Daily Brief5

10 things you need to know today!

1. Trump comments fuel confusion over his views on Russian meddling

Hasil gambar untuk Trump comments fuel confusion over his views on Russian meddling

President Trump on Wednesday raised questions for a third day about whether he sees Russia as a threat to American democracy, saying “no” when a reporter asked whether he believed Moscow was still trying to influence U.S. elections. The apparent denial that Russia was continuing its hostile actions contradicted statements by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who said “the warning lights are blinking red,” indicating Russia is continuing to target the U.S.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later that Trump was saying “no” to whether he would answer more questions, not whether he believed Russia was still targeting the U.S. Trump later said in a CBS News interview that he believed U.S. intelligence assessments about Russian meddling, adding that he holds Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible, and told him at their Helsinki summit it had to stop. [The Washington Post, CBS News]

2. FBI director reaffirms that Russia is still meddling in U.S.

Image: Lester Holt, Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray reaffirmed on Wednesday that Russia was continuing to try to interfere in U.S. elections, in apparent pushback over Trump’s recent statements blurring his position on whether Russian meddling is ongoing. “My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day,” Wray told NBC Nightly Newsanchor Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum.

Holt also asked Wray whether reports that he had previously threatened to resign were true. He did not confirm the reports, but suggested they were accurate. “I’m a low-key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of,” he said. “I’ll just leave it at that.” [NBC News]

3. Report: Trump saw evidence in January 2017 of Putin ordering election hack

Weeks before his January 2017 inauguration, President Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to influence the 2016 U.S. election,The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The evidence, which Trump saw in a meeting in Trump Tower, included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information from a top-secret source close to Putin, who covertly told the CIA how Russia executed its disinformation and hacking campaign. Trump was briefed by former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Adm. Michael Rogers, the former director of the National Security Agency. Several people at the briefing told the Times Trump sounded “grudgingly convinced” of the plot. [The New York Times]

4. Judge orders Russian woman jailed pending trial

Maria Butina

A judge on Wednesday ordered alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina held until trial after prosecutors argued that she might flee the country if allowed out on bond. Prosecutors said Butina, a 29-year-old gun rights activist, has ties to Russian intelligence and appeared to be preparing to leave Washington when she was arrested and accused of working as a Russian agent to arrange back-channel communications between Moscow and associates of President Trump.

Hasil gambar untuk Maria Butina / GIF

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday accused Butina of using sex and lies to develop powerful connections in conservative circles, including a gun-rights organization, reportedly the National Rifle Association. Butina pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Her attorney, Robert Driscoll, said Butina was not a flight risk, calling her a young student who was just “seeking to make her way in America.” [The Associated Press, Reuters]

5. Interior watchdog investigating Zinke’s role in land deal

Ryan Zinke is pictured. | AP

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has launched an investigation into a real estate deal involving a foundation started by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in Montana and several developers, including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar, the department’s deputy inspector general told House Democrats in a letter Wednesday.

Investigators will look into whether Zinke violated conflict of interest laws. The real estate deal involved his wife, Lola Zinke, signing an agreement allowing developers, including Lesar, to build a parking lot for a redevelopment project that could raise the value of land Zinke owned nearby, Politico reports. Critics say Zinke, who is responsible for regulating oil and gas, shouldn’t be involved in any business deals with anyone connected to the industries. [Politico]

6. Measure to split California removed from ballot

Measure to split California into three states removed from ballot by the state Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled a proposal to split up the state from the November ballot. Proposition 9, sponsored by venture capitalist Tim Draper, called for the division of California into three states: California, Northern California, and Southern California.

A conservation group sued, arguing the measure would abolish the state constitution, which cannot be done as a ballot initiative. The court said “significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity” and the “potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.” The court agreed to rule on the measure’s constitutionality at a later date. [Los Angeles Times]

7. Thai boys freed from flooded cave recount ordeal

The 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who spent two weeks trapped in a flooded cave on Wednesday held their first news conference since their rescue. One boy said they had been trying to dig their way out when they heard the voices of the two British rescue divers who found them.

Their coach told them to be silent. “We weren’t sure if it was for real,” Adul Samon, 14, said. “So we stopped and listened. And it turned out to be true. I was shocked.” In one emotional moment, the boys expressed their gratitude for Saman Gunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL who died in the rescue effort. The boys wake up at home Thursday for the first time in three weeks. [The Associated Press]

8. Pompeo says North Korea denuclearization ‘may take some time’

Hasil gambar untuk Pompeo says North Korea deal 'may take some time,' sanctions to remain

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that reaching a denuclearization deal with North Korea “may take some time.” “There’s a lot of work to do. It may take some time to get where we need to go,” Pompeo said at a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Trump.

But all of this will be taking place against the backdrop of continued enforcement of existing sanctions.” Russia’s envoy to North Korea has proposed easing the sanctions, designed to pressure North Korea into curbing its nuclear and missile programs, pending an agreement on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Pompeo said some progress had been made since Trump’s inconclusive summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including plans to start returning remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War within “the next couple weeks.” [Reuters]

9. Remains in Texas believed to be 95 forced-labor black prisoners

Researchers believe the remains of 95 people found at a Texas construction site are those of African Americans forced to work on a plantation around the turn of the 20th century, according to a preliminary report released this week. The bones were discovered while crews were working on a new school near Houston. Archaeologists said the bodies were almost certainly those of prisoners leased out to work under a so-called convict-lease program.

The prisoners lived and worked on plantations. There was one in the area where the school is being built, and the researchers said the remains appeared to have been buried in a plantation cemetery used from 1878 to 1911. Researchers have analyzed 20 bodies. Their ages ranged from 14 to 70. All but one were male. [The New York Times]

10. Prime Day fuels record sales for Amazon and rivals

Amazon’s Prime Day broke another sales record for the e-commerce giant this week, but it also helped lift sales for other massive retailers by 54 percent, according to an Adobe Analytics report released Wednesday.

Target held a one-day sale on Tuesday to rival Prime Day, and said the day was its biggest online shopping day of 2018, in terms of both traffic and sales. Walmart attracted shoppers by offering free two-day shipping and cutting prices on Google Home devices, to compete with Amazon’s Prime Day discounts on its Echo devices. Smaller retailers with sales under $5 million didn’t fare so well, seeing an 18 percent decrease in online sales on Prime Day, Adobe said. [TechCrunch]



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