1/ Trump told his highest-ranking military leaders he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon. Shortly after the meeting ended, Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron” to the officials who remained behind. Any increase in the nuclear arsenal would break with decades of US nuclear doctrine and violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. (NBC News)
2/ In response to the NBC News story, Trump tweeted that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for reporting what he considers fake news. “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” (Politico / The Hill)
- One of Trump’s oldest friends says the president is “better than this.” Thomas Barrack Jr. said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s rhetoric and tweets, and wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics. (Washington Post)
3/ Homeland Security is exploring how it could transform the immigration system without Congress. The possible changes could limit protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expand the use of quick deportation proceedings, and tighten visa programs that could limit legal immigration to the US. None of the policies have been finalized. (CNN)
4/ The Supreme Court dismissed one of the challenges to Trump’s now-expired travel ban. The justices were not ruling on the merits of the issue, but said that because the executive order “expired by its own terms” on September 24th, “the appeal no longer presents a ‘live case or controversy.’” (Washington Post)
5/ Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s campaign is now as part of the Russia probe. The company is in the process of turning over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Steve Bannon had a stake in Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as recently as April of this year. (The Daily Beast)
The House Intelligence Committee will publicly release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during last year’s presidential election. The committee received more than 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been purchased by Russia. (Reuters)
Russia hijacked Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and turned it into a tool for spying. The software routinely scanned files looking for terms like “top secret” and classified code names of US government programs. (Wall Street Journal)
6/ North Korea hackers may have stolen joint US-South Korean military secrets, including a “decapitation strike” targeting Kim Jong Un and other leaders. The hackers broke into South Korea’s defense database in September 2016 and took a blueprint known as Operations Plan 5015, which was developed in 2015 in case war broke out with North Korea. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
- North Korea targeted US electric power companies with spearphishing emails. There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful. (NBC News)
7/ Republicans and close advisers are describing Trump as “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” There’s a new level of concern that the White House is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain him. Trump reportedly vented to his security chief: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” Meanwhile, John Kelly has tightened the flow of information and visitors, which has frustrated Trump and resulted in “shouting matches” between the two men. (Vanity Fair / Los Angeles Times)
poll/ 64% of voters support stricter gun laws, including 41% who strongly support them. 29% oppose stricter gun laws, including 16% who are in strong opposition. (Politico)
poll/ 53% of adults “strongly agree” that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher tax rates. An additional 23% “somewhat agree” the wealthiest should pay higher tax rates. (Reuters)
poll/ 55% of voters say that Trump is not fit to serve as president. 70% of voters say the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. (Quinnipiac)
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