Live Updates: Trump Mentions His "Complete Power To Pardon" In An Angry Saturday Tweetstorm

This week in Washington: The Republican effort to repeal Obamacare keeps flatlining while the White House continues to grapple with Russia investigation.

Here's What's Been Happening This Week

  • President Trump on Saturday unleashed a barrage of tweets, attacking Hillary Clinton and the media, while also hinting he has been mulling his pardoning powers.
  • Sean Spicer announced Friday that he would be resigning as White House press secretary. The move came after Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of a hedge fund, to be the administration's new communications director.
  • Also on Friday, Trump's lead lawyer denied that the outside counsel has been looking into the president's pardon power. The spokesperson for the legal team resigned a day earlier as the reports emerged.
  • The Washington Post reported Friday that Russia's ambassador told his superiors that he discussed the Trump's campaign with Jeff Sessions when he was a senior adviser to the then-candidate, something the attorney general has publicly denied.
  • President Trump told the New York Times Wednesday that he regrets appointing Jeff Sessions as attorney general over his recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
  • Trump's son, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and son-in-law Jared Kushner are scheduled to appear before Senate committees next week.
  • In health care news, the Republican-led effort to replace Obamacare failed Monday night and then faltered again when hold-out senators killed a vote on repealing the legislation.
  • Trump said he was disappointed in the outcome, adding that "we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail" before trying to replace it.
  • A Congressional Budget Office report on Wednesday also found that repealing Obamacare would lead to 32 million more Americans uninsured, higher premiums, and $842 million in cuts to Medicaid.
  • The White House also confirmed a BuzzFeed News report about a second meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.


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Trump mentions pardons, attacks Clinton in epic Saturday morning tweetstorm

President Trump on Saturday unleashed a barrage of tweets, attacking the media and his former rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, while also signaling that he has been mulling his pardon powers.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Trump had asked his team to explore his power to pardon aides, his family, and even himself. His lawyer, John Dowd, told BuzzFeed News the claim was "completely false."

On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that "all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon," but criticized the focus on pardons, saying the "only crime so far is LEAKS against us."

Trump also again brought up Hillary Clinton's emails, and asked why people aren't investigating what he said were the Clintons' ties to Russia. The president has previously said he wants to "move forward" from the talking about whether he'd prosecute Clinton.

While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS

Trump also brought up Hillary Clinton's deleted emails (again), and asked why people aren't asking about the Clintons' ties to Russia, despite previously saying he wants to "move forward" from the talking about whether he'd prosecute Clinton.

...What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.

In a so far unexplained tweet, Trump claimed the New York Times had interfered with national security, saying they "foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi."

The New York Times has "asked the White House to clarify the tweet."

NYT has asked WH to clarify Trump's tweet

Here's a look at everything the president tweeted about Saturday morning, in order:

—Julia Reinstein

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Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign with Russia ambassador, US intelligence intercepts reportedly show

Russia's ambassador to the US during the 2016 election told Moscow he discussed the Trump campaign with Jeff Sessions, despite claims by the attorney general to the contrary, the Washington Post reported, citing current and former officials.

Two conversations with Sessions, Trump's top foreign policy campaign adviser at the time, were reported by Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in communications to his superiors in Moscow, which in turn were intercepted by US intelligence agencies, the Post reported Friday.

One allegedly happened in April ahead of a foreign policy speech by Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in DC, the other in July at the Republican National Convention.

The conversations reportedly relayed by Kislyak, who no longer serves as ambassador to Washington, would have occurred as Russia was attempting to influence the election in Trump's favor by leaking damaging emails from Hillary Clinton's camp.

"Obviously, I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me," Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

She also said the attorney general stands by his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he insisted he had never spoken with Russian operatives regarding "any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States."

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Friday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he would need more details about the Post's report before drawing a conclusion.

"I just learned about it, also I saw the headline," he said. "I've come to the point where I no longer put any stock in headlines or breaking news."

Sessions initially did not disclose the interactions with Kislyak, but later said they were only in his capacity as a US senator, not the election.

As attorney general, Sessions again insisted that he never met Russian operatives about the campaign before recusing himself from the investigation into Russia meddling in the US election — a move that angered President Trump.

Sessions irked Trump further when he later told senators at a congressional hearing that he couldn't recall details about the conversations.

A US official told the Washington Post, however, that Sessions' statements on the Kislyak interactions were "contradicted by other evidence."

While it's not unusual for foreign diplomats to sometimes relay false or misleading information to their superiors in an effort to confuse US spy agencies, Kislyak reportedly has a reputation for accuracy regarding his interactions with Washington officials.

It was not immediately clear how the Washington Post report would affect Session's standing with Trump, who earlier this week told the New York Times he regretted the appointment after the Russia investigation recusal.

"I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair — and that's a mild word — to the president," Trump said.

On Friday, however, the White House insisted that Sessions still had Trump's confidence.

—Jason Wells and Chris Geidner

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Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort will testify in public

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, will testify "openly" before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chairman Chuck Grassley said late Friday, but it was not immediately clear when that will happen.

Trump Jr. and Manafort were among a list of witnesses asked to testify at a July 26 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "attempts to influence the 2016 election." The committee announced late Friday that Trump Jr. and Manafort, through their lawyers, had agreed to provide documents to the committee and to be interviewed by committee members and staff "prior to a public hearing."

Grassley said in a tweet shortly after that Trump Jr. and Manafort "will appear openly" in addition to their private conversations with members and staff, but did not specify when. A spokesperson for the committee's ranking Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said that Trump Jr. and Manafort would not appear at the July 26 hearing.

Read more here.

