He might miss James Comey. The ex-FBI director assured President Trump he wasn’t under investigation. Now, the Washington Post reports the FBI did, in fact, launch a presidential probe — after Comey’s firing. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly investigating whether the president obstructed justice, and sources say Daniel Coats and Mike Rogers, who head national intelligence and the NSA, respectively, have agreed to participate. Trump blasted the report as an “phony,” and experts say Coats and Rogers may refuse to quote Trump on tenuous grounds of executive privilege.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It likes what it sees. The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point on Wednesday to 1.25 percent, reflecting the bank’s belief that the U.S. economy is sound. There’s hard evidence for that: after 80 straight months of job creation, unemployment fell to its lowest level since 2001. With that in mind, the Fed’s also unveiled its plan to begin paring down — possibly by September or October — its economy-stimulating $4.5 trillion in bonds and other investments, testing the economy’s ability to keep chugging along without its assistance.
Just hours after a multiple shooting left a Congressional leader wounded, gunfire erupted at a United Parcel Service warehouse in San Francisco, killing four. A witness reportedly said that an employee shot at fellow drivers during a morning dispatch meeting and then, according to a police spokesman, shot himself. Multiple victims were brought to nearby hospitals. Some 850 people work at the facility, and a local auto shop owner described “a mob of drivers” running from the scene, yelling, “shooter, shooter!” as police sent a SWAT team to the building.
FBI agents are investigating an early-morning shooting in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, where 66-year-old James Hodgkinson shot and wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and several others on Thursday ahead of an annual Congressional charity baseball game. Scalise sustained a non-life-threatening hip wound, while Hodgkinson died in custody from wounds he sustained during the attack. President Donald Trump praised the “heroic actions” of the Capitol police officers who took down the gunman, who had a history of arrests and frequently complained about Congress in letters to his local Illinois newspaper.
“I have never seen anything of this scale.” So said London’s fire commissioner of the inferno that engulfed the 24-story Grenfell Tower in Kensington overnight. More than 200 firefighters battled the flames, attempting to rescue potentially hundreds of residents, many of whom were asleep when the blaze broke out after midnight. Twelve fatalities have been reported so far, but authorities expect that number to increase. Dozens were taken to hospitals after witnesses reported hearing cries for help and seeing people leaping from the 1970s structure, which had reportedly been slated for fire safety renovations.
A “detestable lie.” That’s how Attorney General Jeff Sessions described suggestions that he colluded with Russian election meddlers. Testifying Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions said he couldn’t recall a reported third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He also refused to reveal his discussions with President Donald Trump, unlike ousted FBI Director James Comey. While there’s a tradition of keeping presidential conversations confidential, one Democratic senator called it “stonewalling.” Legal experts say if he’s hiding malfeasance, it ultimately won’t be shielded by executive privilege.
He’s still serving his sentence. After more than 17 months in a North Korean prison, 22-year-old Otto Warmbier headed home on Tuesday, but his parents say he’s been comatose for 15 months after being “brutalized” by his captors. A University of Virginia student on a tour, he was arrested in January 2016 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for allegedly stealing a political banner. Pyongyang said that Warmbier contracted botulism after his trial, was given a sleeping pill and never awakened. His chance of recovery is uncertain.
It’s hard to run an empire from jail. Under Wu Xiaohui, Anbang Insurance became known for smart mergers. But now he’s out — “unable to perform his duties,” according to the company — after being detained by Chinese authorities. Wu hasn’t been charged and it’s unclear if an investigation is underway. Anbang, boasting $242 billion in assets, bought New York City’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel for $2 billion, and negotiated with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner for a $4 billion Fifth Avenue development deal that was canceled in March without explanation.
Know This: Nearly 200 congressional Democrats plan to sue President Trump today over alleged foreign financial conflicts. The jury is still deliberating on the eighth day of Bill Cosby’s Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. And former RNC boss Ed Gillespie has barely held off a surprisingly strong challenge from Virginia Trump campaign chair Corey Stewart for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Lost Legend: “During her time with the Stones, Pallenberg became a muse for the band. She provided backing vocals for ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and Mick Jagger was said to have remixed tracks … based on her feedback.” — Obituary for Anita Pallenberg, former girlfriend to Rolling Stones band members Keith Richards and Brian Jones. She recently died at age 73 of undisclosed causes.
Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY’s next TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is launching on PBS this fall! To kick things off, we’re shelving the PC and sparking debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, with a focus on topics that might make it onto the show. This week, we delve into privacy and security: Should tech companies surrender your data to the FBI? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
Is the canary beyond saving? When President Trump praised the opening of a new Pennsylvania coal mine Monday, he omitted one key fact: It will employ 70 people, compared to 92 for an average supermarket. The coal industry — with an estimated 15,000 miners nationwide — was one of Trump’s justifications for dumping the Paris climate agreement. But labor statistics show that America has many larger workforces, like 127,000 drywall installers and 279,000 personal trainers. With increased federal focus they could prove a gold mine for future employment.
A few small words for man, one giant leap for NASA. A seemingly minor addition to the 2017 NASA Authorization Act may launch us closer to learning whether there’s really life out there. By ordering the space agency to “search for life’s origins, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe,” Congress effectively gave NASA permission to seek out extraterrestrials. And they’ve already begun: Scientists have identified thousands of exoplanets, some in the Earth-like “Goldilocks zone.” Next year a massive new telescope will begin detecting life-indicating gases emanating from those worlds.
Ready to get real behind the wheel? A 25-year love affair with Mario Kart has spawned a real-life driving culture, with costumed fans taking to DIY battery-powered children’s Power Wheels, sometimes turbocharged for blazing 26-mph racing. Though Nintendo tried to shut down a Tokyo-based MariCar tour of the city, they’ve been friendlier toward a less commercial subculture that encourages Mario enthusiasts to construct their own costumes and cars in honor of their beloved characters — and experts say the craze is just getting revved up.
Petit-déjeuner could get more petit. Wholesale dairy prices have nearly doubled since April 2016, and recent studies showing that butter is healthier than previously believed have stoked Western demand. Now the French Bakers’ Federation warns that the price of croissants, which are about 25 percent butter, could skyrocket in the coming months. Even worse, there might be a shortage of the iconic flaky pastries. That could bring pain — and not the crusty kind — to family bakeries that can’t eat the extra cost or risk losing clientèle with higher prices.
They haven’t even been asked yet. But after Golden State won the NBA championship Monday, many speculated that the whole team might avoid the traditional congratulatory White House ceremony. Bay Area representative and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi jumped on the snubwagon, inviting them to Capitol Hill instead. The Warriors say they haven’t gotten a White House invitation yet, but “will make those decisions when and if necessary.” As Stephen Curry and coach Steve Kerr have been openly critical of the administration, Pelosi might need to get the red carpet ready.