American allies join adversaries in criticizing U.S. sanctions bills

Reporting by Rich Edson

American allies are joining U.S. adversaries in criticizing sanctions bills the House and Senate have passed targeting Iran, North Korea and Russia.

The sanctions towards Russia target its oil and gas sector. European companies conduct business with Russian firms and these sanctions could expose them to penalties. The European Union is considering retaliating against the U.S.

Statement from the French Foreign Ministry:

“…the extraterritorial scope of this text appears to be unlawful under international law.”

The German government demands the U.S. coordinate with its European allies with German Foreign Office Spokesman Martin Schaeffer saying, “The United States does not have the right to sit in judgement on European companies, and to tell them how to do business with a third country, in this case with Russian energy providers, on a contractual or other level.”

The bills also limit the president’s authority to ease sanctions against Russians and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has argued that limits his flexibility in negotiating with the Russian Government.

The White House remains noncommittal on the bills the House and Senate have already passed.

There’s a possibility that more changes take place and so we’re going to see what that looks like before we make a final decision,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The President and the entire administration as we’ve said many times before strongly support sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”

The U.S. is relying more on sanctions to address adversaries’ aggressive behavior, as two senior U.S. officials say the intelligence community believes North Korea continues its ballistic missile program and Iran is poised to launch another rocket.

Congress is still considering these sanctions and the House passed a version this week that is different from the bill the Senate approved. Congressional leaders, with wide support in both parties, will have to work out those differences before sending a bill to the White House.

Tensions continue between President Trump and Attorney General Sessions

Reporting by Kevin Corke

Even as he left the White House today, questions about the future tenure of the embattled attorney general remained unanswered.

But one thing is clear--President Trump is displeased with the job performance of his attorney general and continued to hammer Jeff Sessions again today on Twitter.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!”

Some have wondered why President Trump continues to attack the very first senator to back him during the campaign, with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) telling FOX News Channel he believes the president is “trying to get Sessions to quit” and that he hopes that doesn’t happen. Graham also added “if the president wants to fire him, fire him.”

Sessions has been leading a Justice Department that is looking into the possibility of Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Sessions has recused himself specifically from the probe—a decision that has angered President Trump.

White House aides say the president wants Attorney General Sessions to simply do his job, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters this afternoon the president wants to focus on things like immigration, leaks, and a number of other issues.

Fox News has also learned that Attorney General Sessions will soon announce several criminal leak investigations, which a source claims, has “been in the works for some time.”

Fox Exclusive: Feds Arrest House IT staffer trying to leave country, charge him with bank fraud

Reporting by Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

Fox has learned that USCP, the FBI and Customs and Border agents last night arrested House IT staffer Imran Awan and charged him with multiple counts of bank fraud.

Awan has been at the center of a House computer equipment computer scandal probed by USCP and the feds. At issue is how Awan may have double-billed the House for various computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards, routers, et al.

Several relatives of Awan worked for House Democrats and were fired. Awan was kept on staff by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) even though he was not allowed access to the House server network. Authorities have also looked into the IT workers putting sensitive House information into the “cloud” and exposing it to outside sources.

Fox is told that the feds arrested Awan at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia as he was “trying to leave the country.” He has been arraigned and charged. Awan was forced to surrender his passport but is being monitored by the court.

Fox is told that Awan is still on the House payroll for the moment under Wasserman Schultz.

Fox reported first last week that arrests were coming in the case.

Awan and his relatives worked for House Democrats for more than a decade, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Awan is of Pakistani descent. Democratic sources have told Fox they believe the probe is a railroad against the family due to their ethnicity.

The investigation continues. 

Charlie Gard's parents make difficult decision to take son off life suport

Reporting by Benjamin Hall

The parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard announced today they would let their son go and “be with the angels.”

Charlie’s father called the decision the hardest one they’ve ever had to make after what would be their final appearance in a British courtroom.

“As Charlie’s devoted and living parents we have decided that it’s no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment.”

The news came as a surprise to many supporters who had gathered outside, but additional scans which took place last week showed that damage to Charlie’s muscles and tissues was now irreversible, and crucially he also had irreversible brain damage.

Despite the prognosis, Dr. Michio Hirano, the U.S. specialist who came to examine Charlie last week, was still willing to treat him-though with less hope of success.

Charlie’s parents claim there’s only one reason his muscles had deteriorated to this extent—time wasting. Charlie was born with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease, and has been fighting for months.

