5 things for Friday, August 4: Russia probe, Trump, gun sales, Harvard diversity
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Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, according to people familiar with the investigation. Trump’s reaction to this will be closely watched, since a few weeks ago the President said moving the investigation into the realm of his or his family’s finances would cross a red line.
Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. The subpoenas seek both documents and testimony from people involved in the meeting, CNN has learned. That meeting has drawn scrutiny since an email exchange beforehand indicated the Russians were offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
2. President Trump
The President, in a surprise to no one, blasted these new developments in the Russia investigation during a rally in West Virginia. He called the Russia probe “a total fabrication” and “an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.” He also slammed the US Senate for not spiking Obamacare, saying the senators had “let us down.”
Trump was joined at the rally by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who announced he was moving from Team Democrat to Team GOP. It makes sense that Justice would switch parties: Trump won almost 70% of the vote last fall in his state and has a 60% approval rating there. Republicans are running circles around the Dems at governors’ mansions: Justice gives the GOP a 34-to-15 advantage in governorships.
During the rally, Trump didn’t bring up those transcripts of his calls with foreign leaders, which got leaked to The Washington Post. According to the transcripts, Trump urged Mexican President Enrique Pea Nieto to stop saying Mexico wouldn’t pay for the US border wall. He also calledNew Hampshire a “drug-infested den.”
3. Gun sales
Gun makers and sellers largely backed Donald Trump for President. And what have they gotten for it? Plummeting gun sales. Gun maker Sturm Ruger says its sales dropped 21% last quarter, while Cabela’s, which sells guns and outdoor products, has seen store sales fall 10%. Guns and ammo sold at a record pace during Barack Obama’s presidency and also during Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, because some people expected, or at least feared, Clinton would win and seek tighter gun control measures. Clinton lost, of course, and gun sales started slipping the day after the election.
4. Harvard and diversity
For the second year in a row, the freshmen class at Harvard is mostly nonwhite. Of the 2,056 students accepted into this class, 50.8% don’t identify themselves as white. This didn’t make headlines when it happened last year, but it is now, as the renowned university faces a discrimination complaintfiled by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations. The complaint alleges that Harvard has discriminated against Asian-Americans in its admissions policies. Harvard denies the claim. The complaint has caught the attention of the Justice Department, which is looking to lawyers to study it.
5. Texting-suicide case
Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in jail on her involuntary manslaughter conviction. Carter, then 17, sent numerous text messages to her then-18-year-old boyfriend urging him to kill himself, which he did in July 2014. The case may prompt Massachusetts to pass a law (already on the books in about 40 other states) that would makeit a crime to encourage someone to commit suicide. Carter will be free while her case is appealed.
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What do you do when you’re testing the engines for the 787 Dreamliner and you have 18 hours to kill? Draw an airplane in the sky, of course.
The pizza delivery driver’s car broke down, so he walked a half-mile to deliver the order. Now his grateful customer is raising money to get his car fixed.
Don’t look down!
Visiting Switzerland? Cool, you can check out the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, which just opened. It’s 1,621 feet long and 279 feet in the air. But, wait, you aren’t afraid of heights, are you?
Out of this world
NASA wants your best tweets so it can beam the very best one to the Voyager spacecraft and give the aliens something to read.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I can’t accept myself if I’m over 200 pounds”
Oprah Winfrey, a major stockholder in and spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, says while she’s all for self-acceptance, even she has her limits.
WHAT’S FOR LUNCH
Have a million jobs been added so far in the Trump presidency? We’ll find out later this morning when the July jobs report comes out.
The new national assembly elected in Venezuela‘s controversial election meets this morning for the first time. Opposition and pro-government groups will mark the occasion with dueling marches.
Light it up
The mandatory evacuation order for two islands in North Carolina’s Outer Banks will end at noon ET, after power was restored after a weeklong outage.
AND FINALLY …
It’s elephant vs. goose at a Utah zoo. (Click to view)