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10 things you need to know today: August 4, 2017

Mueller convenes grand jury in Russia inquiry, transcripts shed light on Trump's calls with foreign leaders, and more


Mueller convenes a grand jury in his Russia inquiry

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and possible collusion by associates of President Trump, according to people familiar with the inquiry. "This doesn't mean he is going to bring charges," former federal prosecutor Thomas Zeno told The Wall Street Journal. "But it shows he is very serious." Some sources said the grand jury had already issued subpoenas regarding Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, while others said some subpoenas were linked to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. President Trump said at a West Virginia rally Thursday that the "Russian story" was a "total fabrication."


Newspaper releases transcripts of Trump calls with Mexican, Australian leaders

The Washington Post on Thursday published transcripts of President Trump's Jan. 27 phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Jan. 28 phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, providing fresh insight into how the new president handled his early dealings with other world leaders. Trump repeatedly urged Peña Nieto to stop stating publicly that Mexico would not pay for the border wall Trump promised to build, something Trump forcefully promised in his campaign. "You cannot say that to the press," Trump said, while seeming to acknowledge that Mexico wouldn't foot the bill by saying the funding would "work out in the formula somehow." Trump's exchange with Turnbull was even more heated, as Trump vented about an Obama-era agreement to take 1,250 refugees from Australia. "This is going to kill me," Trump said.


Congress enters August recess short on accomplishments

Lawmakers left Capitol Hill for their August break on Thursday with tensions still high over the GOP's failed effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. President Trump had called on Congress to work through the scheduled recess if necessary to deliver on Republicans' longstanding promise to unravel the Affordable Care Act, the signature domestic achievement of former President Barack Obama. Trump reportedly is angry at the Republican-led Congress for its inability to score major legislative achievements since Trump's inauguration in January. One of the bills Congress did pass — new sanctions against Russia — was approved over Trump's objections.


Judge sentences Michelle Carter to 15 months for friend's suicide

A Massachusetts judge on Thursday sentenced Michelle Carter, 20, to 15 months in prison for the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, whom she encouraged to commit suicide. Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz gave Carter a two-and-a-half year sentence, with the rest of the sentence suspended. Carter will remain out of jail pending her appeal. Moniz ruled that Carter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter because she urged Roy in texts and phone calls to go through with his plan to kill himself in 2014 by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide in his car. Roy, who was 18, texted Carter, who was then 17, telling her that he had gotten out of the car, and she responded telling him to "get back in." The landmark case sparked debate over the legal definition of manslaughter and whether an individual could be held responsible for another person's suicide.


West Virginia governor switches from Democrat to Republican

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced at a rally with President Trump on Thursday that he is leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican. "The Democrats walked away from me," Justice told a cheering crowd. It isn't his first switch. Justice was a Republican until 2015. The state's only billionaire, he made his money in the coal industry and has praised Trump's promise to help coal miners. He also refused to support Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential election. Elizabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said Justice "deceived" voters by running as a Democrat last year. Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) said the Republican Governors Association was "thrilled" to have Justice "join our efforts."


Power restored to North Carolina's Outer Banks

Emergency crews have restored power to North Carolina's Outer Banks after a seven-day outage, clearing the way for thousands of people evacuated from the popular tourist islands to return on Friday. About 60,000 people were forced to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke islands last week after construction crews working on a bridge accidentally cut an underground power cable serving the islands. The outage left normally jammed beaches empty at the height of the summer season, placing huge strain on the local economy. Workers reconnected the severed line on Wednesday, and tested the lines on Thursday, clearing the way for the mandatory evacuation to be lifted.


Secret Service leaves Trump Tower office over lease dispute

The Secret Service has left a command post in Trump Tower in Manhattan due to a dispute with President Trump's company over lease terms, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing two people familiar with the negotiations. The old Secret Service command post was a floor below Trump's apartment; the new one, which agents moved into in early July, is in a trailer on the sidewalk more than 50 floors below. No details on the cause of the squabble were immediately released, although two people with knowledge of the talks said there were disagreements about price and other conditions. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said the government should look for office space someplace else.


Two arrested in foiled Australia bomb plot

Australian police charged two men on Thursday for a foiled attempt to carry a home-made bomb disguised as a meat-mincer onto a July 15 Etihad Airways flight. Investigators believe an Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to the Sydney airport carrying the device, which was packed with high-grade military explosives sent by air cargo from Turkey. The bomb never made it past airport security. Police said the plot was "one of the most sophisticated" ever attempted in Australia, and that it was believed to have been directed by a senior commander of the Islamic State.


WannaCry cyberattack hero accused in malware case

Marcus Hutchins, the young British researcher hailed as a hero for ending the May WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, has been arrested and accused of creating and distributing malware designed to capture banking log-ins from victims' computers, U.S. authorities said Thursday. The Justice Department's indictment says that Hutchins, 23, created and sold the Kronos banking Trojan on internet forums between July 2014 and July 2015. His mother, Janet Hutchins, said it was "hugely unlikely" he was involved in the alleged crime because he dedicated "enormous amounts of time" to stopping such cyberattacks.


Soccer star Neymar switches teams for record transfer fee

Brazilian soccer star Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., known since his mid-teens simply as Neymar, signed a five-year deal to move from Barcelona to Paris St. Germain that included a record $263 million transfer fee. The deal more than doubled the previous record fee paid last August when Paul Pogba moved from Juventus to Manchester. Barcelona questioned whether the deal, with a total cost around half a billion dollars, complied with a European soccer rule known as Financial Fair Play that aims to keep teams from piling up deep debt. Neymar's new team said the deal was worth the pricetag. "Today, with the arrival of Neymar Jr., I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realizing our greatest dreams," said PSG's Qatari President Nasser Al-Khelaifi.


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