Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 23, 2017

Congress negotiates Russia sanctions plan over Trump's objections, 8 found dead in tractor-trailer outside San Antonio Walmart, and more


Congress negotiates Russia sanctions plan over Trump's objections

House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Saturday to place new punitive sanctions on Russia, overriding President Trump's objections. The deal will also sanction North Korea and Russia's ally Iran, targeting the countries for their "destabilizing actions around the world," said a statement from House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Trump intended to ease some sanctions on Russia to foster more positive relations between Moscow and Washington, a plan that raised alarm among congressional Democrats and some Republicans. The legislation is expected to arrive on Trump's desk as soon as the end of the month.


9 found dead in tractor-trailer outside San Antonio Walmart

Nine people were found dead, 20 injured, some critically, and another 10 comparatively unharmed in the back compartment of a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, early Sunday morning. Police were alerted after someone who had been inside the truck, which did not have working air conditioning, approached a Walmart staff member to ask for water. "We're looking at human trafficking crime here," said Police Chief William McManus, adding that the migrants will be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they receive medical care. The truck's origin is currently unknown; its driver is in custody.


Trump asserts 'complete power to pardon' in connection to Russia probe

The Washington Post on Friday reported President Trump has been exploring the option of exercising his constitutional pardon power on behalf of himself or members of his campaign or family in connection to federal investigations of Russian election meddling. Saturday morning, Trump seemed to raise the issue by tweeting an assertion of the president's "complete power to pardon" while denying any wrongdoing. A presidential self pardon would be unprecedented, and most constitutional experts agree it would be deeply inappropriate, though they are split on the question of legality.


Trump speaks at aircraft carrier commissioning

President Trump spoke at a ceremony Saturday commissioning the USS Gerald R. Ford, the newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy fleet. His speech warned that the "sea holds many challenges and threats" and called the ship an "incredible work of art [that] becomes the pride of the U.S. Navy and symbol of American pride and prestige no matter where in the world you go." Trump also used the occasion to promote his planned military spending hikes. The state-of-the-art ship cost $13 billion and took eight years to build and test.


Iran announces new missile production

Iranian state media announced a new missile production line Saturday, a move that comes close on the heels of fresh U.S. sanctions against Tehran's "malign activities" last week. The new missiles are designed to target drones, fighter planes, and cruise missiles and are capable of reaching an altitude of 16 miles. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan characterized the development as a response to the major U.S. arms deal with Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, earlier this year, a sale Dehghan said "was done with the goal of threatening" Tehran.


McCain's former primary challenger calls for his resignation

A former primary challenger of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on him to step down from his post in multiple statements this past week following his announcement of a brain cancer diagnosis. Kelli Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primaries and will challenge Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, for his spot in 2018. "The medical reality of [McCain's] diagnosis is grim," she said in one statement, posted on her website, arguing "Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus" on Senate work. In a radio interview, Ward suggested herself as McCain's replacement.


Israelis, Palestinians clash over Jerusalem mosque security

Israeli installation of metal detectors and CCTV cameras at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque — the disputed holy site venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif — has been met by mass protest by Palestinians whom Al Jazeera reports believe "the metal detectors may be the first move in the Israelis taking over the compound." The security measures were added after a July 14 attack in which two Israeli police officers were fatally shot by men who emerged from the compound armed. At least six people have been killed in violence during or in response to the protests.


Staff at Charlie Gard's hospital receive death threats

Staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the facility caring for Charlie Gard, the British infant at the center of an international bioethics debate, have been subject to verbal abuse and death threats, hospital administrators said in weekend reports. "We fully understand that there is intense public interest, and that emotions run high," said hospital chair Mary MacLeod, decrying "a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance" toward medical staff. Scotland Yard is investigating the threats. Gard suffers from a rare genetic condition, and British courts have denied his parents permission to seek experimental treatment in the United States.


British princes address Princess Diana's death

British Princes William and Harry spoke out about their relationship with their mother, the late Princess Diana, for a new documentary marking the 20-year anniversary of her death in a car crash in August of 1997. The film features previously unpublished family photos and includes the princes' memories of their final call with Diana. "Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know, 'see you later,'" William said. "If I'd known now obviously what was going to happen, I wouldn't have been so blasé." The documentary will air Monday on HBO in the United States.


Wonder Woman 2 announced at Comic-Con

Warner Bros. officially announced a forthcoming sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman on Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Star Gal Gadot, who was present for the announcement, will return as Diana Prince. Wonder Woman is expected to be the top-earning blockbuster of the summer, raking in $767.7 million worldwide since its June 2 debut, a record haul for a live-action film with a female director. The sequel's "story will take place in the U.S., which I think is right," said director Patty Jenkins. "She's Wonder Woman. She's got to come to America. It's time."


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