Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 5, 2017

Mueller requests Flynn records from White House, State Department officially begins U.S. exit from Paris climate deal, and more

1

Mueller requests Flynn records from White House

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of election manipulation collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, has asked the White House for documents pertaining to Michael Flynn, President Trump's short-tenured national security adviser, The New York Times reports. The request is not an official subpoena, but it marks the first time Mueller's probe is known to have sought information directly from the White House. The request also indicates Mueller's investigation — which has entered a new, "more serious phase" as it now involves a grand jury — encompasses Flynn's financial dealings as well as Trump's.

2

State Department officially begins U.S. exit from Paris climate deal

The State Department on Friday officially started the process of extracting the United States from the Paris Agreement. President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the international emissions reduction deal in June, but no official notice was delivered to the United Nations until this week. "The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security," says the statement, which also indicates the U.S. will continue to participate in major climate negotiations "to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration."

3

Congress, Trump go on vacation

The Senate adjourned Thursday until Sept. 5, joining the House in leaving Washington, D.C., for the August recess. Before adjourning, the Senate unanimously blocked President Trump from making any recess appointments, such as a replacement for embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions or a new homeland security secretary to fill in for Chief of Staff John Kelly. Meanwhile, Trump on Friday began his first official vacation in office, a 17-day "working vacation" at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. The White House will be renovated in his absence.

4

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces crackdown on leakers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered a firm warning Friday for would-be leakers: "Don't do it." Sessions said the Department of Justice has, since January, received almost as many referrals pertaining to classified information leaks as the last three years combined, and he announced Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray will oversee all active leak investigations. Sessions also called for the National Security Division as well as U.S. attorneys to prioritize leak-related cases, and additionally announced the FBI has created a new counterintelligence unit to track down leakers.

5

Former Russian ambassador says Flynn talks were 'absolutely transparent'

Former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak maintained the innocence of his conversations with former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in a Russian television appearance Saturday. "We only spoke about the most simple things," Kislyak claimed, labeling the talks "completely correct, calm, absolutely transparent." "In any case, there were no secrets on our side," he added, specifying terrorism as one topic of conversation. Kislyak also met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, before Trump took office.

6

Trump boosts McMaster amid criticism

President Trump defended National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a statement Friday evening, attempting to ward off right-wing criticism the official has attracted this week. "General McMaster and I are working very well together," Trump said. "He is a good man and very pro-Israel." McMaster has come under fire for his dismissal of several National Security Council staff members; his approach to the war in Afghanistan; and his renewal of security clearance for former President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice.

7

Economy finally hits Trump's million-jobs mark

U.S. employers added 209,000 non-farm jobs in July, beating economists' predictions of healthy gains of around 180,000 jobs and continuing a trend of strong hiring this year. The improvement came after a surge of 222,000 new jobs in June, and the unemployment rate edged down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent last month. This brings the total number of jobs created while President Trump has been in office to more than 1 million. Trump has taken personal credit for 1 million new jobs since June, when only 863,000 non-farm positions had been added since his inauguration.

8

'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli convicted of securities fraud

Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who was dubbed "the most hated man in America" after dramatically increasing the price of a popular HIV drug, was found guilty Friday on three of eight criminal counts, including securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Shkreli stood accused of defrauding investors who had put millions into his hedge funds and illegally paying them back via his pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, after he lost their money. He was first arrested in December of 2015.

9

Northwestern professor, Oxford staffer arrested in California for Chicago murder

A Northwestern University professor, Wyndham Lathem, and a staffer from Britain's Oxford University, Andrew Warren, were arrested by U.S. Marshals in Oakland, California, Friday after a national manhunt in connection to a murder in Chicago, Illinois. Lathem and Warren are both suspects in the stabbing death of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, 26, a cosmetologist. The two men separately turned themselves in to Bay Area authorities. Cornell-Duranleau was found dead in Lathem's apartment in Chicago after "some type of falling out." Warren's connection to the situation is unclear.

10

Game of Thrones episode leaks two days before air date

An HBO spokesperson confirmed Friday that Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones leaked two days before its premiere date. A low-quality version of "The Spoils of War," the fourth episode of season 7, first appeared in a Reddit thread Friday morning before circulating online. The video features a watermark from Star India, HBO's distribution partner, with the phrase "For internal viewing only." Friday's leak is unrelated to the massive cyberattack that devastated HBO Monday, when hackers stole 1.5 terabytes of data.

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