The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Wednesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.



Within minutes of Tuesday night’s news that former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died after a stroke at age 99, seemingly all of Washington had anecdotes to share about the man known for his dissents and independence, his love of baseball, and his faith in judicial oversight of executive power. Stevens joined the court in 1975 and served until his retirement in 2010.



The House voted Tuesday to condemn President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE’s “racist comments” over the weekend aimed at four female lawmakers, delivering for history an extraordinary repudiation of a sitting president approved by a vote of 240-187 despite strenuous objections from the White House and Republicans.

 

Yet, only in Washington’s through-the-looking-glass climate could the Speaker of the House seek to publicly punish a president for bigoted tweets and find herself rebuked by the House parliamentarian for wielding the word “racist” on the House floor.

 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE’s vocabulary prompted a parliamentary seesaw during which tempers flared, gavels fell and rulebooks were hastily consulted.

 

“The words of the gentlewoman from California contain an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the president. As memorialized in Chapter 29, Section 65.6, characterizing an action as racist is not in order," House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Md.) said. 

 

"The chair relies on the precedent of May 15, 1984, and finds that the words should not be used in debate," he continued, citing the parliamentarian’s verdict (The Hill).

 

By nightfall, Pelosi and her caucus pushed through a resolution of condemnation along party lines calling Trump to account for criticizing four freshman female members of Congress, all Democrats, by telling them to “go back” to their countries. The four lawmakers, all women of color and all staunch Trump foes, are citizens. One was born in Mogadishu, Somalia.

 

Trump continued on Tuesday to defend his tweets and critiques of the progressive lawmakers while pummeling his detractors for a third day. “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body,” he tweeted.

 

The Hill: House votes to condemn Trump.

 

The Hill: The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump’s tweets.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills Biden: 'No party should have too much power' Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill MORE (R-Ky.) came to Trump’s defense after days of silence, assessing that “the president is not a racist.”

 

Donning the mantle of peacemaker while judging Trump’s actions with deference, McConnell recommended that official Washington calm down and move on.

 

“I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country but it’s coming from all different ideological points of view. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake,” he said.

 

In prepared remarks, McConnell continued, "I think there’s a consensus that political rhetoric has really gotten way, way overheated all across the political spectrum."

 

"Lower all this incendiary rhetoric. Everyone should do it," McConnell added (The Hill).

 

The majority leader’s position serves as a defense against the push from Democrats to put a similar resolution of condemnation on the Senate floor. McConnell made it clear there will be no such vote.

 

The president did not immediately take the majority leader’s advice to cease and desist. Nor did some Democrats in the House. Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action MORE (D-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against Trump on Tuesday night and wants to force a House vote in the near future (The Hill).

 

CBS “This Morning”: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezButtigieg campaign says 2000 people attended Iowa rally Trump keeps Obama immigration program, and Democrats blast him Democrat who opposed Trump, Clinton impeachment inquiries faces big test MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Al Green calls for including Trump's 'racism' in impeachment articles MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump House moves ahead on long-stalled resolution supporting two states for Israelis and Palestinians MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleySanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-Mass.), the lawmakers targeted by Trump in his comments, talked with Gayle KingGayle KingBloomberg reporting policy not pretty or perfect, but right Bloomberg apologizes after critics say his calling Booker 'well spoken' was racist Bloomberg on his media company not investigating Dems: Employee paychecks come 'with some restrictions and responsibilities' MORE about a president who is “a bully,” airing at 7 a.m. ET.

 

Reuters: Republican support for Trump following racially charged tweets rises slightly in new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

 

 

 



 



LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: Lawmakers are indicating that a deal on a budget and to raise the debt ceiling could be coming down the rails as they try to wrap up negotiations and strike a deal before the House leaves Washington for the six-week August recess. 

 

Leadership and administration officials say progress is being made toward a breakthrough, although one still remains at large. Two of the key figures, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWorld Bank approves billion-plus annual China lending plan despite US objections On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Hillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC MORE have continued negotiations over the phone throughout the past week, but officials say details and key sticking points need to be ironed out, including the level of non-defense spending that Democrats are pushing for. 

 

“They seem to me to be moving closer and closer together,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDemocrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks On The Money: Economy adds 266K jobs in strong November | Lawmakers sprint to avoid shutdown | Appropriators to hold crucial talks this weekend | Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Deutsche Bank subpoenas Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal MORE (R-Ala.) said of Pelosi and Mnuchin.

 

Lawmakers on both sides agree. Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress braces for chaotic December MORE (R-W.Va.), a Senate GOP appropriator, said there was “cautious optimism” about a deal, while Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters that negotiations are “going quite well right now.”

