News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
President Donald Trump once again raised the idea of pulling the US out of Syria this week — this time privately during a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House, according to two diplomatic sources familiar with the sit-down.
The two leaders discussed Syria at length. One source told CNN that Trump believes he can strike a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a so-called exclusion zone in southwest Syria that will allow the US to “get out ASAP.”
Trump said in March that the US would “be coming out of Syria like very soon,” just hours after the Pentagon had highlighted the need for US troops to remain in the country for the immediate future.
Kim Jong-un has top army officer blasted with 90 bullets for giving his troops extra rations of food and fuel
From The Sun
Lieutenant General Hyon Ju-song was put to death after being found guilty of charges of abusing authority, profiting the enemy and engaging in anti-Party acts.
He was shot at the firing range of the Kang Kon Military Academy located in the Sunan District of the capital Pyongyang.
Online newspaper NK Daily said his “crime” had been to redistribute extra supplies to his men at a satellite launching station in April.
From The Hill
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday offered and withdrew an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill aimed at President Trump’s apparent continued acceptance of Russia’s denials of election meddling.
“I read a tweet today. Guess from who,” Graham said during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup. “I’m all willing for him to meet with Russia, see if we can find common interests, but one thing I want to make crystal clear. … When Putin says Russia did not interfere in our election, he is lying. When he says they won’t do it in the future, he is lying.”
President Donald Trump’s pick to run the IRS, tax lawyer Chuck Rettig, owns properties at the Trump International Hotel Waikiki and Tower.
He’d previously disclosed his 50 percent stake in a pair of Honolulu rental units, but not their specific location. That detail was discussed later, at a June 21 meeting with congressional staff, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO.
Trump typically gets fees on sales for licensing his name.
The document was circulated Wednesday to Senate Finance Committee members ahead of their hearing on Rettig’s nomination, scheduled for Thursday.
These powerful businessmen, who amassed their fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union — including one who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department — were ushered into events typically reserved for top donors and close political allies and were given unprecedented access to Trump’s inner circle.
Their presence has attracted the interest of federal investigators probing Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.
From The New Yorker
Barring an unexpected change, the Donald J. Trump Foundation will be defending itself in a New York courtroom shortly before this fall’s midterm elections. The proceedings seem unlikely to go well for the institution and its leadership; President Trump and his elder children, Ivanka, Donald, Jr., and Eric, are being sued by New York’s attorney general, Barbara Underwood, for using the charity to enrich and benefit the Trump family. On Tuesday, the judge in the case, Saliann Scarpulla, made a series of comments and rulings from the bench that hinted—well, all but screamed—that she believes the Trump family has done some very bad things.
The judge seemed frustrated, even confused, that the Trumps were fighting the case at all. At one point, she told a lawyer for the Trump children that they should just settle out of court and voluntarily agree to one of the sanctions: a demand by the Attorney General that they not serve on the boards of any nonprofits for one year. (The case will be tried in civil court, and the Trumps aren’t facing any criminal charges.) That’s far from the worst sort of punishment, but to accede to it would be a public embarrassment and an acknowledgement that the family did, indeed, use the foundation as something of a private slush fund to enrich themselves and reward their cronies. Judge Scarpulla made clear that she felt the children should agree to the sanction now, and that, if they don’t, she will probably impose a similar restriction “with or without your agreement.”
From The Hill
President Trump reportedly asked French President Emmanuel Macron why he does not withdraw his country from the European Union and suggested that the U.S. could offer France a bilateral trade deal if he did so.
According to a reported column published by The Washington Post on Thursday, Trump floated the idea of France’s withdrawal from the European Union to Macron while the French president was visiting the White House in April.
“Why don’t you leave the EU?” Trump reportedly asked.
He then offered to extend a bilateral trade deal to France with better terms than those given to the EU if Macron did withdraw from the union, the Post’s Josh Rogin reported.
The White House declined to give comment to the Post on the reported interaction between Trump and Macron, but did not dispute the account.
The announcements from the White House and the Kremlin hit inboxes at roughly the same time on Thursday: President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
Under previous U.S. presidents, the timing would not have deserved a second glance. But under Trump, whose administration is repeatedly beaten to the punch by Putin aides and the Kremlin on the release of critical information, it could presage a more buttoned-up approach by national security adviser John Bolton ahead of the high-stakes meeting.
A National Security Council official told POLITICO on Thursday that the countries had an agreement to simultaneously release the meeting announcements.
Yet there remains cause for concern, given that Russia is often first to share news with the world. Even tidbits around Bolton’s recent trip to negotiate the bilateral meeting mostly trickled out of the Kremlin before officials in the White House or the NSC could offer confirmation.
From The Hill
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos will be sentenced on Sept. 7, according to the U.S. District Court for D.C. calendar.
Papadopoulos was charged with making false statements to investigators about conversations he had with a foreign professor, who told him that Russians had thousands of emails with damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors estimated in Papadopoulos’s plea agreement that he will likely serve no more than six months in jail and face a fine between $500 to $9,500, given that he isn’t found to have committed any more crimes.
The White House is scrambling to figure out how a prank call from a comedian who pretended to be Sen. Robert Menendez managed to get a return phone call from the president, a person inside the White House said Friday.
The person inside the White House said the call was routed to the president by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and that it was not routed through the office of legislative affairs, which had no record of Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, trying to connect with the president.
And while legislative affairs got notified of the call and subsequently tried to kill it after learning from Menendez’s chief of staff that the senator was not trying to reach Trump, the call was still put through, the person said.