President Trump declined to say whether he plans to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying Tuesday, “time will tell.” Trump said he is disappointed in Sessions, and criticized him for not being tougher on leaks. Trump has also previously criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. He said he has no firm plans to fire Sessions at this time, adding, “We'll see what happens.”
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill advancing new financial sanctions against Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 election. It also forwards new sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to those nations’ weapons programs. The legislation restricts President Trump’s ability to ease sanctions without such a measure being approved by Congress. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say on Monday whether Trump would sign or veto the bill, but did say that the president has vocally supported sanctions in the past.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry was duped by Russian pranksters in a phone call he believed was conducted with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman. In the 22-minute phone call confirmed by an Energy Department spokesperson on Tuesday, Perry discussed everything from the oil and gas industry to coal exports and Russian cyberhacking with a person he believed to be the Ukrainian prime minister but who was actually a Russian comedian. At one point, the man claiming to be Hroisman announced that the Ukrainian president had personally developed a “new kind of fuel” made from alcohol and manure, the distribution of which Perry said he’d be willing to discuss at a later date. Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, two Russian comedians known for similar prank calls, took credit for the stunt. Confirming the phone conversaton Tuesday, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry was “the latest target of two Russian pranksters” who often prank “those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments.”
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly getting ready to announce several criminal leak investigations in the next few days, even as President Trump publicly derides him for supposedly not being “tough” enough on White House leaks. Officials cited by The Washington Post on Tuesday said “a number of” investigations were under way, though no further details were given on their subject matter. The news comes amid widespread speculation about whether Trump will fire Sessions after the president made a series of complaints about Sessions’ work. Earlier Tuesday, Trump urged Sessions to be “much tougher on leaks in the intelligence agencies that are leaking like they never have before.”
Francisco Cortes, a former Fox News executive fired after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female commentator, is suing parent company 21st Century Fox to the tune of $48 million for allegedly using him as a scapegoat in the network’s sexual harassment scandal. In the wake of several sexual harassment claims made against the network’s late chief executive Roger Ailes, on-air commentator Tamara Holder came forward earlier this year to accuse Cortes of trying to force her into having oral sex in February 2015. Cortes was subsequently fired, and Holder was given a $2.5 million settlement by 21st Century Fox. But in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Cortes alleges that comments given to The New York Times by Fox and Holder about the case violated a confidentiality agreement. Cortes says his reputation and career were damaged as a result of the Times story published in March. “Mr. Cortes has served as a useful and relatively inexpensive ‘Patsy’ for FOX to help it demonstrate that it has aggressively handled sexual harassment complaints,” the complaint alleges.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has rescinded a subpoena it issued earlier Tuesday for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to appear at a public hearing on Wednesday. Lawyers for Manafort and the committee agreed to continue negotiations to have Manafort appear before the committee in private. “Faced with issuance of a subpoena, we are happy that Mr. Manafort has started producing documents to the Committee and we have agreed to continue negotiating over a transcribed interview,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member, said in a statement. The senators said earlier that the subpoena would be revoked if “he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview.” Manafort met on Tuesday with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, his spokesman Jason Maloni said.
Ivanka Trump hired her husband Jared Kushner’s criminal-defense lawyer for counseling during the ongoing Russia probe, the National Law Journal reported Tuesday. Abbe Lowell, a D.C.-based attorney at the Norton Rose Fulbright firm, will provide legal advice to the first daughter—who serves as a White House adviser—throughout the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Trump has not yet been investigated herself, but Kushner testified Monday in a Senate Intelligence Committee session as part of the probe.
One of the undocumented immigrants who died in an overheated tractor-trailer in Texas last weekend grew up in Virginia but was deported to Guatemala after graduating high school, The Washington Post reported. Nineteen-year-old Frank G. Fuentes was brought to the U.S. as a child and shielded from deportation through President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Jose Barillas, the Guatemalan consul general in Houston, told Univision that Fuentes was later deported after committing crimes and was trying to get back to his family in the D.C. area. So far 10 people who were traveling in the truck have died and 20 others are still hospitalized.
Of the 111 brains of deceased National Football League players studied by neuropathologist Ann McKee, 110 of them had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated head trauma. A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports significant scientific evidence that NFL players risk developing CTE, which can arise years after an athlete has stopped receiving repeated blows to the head and can only be diagnosed after death. However, McKee warned “there’s a tremendous selection bias” in her study, given that many families donated brains because the former player had shown CTE symptoms.