Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:

Trump's war with his Justice Department: Just his latest with major institutions and alliances

 (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

It would be hard to find someone more loyal to President Trump than Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

He was the first senator to grab a cherry-red “Make America Great Again” cap and endorse Trump for president, when few in Washington took Trump seriously. Now Sessions is perhaps the most zealous member of the president’s Cabinet, pressing his nationalistic agenda of tougher policies on crime and immigration.

Yet this week Trump all but declared war on Sessions for having recused himself from the Russia election-meddling investigation, as well as with nearly every top official at the Justice Department. In an interview Wednesday with the New York Times, the president said he regretted having chosen Sessions and once again raised the possibility of firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — a move that he could more easily accomplish if Sessions were out as attorney general.

Trump has shown repeatedly that he thrives on such fights with allies and enemies alike — to bend them to his will, to enforce loyalty or, failing that, to strike back.

Trump's lawyers look for conflicts of interest among Mueller’s investigators amid a legal team shakeup

 (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

President Trump's legal staff is evaluating potential conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The revelation comes as Mueller's probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election appears likely to include some of the Trump family's business ties.

Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's external legal team, told the Associated Press on Thursday that the lawyers "will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue."

Two of the people with knowledge of that process say those efforts include probing the political affiliations of Mueller's investigators and their past work history. Trump himself has publicly challenged Mueller, declaring this week that the former FBI director would be crossing a line if he investigated the president's personal business ties.

The focus on potential conflicts with Mueller's team may well be an effort to distract from snowballing federal and congressional investigations into possible election-year coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia. While Trump has assailed the probes as a partisan "witch hunt," the investigations have increasingly ensnared his family and close advisors, including son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner.

As the investigations intensify, Trump's legal team is also undergoing a shakeup. New York-based attorney Marc Kasowitz, whose unconventional style has irked some White House aides, is seen as a diminishing presence in the operation, according to the two people with knowledge of the matter.

John Dowd, an experienced Washington attorney, is expected to step up his role on the president's outside legal team, which also includes Sekulow. They're just a few of the fast-growing cadre of attorneys stepping up to represent the president, his family and close advisors as the investigations continue to expand.

In another sign of a shakeup, Mark Corallo, who has been working as a spokesman for the legal team, is no longer part of the operation, according to those familiar with the situation. They insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

U.S. to ban Americans from traveling to North Korea

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

U.S. officials said Friday that the Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of university student Otto Warmbier, who passed away after falling into a coma in a North Korean prison.

The officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had determined to implement a "geographical travel restriction" for North Korea, which would make the use of U.S. passports to enter the country illegal.

They said the restriction would go into effect 30 days after a notice is published in the Federal Register, but it was not immediately clear when that would be. There was no announcement in Friday's editions of the government publication.

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision before it is announced, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House

For 'Made in America' week, Trump campaign highlights Southern California factory that makes his MAGA hats

Hats on the factory floor of Cali-Fame in Carson. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Hats on the factory floor of Cali-Fame in Carson. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Remember that Southern California factory that makes most of Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats?

This week, the president's campaign wants you to.

It’s "Made in America" week, an initiative by the Trump administration to highlight products made in each of the 50 states. 

A statement released Thursday by Trump's reelection campaign reiterated its commitment to selling American-made merchandise, saying it has "proudly produced and manufactured all of our merchandise right here in America from day one."

The statement linked to a video published by the campaign in May, which gives an inside look at the Carson, Calif. factory of Cali-Fame, where many of the hats are produced. In it, company president Brian Kennedy says Cali-Fame has made "just under a million hats" since the campaign began and calls them "the official cap, making America great again" despite knockoffs made elsewhere.

The Los Angeles Times was the first to get a glimpse inside the factory making the Trump hats, where many of the workers are immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. Kennedy assured The Times then that the hats and their materials were all made in the U.S.

But the claim hasn't been without controversy. Following The Times' story, a fiber analysis done by an expert for the Associated Press found that at least one hat was not made of the all-American-made fabric the manufacturer says is used for the hats.

