The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Minnesota Shooting Trial Ends With Officer’s Acquittal

    It was caught on Facebook Live. But the crucial motion of Philando Castile’s hand before his fatal shooting July 6, was not. Jurors in St. Paul, Minnesota deliberated for about 29 hours before unanimously clearing Officer Jeronimo Yanez of second-degree manslaughter. He testified that he thought Castile, who told him he had a licensed firearm, was pulling a gun rather than his driver’s license. Castile’s family cried out against the verdict, and later police arrested 18 of the 500 Black Lives Matter demonstrators who blocked a nearby Interstate 94.

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    Trump Curbs Cuba Thaw

    Say hello to his little pen. In a speech from Miami, President Trump on Friday announced plans to crack down on financial dealings with Cuba’s military and to limit American travel to the Caribbean island, slamming his predecessor’s attempt to improve relations with the communist country as a “one-sided deal.” Other components of President Barack Obama’s rapprochement, however, will remain: Airlines and cruise companies already doing business with Cuba can continue to do so. Critics warned that the new regulations would favor businesses that have managed to set up shop, while penalizing those whose plans have yet to be realized.

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    Amazon to Buy Whole Foods

    First it shook up the book business, and now it’s eyeing groceries. With its acquisition of Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion, Amazon is hoping to break into the super-lucrative consumer food market, which it’s already explored through its Amazon Fresh delivery business. The deal also shows the online retailer wants to dabble in brick-and-mortar business — the same sector it helped stifle through its stellar growth. Making use of Whole Foods’ 450 locations across the United States, Amazon could begin selling more than just food — think tablets and other media devices — at those locations.

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    Trump Blasts Investigators as Russia Probe Expands

    Batten down the hatches. In a flurry of Russiagate developments, new reports say presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business dealings and potential conflicts are targets for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump blasted “very bad and conflicted” federal investigators believed to be probing his possible obstruction of justice in ousting former FBI Director James Comey. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Comey political asylum, comparing him to Moscow-based fugitive Edward Snowden. And U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has lawyered up, anticipating storm clouds over the Potomac.

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    Russian Airstrike May Have Killed ISIS Leader

    Is the “caliph” dead? Russia’s defense ministry is investigating reports that a May 28 airstrike killed international terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The attack, which state media claimed killed over 300 militants, reportedly targeted an ISIS meeting on the outskirts of Raqqa: The group’s de facto capital has been under sustained assault by U.S.-backed local fighters. The Pentagon said it couldn’t confirm the claim, but Russian officials reported that they warned U.S. forces before attacking. If proven, the news could be a body blow to ISIS’ hold on power.

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    London Fire Toll Feared to Exceed 60

    They may never be identified. London police made that grim prediction as emergency personnel continue to comb through the charred rubble of 24-story Grenfell Tower, where at least 30 are confirmed dead. It’s feared the toll could reach 60, and one police commander said he hoped it wouldn’t hit “triple figures.” Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth visited survivors today, after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered an inquiry into the tragedy. One possible line of investigation could involve aluminum cladding — common in British high-rises — that’s been blamed for accelerating Wednesday morning’s deadly blaze.

  7. US Senate Sanctions Russia, and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: The U.S. Senate has voted 98-2 to impose new sanctions on Moscow, adding a provision that prevents the White House from unilaterally lifting existing sanctions. Chinese authorities have identified the suspect in Thursday’s bombing at a Jiangsu Province kindergarten that killed seven people and injured 65. And a Tennessee homeowner held two escaped felons at gunpoint, ending a manhunt that began Tuesday with the murder of two prison guards.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.

    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 with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.


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    German Reunification Leader Helmut Kohl Dies at 87

    He’s a man Europe will never forget. Legendary German statesman Helmut Kohl, who helped engineer Germany’s reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall, died on Friday at 87. The longest-serving German chancellor of the 20th century, Kohl was also a mentor to current Chancellor Angela Merkel. He played an outsize role in the greater European project, too: along with former French President Francois Mitterrand, Kohl was instrumental in establishing the euro as the continent’s common currency. “We Germans,” he’s reported to have said during reunification, “have learned from history.”

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    Putin Trolled on Live Russian State TV

    That was awkward. President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in show — long a controlled PR opportunity to show off the leader’s ability to solve his people’s problems — faced an unexpected glitch Thursday when a string of angry messages appeared on-screen while Putin spoke. “Three presidential terms is enough!” read one. “All of Russia thinks that you’ve been too long on your throne,” said another. It wasn’t clear whether they’d slipped through or were intentionally aired by rogue TV staffers who would likely find the angry words used against them.

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    ‘No Flash’ Mueller Isn’t In It for Party Favors

    “Bob is not really a fun guy.” If you were President Trump, you might worry if those words described someone who’s investigating you. As it turns out, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has that rep: When he hosts a Friday soirée, it’s lights-out at 10:05 p.m. Reports indicate that Mueller, said to be apolitical, is probing Trump’s possible obstruction of justice. Assuming he isn’t summarily fired, the ex-FBI chief and his team are expected to adopt a hard-nosed strategy and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

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    Oregon Bureaucracy Adds Third Gender Option

    Are you M, F … or X? Starting July 1, those are the three gender choices Oregon residents will have for government-issued IDs and driving licenses following a court decision that authorized an Oregonian to identify as “non-binary.” People choosing to make the change can self-certify, meaning they won’t need a doctor’s note. While Oregon is the only state to allow a “not specified” gender, it may not be for long: California’s state Senate has already passed a bill authorizing a similar move, which now awaits approval by its Assembly.

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    Cosby Jury Deadlocked After Four Days

    They just disagree. Though the defense offered only six minutes of testimony from one witness in comedian Bill Cosby’s criminal trial for an alleged 2004 sexual assault, jurors have deliberated unsuccessfully for nearly 30 hours. The panel of seven men and five women discussed the potential of a mistrial with Judge Steven O’Neill yesterday, but he instructed them to return this morning and continue trying to reach verdicts on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. A Cosby spokesman called it “justice,” however, perhaps seeing little chance of a unanimous decision.

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    United Lawmakers Play Ball for ‘Team Scalise’

    The only way to lose was not to play. Just one day after a gunman injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others at GOP baseball practice, congressional Democrats and Republicans went ahead and played their annual game last night. The Dems won 11-2, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi emphasized “tonight we’re all Team Scalise.” The 25,000 spectators raised $1.5 million for local charities and a memorial fund for Capitol Police, which had two officers injured in Wednesday’s shooting, including David Bailey — who threw out the first pitch.