It was off the record. The White House has now confirmed that President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a previously undisclosed second conversation at the G-20 summit earlier this month, holding a private discussion out of earshot of other leaders during a dinner event. Details of the hour-long talk are unknown: There’s no official government record and only Putin’s translator was included. Trump tweeted that press coverage of the meeting was “sick,” as questions about Russian connections continue to plague his administration.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Obamacare isn’t going anywhere just yet. Shortly after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the GOP would be unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system was dealt another crushing blow. Three Republican senators voiced their opposition to McConnell’s back-up plan, to simply repeal the law, effectively dooming it to failure. It’s a major defeat for President Donald Trump’s young administration, especially since a new health care law was a key campaign promise. Now, Trump says his plan is to “let Obamacare fail.”
Justice might be done. Poland’s ruling populist government, the Law and Justice party, says it’s necessary to purge the nation’s judicial branch of elites. But thousands have protested two bills — one passed last week that allows Law and Justice to unilaterally name judges to the bench, and another being debated today that would allow the ruling party to dismiss the current Supreme Court justices, who have the power to certify elections. Legal authorities say free and fair elections in Poland could be in jeopardy, along with judicial independence.
It took hours of arguing. President Trump has long railed against the nuclear deal made with Iran, but advisers — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — convinced him to recertify Iran’s compliance, even as the president reportedly ordered them to formulate a more aggressive strategy toward Tehran. The U.S. must certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days. Officials said they planned to introduce new sanctions against Iran nonetheless, claiming Tehran had violated the “spirit” of the deal even if it technically complied with the terms.
It’s the subprime mortgage crisis 2.0. Private student loans lack the protections for borrowers available from federal loans — but several recent lawsuits have ended with students’ debt being erased: National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, which holds about $12 billion in private student loans, has struggled to produce adequate paperwork proving it owns the debt in the first place. A recent audit sampling 400 loans from the trust found none of them had proper paperwork, and many student loan-holders hope the tide may be turning against such companies.
Know This: The fiancé of an Australian woman who was shot dead by Minneapolis police after she called to report an assault says that her family has received little information from authorities. Venezuela’s opposition has called for a nationwide strike this week. And Apple’s latest batch of emojis include a woman wearing a headscarf and a woman breastfeeding.
Look at This: A 300-pound security robot at a Washington, D.C., company ran itself into a fountain yesterday. It is not clear whether it survived the inundation.
Wanted: OZY is growing! We’re looking to hire a number of additional reporters, videographers, podcasters and editors including a top-tier managing editor. Read more on our jobs page. And please forward to an outstanding friend who you think may be a great fit.
It’s the end of the line. Russia’s Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that designated the denomination an extremist organization, essentially outlawing it. The move will force the Jehovah’s Witnesses to shutter their 395 Russian chapters and hand over their property to the state. Most non-mainstream denominations face discrimination in Russia — a predominantly Orthodox Christian country — where the Kremlin has stirred up patriotic fervor in a bid to consolidate support. The church is expected to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but any ruling would be purely symbolic.
Red tape and corruption are a lethal combination. With a history of bribery and murky business protocols, Nigeria’s in the middle of its worst recession in 25 years. Now it’s hoping a new council can tackle bottlenecks and corruption to bring the continent’s largest economy back into the top 100 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index by 2019. It’s currently 169 out of 190. Many remain skeptical of the council’s capacity, but its reduction in prohibitive trade documentation and its executive orders expanding information-sharing have others more optimistic.
Some things aren’t funny. But Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman defended his boss’s off-color humor yesterday after Duterte joked that he’d “congratulate” someone for raping Miss Universe despite knowing he’d be punished with death. That probably won’t quell concerns — it’s the third time the outspoken leader has made light of rape in just over a year. Nonetheless, his popularity with voters has risen: A recent poll found 82 percent approve of his performance. Meanwhile, Duterte’s asked Congress to extend martial law in the Mindanao region through the end of 2017.
Deny, deny, deny. The singer “unequivocally” contests new allegations that he’s “brainwashed” half a dozen young women and is keeping them in a sexual cult. The bombshell Buzzfeed News story cited the parents of three young women, plus three of the singer’s former associates who corroborated their claims, calling Kelly “a master at mind control.” But after the story broke, one of the alleged victims contacted TMZ to say she’s “totally fine.” Kelly released a two-sentence statement through his lawyer saying he intends to “diligently and forcibly” clear his name.
He’s on the ball. The Lakers’ new 19-year-old point guard has been named Las Vegas Summer League MVP despite sitting out yesterday’s championship game, in which Los Angeles beat Portland 110-98, due to a calf strain. Ball, who was L.A.’s second overall pick, averaged 16.3 points, 2.5 steals, 7.7 rebounds and a league-leading 9.3 assists through six summer games, helping his team reach the final. Now Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka predicts the rookie’s ball-sharing, collaborative style could transform the whole team.