"I pay a good price for that hat," Trump said at the time. "If it's not made in the USA, we'll bring a lawsuit."

But Thursday's statement, and the video released in May, seemed to strike a different tone, saying the "now-famous MAGA hats" are "100% Made in the USA."

Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment.

The statement appeared to be in response to renewed questions this week about Trump's corporate brands that continue to manufacture goods abroad despite the president's campaign promise to get the country to "buy American and hire American."

At a news briefing earlier this week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer responded to questions about foreign-made goods in Ivanka Trump's fashion line, saying it was "inappropriate" to discuss the president's business empire and that it was still an "overall objective" of the administration to grow manufacturing stateside.

Cancer diagnosis spotlights Sen. John McCain's rare ability to bring partisans together

John McCain, with his short fuse and lashing tongue, is not always an easy man to like, or to get along with.

The Arizona senator acknowledged as much in a wry tweet he dispatched Thursday morning — candor and self-deprecation always being two of his strongest, most appealing suits.

“I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support,” McCain wrote hours after revealing he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. “Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!”

At a time of bone-deep political division, the two-time Republican presidential hopeful is a rare unifier.

Conservative, temperamental, pugnacious, he nevertheless commands not just respect but a deep regard among Democrats, Republicans and the reporters who cover them.

The bulletin on his health Wednesday night brought a flood of tributes and the sort of hopeful wishes to be expected from the White House and bipartisan leaders of Congress.

More striking were the heartfelt paeans from his ideological opposites.

RussiaWhite House

White House says Trump actually does have confidence in Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, for now

President Trump still has confidence in Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s job is safe, at least for now, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday.

“He was disappointed in Atty. Gen. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself" from the Justice Department investigation into potential collusion last year between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, Sanders said. "But clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general.” 

That was unclear, however, after the scathing comments Trump made in an interview with the New York Times published late Wednesday. The president lashed out at the top leaders at the Justice Department and FBI, but especially at Sessions, provoking immediate speculation whether the attorney general would resign or be fired.

On Thursday, Sessions told reporters he would continue in his job as long as "appropriate." 

In the interview, Trump said he would not have picked Sessions, the former Alabama senator who was one of his earliest and closest supporters, had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Sessions' recusal early in the administration, which was widely praised at the time given his own previously undisclosed contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, began a series of developments that led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel in May.

Trump also accused Mueller, a former FBI director, as well as others in his office and at the top of the Justice Department of having conflicts of interest. 

Sanders said that if Trump wanted Sessions to resign, he would not use hints.

“You know this president well enough to know that if he wanted somebody to take an action he would make that quite clear,” she said.

But in the case of Mueller, she did not back off Trump’s implied threat in the interview that the president could try to have him removed as special counsel should Mueller's investigation expand to encompass Trump's financial affairs. Sanders said only that his job is safe “at this time.”

“I can’t predict everything that could possibly take place in the future and what Mueller could potentially do,” she said.

Sanders fended off several questions about whether Trump was threatening Mueller or the independence of the investigation and of the Justice Department generally.

Asked whether the president believes Sessions serves him personally or is beholden to the Constitution, she said, "I think that’s kind of a 'both'.” she said.

“Obviously the attorney general’s job is to follow and uphold the Constitution, but also every member of the Cabinet and the administration serves at the pleasure of the president,” Sanders said.

Americans are paying more attention to politics, and finding it stressful

Americans are paying more attention to politics since Donald Trump's election, but many find the experience a stressful one, according to new data from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Just over half of those surveyed by Pew said they were paying more attention to politics since Trump’s victory; only about one in eight said they were paying less attention, and one-third said their level of attention had not changed.

Women were especially likely to say they were paying more attention to politics, with about six in ten saying so, compared with just under half of men.

About one in six Americans said they had attended a political event since the election, with most of those saying the events were opposed to Trump or his policies.

About six in ten said that they found talking about politics with people who disagree about Trump "stressful and frustrating," compared with 35% who find such conversations "interesting and informative."

Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say they found conversations with the other side about Trump to be stressful, with about seven in ten Democrats and about half of Republicans taking that position.

