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10 things you need to know today: August 1, 2017

Trump reportedly dictated misleading account of son's Russia meeting, Scaramucci out after 10 days, and more


Report: Trump dictated misleading statement on son's Russia meeting

President Trump on July 8 dictated the statement claiming that Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was focused on "a program about the adoption of Russian children," The Washington Post reported Monday, citing several people with knowledge of the incident. The statement, sent to The New York Times, turned out to be misleading. Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledged that he agreed to the meeting after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, then his father's Democratic rival in the presidential race, dug up by Moscow in its effort to help Trump's campaign. Trump advisers had agreed they should "be truthful" before Trump intervened, the Post said, and now several worry he could be accused of covering up the meeting's true agenda.


Trump dumps Scaramucci as communications director

President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci from his role as White House communications director, reportedly at the request of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on his first day on the job. Scaramucci, a former New York financier, served only 10 days but managed to stir up tremendous turmoil. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quit over his appointment, and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned after Scaramucci harshly criticized him in a profanity-filled rant to The New Yorker. In a sign that Kelly is moving swiftly to end reports of White House chaos, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said all White House employees — including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — will now report to Kelly.


Senate GOP leaders signal plan to pivot away from health care

Republican Senate leaders signaled Monday that they plan to move on from health care to other priorities, despite President Trump's latest barrage of tweets urging them to continue trying to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Trump said Republicans would be "total quitters" if they moved on, and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney urged Senate leaders not to hold any other votes before another attempt to pass health-care reform. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's top deputy, said Mulvaney should let the Senate "do our job," and said, "What we do know is next is nominations and hopefully Sen. [Charles] Schumer will agree to break the logjam ... and that would be a good use of our next two weeks."


Trump administration slaps sanctions on Venezuela's embattled president

The Trump administration imposed financial sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday over a Sunday election for an assembly to rewrite the country's constitution to give him greater authority. The sanctions freeze Maduro's U.S. assets, and bar Americans from conducting business with him. President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the election, which the opposition called a sham, amounted to an "outrageous seizure of absolute power" in a nation the opposition says Maduro has driven to ruin. "Maduro is not just a bad leader," McMaster said. "He is now a dictator." Maduro responded by mocking Trump, saying, "In the United States, it's possible to become president with three million votes less than your opponent. What a tremendous democracy!"


Pence offers Baltic states U.S. support against Russian aggression

Vice President Pence said the U.S. would not tolerate Russian force or intimidation against its neighbors, on his first full day in Eastern Europe on Monday. Pence reassured the Baltic states that the U.S. would support them in the face of "the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east." The comments came after Russia retaliated against Congress' approval of new sanctions by ordering a sharp reduction in U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia. Moscow also is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory for previously announced late-summer maneuvers known as Zapad, Russian for "west," in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The drills mark one of Russia's biggest military power moves in a string of recent Cold War-style gestures of intimidation.


Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic

President Trump on Monday awarded his first Congressional Medal of Honor to James McCloughan, who rescued 10 fellow soldiers in the "kill zone" during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam 48 years ago. McCloughan, then a 23-year-old private first class and medic, "voluntarily risked his life on nine separate occasions to rescue wounded and disoriented comrades" even though he was wounded three times by small arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade. "We are in awe of your actions and your bravery," Trump said. McCloughan, now 71, said it was "humbling" to receive the nation's highest military honor, and he pledged to represent the men who fought by his side "as the caretaker of this symbol of courage and action beyond the call of duty."


Tesla's stock rattled by Musk's warning of 'manufacturing hell'

Tesla shares dropped by 3.5 percent on Monday after jumping up by 2 percent at the start of the day, the first trading session since the Friday launch of the electric car company's first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan. The stock reversed course after Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk warned that the company would face "manufacturing hell" as it steps up production to meet demand for the $35,000 Model 3. As Musk handed over the first 30 Model 3s to employee buyers at the Friday launch event, he said customers had placed more than half a million advance registrations for Model 3 sedans. His warning about the challenges ahead confirmed fears of some investors who are already skeptical about Tesla's ability to meet its aggressive growth targets.


Judge finds ex-sheriff Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on Monday found former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court for violating a federal judge's order. Prosecutors argued in Arpaio's five-day trial that the 85-year-old lawman intentionally disobeyed a judge's orders halting his signature immigration roundups. Arpaio, a once-popular sheriff voted out of office last year, said he would appeal and continue to demand a jury trial. The sentencing phase of this trial will start Oct. 5. Arpaio faces up to six months in confinement. The decision came as local law enforcement leaders face pressure to help the Trump administration crack down on undocumented immigrants.


Los Angeles to host 2028 Summer Olympics

Los Angeles has reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to host the Summer Games in 2028, city officials confirmed Monday. Los Angeles originally bid to host the 2024 Games, so the agreement announced Monday sets the city back a cycle, with Paris likely to host in 2024 instead. L.A. has hosted the games twice before, in 1932 and 1984. "Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in 44 years is a golden opportunity for L.A.," Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said in a statement. No American city has hosted the Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996. The next Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo in 2020.


Playwright, director, and actor Sam Shepard dies at 73

Actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard died last week at his home in Kentucky, a family spokesman confirmed Monday. He was 73. Shepard reportedly had been suffering from ALS, the progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Shepard won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Buried Child and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in 1983's The Right Stuff. His best-known plays included True West (1980), Fool for Love (1983), and Buried Child (1978). Shepard was known for using black humor and surreal elements to rework the American West's classic iconography of cowboys and homesteaders into a bleak landscape inhabited by what Broadway World described as "rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society."


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