—Zoe Tillman, Emma Loop, and Chris Geidner

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Trump’s new lead attorney denies the legal team is looking into pardons

John Dowd, the lawyer now leading President Trump's personal legal team, denied on Friday that the outside legal team has been looking into the president's pardon power.

In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Friday, Dowd said, "There is nothing going on on pardons, research — nothing."

On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that — among other things — Trump has asked "advisers" about his ability to pardon people, including family members. The Post also reported that Trump's lawyers have discussed pardon power among themselves.

Dowd said that the Washington Post did not source the article with members of the president's outside legal team.

"It's completely false. It's not happening, never has happened. Someone made it up. It's just a lot of mischief going on," Dowd said.

Read more here.

—Zoe Tillman and Chris Geidner

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Sanders says Trump wants to "move on" from "ridiculousness" of Russia investigation

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday pushed back on reports that members of the Trump team are trying to undermine investigators looking into Russia's election meddling, saying instead the president wants to move on.

During the press briefing at the White House Friday, Sanders was repeatedly asked about Russia and reports published Thursday that Trump's aides were seeking to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and his team. Though Sanders never explicitly denied the reports, she did say that "the president has absolutely nothing to do with any of the allegations that are being made."

"He wants them to complete their process as quickly as possible so that we can move on from the ridiculousness of all things Russia and Russia fever," Sanders added.

Thursday's reports in the Washington Post and New York Times, also alleged that Trump had asked his lawyers about his authority to pardon people, including aides, family members, and even himself.

When asked about pardons Friday, Sanders said "the president maintains pardon powers like any president would, but there are no announcements or planned announcements on that front whatsoever."

When asked if Mueller's past political donations, including potentially to a party other than the presidents', would disqualify him from serving as special counsel, Sanders said, "I don't know that we're putting out a litmus test."

She was also pressed to say whether Trump thought Mueller could conduct a fair investigation.

"At this point, I don't have any reason to see otherwise, but I have not had a chance to ask the president and I'd want to get clarity on that," Sander said.

— Jim Dalrymple II

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With Spicer out, Scaramucci and Sanders step into new roles

Anthony Scaramucci introduced himself to press Friday as President Trump's new communications director, insisting the White House "is on track" despite reports of internal strife amid an ever-expanding Russia investigation.

"I think the White House is on track and we're actually, I think, doing a really good job," he said at his first press briefing.

He later added: "I think the ship is going to go — the ship is going in the right direction. I think we've got to just radio signal the direction very, very clearly."

He also announced that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will take over Sean Spicer's post as White House press secretary, and thanked Spicer, "not only on behalf of myself, the president, the administration."

"He's done an amazing job," Scaramucci said. "This is obviously a difficult situation to be in. And I applaud his efforts here."

Earlier in the briefing, Sanders also read a statement from Trump regarding Spicer's decision to resign:

"I am grateful for Sean's work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings."

Spicer's press briefings quickly became daily television events that were carried live by cable news networks, but after six months on the job, he reportedly fell out of favor with Trump. Sanders has recently been filling the void, holding the press briefings off-camera.

Scaramucci was tapped by Trump despite the feelings of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, a source close the the administration told BuzzFeed News.

But Scaramucci, who recently sold his stake in a hedge fund, dismissed the idea that there was internal friction over his hiring, insisting that he and Reince were like brothers. He also insisted that, despite reports of Trump feeling under siege by the investigations into Russia meddling in the election, the president would pull through.

"He's the most competitive person I've ever met," Scaramucci said. "I've seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I've seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, standing in the key, and hitting foul shots and swishing them. He sinks 3-foot putts.

"I don't see this as a guy who's ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously, there's a lot of incoming that comes into the White House. But the president's a winner. And what we're going to do is we're going to do a lot of winning."

Read more about the staff shake up here.

–Jason Wells

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CNN says it's not seeking to hire Spicer

CNN has become a home for some commentators from Donald Trump's orbit, from Jason Miller to Corey Lewandowski to Jeffrey Lord.

So in the wake of Sean Spicer's resignation, some media observers instantly wondered (and joked on Twitter) about whether the network — which has been perhaps the most frequent recipient of the White House's "fake news" insults — would make a play to bring on the departing press secretary.

But CNN is making clear that it won't seek to hire Spicer as a contributor, a network spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

Spicer may not even be interested in a cable news job at any network, only announced his resignation on Friday, and did not return a request for comment. Still, cable news airwaves are a frequent landing spot for former press secretaries.

"We talk all major players," a Fox News spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Friday afternoon when asked if the network would be interested in hiring Spicer.

An MSNBC spokesperson declined to comment.

Read more here.

—Steven Perlberg

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Sean Spicer resigns from his position as White House press secretary

Sean Spicer has resigned as White House press secretary after 182 days in office, BuzzFeed News has confirmed.

Spicer made the move minutes after President Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of a hedge fund, to be the administration's new communications director. The New York Times first reported he was stepping down.

Trump "wanted to give Scaramucci something to do because he likes him on TV," a source close to the White House's press operation told BuzzFeed News.

Read the full story here.

–Adrian Carasquillo, Lissandra Villa, Nancy A. Youssef, Tarini Parti, and Kate Nocera

Check out this farewell tribute to Sean Spicer and all his best/worst/spiciest moments

Also, here's some memories and memes.

–David Mack and Stephanie McNeal

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Trump’s new lead lawyer denies the legal team is looking into pardons

John Dowd, the lawyer now leading President Trump's personal legal team, denied on Friday that the outside legal team has been looking into the president's pardon power.

In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Friday, Dowd said, "There is nothing going on on pardons, research — nothing."

On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that — among other things — Trump has asked "advisers" about his ability to pardon people, including family members. The Post also reported that Trump's lawyers have discussed pardon power among themselves.