A much smaller share of the public, about one in five, said that knowing that a friend supported Trump would strain the friendship.  Among Democrats, college graduates and liberals were the most likely to take that position, with about four in ten college-educated Democrats saying so.

Aside from politics, most partisans of both parties, however, said that followers of the opposing party "probably share many of my other values and goals."

For all the polarization that has surrounded Trump's administration, the percentage of Americans who said that members of the other party did not share their values and goals is lower now than it was a decade ago, during the final years of the George W. Bush administration. 

Conservative Republicans were the most likely to say that members of the other party don't share their values — nearly half took that position. Among liberal Democrats, about four in ten did so.

The Pew data is based on a survey conducted June 27 to July 9 among a national sample of 2,505 adults. The results have a margin of error of 2.2 points in either direction. 

Trump says he sat with Putin at dinner because the wife of Japan's leader doesn't speak English. But she does.

President Trump says he went over to chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner in Germany this month because his seat mate, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, didn't speak any English.

Akie Abe “doesn’t speak English … like, not ‘Hello,’” Trump told the New York Times in an interview Wednesday.

Not so.

Mrs. Abe, the daughter of a wealthy Japanese family, attended a private Roman Catholic international school in Tokyo before she attended college.

The elementary-through-high-school academy, the Sacred Heart School, includes rigorous English-language instruction as part of its curriculum.

Social media swiftly found clips of the 55-year-old Abe making speeches in somewhat accented but perfectly serviceable English. 

Trump’s dinnertime encounter with Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg has come under scrutiny because the White House did not disclose it for ten days and because no other U.S. official, not even an interpreter, was privy to the conversation.

Putin used his own interpreter and there is no U.S. record of what was said other than Trump's assertion in the interview that the two leaders discussed “adoption."

Putin cut off adoptions of Russian children by Americans several years ago in retaliation for U.S. sanctions against Russian figures accused of human rights abuses.

Some veteran diplomats and foreign policy experts have expressed alarm over the U.S. and Russian presidents having an extended discussion without any official record or aides present.

Trump said in the interview that he and Putin spoke for about 15 minutes. Other accounts have said the two talked for closer to an hour. 

While some social media speculated that Mrs. Abe deliberately did not speak to Trump, a deliberate snub is highly unlikely. 

Even if Mrs. Abe had decided she could express herself better in Japanese, there was an interpreter tasked with assisting her as needed.

Moreover, it would be almost unheard of for a Japanese figure in public life and in a formal social setting, to behave with deliberate rudeness.

She also once worked as a radio disc jockey, pointing to a likely ability to engage in easy patter when necessary. (Her on-air name was "Akky.")

The flap over her non-conversation with Trump, however, generated a fresh social-media backlash over Abe's involvement in right-wing causes. 

Both she and her husband have become figures in a scandal in Japan over an ultra-nationalist kindergarten, with some alleging that the two made a secret donation to the school.

Exxon Mobil fined $2 million for violating sanctions against Russia when Rex Tillerson was CEO

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, and then-Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson meet in Sochi, Russia, on Aug. 30, 2011. (Alexei Druzhinin / Associated Press)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, and then-Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson meet in Sochi, Russia, on Aug. 30, 2011. (Alexei Druzhinin / Associated Press)

Exxon Mobil Corp. showed "reckless disregard" for U.S. sanctions on Russia three years ago while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil giant's chief executive officer, the Treasury Department said Thursday. 

It fined the company $2 million, the maximum civil penalty under the law, calling the violation an "egregious case."

Exxon "is a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company that has global operations" and should know better when it comes to U.S. sanctions, Treasury said.

The Texas-based company has denied wrong doing and indicated late Thursday that it would sue the U.S. government to block the fine.

In a statement, Treasury said Exxon had violated U.S. sanctions when it signed contracts in May 2014 with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin, chairman of government-owned energy giant Rosneft.

The Obama administration had blacklisted Sechin, Tillerson's longtime business associate, as part of its response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The same month Exxon signed the contracts, Tillerson said the energy company generally opposes sanctions and finds them "ineffective."

