Loose quips sink ships. In the same Oval Office meeting in which he reportedly revealed sensitive Israeli intelligence, Donald Trump told the Russian ambassador and foreign minister that firing “nut job” FBI Director James Comey had relieved “great pressure” the president faced because of his campaign’s suspected Kremlin connections, the New York Times reports. Trump is also said to have told his guests he wasn’t under investigation. The revelation adds to a host of other incidents that have led to a a cover-up investigation, a Justice Department official reportedly told senators yesterday.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Former congressman Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty to exchanging sexually explicit texts with a 15-year-old girl. Weiner allegedly cried, apologizing to the girl, saying, “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse.” The disgraced politician will now have to register as a sex offender. Weiner came under investigation last year when the 15-year-old told tabloid news the 52-year-old Democrat had exchanged sexual material with her over the course of months, and accused him of asking her to undress on camera. Weiner could now face jail time for transmitting sexual material to a minor.
“The country’s fate is determined by the people.” So said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as 56 million eligible voters lined up at polling stations. It’s considered a de facto two-man race between current President Hassan Rouhani, a reformer who inked the nuclear deal with the U.S. and has committed to further opening Iran to the world, and Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative populist who’s believed to be supported by Khamenei and by the elite Revolutionary Guard. Polls close this evening and a final result is expected within 24 hours.
Was it intentional? Richard Rojas had a history of drunk driving and aggressive behavior — and after he was arrested for plowing his Honda Accord through three blocks of busy Times Square sidewalks yesterday he reportedly said he was trying to provoke police to kill him. Officials say there was no alcohol in his system, but traces of PCP were detected. An 18-year-old woman was killed, and Rojas has been charged with her murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular manslaughter.
Deny, deny, deny. At a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Donald Trump said he never asked James Comey to stop investigating national security adviser Michael Flynn, and insisted that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. Earlier, Trump tweeted that he was the victim of the ”single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, head of the Oversight Committee, invited Comey to testify before Congress — and announced his own resignation as of the end of June.
It might never get off the ground. Talks with EU commissioners over America’s threat to ban in-cabin laptops on European flights ended with the idea being nixed. But Homeland Security is now considering an even more drastic option: Banning in-cabin laptops on all international flights. Officials say they’re concerned about terrorism, though a hold filled with lithium batteries carries its own risks. Some worry it’ll devastate U.S. tourism and the airline industry, as carrier Emirates saw profits drop 82 percent after being hit with an identical ban.
Know This: Former Rep. Anthony Weiner will reportedly plead guilty today to transferring obscene material to a minor. Swedish prosecutors are dropping the investigation into rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who’s been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition. Two Chinese jets intercepted a U.S. aircraft patrolling international airspace over the East China Sea yesterday — which an Air Force spokesperson says will be addressed through diplomatic channels. And Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, died yesterday of complications of a subdural hematoma at the age of 77.
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It’s more complicated than yelling “I quit!” Japan’s cabinet has approved a one-off bill allowing Emperor Akihito to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne, the first imperial abdication since Emperor Kokaku in 1817. No movement was made on opening succession to female heirs, despite concerns about the shrinking royal household as Princess Mako prepares to leave the family to marry a commoner. Akihito’s abdication is expected to come when he turns 85 in December 2018, and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend to the throne.
Shields up! Decades of very low frequency (VLF) radio signals, used by radio telescopes and submarines, have had an unexpected consequence: They’ve drifted out into the atmosphere, creating a barrier around Earth that can actually be seen from space. NASA thinks this “VLF bubble” acts as a protective force field against space weather like coronal mass ejections. These giant gas bubbles with magnetic fields erupt from the sun after solar flares, and can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, knocking out power grids and destroying satellites in high orbit.
They keep coming back for more. Nationwide the war on drugs has de-escalated, with focus shifting toward rehabilitation rather than punishment. But a rash of deaths linked to heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone — nearly 4,000 in 2015 alone — has led Florida lawmakers to double down on incarceration-heavy policies, recently adding new drugs to its list of those with mandatory minimum prison sentences. Meanwhile, critics of Florida’s approach say the Sunshine State is repeating the mistakes of the past, targeting minorities and the poor without decreasing drug usage.
Not even the auctioneer expected this. Back in 1984, the last time Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled painting of a skull was auctioned, it went for $19,000. Last night, the same painting drew the highest price ever recorded for an American artist’s work, making it the sixth most expensive masterpiece of all time. Presale estimates topped $60 million, but after a tense 10-minute bidding war, billionaire Yusaku Maezawa emerged victorious. He plans to house the record-breaking 1982 masterpiece in a museum in his hometown of Chiba, Japan.
They’ve got millions on the line. As the All-NBA team lineup was called, there were conspicuous absences — most notably Pacers star Paul George and Utah’s Gordon Hayward, who now won’t be eligible for multimillion dollar bonuses and may turn to free agency. Rockets guard James Harden, meanwhile, got unanimous votes for the first team, upping his chance at MVP. LeBron James, who fell one short of unanimous, was named to the first team for the 11th time, tying the record held by Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.