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10 things you need to know today: July 25, 2017

Kushner leaves meeting with senators saying he "did not collude" with Russia, McCain returns for key health-care vote, and more


Kushner leaves meeting on Russia investigation saying 'I did not collude'

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, left a closed-door meeting with senators investigating Russia's election meddling on Monday saying, "I did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did." In prepared remarks, Kushner told Senate Intelligence Committee investigators that he had not been aware that a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer had been set up with the understanding that the lawyer would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent, that had been dug up as part of Russian efforts to help Trump win. Kushner is also scheduled to talk to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, and Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are negotiating to appear before Congress next.


McCain makes dramatic return for key health-care vote

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer last week, will return to Washington on Tuesday for a critical Senate procedural vote on repealing ObamaCare, his office said Monday night. McCain's absence would have made it difficult for Senate GOP leaders to muster the 50 votes they would need to start debate on their proposal, since there are only 52 Republicans in the Senate and two appear likely to vote against taking up the bill — a conservative, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), because the plan retains too much of ObamaCare, and a moderate, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), because it cuts Medicaid.


Judge says Trump voter-fraud commission can ask for data

President Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud may ask states for voter roll data, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled Monday. The judge ruled that the Election Privacy Information Center, a watchdog that sued seeking to block the request, did not have grounds to challenge the commission. Kollar-Kotelly also noted that the commission, as an advisory, has no legal authority to force states to do anything. Most state election officials say voter fraud is rare, and have declined to hand over all but the most basic information, if any at all. Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, and has asserted without citing any evidence that he only lost because millions of illegal votes were cast for Clinton.


Trump's criticism fuels questions of Sessions' future

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Trump is very disappointed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions chose to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia's election meddling. Sessions' decision to step away from any involvement in the investigation came after it was revealed that he had met with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the campaign, even though he had said during his confirmation hearing that he had no such meetings. Trump tweeted Monday that his "beleaguered" attorney general should be investigating Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival in last year's election. Axios, citing "West Wing confidants," said Trump was considering replacing Sessions with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.


Israel removes metal detectors from holy site after backlash

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet voted early Tuesday to remove metal detectors from a holy site in Jerusalem after the security measures stoked tensions and provoked protests. Security officers will instead rely on "security inspection based on advanced technologies and other means," Netanyahu's office said in a statement. Tensions have been high since two Israeli policemen were killed 10 days ago at the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. Last Friday, three Palestinians were killed in clashes with security forces during protests in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, and on the same day three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.


Democrats release new economic agenda

House and Senate Democratic leaders on Monday unveiled their party's new economic agenda, "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future." The plan is a response to Democrats' disappointing performance in 2016; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has admitted "the number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for." The agenda promotes the middle class and prioritizes fighting corporate overreach. It includes an extensive infrastructure plan, paid family leave, more federal funding for job training, and an independent agency to monitor prescription drug prices.


Trump launches political attacks at Boy Scout event

President Trump delivered a combative, stump-style speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday. He started out promising to avoid talk of the policy battles "you've been hearing about in the fake news," adding, "Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?" But then the president changed course, attacking former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, joking that he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if the push to repeal ObamaCare fails, and predicting that the "fake media" would undercount his "record-setting" crowd at the Jamboree. He also promised that "under the Trump administration, you'll be saying 'Merry Christmas' again when you go shopping."


Federal judge halts deportations of 1,444 Iraqis

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Michigan on Monday blocked the deportation of 1,444 Iraqi nationals, expanding a ruling that only affected 114 detainees rounded up in Detroit. The immigrants faced outstanding deportation orders, and many had been convicted of serious crimes. About 199 of them were rounded up in a nationwide crackdown in June. American Civil Liberties Union lawyers requested a preliminary injunction, arguing that they would face persecution in Iraq, where they are considered ethnic and religious minorities. Goldsmith said delaying the deportations would assure that people who might face "grave harm" are not "cast out of this country before having their day in court." Federal prosecutors said the stay was unnecessary because many of the detainees were already appealing through immigration court.


Drug-test failures hurt hiring and manufacturing

So many workers are failing drug tests that it is beginning to hurt the economy. The problem is hitting manufacturers especially hard, The New York Times reported Monday. Due to the abuse of prescription opioids and growing use of marijuana, employers in the upper-Midwest rust belt find that sometimes a quarter, even half of the people applying for factory jobs fail their drug tests, sometimes depriving manufacturers of workers and forcing them to lose orders to foreign rivals with what one CEO called "a better labor pool." The Federal Reserve's Beige Book surveys of economic activity noted the problem in April, May, and July, and Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress this month that increased opioid abuse was hampering labor-force participation by prime-age workers.


Charlie Gard's parents drop court fight

The parents of Charlie Gard, a gravely ill British infant being kept alive by machines, on Monday dropped their court fight to keep him alive and seek experimental treatment for his rare genetic condition. "We are about to do the hardest thing we will ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go," Chris Gard, the baby's father, said outside London's High Court building. Gard and Charlie's mother, Connie Yates, had battled against hospital officials who said that prolonging Charlie's life would only prolong his suffering, because he cannot breathe on his own and has suffered irreversible brain damage. The parents, with words of support from Pope Francis and President Trump, argued that he should be kept alive to pursue treatment in the U.S.


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