Since taking over the State Department, however, Tillerson has declared that U.S. sanctions will stay in place until the Kremlin reverses course in Ukraine and gives back Crimea to the government in Kiev.

"The U.S. and [European Union] sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions," Tillerson said this month during a visit to Ukraine.

Critics say the breach of U.S. sanctions when he led Exxon could undermine his ability to credibly enforce the sanctions on Russia and persuade European countries to keep doing so.

In a statement, Exxon complained that the $2 million fine was "fundamentally unfair" because the government was "trying to retroactively enforce a new interpretation of an executive order." 

Concerns about Tillerson's potential conflict of interest as a former oil executive dominated his confirmation hearings in January. After taking office, he recused himself from matters dealing with his former company.

The State Department said Thursday it wasn't involved in the decision to punish Exxon for violating the sanctions. It declined comment on Tillerson's role. 

"The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related commitments," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

In its announcement Thursday, the Treasury Department said Exxon's "senior-most executives" knew Sechin was on a U.S. blacklist when the presidents of two Exxon subsidiaries signed eight legal documents with Sechen in May 2014.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, said Exxon caused "significant harm" to the sanctions program by engaging in transactions with a Russian government official contributing to the Ukraine crisis.

Exxon's dispute with the government involves, in part, a disagreement over whether U.S. sanctions differentiated between "professional" and "personal" interactions with Sechin, who had been blacklisted weeks before the contracts were signed.

Exxon said "clear guidance" from the White House and the Treasury Department at the time had indicated that only engaging with Sechin in a personal capacity was prohibited.

It noted that Rosneft, the Russian oil company that he headed, was not under U.S. sanctions.

But the Treasury Department rejected that argument, saying the U.S. government never gave Exxon or anyone else a reason to believe there was an exception for professional dealings.

The department noted that its sanctions website explicitly warned companies not to enter into any contracts with people on the blacklist.

In May 2014, Neil Duffin, president of subsidiary Exxon Mobil Development, signed several deals to continue work on the massive Sakhalin oil and natural gas project on Russia's eastern coast.

A photo posted on Rosneft's website shows Sechin and Duffin smiling broadly and shaking hands at a conference table with documents and a pen in front of them.

A few days later, Tillerson was publicly stated Exxon's opposition to the sanctions during his company's annual meeting.

"We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensibly and that's a very hard thing to do," he said.

As head of Exxon, Tillerson played a central role in developing the multi-billion dollar Sakhalin deal. He knew both Sechin and Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than a decade before President Trump chose him as secretary of State.

After the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia, Tillerson saw a direct threat to Exxon's stake in the then-promising offshore drilling project.  

Tillerson visited the White House numerous times after the sanctions were announced, but they were not lifted.

This article was originally published at 7:36 a.m.

Updated at 12:27 p.m. to include reaction from State Department. 

AlphaBay, the largest marketplace on the dark web, is seized by U.S.

The latest "dark web" bust shows criminals can no longer hide behind encrypted websites, officials say. (Bill O'Leary / Washington Post)
The latest "dark web" bust shows criminals can no longer hide behind encrypted websites, officials say. (Bill O'Leary / Washington Post)

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it had seized AlphaBay, the Internet’s largest secret marketplace for drugs and other crime, in the government's latest effort to penetrate the so-called dark web. 

AlphaBay operated on the encrypted Tor network and carried more than 250,000 listings for drugs, including heroin and powerful synthetic opioids, officials said. 

The two-year-old site was 10 times larger than Silk Road, the notorious online marketplace seized in 2013.

Andrew McCabe, acting director of the FBI, said the case should serve as a warning that authorities will crack down on encrypted websites that support criminal enterprises.

“They’re living on borrowed time,” he said at a news conference at the Justice Department.

Alexandre Cazes, 25, who was accused of owning the site, was arrested in Thailand on July 5;  authorities seized millions in digital currencies, officials said. 

Cazes, a Canadian citizen, died in Thai custody a week later in what officials said was an apparent suicide.

At the time, authorities in the Netherlands were secretly monitoring another dark web marketplace called Hansa and were watching as AlphaBay’s sellers flocked to the site.

