeast of the Turkish port city of Bodrum, but the Greek island of Kos southwest of Turkey's southeastern Aegean coast was hit hardest. Tourists and locals ran into the streets as the temblor shook the island. The two people who were killed were among the crowd in a popular bar when the building collapsed. Hundreds of people slept outside as a series of aftershocks followed the larger quake.


Mueller to investigate Trump deals as part of Russia inquiry

Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate President Trump's business transactions as part of his probe into Russia's election interference, Bloomberg Politics reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter. Bloomberg reported that Mueller is specifically interested in such matters as Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump's 2008 sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch. The probe will also investigate deals involving Trump associates, including his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said it would be a "violation" for Mueller to look into his family's finances.


ExxonMobil hits back at fine over Russia deal

ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government on Thursday after the Treasury Department imposed a $2 million fine over the oil giant's three-year-old joint venture with Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer. The Treasury Department accused Exxon of "reckless disregard" of U.S. sanctions in its collaboration with Russia in 2014, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the company's CEO. ExxonMobil said that the fine was "unlawful" and "capricious." The fine stemmed from a government review of Exxon's deals with Rosneft weeks after the U.S. imposed the sanctions over Russia's annexing of Ukraine's Crimea region.


Sessions plans to stay in job despite Trump criticism

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that he plans to stay in his job even though President Trump said he regretted appointing him. Trump told The New York Times he wouldn't have nominated Sessions if he had known the former Republican senator would recuse himself from the investigation into Russian election meddling. Sessions, an early supporter of Trump's campaign, said it was an "honor" to serve as attorney general, and that he intended "to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate." He said that despite Trump's comments he remained "totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way."


Sen. John McCain tweets appreciation for support, vows he'll 'be back soon'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday tweeted his appreciation for the "outpouring of support" he has received since his office announced Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. "Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!" said McCain, 80, who has represented Arizona since 1987. The tumor, known as a glioblastoma, was discovered during a procedure to remove a blood clot above McCain's eye last Friday.


2 die in anti-government strike in Venezuela

Two people were killed when a nationwide strike against President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite Venezuela's constitution erupted into sporadic violence on Thursday. Maduro is vowing to push on with his effort to reshape the South American nation's government despite protests, an opposition referendum denouncing his plan, and a U.S. threat of economic sanctions. An opposition coalition called for a "great march" on Saturday to crank up pressure on Maduro to back down.


FTC investigates allegation that Amazon misleads customers about discounts

The Federal Trade Commission, as part of its review of Amazon's plan to buy Whole Foods, is investigating allegations that the world's largest online retailer misleads customers about pricing discounts, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a source close to the inquiry. The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said it overstated list prices on many discounted items reviewed in June, falsely inflating the discounts it was offering on the products. Amazon said it verifies its reference prices with manufacturers and sellers, and Consumer Watchdog's study was "deeply flawed."


Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington found dead

Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington was found dead in a Southern California home on Thursday. He was 41. "Shocked and heartbroken, but it's true," tweeted Mike Shinoda, another member of the rap-metal band. Bennington is believed to have committed suicide by hanging himself. He had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Bennington was friends with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, whose May death was ruled a suicide. Cornell would have turned 53 on Thursday. "Just when I thought my heart couldn't break anymore," tweeted Cornell's wife, Vicky.


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