Tragically, having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts we know had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,’ Charlie’s father told reporters.

Charlie Gard will now be taken off life support and is expected to pass away soon after that.

There still remain huge ethical, moral, medical and legal issues in this case, not lease who has the right to choose a child’s care—the parents or the state. Now the big debate will be whether the legal wrangling cost precious time as they Charlie’s parents had been asking for treatment since November.

Car bomb in Kabul

Reporting by Greg Palkot

Smoke rose over Kabul, Afghanistan today as an explosive filled car rammed into a bus filled with government workers. The suicide bomber left at least 24 dead and 40 wounded as well as vehicles and shops destroyed. Civilians were among the injured, including women and children.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the carnage saying intelligence agents were victims. Afghan officials denied that, bud do admit the death toll following this and other attacks in Kabul and across the country is growing with nearly 1700 civilians killed this year.

All of this comes as the U.S. is weighing more troops to the country with some 8,500 there now—down from earlier levels, serving in an advisory role.

Afghan security forces often seemed overwhelmed by Taliban fighters. Insurgents overran districs outside of the capital recently. They are active nationwide.

While pledging “total victory” in military matters at the commissioning Saturday of a new aircraft carrier, President Trump is still reportedly uncertain about sending more troops to a  conflict raging for some 16 years.

Experts do note that Kabul hasn’t fallen yet, perhaps giving a reason to hang in there, despite Taliban atrocities.

Illegal immigrants found dead in back of semi

Reporting by Casey Stegall

As outside temperatures soared above triple digits witnesses say up to 100 illegal immigrants were crammed in the back of a semi riding from Laredo to Houston.

Court documents say the victims struggled to get fresh air from a single hole in the trailer’s wall because they were locked in with no air conditioning.

Authorities made the discovery in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot after an employee noticed people in distress and searching for water.

When the police arrived eight victims were already dead and two more died at the hospital. More than 20 were transported in critical condition.

While the community gathered to hold prayer vigils for the victims and their surviving family members, federal law enforcement and immigration officials interviewed a suspect. Prosecutors believe 60-year-old James Mathew Bradley Jr. of Clearwater, FL was behind the wheel.

Bradley made his first court appearance before a federal judge, claiming he did not know he was transporting human cargo.

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is wasting no time to bring politics into the discussion saying this is why sanctuary cities, like San Antonio, need to be shut down.

Acting ICE director, Thomas Homan, released this statement:

“By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished.”

Police also tracked down the owner of the truck who says he recently sold it to a man in Mexico, adding that Bradley was supposed to deliver it over the weekend.

White House tries to woo senators on Obamacare repeal

Reporting by John Roberts

In the State Dining Room today President Trump gathered together all of the Republican senators who would come for a spirited sales pitch on getting rid of Obamacare.

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America you’re fine with Obamacare,” said Trump. “But being fine with Obamacare, it isn’t an option for another reason: it’s gone. It’s failed.”

While the vote next week is to simply repeal Obamacare and replace it later, President Trump today repeated his call to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time and that Congress should stay in Washington until it is done.

“My message today is really simple: we have to stay here. We shouldn’t leave town. We should hammer this out and get it done.”

The president also chastised senators who repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare during the Obama Administration when they knew their vote was nothing more than a political show.

“For seven years, you had an easy route. We’ll replace, we’ll replace and he’s never going to sign it. But I’m signing it. So it’s a little bit different. I’m ready to act. For seven years you promised the American people you would repeal Obamacare. People are hurting. Inaction is not an option.”

The three senators who voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015, but say they’re against it now will come in for some special White House attention—as did Senator Dean Heller of Nevada—an opponent of repeal and replace who found himself seated right next to the president at lunch.

“You didn’t go out there. This was the one we were worried about, you weren’t there. You’re going to be,” Trump joked. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Heller is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2018 and will likely vote to save the seat—not the president’s plan. Two of the opponents of repeal, Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman, were just re-elected. Shelly Moore Capito isn’t up for re-election until 2020 so it’s unclear how much leverage the president will have over them.

As he seeks to woo senators on Obamacare repeal, President Trump is lashing out at reports he had a ‘secret’ second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at last week’s G-20.

The president tweeting: “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 President talked with Putin for more than two hours in a bilateral meeting in Hamburg on July 7th. That night, at the official G20 dinner, the president spent more time with Putin one-on-one with only a Russian interpreter. The White House denied a report the two spoke for nearly an hour and would not disclose the content of the conversation.