Hansa was also seized Thursday, and U.S. authorities say the evidence in that case will lead to more arrests in Europe.

More than two-thirds of the sales listings on AlphaBay were for illicit drugs, authorities said, but people also used the site to sell firearms, counterfeit goods, fake identification documents and malware for cybercrimes.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said drugs sold on the site have been linked to several deaths in the U.S., including a 13-year-old boy in Park City, Utah, who died after taking a synthetic drug that a classmate had bought on AlphaBay.

“The dark net is not a place to hide,” Sessions said.

Sen. John McCain tweets 'I'll be back soon, so stand-by!'


Sessions says he'll stay on the job 'as long as that is appropriate'

We love this job, we love this department and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate. I'm totally confident we can continue to run this office in an effective way.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions responding to questions about President Trump's bitter complaints about him.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said Thursday he has no immediate plans to resign as the nation's top lawman despite President Trump's sharp criticism of him for recusing himself from the  investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 presidential election.

Trump said in an interview Wednesday that he never would have chosen Sessions to head the Justice Department if he had known Sessions would remove himself from the high-stakes probe, a decision that ultimately led to appointment of a special counsel. 

Sessions told reporters at a news conference that he still shares Trump's priorities to crack down on crime, and said he is focused on leading the department.

“We love this job, we love the department, and I plan on continuing to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Sessions said. “I’m totally confident we can continue to run this office in an effective way.”

In the interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Trump slammed Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the FBI investigation of alleged Trump campaign cooperation with Russia as “very unfair to the president.”

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.

Trump's criticism of Sessions was especially striking because the former four-term U.S. senator from Alabama was one of Trump's earliest and most loyal campaign advisors. His comments also amounted to an attack on the independence of the Justice Department and the FBI.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president,” Trump told the Times.

Sessions announced his recusal in March after news reports revealed that he had failed to tell his Senate confirmation hearing about several private meetings he held with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.

Sessions later said that he stepped back from the probe to avoid a conflict of interest because he had played such a prominent role in Trump's presidential campaign.

Sessions did not say Thursday if he had talked with Trump since the interview was published or if a conversation was scheduled. A Justice Department spokesman said he was not aware of any planned meetings between Sessions and the president.

In the interview, Trump also excoriated both Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 man in the Justice Department, and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who Rosenstein appointed in May to lead the Russia investigation.

Trump said he was unhappy that Rosenstein, a career federal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney in Maryland, came from mostly Democratic Baltimore.

Trump made clear that he was growing impatient with the FBI investigation and said Mueller would be committing a “violation” if he moved beyond the Russian meddling in the 2016 election began looking into Trump's business interests.

Rosenstein did not directly respond to Trump’s criticisms during the news conference Thursday.

“As the attorney general said, we are working here every day to advance the priorities of the Department of Justice,” he said.

Watch live: Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions speaks on cybersecurity, faces questions on Trump comments


Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner set to testify before Senate committees next week

Members of the Trump campaign's inner circle, including his eldest son and son-in-law, are being called before Senate committees next week to talk about the 2016 election.

The week has the potential to deliver the most high-profile congressional testimony involving the Russian meddling probes since former FBI Director James Comey appeared in June.

Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to appear July 26 before the Senate Judiciary Committee along with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a witness list released by the panel Wednesday.

Also, a lawyer for Trump's powerful son-in-law and advisor said Jared Kushner will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

"As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress," said attorney Abbe Lowell. "He will continue to cooperate and appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest."

That meeting will apparently take place behind closed doors.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment about his scheduled testimony. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said Manafort received the request Wednesday afternoon and is reading it over.

The three men will almost certainly be asked about their attendance at a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. That gathering was arranged via emails that advertised it would reveal damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, also said Wednesday she was ready to testify before the U.S. Senate and "clarify the situation."

The meeting raised new questions about the Trump campaign's possible ties to Moscow, which are being scrutinized by federal and congressional investigators. These questions have only intensified as the identities of other Russia-connected participants have become known.

"I am ready to clarify the situation behind the mass hysteria, but only through lawyers or testifying in the Senate," Veselnitskaya said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on Kremlin-funded RT television.