Dowd said that the Washington Post did not source the article with members of the president's outside legal team.

"It's completely false. It's not happening, never has happened. Someone made it up. It's just a lot of mischief going on," Dowd said.

Read the full story here.

–Zoe Tillman

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The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. used to count the spy agency Vladimir Putin used to run as one of her clients

Natalia Veselnitskaya had a Russian spy agency, the FSB, among her clients, Reuters reports, citing Russian court documents.

As the successor to the Soviet-era KGB service, the FSB was headed by Putin before he became president of Russia.

Veselnitskaya represented the agency in a real estate dispute in Moscow between 2005 and 2013, according to Reuters.

Veselnitskaya has denied affiliation with the Kremlin and there is no evidence she is an employee either of the Russian government or intelligence services.

Last year, the Obama administration sanctioned the FSB for its role in hacking the election, a role which Russia denies.

BuzzFeed News couldn't immediately verify Reuters' reporting.

—Cora Lewis

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Trump and Putin may have met more times at the G20 summit, says Russian foreign minister

In an interview with NBC Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that President Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit earlier this month.

"They might have met even much more than just three times," he told NBC News. "Maybe they went to the toilet together."

Lavrov compared the meetings to schoolchildren spending time together.

"When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?" he asked. "I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom."

—Cora Lewis

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Morale is low at the Justice Department as Trump again attacks Jeff Sessions

President Trump could fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at any moment. Or he could not.

Amid all of the uncertainty — and warning shots from the president — officials and career attorneys are keeping their heads down. BuzzFeed News spoke with several current and former attorneys who described a tense environment even as lawyers carry out the day-to-day work of the Justice Department.

"I would say the mood is one of sober resignation," a current Justice Department attorney, who has served over the past two decades, told BuzzFeed News in a written message. "I'm not hearing anyone complain about the criticism of Sessions himself (who commands little respect), but Trump's attitude that the AG, and by extension the Department as a whole, exists solely to defend him is deeply concerning. The same goes for his inexplicable chumminess with Putin."

Read the full story here.

—Zoe Tillman and Dominic Holden

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Anthony Scaramucci expected to be named White House communications director, reports say

Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and and former adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, is expected to be named White House communications director, multiple news outlets reported.

The appointment was first reported by Axios Thursday night.

Other outlets, including the New York Times, confirmed the report.

Scaramucci is expected to fill a position that has been vacant since May, when Mike Dubke resigned from the position.

A supporter of Trump during the campaign, Scaramucci had already been offered a job at the White House in January, leading the office of public engagement, Bloomberg reported. The job, however, never materialized.

Scaramucci was also at the center of a retracted CNN story that claimed Senate investigators were looking into a Russian investment fund whose chief executive had met with a member of Trump's transition team.

The story was deleted from CNN's website, and the outlet apologized to Scaramucci, who was named in the report as allegedly meeting the Russian executive.

Scaramucci tweeted that he accepted the network's apology and was "moving on."

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on the reports.

Salvador Hernandez

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Trump aides reportedly seeking dirt to limit special counsel investigation

Lawyers and aides working for President Trump are looking into the team of investigators examining potential collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign in an effort to find conflicts of interest or other damaging information, according to two reports published late Thursday.

The Washington Post and the New York Times reported that the president's aides were searching the backgrounds of Robert Mueller, the special counsel the Justice Department appointed in May, and his investigators.

According to the Times, Trump's lawyers and aides were looking at past donations to Democratic candidates and the investigators' former clients. They were also reportedly looking at Mueller's relationship to fired FBI director James Comey, and the fact that Mueller interviewed for Comey's job a day before his appointment to lead the Russia investigation.

In addition, according to the Post, Trump's team believes it may have identified a potential conflict of interest over a dispute regarding membership fees Mueller paid to Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia. Mueller left the club in 2011, though his spokesperson told the paper that there was no dispute.

The objective of these efforts is to identify conflicts of interest that could discredit the investigation and potentially build a case to fire Mueller, the papers reported.

The news that Trump's team is actively working against the special counsel investigation comes just a day after the president claimed in an interview with the Times that he knew about conflicts of interest involving Mueller.

The Post also reported Thursday that Trump has asked his lawyers about his ability to pardon people, including aides, family members, and himself.

Both the Times and the Post compared the situation to Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. That investigation eventually led the House of Representatives to impeach Clinton.

—Jim Dalrymple II

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A spokesperson for President Trump's legal team has resigned

Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for the personal attorneys representing President Trump in the Russia investigations, has resigned.

ABC News, the Washington Post, and the New York Times reported Corallo resigned from his position Thursday, and Corallo confirmed his resignation to BuzzFeed News on Friday.

The New York Times reported Corallo's departure was part of a larger shake-up inside the president's legal team to go after special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators looking possible collusion between Russia and Trump's advisers.

Corallo, the Times reported, was one of several people in the team who cautioned against criticizing Mueller.

Corallo did not provide any details or explanation for his departure in his response to BuzzFeed News.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Administration allies caught between Sessions–Trump tension

When President Trump took his frustrations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions public this week, he put his closest allies in an uncomfortable position: having to take sides between the president and someone who has stood by him and his stalwarts since the beginning, like children amid a bad divorce.

Those close to the administration who know both Trump and Sessions and are usually quick to offer their thoughts were more reluctant to speak up on Thursday, the day after the president told the New York Times he would not have nominated Sessions to be attorney general if he'd known he would recuse himself from the investigation into Russia's involvement in the presidential election.

Half of the two dozen people in Trump's orbit BuzzFeed News reached out to for this story did not respond. People close to the White House have known about the president privately fuming about Sessions, but the public criticism put them in a bind. They don't necessarily think Sessions should have recused himself, but they're also fond of the senator and don't want Trump to bash him publicly.

