KUSHNER TO CONGRESS: ‘I DID NOT COLLUDE’
In closed testimony to the U.S. Senate Monday, President Trump’s son-in-law and Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner boldly denied colluding with the Russian government’s intrusion into the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. “All of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign,” Kushner said. “I did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did.”
Kushner’s testimony comes only a week after reports surfaced of a meeting between a Russian government-aligned lawyer and top Trump campaign officials, including Kushner. In his testimony, the president’s son-in-law denied knowing that Donald Trump Jr. had organized the meeting to receive potentially salacious material on Hillary Clinton from Russian sources and claimed that he eagerly left the meeting after only a few minutes because he did not find it useful. According to his testimony, Kushner emailed an aide and asked to be phoned with a fake emergency so he could leave without causing offense.
NATO OFFERS TO BROKER GERMAN-TURKISH DEAL
With a rift between the two traditional allies potentially disrupting operations against the Islamic State, NATO’s secretary general offered Monday to broker the beginnings of a détente between Turkey and Germany. Jens Stoltenberg, the head of the western military alliance, suggested that he organize a visit by German lawmakers to a Turkish air base which a spokesman called “vital” to operations against IS as part of an effort to improve relations between the two countries.
German-Turkish relations have become increasingly fraught in recent months as Germany has condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on the opposition since a coup attempt last year, including the recent arrest of a German activist. Germany has already moved some of its troops involved in NATO’s campaign against the Islamic State from Turkey to a base in Jordan, sparking the alliance’s chief’s interest in reconciliation. Currently three million Turks live in Germany and the European nation is Turkey’s largest export market, making any discord between the two countries an economic, as well as military concern.
McCAIN RETURNS FOR ONE LAST SHOT AT OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT
After multiple recent setbacks, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are bracing for an all-out confrontation this week as the party tries to consolidate votes to pass a repeal of Obamacare. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, announced Monday night that, despite his recent surgery and brain tumor diagnosis, he would return this week to cast a vote on the bill.
Hopes of passing a modified replacement bill faltered last week after four Republicans publicly announced they would not support a parliamentary motion to proceed on the measure. Now Republicans plan to simply repeal Obamacare without a replacement in line, a move experts say take insurance away from more than 30 million Americans. A New York Times analysis of the efforts suggests this could make certain Republican senators particularly vulnerable in upcoming elections, as the number of people who would lose insurance in their states far outnumbers the margin by which they won their last elections.
MARKETS ALTERING LANDSCAPE OF NORTH KOREA
A new report on the isolated country of North Korea suggests that a vast majority of the country now earns its income from markets rather than remaining dependent on the Kim-family regime. In a “micro-survey,” conducted with considerable difficult due to governmental restrictions, the Washington, DC-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that 35 of 36 surveyed North Koreans earn more than 75 percent of their income from markets—a radical departure from a traditionally Stalinist country where markets only began to operate during a devastating 1990s famine.
“Of all the respondents that we talked to, the people who were most upset about the government impeding market activities were women rather than men,” said Victor Cha of CSIS. The country now boasts more than 400 markets, called “jangmadang,” as well as state-run markets, where North Koreans can buy and sell goods with limited interference, the report noted.
BRITISH PARENTS END LEGAL BATTLE OVER SON’S MEDICAL CARE
The parents of Charlie Gard, a critically-ill British infant, have ended their legal battle to seek experimental treatment for their son in the U.S., indicating that they will take him off life support before his first birthday this August. A spokesperson for the family told a London courtroom that the boy’s “extensive muscle atrophy” meant that even if he could receive life-saving treatment, he likely would never enjoy a decent quality of life, and thus his parents decided to end their efforts.
The debate over Gard’s medical care has drawn international attention both due to the light it has shined on European law and the U.S.’ health care system, as Republicans attempt to repeal Obamacare. President Donald Trump tweeted that he would like to see the British infant receive a novel experimental treatment in the U.S., but the European Court of Human Rights had previously barred Gard’s transfer, opining that further treatment of the terminally-ill infant would cause harm and was unlikely to help. In response, Gard’s parents were able to crowd-fund $1.7 million to fight their legal battle from sympathetic donors, but their efforts ultimately ended with their decision Monday.
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