Special counsel Robert Mueller’s election meddling investigation has indicted a dozen members of the GRU, the Kremlin’s spy agency. The 11 counts include allegations of hacking the Democratic National Committee and trying to break into state election boards. The Kremlin denies such involvement, but the indictment puts pressure on President Donald Trump to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin at the leaders’ Monday summit. Mueller’s boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said in his indictment announcement that attempts to “confuse, divide and conquer us” will fail if Americans unite under “shared values enshrined in the Constitution.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Bombers killed more than 130 people at campaign rallies in Pakistan today before ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was arrested on a corruption conviction upon his return from exile. The atmosphere was already tense ahead of July 25 elections, seen as a showdown between Sharif’s party and the cricket star Imran Khan’s increasingly popular nationalist party. Most of the dead, 128 by a recent count, were at a rally in the southwestern province of Balochistan — the deadliest such attack in four years — that was claimed by Islamic State militants.
After unsettling NATO allies this week with incendiary comments, President Donald Trump arrived in London for a highly anticipated visit that predictably descended into drama. He publicly slammed conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, suggesting, then denying, it would “probably kill” a U.S.-U.K. trade deal, and said Boris Johnson, who recently resigned as foreign secretary, would be a good prime minister. Today he met Queen Elizabeth II and was then quoted saying she was “an incredible woman,” as tens of thousands of protesters chanted their contempt for the American president.
In testimony to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees yesterday, Peter Strzok strongly denied his professional work was clouded by political bias. The subject of intense Republican criticism over private text messages from August 2016 suggesting he would “stop” President Trump’s election, Strzok — who helped launch the agency’s Russia probe — painted the GOP campaign as “another victory notch in Putin’s belt.” He downplayed his anti-Trump comments to FBI lawyer Lisa Page as “off-the-cuff” rather than part of an actual effort to block Trump’s victory.
The top U.S. diplomat will lead the Trump administration’s first official visit to the country since the landslide victory of leftist President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will also make the trip — billed as a “a testament to the importance” of the bilateral relationship — along with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. President Trump’s son-in-law has attracted criticism for his high-ranking role in the administration, especially amid reports that he lacks the appropriate security clearance.
They’re buying time. The move comes weeks after a federal judge approved the high-stakes media merger, casting down the government’s objection that the more than $80 billion buyout would stifle competition and harm consumers. A three-judge panel could take months to consider the appeal in the landmark antitrust case. Last month’s approval also opened the door for a bidding war between Comcast and Disney for the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, another high-profile effort that would further consolidate the media industry.
Know This: Detaining immigrant children has reportedly turned into a $1 billion U.S. industry. An Air China co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette caused his plane to enter a rapid emergency descent earlier this week. A judge has authorized the demolition of the world’s tallest water slide in Kansas City after a death and two serious injuries in August 2016. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Ireland, where two sisters are pioneering “disability chic.”
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.
Watch This: Tune in tonight to PBS for Breaking Big, OZY’s latest TV show exploring the secret sauce behind successful people. Host Carlos Watson sits down with Ruth Zukerman to find out how she broke through, and broke big.
Bend, Oregon, will soon become the home of America’s last remaining Blockbuster after next week’s closure of two locations in Alaska. The iconic movie rental franchise was thought to have held out longer in the Last Frontier due to the state’s expensive internet. “It’s tough to tell the customers,” said the manager of the Anchorage store. “They are like family.” Inventory sales will continue through August, while the fate of the store’s collection of Russell Crowe memorabilia, recently donated by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, is uncertain.
They’re going greener. The island nation’s move to withdraw public funds from the fossil fuel industry is expected to force the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to unload $400 million in 150 international oil, gas and coal securities — and it even targets peat, which is traditionally burned to heat Irish homes. The measure, approved yesterday by the lower house of Parliament, aims to meet environmental goals set in the 2016 Paris climate accord. The bill is expected to quickly pass in the upper house and become law later this year.
While most neutrinos, or “ghost particles,” originate from the sun and go unnoticed due to their virtual lack of mass and electric charge, a high-energy, deep space version has long puzzled scientists. Now astronomers have finally traced one to a blazar, a huge galaxy 4 billion light-years away with a supermassive black hole at its center. The discovery solves a century-old mystery about the origin of cosmic rays, which accompany these particles, and shows the value of “multimessenger astrophysics” — using multiple types of signals to probe space.
They’ve got The Crown. The British monarchy drama earned 13 nods, helping Netflix end HBO’s 17-year reign atop the nomination list. The streaming giant’s burgeoning content lineup received 112 nods for 40 shows Wednesday, edging out the cable stalwart’s 108 — though HBO’s Game of Thrones led all shows with 22, followed by Westworld’s 21. Other streaming services are creeping up: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale snagged 20 nominations and Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel earned 14. The trend has Warner Media, HBO’s parent company, talking about going “bigger and broader.”
Call it a comeback. The seven-time Wimbledon winner bested Julia Goerges in just 70 minutes to reach her 10th final at the All England Club, where she’ll face German Angelique Kerber. Williams suffered a health scare 10 months ago after complications from giving birth led to blood clots that required multiple surgeries. The 36-year-old said, “I just feel like when I don’t have anything to lose, I just can play so free.” If she wins Saturday, Williams will tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.