And as Sessions' case puts on display, stepping out on the president can result in swift condemnation from the Oval Office, no matter how much loyalty to Trump you've previously shown.

Read more here.

—Adrian Carrasquillo, Tarini Parti, and Emma Loop

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White House: Trump "disappointed" in Sessions but still "clearly has confidence"

Despite airing his disappointment in Jeff Sessions in an interview with the New York Times, the White House insisted Thursday that President Trump still has confidence in the attorney general he appointed.

Trump told the Times in an interview Wednesday that Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation was a big disappointment and he known he was going to do it, he would appointed someone else. But the next day, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the president still had confidence in his attorney general.

"Clearly he has confidence or he would not be the attorney general," Huckabee said.

She also brushed aside questions on whether Sessions should resign.

"I think you know this president well enough to know that if he wanted somebody to take an action, he would make that quite clear," she said.

.@shsanders45 says POTUS was disappointed in AG Sessions "but clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be t…

Sanders was also asked about comments Trump made in the New York Times interview about Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which he said looking into his family's finances would be a "red line" in the inquiry.

Sanders would not say Trump's comments were a threat to possibly fire Mueller, only a reminder to stay within the parameters of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign staff during the election.

"The president is making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation," she said. "Although the president has the authority to (fire Mueller), he doesn't intend to do so."

— Salvador Hernandez

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The special counsel has expanded his investigation to include Trump's businesses, according to a report

The U.S. special counsel heading up the investigation into possible ties between President Trump's campaign and Russia is now reportedly also looking into transactions involving Trump's businesses, Bloomberg reports, according to a person familiar with the probe. BuzzFeed News has not independently confirmed the report.

In a New York Times interview Wednesday, when asked whether special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would "cross a red line" if it investigated ties between Russia and his businesses, in addition to the campaign, President Trump responded, "I would say yes," though he did not say how he would respond.

"I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia," he said.

-- Cora Lewis

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CBO score of the Senate's revised health care plan projected to lead to 22 million more uninsured people by 2026

On Thursday the Congressional Budget Office put out a new score of Senate leadership's most recent plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Compared to the previous bill, the new plan preserves billions of dollars of Obamacare taxes on the rich, which is put towards health spending. The new bill does not include the amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz that would let insurers waive all Obamacare regulations.

The CBO found the new bill to be mostly similar to the previous one. Both bills are projected to lead to 22 million more uninsured people by 2026 than under Obamacare. Both bills make deep cuts to Medicaid over the next decade ($756 billion in the new score vs. $772 in the previous ones). And both bills would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars and lower insurance premiums while increasing out-of-pocket costs.

Republicans do not yet know whether the plan is to vote next week on this repeal and replace plan, a so-called "straight" repeal plan without a replacement that CBO says would lead to 32 million more uninsured people than Obamacare, or something else altogether. Right now, the only definitive plan is for a vote Tuesday on a procedural motion that would merely allow them to start voting on health care, despite no one knowing which bill they would be proceeding to.

—Paul McLeod

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The US government fined Exxon $2 million for violating sanctions against Russia while current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ran the oil company

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Sessions just said he won't resign after Trump's criticism, and says he'll serve "as long as that is appropriate."

Asked at a press conference Thursday about disparaging remarks made by President Trump about him yesterday, Attorney General Sessions said he would not be resigning.

"We in this department will continue every single day to work hard to serve the national interest and we wholeheartedly join the priorities that President Trump...gave us," he said.

"I have the honor of serving as Attorney General. It is something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself. We love this job. We love this Department. I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate."

Asked how he feels he can effectively serve if he doesn't have the confidence of the President, in reference to the comments, Sessions said, "The work we are doing today is the work we intend to continue," citing a health care fraud takedown and a meeting with state and local officials to unify efforts among law enforcement as two examples.

"I am totally confident we can continue to run this office in a effective way," he said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was asked about the president's comments, where Trump said he didn't think Rosenstein could be impartial because he is from Baltimore, which is home to many Democrats. "We are working every day to advance the priorities of the Department of Justice. Proud to be here yesterday, proud to be here today, proud to work here tomorrow. We are spending every minute to advance the interest of the department."

As Sessions left the news conference, he ignored a shouted question: "Are you concerned you will be seen as a zombie attorney general?"

—Cora Lewis

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Trump Is Angry At Everyone — But He's Really Upset His Pick Isn't Running The Russia Investigation

President Trump is angry.

There is a lot to take in from the latest interview President Trump gave to the New York Times. In it, he flings criticisms at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

But he also makes a much more direct point: He wanted to select the person in charge of any investigation of his campaign.

Read more here.

—Chris Geidner

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President Trump regrets appointing Attorney General Jeff Sessions

President Trump told the New York Times Wednesday he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration over the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any collusion with his campaign, but his comments to the Times showed a new level of irritation from the president with the attorney general as two congressional committees and an independent counsel continue their inquiries.

"Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president," he told the Times. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair — and that's a mild word — to the president."

Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Trump for the president, recused himself because he often campaigned for Trump.

Trump also accused former FBI Director James Comey of trying to leverage a dossier of potentially comprising information against him, and left open the possibility of firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russian meddling.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and special counsel's office declined to comment on the article.

Here are more takeaways from the New York Times interview:

Discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Despite reports that Trump and Putin broke away from a dinner at the G20 meeting and spoke for about an hour, the president said the discussion was only about 15 minutes pleasantries.