 

Without a budget deal, Congress will need to find another way to raise the debt ceiling, with Pelosi and McConnell indicating in recent days that they have no interest in a stand alone vote if a budget deal falls through before the recess. The pair’s aversion comes despite Mnuchin’s push for one, noting that the government could run out of funds in early September, putting more pressure on lawmakers to hammer out a deal before the House leaves town next Friday. 

 

One big obstacle to any deal has turned out to be funding for veterans. Pelosi told Mnuchin in a recent letter that she wanted $9 billion in additional funds in fiscal 2020 and $13 billion in additional funds in 2021 for the VA MISSION Act, which overhauled how the department handles health care. Republican lawmakers want to pay for the law under the budget caps, but Democrats worry that would force them to make cuts to other programs in 2019 and 2020. Instead, they want to ensure those payments don’t count toward the caps.

 

"There's probably a way to get a deal done," Shelby said about resolving the issue of funding for veterans (The Hill).

 

> Saudi Arabia: The House is poised to approve resolutions on Wednesday blocking the president’s emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies. 

 

The passage of the resolutions, which already cleared the Senate last month, will set up a confrontation with the White House, which has threatened to veto the measures. It would be Trump's third veto — and the second related to Saudi Arabia, underscoring the divide between Trump and Congress on the Saudis (The Hill). 

 

> Cybersecurity: Lawmakers are raising concerns that the upcoming 2020 census could be open to possible cyber-attacks because individuals can fill it out online for the first time in history. 

 

Top officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) appeared at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday and sounded the alarm after adding the Census Bureau to the GAO’s list of “high-risk programs” due to cybersecurity and information technology shortfalls. The census can be completed over the phone, in paper or online this time around (The Hill).

 

“Although the Bureau has taken initial steps to address risk, additional actions are needed as these risks could adversely impact the cost, quality, schedule, and security of the enumeration,” Nick Marinos, the director of information technology and cybersecurity at the GAO, and Robert Goldenkoff, the director of strategic issues at the GAO, said in their written testimony.

 

> Cryptocurrency: Facebook sought to defend its plans for a new global cryptocurrency at a contentious hearing on Tuesday as lawmakers aggressively blasted the project and questioned whether the embattled company should be in charge of launching such an ambitious venture.

 

David Marcus, head of Calibra — the new Facebook subsidiary that will be partially responsible for its launch — assured lawmakers that the Libra coin will not launch until financial regulators are satisfied. But the testimony did little to quell concerns from bipartisan lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee, many of whom delivered blistering condemnations of the company’s plans (The Hill).

 

“[Facebook] moved fast and broke our political discourse, they broke journalism, they helped incite a genocide and they’re undermining our democracy,” Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBoth sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial Lawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank Hillicon Valley: Senate Dems unveil privacy bill | Trump campaign, RNC rip Google political ad policy | Activists form national coalition to take on Amazon | Commerce issues rule to secure communications supply chain MORE (D-Ohio), the ranking member of the committee, said during his opening remarks. “Now Facebook is asking people to trust them with their hard-earned paychecks.

 

The Washington Post: In meetings with federal regulators and discussions with Congress about its cryptocurrency ambitions, Facebook is paying a price because of Washington’s lack of trust.

 

***

 

2020 POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Campaign aides to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHow can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states Buttigieg campaign says 2000 people attended Iowa rally MORE (I-Vt.) have become frustrated as the democratic socialist has seen his candidacy stall over the past month. They question polls and vent about news coverage of his campaign.

 

While Sanders remains firmly in the top five of the 2020 field and his candidacy polls near the top in national and early state surveys, his second presidential bid has struggled to overcome an emerging narrative that his moment has passed. In the past month, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE (D-Calif.) have surpassed him in some polls and surged into the top tier of the Democratic primary pack. 

 

Sanders’s supporters believe polls don’t capture a young, enthusiastic base or the new voters they say Sanders is bringing into the fold. The campaign is turning its allegations of unfair media coverage into a rallying cry. The camp argues that media bias, focus on horse-race politics and outsize coverage about new candidates have led to a Bernie blackout that gives a false impression about the state of the race (The Hill). 

 

"Every time there is a story about how Bernie can’t win it fans the flame of our base and we get more donations and more volunteers,” said one Sanders campaign aide who is not authorized to speak on the record.

 

Pollsters are skeptical of the charge, and Democratic strategists say it’s up to Sanders to change the course of his campaign if he wants to draw the kind of media attention he believes he deserves. Instead, they argue that he is a one-trick pony and needs to adapt instead of simply continuing to sell his anti-corporate message. 

