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Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections, which really just means that we’ll all be talking about President Trump tweeting about that grand jury in a few hours. Thank goodness Reince Priebus is out of the White House, because now sensitive things won’t be leaked, like conversations between Trump and world leaders. And in one of Trump’s leaked ― whoops ― conversations with world leaders, he said that refugees aren’t going “to work for the local milk people,” which really just sounds like they aren’t forming a bad Belle and Sebastian cover band. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August 3rd, 2017:
THINGS ARE GETTING REAL, Y’ALL - Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter. The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months. Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort…. Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.” [WSJ]
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE - Looking forward to seeing how Fox News makes this Hillary Clinton’s fault. Karen Freifeld: “Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.” [Reuters]
Having a hard time keeping track of the Russia news? HuffPost has you covered with “The Russia Affair: Untangling The Web Of Character’s And Connections.” Check it out here.
TRUMP EVEN MORE INCOHERENT AND INSINCERE THAN YOU THOUGHT - Greg Miller: “In his first White House call with Mexico’s president, Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay. ‘You cannot say that to the press,’ Trump said repeatedly, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 call obtained by The Washington Post. Trump made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements. The funding ‘will work out in the formula somehow,’... ‘[I]f you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.’ He described the wall as ’the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.’” [WaPo]
And then there was this: “Trump falsely claimed to Peña Nieto that he won the Granite State. ’We have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country. They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York, up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den – is coming from the southern border,’ Trump said. ‘We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because drugs are being sold for less money than candy because there is so much of it,’ he continued. ‘So we have to work together to knock that out.’ In reality, Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.” [HuffPost’s Marina Fang]
New Hampshire politicians are not amused.
THERE’S ALSO TRANSCRIPT OF TRUMP’S CALL WITH AUSTRALIA’S PM - Read the whole transcript here. Marina Fang: “Trump told [Malcolm] Turnbull that it would be ‘bad’ for him to honor a previous agreement for the U.S. to accept Syrian refugees, calling himself ‘the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country.’ ‘Boy, that will make us look awfully bad,’ Trump said after he announced his ban on travel and immigration from seven-majority Muslim countries which also halted refugee resettlement. He said that refugees ‘are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.’” [HuffPost]
TRUMP ORGANIZATION KICKS SECRET SERVICE OUT OF TRUMP TOWER - You can’t make this stuff up. Carol D. Leonnig, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell: “The Secret Service has vacated its command post inside Trump Tower in Manhattan following a dispute between the government and President Trump’s company over the terms of a lease for the space, according to two people familiar with the discussions…. [I]n early July, the post was relocated to a trailer on the sidewalk, more than 50 floors below, a distance that some security experts worry could hamper the agency that protects the president’s home and family…. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said the government should seek space in another location. ‘After much consideration, it was mutually determined that it would be more cost effective and logistically practical for the Secret Service to lease space elsewhere,’ spokeswoman Amanda Miller wrote in an email to The Washington Post.” [WaPo]
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LOW ENERGY REPUBLICANS DON’T DO ANYTHING, GO HOME - Also an apt description for most of our trips to bars in our 20s. “Senate Republicans joined their House colleagues for August recess on Thursday, heading out of town for 33 days with looming legislative deadlines and no clear path forward on health care. Senators headed for the airport after passing a largely noncontroversial FDA user fee bill…. Republicans leave Washington with almost nothing to show for seven months of unified control of the government. Instead, GOP lawmakers are 12 scheduled legislative days away from a government shutdown and a potential debt ceiling crisis. They are no closer to an alternative for the Affordable Care Act than they were months ago. They have no infrastructure bill. No plan for tax reform. Neither chamber has even approved a budget, which would be a necessary prerequisite for the GOP to pass a tax plan through budget reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that requires a simple majority instead of the filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold.” [HuffPost]
Raising the debt ceiling is good now. Remember when the GOP nearly defaulted on the government’s debts and destroyed the global economy because they wanted to pwn Obama? “Republican congressional leaders are quietly preparing to pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase, according to multiple senior GOP sources — setting the stage for a high-risk showdown with rank-and-file Republicans this fall.” [Politico’s Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade]
JOHN CORNYN IS WRONG A LOT - The Baghdad Bob of the Senate didn’t do his colleagues proud on the health care bill. Jennifer Bendery: “Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is a confident man. If you’d asked him over the past few months how things were looking on Obamacare repeal, he’d tell you it was on the verge of happening. He’s also the GOP whip, the person in charge of counting votes, which means he would know more than anyone if a bill can pass. It’s his job to know. My god, he was so wrong…. As Republicans figure out their next steps ― including how to tell supporters they have failed to deliver on a seven-year promise to get rid of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law ― there is a lingering question: Does Cornyn just suck at his job?″ [HuffPost]
APPALACHIA REALLY DOESN’T LIKE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY - Paige Lavender: “West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will announce he’s joining the Republican Party during a rally with President Donald Trump on Thursday evening. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016, defeating Republican Bill Cole. Trump teased the announcement earlier in the day, telling reporters he would be making ‘a very big announcement’ Thursday evening in Huntington, West Virginia. There are many parallels between Justice and Trump. Both are businessmen who own and operate hotels. Both have had major financial troubles. Both had little experience in politics before their 2016 campaigns.” [HuffPost]
@paigelav: I’ve got folks telling me not even many on his staff were aware of this change.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOT KEEN ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY - Now’s your time, Heath Shuler, now’s your time. Alex Roarty: “Nancy Pelosi might actually be in trouble. In a survey of 20 Democratic House candidates, only one — a former Senate staffer from Orange County, California — would state support for the congresswoman staying on as leader of the House Democratic Caucus. Of the rest, 18 declined to say if Pelosi should keep her job, while one, a political newcomer from a culturally conservative Ohio district, said he would vote for someone other than Pelosi…. [I]t’s not easy for Democratic candidates to oppose her. Pushing away Pelosi means pushing away the donors who are close to her — a potentially fatal development, especially in a year where nearly every Democratic House candidate faces a competitive primary before even reaching a general election. ‘If you say “yes” now, you’re screwed,’ said one Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about a sensitive intra-party issue. ‘You say “no” now, you’re screwed, just in a different way.’” [McClatchy]
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION KINDLY WON’T RUIN YOUR CITY’S CRIME FIGHTING STRATEGY - Elise Foley: ”The Trump administration won’t help cities and counties fight crime through a new program if it doesn’t like their policies on immigrants, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday in yet another effort to threaten so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ into assisting with deportation efforts. The DOJ singled out four jurisdictions: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore, Maryland; San Bernardino, California; and Stockton, California. All of them are interested in participating in the newly created National Public Safety Partnership, which assists local law enforcement in addressing violent crime. To be chosen, the cities must first ‘show a commitment to reducing crime stemming from illegal immigration,’ DOJ said in a statement.” [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a cockatoo not having any of it.
WHY, NO, WHY - This ends with some really awkward statements made about disrupting fried butter at the Iowa State Fair. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have hired Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the hire. Benenson’s company, Benenson Strategy Group, will be conducting research for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the couple’s philanthropy. The organization — whose mission statement, according to its website, is ‘advancing human potential and promoting equality’ — is endowed with the couple’s Facebook fortune.” [Politico]
- Bicycle school buses in the Netherlands.
- “Microchipped employees” is now a thing.
@aseitzwald: Orrin Hatch on Senate floor just now: “No one would mistake me for a hipster.”
@Rappin4Safety: Agent Cooper watching all the movies he’s missed in the 25 years in the lodge and saying things like “Borat...extraordinary”
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