The president also said he and Putin spoke about the adoption of Russian children, which were banned in 2012 under US sanctions against human rights abuses in Russia. Donald Trump Jr. has also said he spoke about adoptions when meeting a Russian attorney during the presidential election, although emails released by the president's son-in-law made it the pretense was to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

"I don't think we're under investigation": Despite two congressional inquiries and an independent counsel, Trump told the Times he himself was not under investigation as part of the ongoing probes.

The three inquiries are looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to tip the election in Trump's favor.

"I'm not under investigation," Trump told the Times. "For what? I didn't do anything.

Allegations James Comey used dossier as leverage: Trump alleged former FBI Director James Comey spoke to him about a dossier complied by a former British spy to somehow use it as leverage against him.

"In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there," Trump said.

Comey has testified before Congress that he and other intelligence officials briefed Trump on the dossier because of the possibility it would be reported by the media.

Accusations that Comey lied: The president also accused Comey of lying about their one-on-one meeting on Feb. 14, in which the former FBI director has alleged Trump tried to stop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

"I don't remember even talking to him about any of this stuff," Trump told the Times. "Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK?"

Red line for Russia investigation: Trump said independent counsel Robert Mueller would be crossing a red line in his investigation if he began to look into his family's finances beyond Russia.

"I think that's a violation," he said. "Look, this is about Russia."

Warning to Mueller: Trump claimed that before his appointment as special counsel, Mueller had sought Comey's job.

"He was up here and he wanted the job," Trump said.

Trump insisted that created a huge conflict of interest when Mueller was named special counsel, and said he'd reveal others in the future.

"There were many other conflicts that I haven't said, but I will at some point."

Read the full New York Times article here.

Excerpts of the transcript and audio files are here.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Jared Kushner to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, is scheduled to speak with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, his attorney confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

"As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigation to Congress," Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. "Working with and being responsive to the schedules of the committees, we have arranged Mr. Kushner's interview with the Senate for July 24."

The interview with the committee is expected to be behind closed doors.

All three senior members of the Trump campaign who met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in the middle of the presidential election are now expected to speak with congressional committees next week, including Donald Trump Jr. and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The men met with Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower under the pretense that she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. and Manafort are scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in open session.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Former Trump campaign chairman was reportedly in debt to pro-Russia interests for millions of dollars

Paul Manafort was in debt for as much as $17 million when he came onboard to serve as chairman of Donald Trump's campaign for the White House, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Times reviewed financial records from Cyprus, which reportedly showed the money was owed by shell companies that were connected to Manafort's businesses in Ukraine.

A spokesman for Manafort, Jason Maloni, did not dispute the newspaper's findings, but called the financial documents "stale" and said they "do not purport to reflect any current financial arrangements."

"The broader point, which Mr. Manafort has maintained from the beginning, is that he did not collude with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election," Maloni said.

Still, the New York Times reported that the transactions it reviewed in the Cyprus records could have been characterized as loans for another purpose, like avoiding taxes on income or equity investments, due to complicated banking rules. At the same time, Manafort purchased several expensive pieces of real estate, often with cash, during and after his time in Ukraine, the paper reported.

Manafort resigned from the campaign amid questions about his work in Ukraine.

He is scheduled to appear before an open session of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

A spokesman for his attorney told BuzzFeed News they are reviewing the committee's request.

Salvador Hernandez

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Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to testify Wednesday before Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to testify Wednesday in an open hearing.

The two are set to testify just a week after Trump Jr. released emails setting up a meeting with a Russian attorney who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

"[We] just received the letter and we're reviewing it. We have nothing else to add," a spokesman for Manafort's lawyer told BuzzFeed News.

Letters asking Trump Jr and Manafort to testify before the committee were sent out Wednesday.

Trump Jr., Manafort, and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, attended the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, the first publicly known meeting held between officials reportedly tied to the Kremlin and close associates of President Trump's campaign.

A spokesperson for Trump Jr. did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The judiciary committee is one of two congressional committees that are investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Salvador Hernandez

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Repealing Obamacare without a replacement would lead to 32 million more uninsured and massive market disruption

Repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan would lead to 32 million more uninsured people in 2026 than under current law, as insurance companies would flee the individual market en masse, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report.

A so-called "straight repeal" of Obamacare without a replacement plan is one of the options being bandied about by Senate Republicans as they try to reach a last-minute deal on health reform. The proposal is to pass a repeal bill with a two-year delay, giving Congress a hard deadline to put a new system in place.

It's not clear whether Republicans will ultimately opt to vote on this plan, and it's even more questionable that it would pass. But the CBO report lays out what the potential long-term effects would be of repeal without replacement.

The bill would lead to 32 million more uninsured people in a decade compared to the current system, according to the CBO. That is 10 million more uninsured people than what the most recent Republican repeal-and-replace bill would lead to, per CBO projections.

Read more here.

—Paul McLeod

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The vice chair of the president's election integrity commission: "We may never know" if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote

The vice chairman of President Trump's commission to look into alleged — and widely debunked — mass voter fraud says the public may never truly know who won the popular vote in 2016 presidential election.

His comments came despite the fact that Hillary Clinton was certified to have won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes and there has been no substantiated claims of widespread voting fraud.

Still, Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, tried to cast doubt on the final tally of the 2016 presidential election, saying "we may never know" if Clinton won the popular vote.

"You know, we may never know the answer to that question because, even if you could prove a certain number of voters were cast by ineligible voters, you wouldn't know who they voted for," Kobach told MSNBC on Wednesday.

Trump established the commission after complaining on Twitter that he would have campaigned differently if the presidential election were based on the popular vote, and not the Electoral College.

He has claimed that he would have won the popular vote if not for the "millions of people who voted illegally," despite offering no proof.