"If the Senate wishes to hear the real story, I will be happy to speak up and share everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump," she added. That appeared to be a reference to Veselnitskaya's previous statement that the meeting with Trump Jr. focused on U.S.-Russian adoption policies and a U.S. sanctions law.

Veselnitskaya has denied working for the Russian government. She has not responded to repeated attempts by the Associated Press to reach her for comment.

Congressional investigators in both parties have said they want to hear from those involved in the meeting. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, Virginia's Mark Warner, said Wednesday afternoon that the panel hasn't yet invited Veselnitskaya to testify, but he wants to hear from her and others who attended.

Warner said "it's still being worked out" whether some of his committee's more high-profile witnesses, including Trump Jr. and Manafort, should testify publicly or privately. The Senate and House intelligence panels conduct most of their interviews in private, but occasionally hold open hearings.

Warner said Trump Jr. has "no security clearances that I am aware of, so he should be able to testify in public."

The GOP chairman of the Senate Judiciary panel, Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, told Iowa reporters Wednesday that he's been talking to Trump Jr.'s lawyer and "didn't get any pushback" when suggesting he testify this week. But he said "it's kind of rushy" to call him in so quickly, and said Democrats had requested documents and emails that they wanted to see before a hearing.

Grassley had said he would subpoena the witnesses if necessary.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will review a law that oversees the registration of foreign agents. The panel has been investigating one of the participants at the Trump Jr. meeting, Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer Rinat Akhmetshin, as part of its probe into the law.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said this week that special counsel Robert Mueller has cleared Trump Jr. and Manafort for public testimony. Mueller is conducting the Justice Department's investigation, and Grassley has said he wants to avoid conflicts.

The House Intelligence Committee is also probing the Russian meddling, and the top Democrat on that panel, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, says the committee is contacting participants in the Trump Jr. meeting. Referencing Feinstein's comments about Mueller's clearance, he said his committee may consider public hearings "for particular witnesses" but noted it rarely holds open hearings.

The House panel is "reaching out to participants in the meeting with a request for testimony and documents, so that is very much in process at the moment," Schiff said.

White House

What you need to know about President Trump's voter fraud commission

 (David Goldman / Associated Press)
(David Goldman / Associated Press)

The stated goal of President Trump’s voter fraud commission is to restore confidence and integrity in the electoral process.

But so far the panel, which opponents have assailed as a sham created by an insecure president and a tool to suppress votes, has faced strong pushback from Democrats and Republicans alike.

On Wednesday, the bipartisan commission held its first meeting in Washington to discuss the voting process and registration.

Here’s a look at the goals of the panel and some of the uproar it has faced:

McCain's current and former colleagues react to his diagnosis

Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer. Doctors discovered a tumor when they were operating to remove a blood clot above his eye.

News of the diagnosis broke Wednesday afternoon. On social media, messages of support flowed in from the longtime Republican senator's current and former colleagues in Washington and Arizona.

The White House issued a statement on behalf of the president.

This post will be updated.

RussiaWhite House

Trump criticizes Sessions and vents frustration at Russia investigation and leaders of the Justice Department and FBI

 (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Trump expressed regret for hiring Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, saying it was "very unfair" that he recused himself from the investigation into Russia's election meddling, and left open the possibility of seeking the firing of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump made the remarks in an interview with the New York Times.

The interview featured an array of complaints against Justice Department leaders and the investigation into potential collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump's criticism of Sessions was especially striking because the former Alabama senator was one of Trump's earliest and most loyal campaign advisors. His comments also amounted to an attack on the independence of the Justice Department and the FBI.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president,” Trump told the Times.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the remarks.

In the interview, Trump also criticized James B. Comey, the former FBI director he fired in May; Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director; and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

Of Mueller, a former longtime FBI director, Trump complained that he and others in the special counsel's office had conflicts of interest. After Comey was fired, Trump said he spoke with Mueller about once again heading the FBI.

“He was up here and he wanted the job” of FBI director, Trump complained to the Times.

