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Donald Trump Jr. shares some pretty interesting emails; the Senate slogs toward a health care vote; Qatar's blockade could be coming to an end.
A nothingburger with a side of juicy emails
- The biggest "holy shit" moment in a year full of "holy shit" moments came today when Donald Trump Jr. released a bunch of his own emails showing he was seeking opposition research on Hillary Clinton from sources connected to the Russian government. [Donald Trump Jr. via Twitter]
- The younger Trump wasn’t releasing a string of emails from the goodness of his heart; he was doing it because the New York Times had his emails and was about to publish them. [NYT / Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo]
- These emails are the clearest window yet into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia during the 2016 election, and they show — with Trump Jr.’s own writing — that he was trying to get information that could be damaging to Clinton, with the full knowledge that that information was coming from the Russian government. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- Trump Jr. was corresponding with a man named Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who is well-connected in Russia. Goldstone contacted him on June 3, offering to connect him with documents containing “obviously very high level and sensitive information” from someone in the Russian government. He described the overture as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” [Donald Trump Jr. via Twitter]
- Trump Jr. wrote back saying he would be delighted to have the information, especially if it were dropped later in the summer. [NYT / Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo]
- Throughout the Trump-Russia scandal, there has been a lot of talk about whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
- Now it appears that Trump Jr. attempted to collude with Russian sources, and that at the very least, other members of the campaign (Kushner and Manafort) knew it was going on — as they were copied on the emails. What Trump Jr. did could rise to the level of conspiring with a foreign adversary to influence a federal election — which is a federal crime. [Amber Phillips / Washington Post]
- But it’s unlikely that his actions are tantamount to treason, as some Democratic members of Congress have claimed. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
- Expect the story to keep spinning on all sides; Trump Jr. is set to go on Fox host Sean Hannity’s show tonight to talk about the Russia investigation, the president said in a White House statement that he’s proud of his son for being so "transparent," and the New York Times reporters who broke the story are hinting there's more to come. [Adam Goldman via Twitter]
- Oh, and it’s only Tuesday. [The Onion]
The Senate health care bill is ghosting America
- The US Senate won't get to start their summer vacation on time because they have not gotten enough checked off their to-do list. [Politico / Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim]
- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making senators stay to hammer out deals on health care and finish other business.
- Congressional Republicans have decisive majorities in both the House and Senate, but they’ve struggled so far to pass any of their major agenda items. Republicans are still squabbling over health care, and haven’t even touched tax reform. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
- McConnell was quick to blame the lengthened schedule on a lack of cooperation with Democrats, but there’s a case to be made that Republicans are the ones tripping themselves up. Republicans don’t need Democrats to pass a health care bill, so the bulk of the fighting has been between moderate and conservative Republicans. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
- The first draft of the health care bill was so unpopular with just about everyone that the legislation has gone back into hiding while Senate leadership finishes it.
- Two new versions will be released on Thursday, one of which is likely to contain an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz that would allow health insurance companies to sell deregulated, non-Obamacare plans as long as they also sell plans that are Obamacare-compliant (something that would make the bill more palatable to conservatives). [Vox / Dylan Scott]
- The latest version is expected to keep some of the things that are extremely unpopular with moderates: namely, caps to Medicaid spending and a gradual ending of Medicaid expansion. [Axios / Caitlin Owens]
- The bills are expected to receive a CBO score next week, but they still face a long slog — and senators are not optimistic about their future. [Politico / Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn]
- Repealing and replacing Obamacare is one of the biggest items for Republicans check off their agenda, but it’s not the only thing.
- McConnell told reporters today that the two extra weeks will also give the Senate more time to confirm presidential nominees and do work on the budget that Congress needs to pass in the fall. They also need to vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling, and conservative Republicans are sure to call for steep cuts in the process. [Roll Call / Ryan McCrimmon]
Tillerson is banking on a Qatar win
- The ongoing air, sea, and land blockade in Qatar may soon come to an end, after the country said it would stop funding terrorism in a new agreement with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. [Washington Post / Carol Morello]
- Earlier this summer, neighboring countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates completely cut diplomacy and trade with Qatar after they accused it of funding terrorism. [The Guardian / Patrick Wintour]
- The new memorandum of understanding between Qatar and the United States means the small Gulf nation will have to take steps toward ending funding terrorist groups, though the exact details of the deal weren’t immediately available. [NYT / Gardiner Harris]
- However, Tillerson still has to go to the other countries to see if they will accept the conditions of the memorandum. It could be tricky to get consensus, especially since the original list of demands wanted by Saudi Arabia and others was much longer — and Qatar flatly rejected it. [Washington Post / Carol Morello]
- Even though Qatar is promising to cut back on ties to terrorist groups, it said it will continue to support development in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian group Hamas. The Qatari government bankrolls a lot of building projects in the area, and is trying to draw a line between its support of economic development in the region and Hamas (this is something Israel vehemently disputes). [Associated Press / Fares Akram]
- However, Tillerson has been able to put leverage on the Gulf nations who oppose Qatar by enlisting the help of US Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to put an end to all US arms sales to Persian Gulf nations until the blockade is resolved. [Politico / Elana Schor]
- If Tillerson is able to pull off a deal, it would mark one of his first big diplomatic triumphs. The secretary of state has tried to strike a more moderate tone with Qatar than President Trump, who has sided with Saudi Arabia in the disagreement. [Slate / Meeran Karim]
- Trump’s statements overlook the reality that Saudi Arabia also has a long history of funding terrorist groups. [Politico / Zalmay Khalilzad]
- The blockade has been stifling the tiny country’s booming economy. Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, it hosts a lot of international companies, and it has a successful airline and a state-funded news station, Al Jazeera. [BBC / Simon Atkinson]
- The blockade could have some unintended consequences by strengthening Qatar’s relationship with Iran, which has been sending planes full of fresh produce into the capital, Doha. [CNN / Hilary Clarke]
- One Scottish man was so offended by another Twitter user’s novelty sandwich (chocolate spread topped with cheese), that he took the somewhat dramatic step of reporting it to the police. [Scotsman Food and Drink]
- Residents of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward are suspicious of a new canal expansion project by the Army Corps of Engineers — the same organization that built the levees that flooded during Katrina. [WWNO / Tegan Wendland]
- For all those baseball pros (or semi-pros) out there, the New York Times has analyzed exactly what angle you should swing a bat to get the best hits. [NYT / Jeremy Bowers, Adam Pearce, and Joe Ward]
- Trump’s slogans like “build the wall” are getting picked up by schoolyard bullies across the countries. Pro-Trump rhetoric is on the rise, with a total of 81 Trump-related bullying incidents reported last year. [BuzzFeed / Albert Samaha]
- Before there were Amazon Prime drones delivering packages, there were gyrocopters delivering the mail. And they looked awesome. [Atlas Obscura / Michael Waters]
- “I love getting calls from communists in Montclair.” [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to WFAN / Politico]
- “The energy industry is schizophrenic: at its best, staffed with brilliant geochemists who understand the carbon cycle better than anyone on Earth and, at its worst, recklessly following economic incentives into a civilization-threatening tailspin.” [Peter Brannen / The Atlantic]
- “It didn’t work because it can’t work, because dry shampoo is a fundamentally nonsense product meant merely to unstick your greasy hair from your head long enough for you to look in the mirror and decide you feel confident enough to leave the house for the day, but not for a second longer.” [Racked / Amanda Mull]
- “Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.” [David Brooks / NYT]
- “I speak the same to high schoolers, college grads, or congressmen. I’ve found high schoolers to be plenty bright.” [Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to the Mercer Island High School Islander / Jane Gormley]
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