The head of Trump's voter fraud commission: "We may never know" if Clinton won the popular vote (She did, by about…

Speaking to MSNBC's Katy Tur, Kobach also suggested votes that were cast for the president were also in doubt, and the commission's goal was to establish "what are the facts, and how susceptible (are the elections) to fraud."

Though the commission was established soon after Trump publicly claimed he would have won the popular vote, Kobach maintained it was not there to attempt to validate the president's claims.

"No, the purpose of the commission is not to validate or invalidate anything the president said in January," he said.

–Salvador Hernandez

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Republican Senate leader vows to press renewed Obamacare repeal effort next week

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday vowed to press ahead next week with a vote on proceeding with a possible repeal or replacement of Obamacare.

His comments came roughly an hour after President Trump issued a strongly worded challenge to Senate Republicans to revive efforts that collapsed this week and to at least repeal the Affordable Care Act, although he made it clear he would prefer to also replace it.

McConnell's efforts to do both were stymied earlier this week by the Democratic caucus and a handful of hold-out Republican senators who felt the replacement proposal either went too far, or didn't go far enough, in rolling back provisions of Obamacare.

Outside the White House on Wednesday, McConnell told reporters that while he agreed it was best to repeal and replace, whatever proposal he introduced next week would be "wide open for amendment."

The important thing, he said, was the senators not block efforts to engage in a debate on crafting a bill.

"There is a large majority in our conference that want to demonstrate to the American people that they intend to keep the commitment they made in four straight elections to repeal Obamacare," he said.

—Jason Wells

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House Republicans quietly killed a bipartisan war authorization repeal effort

A House subcommittee shocked many in late June when it overwhelmingly supported a progressive lawmaker's amendment to repeal the 2001 war authorization that the US has used as the legal basis for wars against a broadening set of terrorist groups in multiple countries since 9/11.

The top Republican on the subcommittee initially opposed the proposal from Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, which would give Congress just eight months to debate and pass a new authorization to continue the War on Terror. But then something unusual happened — one-by-one, other Republicans stood to take Lee's side. The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee passed the amendment nearly unanimously.

But on Tuesday, Republicans quietly killed the bipartisan effort.

Read the full story here.

–Emma Loop

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Supreme Court won't stop order that exempts grandparents from Trump's travel ban

The Supreme Court won't stop a lower court order that exempted grandparents and other family members from President Trump's travel and refugee ban.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied the Justice Department's request that the high court clarify its own June 26 order on the president's executive order. That ruling allowed the ban to go into effect in part.

After the June 26 ruling, a lower court ruled on the implementation of the order. The Justice Department, practically speaking, was seeking to reverse that lower court's ruling in the case.

The Supreme Court did, however, put another part of the lower court order on hold for now. That portion provided protection for those would-be refugees who have received assurances of support from a refugee resettlement agency but don't otherwise have connections to the US.

Last week, US District Judge Derrick Watson had issued an order limiting the Trump administration from using the travel or refugee bans to "exclude grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States."

Read the full story here.

–Chris Geidner

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Trump warns Republicans over stalled effort to repeal Obamacare

President Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up political pressure on congressional Republicans to overcome stalled efforts to repeal Obamacare, implying that failure to do so would put them at risk come re-election time.

Speaking to reporters at a luncheon designed to revive the legislative effort that imploded this week in the Republican-controlled Senate, Trump said any senator who votes against starting the process to repeal "says you are fine with ObamaCare."

"He wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?" Trump said while gesturing to Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, an opponent of the repeal-and-replace bill who was seated next to him.

Trump also directed his warning to Heller's colleagues in Congress, where many Republicans elected in 2016 vowed to dismantle and replace President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"You know, for seven years, you had an easy route, 'We'll repeal, we'll replace, and he's never going to sign it,'" Trump said of references to Obama in years past. "But I'm signing it. So it's a little bit different."

"People are hurting, inaction is not an option, and frankly I don't think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give our people great health care," he added.

Trump also insisted that states could do a better job at administering health care than the federal government, which he said should instead be focused on the Middle East and North Korea, "where we have very big problems."

He also challenged Republicans to remain in session until their push for health care overhaul was complete, adding that while a flat repeal was fine, passing a simultaneous replacement was preferable.

"We shouldn't leave town until this is complete, until this bill is on my desk and until we all go over to the Oval Office," Trump said. "I'll sign it and we can celebrate for the American people."

—Jason Wells

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This is how that second Putin-Trump meeting really went down

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had spent most of the evening on opposite sides of the table at a dinner organized as part of the G20 meeting in Hamburg.

The day, July 7, had been tense. World leaders tussled over trade and climate change. Hours earlier, the US and Russian presidents had met for the first time, a monumental occasion in one of the most watched, and most controversial, relationships in history.

At the dinner at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall on the banks of the Elbe river, Putin was seated next to Melania Trump, with a translator seated behind the two. Trump sat next to Juliana Awada, the first lady of Argentina.

At the end of the one and a half hour long meal, Trump walked round the table to talk to the Russian president. In normal times, two major leaders having a post-meal chat at a summit would not be big news; such informal conversations are a central feature of every international gathering.

But these are not normal times in US-Russia relations, nor was the conversation entirely normal either.

Read more here.

—Alberto Nardelli

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"What are they worried about?" Trump asks of states not complying with voter fraud commission

President Trump spoke at the first meeting of his controversial commission on voter fraud Wednesday, pledging the group's work would be "very transparent" and "very open for everybody to see."

"You will approach this important task with a very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn. You will fairly and objectively follow the facts wherever they may lead," he said.

Critics have blasted the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity as a waste of time and money whose true purpose is to suppress Democratic voting blocs.

But Trump said the commission will "help protect our democracy."