 

“He’s almost like a greatest hits act,” said one Democratic operative.

 

The Washington Post: Sanders toughens his critique of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Biden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE, signaling more clashes ahead. 

 

The Wall Street Journal: Old election cash gives new life to some presidential candidates.

 

Politico: Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE, Julián Castro struggle to woo minority voters. 

 

 

 

 

> Fundraising: Democrats are becoming increasingly concerned about the financials of the 2020 campaign, as the president posted an eye-popping haul in the second fundraising quarter, leaving Democrats to wonder if they’ll be able to catch up after the primary wraps next year.

 

The Democrats say there’s cause for concern simply by looking at Trump’s $108 million total in the last three months between his reelection bid and the Republican National Committee, a figure that’s more than four times as much as the top 2020 Democratic fundraiser during the second quarter, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states MORE

 

“I know it’s still really early but if you take a look at what he’s been able to do in terms of fundraising, we’d be nuts not to worry,” one Democratic strategist acknowledged (The Hill).

 

The New York Times: Trump sets the 2020 tone: Like 2016, only this time “the Squad” is here.

 

> Kentucky Senate: National Democrats say they are not concerned with Amy McGrath in Kentucky despite chatter from within the state that other Democrats could primary her as they sense an opening after her up-and-down campaign rollout versus McConnell. 

 

McGrath, who raised $2.5 million in her first 24 hours, has come under fire after a lackluster first week, headlined by her flip-flop over whether she would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law MORE in a matter of hours and her decision to back out of an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday. The first-week stumbles have opened the door to a primary challenge, which some in the party, including Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Kentucky Democrat: McConnell's agenda driven by 'power without a purpose' MORE (D-Ky.), believe would be useful. Most recently, Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker (D) said that he is looking at a primary campaign, while Matt Jones, a sports radio personality in the state, has kept the door open for a possible bid. 

 

However, national Democrats are standing by McGrath despite the rocky week. Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocrats challenge South Carolina law requiring voters to disclose Social Security numbers Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers House and Senate Dems implore McConnell to sign DACA legislation to protect 'Dreamers' MORE (D-Nev.), chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), said she is not concerned, pointing to McGrath’s fundraising prowess as evidence of a strong bid.

 

“Not at all,” Cortez Masto said when asked if there are any concerns. “It’s just the opposite. A lot of enthusiasm.”

 

“People there need to do what they think is appropriate,” she said of potential challengers. “What I’ve seen is there’s a lot of enthusiasm about running against Mitch. We’ve seen with just the numbers alone with Amy McGrath and how much she’s raised.” 

 

As of Sunday, McGrath had raised $3.5 million, a figure that fell far short of expectations on the Republican side given her run against McConnell, who Democrats likely have more antipathy for than any Republican that isn’t the president. 

 

The Associated Press: Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 MORE had good news for Colorado. But Trump had tweets. 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Mark Esper, Trump’s nominee to lead the Pentagon following James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE’s resignation in January, fielded tough questions on Tuesday from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee about Iran, Turkey, military operations and his ability to stand up to Trump if confirmed to be Defense secretary. The president and GOP leaders are anxious to schedule a confirmation vote in the full Senate for the former Army secretary before the August recess.

 

The Hill: Esper endorsed returning to a diplomatic channel with Iran.

The Hill: Esper praised Mattis, Trump and the National Defense Strategy.

The Hill: Esper told Warren he would not pledge to recuse himself from Raytheon matters after working for the company before his government roles.

The Hill: Trump says the United States will not sell Turkey U.S.-made F-35 fighters following Turkey’s decision to take delivery of a Russian missile defense system.

 

The Associated Press: Esper testified that he recently told Turkey’s defense minister, “You can either have the S-400 or you can have the F-35. You cannot have both.”  

 

 

 

 

> Immigration: The administration is poised to roll out new details about the immigrants the administration wants to admit legally into the United States — those who would contribute economically rather than those who have family ties. Republican senators say they’re dubious there would be bipartisan support in Congress in the near term. The White House push for the new policy is spearheaded by Trump son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDemocrat calls for investigation of possible 'inappropriate influence' by Trump in border wall contract Judge temporarily halts construction of a private border wall in Texas Mueller witness linked to Trump charged in scheme to illegally funnel money to Clinton campaign MORE (The Washington Post).

 

> Planned Parenthood: In the wake of a new administration rule that withdraws federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other reproductive services organizations, the  Planned Parenthood board on Tuesday ousted Leana Wen, the organization’s president and a physician. She had been president since September (The Hill). 