The White House has accused the press of a double standard, pointing out that President Obama had private conversations at previous G20’s that the press never made an issue of.

On Obamacare, the White House will continue its sales pitch tonight by hosting a special meeting with senators who are having a difficult time getting to a yes.

Health care: What happens next?

The failure of the push to repeal and replace Obamacare blindsided President Trump last night. Frustrations are high and clearly showed during a lunch with veterans on the war in Afghanistan.

“For seven years, I’ve been hearing repeal and replace from Congress,” said President Trump. “I’ve been hearing it loud and strong, then we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, and they don’t take advantage of it.”

The frustration was also clear as the Vice-President weighed in. He is the main conduit between the White House and Congress. Today, the lines of communication were on fire.

“Inaction is not an option. Congress needs to step up, Congress needs to do their job, and Congress needs to do their job now.”

The news that Senators Lee and Moran had conspired to kill the measure came just after the president held a White House dinner with seven senators supporting repeal and replace. The President thought he was close to closing a deal.

“Well, they were not disloyal. They had their own reasons. I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night because we thought they were in fairly good shape.”

After conferring with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Trump tweeted: “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now &work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

The White House strategy is to remind Senate Republicans that 49 of them voted just two years ago to repeal Obamacare. It was a show vote. The measure had no chance of becoming law, and died under President Obama’s veto pen, but the White House is calling out senators like Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito who voted for repeal when they knew it would fail, but won’t vote when it might succeed.

White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“So what do you say to these two senators, Murkowski and Capitol, who voted for repeal in 2015, but now say they won’t vote for it in 2017? I think we say, you know, what the vice president said today, do your job, it’s time for Congress to do their job and do it now.”

At the same time he works to twist arms to pass a repeal bill, the president pivoted to another option, with President Trump stating today, “We’re just going to let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it.”

As the president figures out the next step in healthcare reform FOX News has identified the mystery “8th person” in the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Ike Kaveladze is a vice president at Crocus Group, owned by Aras Agalarov, a business associate of President Trump.

Donald Trump Jr’s attorney tells FOX News Kaveladze has been a US citizen for years and has no ties to either the Russian government or Russian intelligence.

US student held in Iran

Reporting by Peter Doocy

Princeton University says Iranian officials arrested one of their graduate students, 37-year old Xiyue Wang, last summer,

The school says Wang was in Iran conducting research for his PHD. Iran says he assumed the role of student to infiltrate its national archives and share sensitive information with the west.

It is this provocative behavior the US says continues two years after the previous administration signed a nuclear deal with Iran and several other countries.

Congress requires the administration to certify every 90 days whether Iran is complying with that agreement—that latest deadline is today.

The State Department says the US will continue complying with the nuclear agreement while it reviews the entire US policy towards Iran.

President Trump opposes the Iran Deal, though Iran has already received tens of billions in unfrozen assets as part of the agreement and restoring international sanctions against Iran could be difficult.

The White House says the State Department will release the administration decision today, but State refuses to say when it will do so.

It is also unclear when the Trump Administration will conclude its review and announce its new Iran policy.

The fight to save Charlie Gard

Reporting by Benjamin Hall

The battle to save little Charlie Gard rages on.

Now his parents have been given hope as prominent American neurologist and world class doctor on baby Charlie’s disease Dr. Michio Hirano of Colombia University has flown to London.

Dr. Horano specializes in rare genetic conditions and has pioneered an experimental treatment he believes could help Charlie’s muscular strength.

Dr. Horano believes the chance of success is somewhere between 11-56%.

The High Court ruled in April that Charlie should be allowed to “die with dignity” and other specialists have said treatment would only cause additional pain.

Not everyone agrees, including British politician Nigel Farage.

“The whole medical establishment has been trying to stop Charlie Gard’s parents, taking that little lad to America, to have treatment that is new, not available in the U.K.. None of us are trying to play God here, but what this is all about is two parents desperately doing their best to give that little boy one last chance.”

The case has ignited a major fight over who has the right to choose a child’s care, with objectors saying Britain’s National Health Service—the NHS—shouldn’t intervene.

Another boy with the same condition as Charlie Gard, Arturo Estopinan, has already been treated by Dr. Hirano. That was six years ago and he is still alive and has seen improvements, although he is still on a ventilator.

Charlie Gard’s case is said to be more severe than Arturo’s, but those who support his treatment, including President Trump, believe that if there is even a one in a million chance it should be allowed.

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