"Every time voter fraud occurs it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy," Trump said. "You can't let that happen. Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting whether by non-citizens or the deceased, and any form of voter suppression or intimidation, must be stopped."

Without offering a scintilla of evidence, Trump has repeatedly made the outlandish claim that millions of people voted illegally in the presidential election, costing him the popular vote. Experts have found few instances of actual voter fraud.

Of the dozens of states that have refused to fully hand over voter information to the commission, citing privacy concerns, Trump asked what they were "worried about."

"If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they're worried about. And I asked the vice president, I asked the commission, what are they worried about? There's something. There always is," Trump said.

The president said that during the campaign and after the election many people expressed concerns to him about "voter inconsistencies and some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states."

"This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue — it's an American issue. It's about the concern of so many Americans that improper voting has taken place and canceling out the votes of lawful American citizens," he said.

He did not specify any specific examples.

— David Mack

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The Trump Administration says it will allow more property seizures without criminal charges

The US Justice Department rolled out a new policy Wednesday that allows the government to seize more possessions and money under federal authority, in some cases circumventing state or local laws, even when a person has not been charged or convicted of a crime.

Officials argue this will allow police to seize money, weapons, and valuable property from criminal enterprises that have amassed the goods illegally, thereby weakening underworld networks that contribute to violence. The new policy also includes several provisions intended to limit abuse, which had led the Obama administration to limit the practice.

Backed by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the new policy largely reverses a decision by the Obama administration in 2015 to halt most so-called adoptive forfeitures. In adoptive forfeitures, local law enforcement agencies ask the Justice Department to use federal law to seize property of people suspected of committing a crime — and then return most of the proceeds to the local police.

Read the full story here.

–Dominic Holden and Zoe Tillman

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Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s “Election Integrity” Commission

You probably aren't obsessed with President Trump's campaign to uncover the millions of fraudulent votes that were cast in the last election, because — hey — it never happened. Trump's claim about widespread cheating is a myth, according to state election officials and experts across the country.

But the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity meets for the first time on Wednesday at 11 a.m. And while supporters say it will help root out illegal votes, critics say it looks like a launching point for Republicans to justify banning some of their opponents from the ballot box.

Here's the rundown of how we got here, and what to expect next.

–Dominic Holden

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Trump's pick for EPA post writes “science-bible stories” and has ties to the chemical industry

President Trump on Monday nominated the controversial toxicologist Michael Dourson, who self-publishes science-inspired Bible books, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's work on chemical safety and pollution prevention.

Dourson "writes books matching science and Biblical text," according to his Twitter profile on Tuesday afternoon. After BuzzFeed News asked him about this, the profile changed to "writes science-Bible stories."

Dourson has written a three-book series called Evidence of Faith. The books offer a retelling of famous religious stories, such as the birth of Jesus, using a mashup of fictional conversations, references from the Bible and other religious texts, and scientific discoveries. The most recent book, The Linen Cloths: ...Jesus Left Behind, was published in February. He's planning a fourth book on Noah and the Great Flood, according to his blog Messiah's Star.

At the start of each book, he uses similar language to explain how both nature and the Bible guided his narratives.

Read the full story here.

–Zahra Hirji and Ellie Hall

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Trump can't handle losing on healthcare, pushes Republicans to act

Donald Trump won't admit defeat on healthcare policy yet – he's hosting a lunch for Republican Senators at the White House on Wednesday to discuss it.

"Republicans never discuss how good their heathcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime", he tweeted on Wednesday morning.

He also demanded that Republicans "keep their promise to America" and repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime.The Dems scream death as OCare dies!

I will be having lunch at the White House today with Republican Senators concerning healthcare. They MUST keep their promise to America!

It's a slight change from Tuesday, when Trump tweeted "let Obamacare fail", after Republicans failed to both secure enough votes for the latest version of their bill and for a simple repeal of Obamacare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Tuesday to vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, despite not having enough votes.

– Amber Jamieson

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Trump is showing the world what a weak American presidency looks like

Six months into a tumultuous term, President Trump has failed to put his hands on the levers of American power, showing that occupying even the highest office doesn't automatically wield influence.

Trump spent much of this past weekend watching the US Women's Golf Open at his family-owned golf club, a kind of metaphor for a presidency disconnected from actual power. But the health care failure — in which Trump allowed himself to lose control of his own agenda, and then lose the fight for that agenda — was the most humiliating in a sweep of presidential defeats.

The White House has lost control of its foreign policy to the military and to allies who can't work with a globally loathed American leader even if they wanted to. He has lost control of his domestic policy to Congress, which has been unable to give him a signature win despite Republicans controlling both chambers. He has lost control of his own aides to leaks and investigations, of his old television cronies to spiteful personal feuds, and most of all of the narrative of an "America First" presidency with a coherent vision or promise.

Read more here.

—Tarini Parti, Adrian Carrasquillo, and John Hudson

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White House confirms previously undisclosed Putin–Trump conversation at G20 event

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a second, private meeting during a G20 summit dinner earlier this month, the White House confirmed Tuesday.

The discussion, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News on July 8, was described by a source as a "long chat" right after a dinner party for world leaders.

After details of the formally undisclosed chat emerged, the White House issued a statement explaining the evening and brushing off reports that the two leaders held another private meeting.

"There was no 'second meeting' between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner," the White House said. "The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' the second meeting is false, malicious and absurd."

Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group think tank, who wrote about the meeting in a newsletter to group clients Tuesday, called it a breach of national security, reporting that Trump was not joined by his own translator. However, the White House also pushed back on that account, explaining that the translator accompanying Trump spoke Japanese but not Russian, so when Trump addressed Putin, "the two leaders used the Russian translator."