“I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’" after learning that Mueller was named to lead the Russia investigation, Trump said. "Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The Times said Trump did not say whether he would order Mueller to be fired by the Justice Department. But the interview underscored Trump's continuing exasperation with the investigation into his circle's ties to Russia.

Trump told the Times that it would be a "violation" and a crossing of a line if Mueller's investigation expanded to include his family's financial issues.

Trump singles out GOP Sen. Dean Heller, implying that he'll lose his seat if he doesn't support healthcare plan

Just a day after saying he would "let Obamacare fail," President Trump reversed course Wednesday and told Republican senators they should stay in Washington and work through August to salvage and pass a measure to replace it.

During a White House lunch, Trump used a familiar approach with senators — mixing friendly banter with pointed attacks — and referred to "their" promise to end Obamacare.

At one point, Trump singled out Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was sitting next to the president. Heller's Senate seat is considered the most endangered of any Republican facing reelection in 2018. He isn't likely to part ways on healthcare with his state's GOP governor, Brian Sandoval, who has been a vocal critic of the overhaul effort in Congress.

The president awkwardly implied Heller could lose his job over the issue. Trump pointed his thumb at Heller and remarked that he'd been "the one we were worried about."  

"Look, he wants to remain a senator doesn't he, OK?" Trump said.

Heller, who'd been laughing, reacted with an "oh."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had previously announced that senators had to forfeit the first two weeks of what was to have been the traditional August recess.

CBO says repealing Obamacare without replacement would leave 32 million more Americans without coverage

 (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Senate Republicans’ proposal to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement would leave 32 million more Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to an updated analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, it would double healthcare insurance premiums by 2026, budget analysts concluded.

The report, which comes as the White House scrambles to salvage the faltering GOP Obamacare overhaul campaign, offers a grim picture of what would happen if Congress moves forward with a plan to repeal much of the current healthcare law while waiting to develop a replacement.

That approach parallels a similar repeal bill that Republicans successfully passed in 2015 and sent to President Obama, who subsequently vetoed it.

The latest CBO score is similar to ones the office has previously released to study the impact of repealing Obamacare without a replacement.


Amendment to give Charlie Gard residency in the U.S. clears House committee

 (Family of Charlie Gard)
(Family of Charlie Gard)

A congressional committee has taken a step toward granting a terminally ill British baby residency in the United States so he can receive experimental treatment.

The House Committee on Appropriations voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an amendment introduced by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) that would grant permanent residency to 11-month-old Charlie Gard and his parents, who have waged a lengthy court battle to prevent a London hospital from withdrawing life support.

The case has drawn intense media scrutiny in Britain, and some outlets reported Wednesday that the committee vote means Charlie could soon be on his way to the U.S. for treatment. But the amendment would need to clear several more hurdles — including votes by the full House and the Senate — to become law.

That is likely to take some time. The amendment was added to a controversial spending bill that includes funding for President Trump’s border wall.

A British judge is expected to rule next week on whether Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition that has left him with severe brain damage and unable to move or breath on his own, can be transferred to the U.S. or Italy, where there are hospitals offering to take over his care. 

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, which has been treating Charlie since October, obtained a court order in April allowing doctors to take the boy off a ventilator because they don't think the proposed treatment will help and could cause him additional pain and distress.

Two other British courts agreed with the decision, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, declined to take up the case last month. But when hospital officials were contacted by the other facilities, they agreed to return to the original court to give the judge a chance to reconsider.

At an emotional hearing last week, a U.S. doctor testified over a video link that there was clinical evidence suggesting that Charlie might improve with the treatment. The judge asked the doctor to go to London to evaluate Charlie and meet with his medical team, which the doctor did on Monday and Tuesday.

The case has become an international cause célèbre, with both Trump and Pope Francis tweeting their support for Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Conservative Christian and anti-abortion groups in the U.S. have also taken up their cause.

“Parents have the most at stake when it comes to standing up for their children and right now, we have an incredible opportunity to stand with a family and save a child’s life,” Beutler said in a statement Tuesday.

Last week, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation to grant permanent resident status to Charlie and his family. That bill has not come up for a vote yet. 

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