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Trump circumvents Congress to destroy asylum protections, by Elizabeth Gibson, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2SiU0Dg

 

The U.S. is trying to let Iran punch itself out, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2XRYPEI



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET  features Nina Turner, national co-chairwoman of the Sanders campaign, to preview Sanders’s upcoming address on “Medicare for All”; Matt Bennett, executive vice president for public affairs at Third Way, and Bhaskar Sunkara, author and publisher at Jacobin, to discuss his new book, “The Socialist Manifesto.” Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.

 

The House meets at 10 a.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of a treaty protocol to amend a “Tax Convention with Swiss Confederation.”

 

The president travels this evening to Greenville, N.C., to headline a reelection rally at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena. It’s his 26th rally in North Carolina.

 

Vice President Pence will be in Fayetteville, N.C., today to headline a political event for Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop, who is running for a House seat in North Carolina’s special election in the 9th District, to be decided in two months (The Charlotte Observer). Pence will also visit Fort Bragg Army Base and speak to personnel there. The vice president will then fly to Greenville, N.C., to appear at the Trump-Pence reelection rally before returning to Washington. 

 

Mnuchin is in Chantilly, France, for the Group of Seven (G-7) meeting among finance ministers. He’ll meet with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire at 11:30 a.m. and then participate in the G-7 welcome. In the evening, Mnuchin meets with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, followed by a traditional group photo of those in attendance.

 

The Aspen Security Forum begins today and runs through Saturday in Aspen, Colo., and will showcase current and former federal officials analyzing a range of security topics.

 

The Smithsonian Institution tonight and Thursday will again transform the east face of the Washington Monument into a 363-foot Saturn V rocket to salute the 50th anniversary this week of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. View the high-tech projection show on the Mall from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Information is HERE. Missed the first night’s show? Video, courtesy of Reuters, is HERE.

 

The Hill invites you to two live events: July 24 features the third annual Latina Leaders Summit at the Conrad Washington with leaders from across the country, including Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Del. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) and Rep. Grace NapolitanoGraciela (Grace) Flores NapolitanoBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Muller testimony dominates Washington MORE (D-Calif.). They’ll discuss paths to elective office and the next generation of Latina leaders. Information is HERE. … On July 25, The Hill presents “Policy Prescriptions: Lowering Drug Prices” at 1777 F Street N.W., Washington, D.C., with Sens. Mike BraunMichael BraunTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown MORE (R-Ind.) and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote MORE (D-Wis.), who discuss how to lower patient drug prices. Sign up HERE.

 

 

ELSEWHERE

Earth sizzles:  The average temperature of the planet soared to its highest level ever recorded in June, according to data released Monday by NASA (The Washington Post). And July is shaping up to be another scorcher. In Washington, temperatures of 100 degrees could blanket the city on Friday and Saturday (The Washington Post). Summer heat advisories have not changed: Look out for youngsters, oldsters and pets … and keep hydrating!

 

Retracing Assange’s clandestine steps: Hundreds of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by UC Global, a private Spanish security company, and obtained by CNN, chronicle the movements of WikiLeaks founder Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeTrump's exceptionalism: No president has so disrespected our exceptional institutions More than 60 doctors sign letter warning Assange 'could die in prison' without medical attention Sweden drops investigation into Assange rape charges MORE in 2016 and add a new dimension to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE’s report, which cataloged how WikiLeaks helped the Russians undermine the U.S. election. Assange met while holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with Russians and world-class hackers, frequently for hours at a time. He also acquired powerful computing and network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives. 

 

Major hack in Bulgaria: Five million of Bulgaria’s 7 million people are victims of a mammoth theft of personal and financial data after a recent hacking operation, which left a trail to a Russian domain and is the largest such crime reported in a Balkan country (The Associated Press). 



THE CLOSER

And finally … It took a seasoned gator expert from Florida to nab “Chance the Snapper,” the wily young alligator living on the lam in a park lagoon in Chicago until he was outmaneuvered on Tuesday. The 5-foot-3-inch reptile attracted national headlines, had several Twitter accounts and his own Wikipedia page — and is now destined for new digs at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.

 

Gator wrangler Frank Robb of St. Augustine, Fla., arrived in the Windy City on Sunday and caught Chance about 36 hours later at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday. “I brought my fishing rod and it went down pretty fast,” Robb said during a news conference. Relying on 24 years of gator savvy, Robb said he “saw his eye shine and caught him on the fishing rod. One cast ... and it was done” (The Associated Press).