And, despite the White House saying it was "brief," attendees told Bremmer it was nearly an hour, which is "surprising" and usually warrants a readout. It also seems Trump did not tell his advisors about the talk, Bremmer explained, given the White House's lengthy, defensive summary after the news broke.

"I truly think his advisors didn't know it happened, which is unusual," he said. "Otherwise they would have put something out."

First lady Melania Trump had been seated next to Putin at the dinner, with Donald Trump next to Juliana Awada, the first lady of Argentina, attendees told BuzzFeed News. As the dinner wrapped, Trump went over to his wife, "where he spoke briefly with President Putin," the White House said.

But White House aides only heard Trump's version of the conversation, reporters were not informed, and there was no formal readout of the meeting, one official told the Washington Post.

The meeting also reportedly stunned other world leaders who witnessed the interaction. Earlier in the day, Trump and Putin had met formally for nearly two hours, far surpassing the 30-minute time frame that had been scheduled.

"People there were really surprised and found it very strange that Trump is much warmer to Putin than he is with his own allies," Bremmer told BuzzFeed News after speaking with many of the attendees. "You put all these world leaders together in a room for the first time, yet he goes out of his way to spend his time with Putin."

"It doesn't make sense," he said. "Our allies were taken aback."

The White House, however, argued that their chat was "not merely perfectly normal," but part of the president's "duties to interact with world leaders."

"Throughout the G20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage," the administration stated.

As he typically does, Trump himself responded to the news on Twitter, in one tweet calling coverage of the meeting "sick."

Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!

The media never reported that the G20 dinner was secret; however, the meeting with Putin was not disclosed by the White House until Tuesday. Still, Trump followed up with another tweet:

The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!

Meeting with Putin at a dinner for world leaders is not the problem, Bremmer noted, "it's the broader set of facts and context in which it took place."

"I don't think Trump was doing anything nefarious, but it's been topic number one for our allies," he said. "They are questioning our stability and commitment to them at a time when we are no longer leading on trade and security and Trump has sped that process up with how he deals with Putin."

—Brianna Sacks

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Senate majority leader vows to hold Obamacare repeal vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday vowed to hold a vote on whether to repeal Obamacare despite the apparent lack of support needed to pass such a measure.

After Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act fell apart Monday night, they made a last-ditch attempt to save their bill with a straight repeal of the healthcare law while also giving Congress a two-year window to pass a replacement. But three Republican senators on Tuesday announced they wouldn't vote for even that alternative, all but dooming the measure.

Still, McConnell said it was the alternative that "most of our members would like to vote on now, and we'll be doing that in the near future."

A vote on whether to consider things related to heath care, including the 2015 repeal only bill with a two-year delay. A final vote would come a few days later, assuming it moves forward, which, given the lack of adequate Republican votes, does not look likely.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the Republican proposals as attempts to sabotage the healthcare system, rather than fix it. President Trump, he added, "is actively trying to undermine the health care system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game."

Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters he'd be willing to "let Obamacare fail" in order to bring Democrats to the table to craft a fix or replacement.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's position, saying the Democrats have refused to work across the aisle to find a bipartisan alternative.

"The only thing that's dead is Obamacare," she said. "The failure of Obamacare, I think, rests solely on the shoulders of Democrats. They created the program, they pushed it through, they made this legislation happen and they need to own the fallout of it."

—Jason Wells

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Eighth person at meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer is identified

A Russian-born businessman was identified Tuesday as the eighth person to have attended a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. and two other top aides to the president.

The identity of the man, Ike Kaveladze, was confirmed to multiple news outlets by Scott Balber, an attorney for billionaire Russian developer Aras Agalarov and his son, Emin, who helped set up the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in 2016 under the pretense of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Balber also told the Washington Post that a representative for Robert Mueller — the special counsel appointed to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign — had asked for Kaveladze's identity over the weekend.

Kaveladze, an executive for a Russian real estate company, "had no idea what the meeting was about until he showed up right before," Balber told the Los Angeles Times. Kaveladze initially thought he would be tapped to translate, but Veselnitskaya reportedly brought her own translator.

He is now cooperating fully with authorities, Balber told the Times.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Balber for comment.

Trump Jr.'s narrative on the meeting has shifted in recent weeks, and while he has acknowledged that he would have done things "a little differently," he has insisted the encounter did not yield any information relevant to the campaign.

Balber said he doesn't believe anyone else was at the meeting.

In 2000, Kaveladze was investigated by the General Accounting Office in his capacity as head of a Delaware company. The US government agency had been tasked with probing how Russians were laundering money through American companies.

The agency found the Delaware company had deposited more than $1.4 billion in some 236 US bank accounts between 1991-2000 on behalf of Russian brokers.

Balber told the Post his client did nothing wrong and the GAO report was mainly concerned with the "internal procedures" of American banks.

—Jason Wells and David Mack

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Now even the Republican plan to just repeal Obamacare is dead

The Republican effort to repeal Obamacare died midday Tuesday.

The latest GOP effort is now doomed after three Republican senators announced they would vote against a procedural measure to repeal Obamacare. Sen. John McCain is in his home state of Arizona recovering from a medical procedure, leaving Republicans at least two votes short.

Senate leadership had already started from scratch just hours earlier. When months of trying to craft a replacement plan for Obamacare fell apart Monday night, Republicans made a last-ditch attempt to save their bill by bringing up a straight repeal of Obamacare instead, while giving Congress a two-year window to pass a replacement plan.

That bill had already passed in 2015, but was vetoed by President Obama. Conservatives largely endorsed the plan, but moderates killed it by midday Tuesday.

Read more here.

—Paul McLeod

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