WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS’ TAKE
Can Attorney General Sessions pull a Houdini today? He’s caught between a president angered by his recusal from the Russia investigations, and senators questioning his failure to recuse himself from the firing of Comey. Which worries him more? Does he cancel them out by clamming up? And by the way, does the White House really know what he’s going to say?
THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
For a guy who’s recused himself from the hot story, he sure does pop up a lot. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an interesting man for the Senate Intelligence Committee to speak with today for a range of reasons that stretch back through the Trump candidacy and presidency. His appearance is being met with a tinge of trepidation, and a whole lot of anticipation, inside a White House where loyalty pledges work to buck up the president’s mood, though not necessarily his legal standing. Part of what makes Sessions intriguing is that he is, by accounts public and private, loyal to President Trump, loyal enough to have offered to resign weeks before he offered to testify. Trump may not be happy with him these days but he’s stuck with him. Now he’ll be stuck with his version of events; he already has to contend with contradictions from his fired FBI director, and can’t afford a two-against-one he-said-he-said. Sessions serves a president whose relationship with facts is famously casual. But when Sessions talks about his conversations with James Comey, and doesn’t talk about his conversations with Trump, the attorney general of the United States knows the consequences of perjury, and surely wants to be on the side of truth.
TRUMP ADVISERS FACE THE MUSIC
The president, his family and Republicans across the board may have they felt “vindicated” after Comey testified last week, but Session’s appearance in front of the Senate Intel today reminds the public that while the president may not have been under formal FBI investigation for colluding with Russia, several of his closest advisers remain tangled up in an ever-expanding, cloud of Russia-related controversy. The very men who lead those campaign cheers, “lock her up,” face concrete accusations today from sitting senators about lying under oath or having suspicious dealings with the Kremlin. Not one or two people, loosely in the president’s orbit, but half a dozen men in Trump’s tightest inner circle. Comey said there was evidence that would make it “problematic” for Sessions, the U.S. attorney general, to stay involved in an investigation involving Russia. He said, yes, Michael Flynn was in “legal jeopardy.” Jared Kushner, the president’s own son-in-law, raised eyebrows with his effort to set up a back channel for communications with Moscow. Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Boris Epshteyn – all asked to produce documents to congressional committees, ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks reports.
A PRIMER ON THE VIRGINIA PRIMARY
The race between the two Democrats for governor in Virginia is neck-and-neck and the latest example of the ongoing identity crisis within the party. The current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was set to be a shoe-in for the job, but despite his long list of endorsements in the state, he faced a real challenge from former congressman Tom Perriello who is backed by Bernie Sanders. Perriello is campaigning on a $15/hr minimum wage, public financing of elections and free higher education. He also came out against two potential pipeline projects in the state, earning him the support of environmentalists too. The former congressman has been running an organized operation with Sanders’ former NH state director at the helm. If he snags the win in today’s primary race, Perriello could be a model for other insurgent Democrats going forward, ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks notes.
NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Adam Kelsey
Senate Judiciary Committee seeks meeting with Robert Mueller. The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election are seeking a meeting with special counsel Robert Mueller, ABC News has learned. No date for the meeting has been set, according to a committee aide. The panel has been seeking copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s notes and memos. http://abcn.ws/2sgtAqK
Republican senators float alternatives to comprehensive Obamacare replacement bill. Senate Republicans continue to hammer away at a comprehensive package to replace the Affordable Care Act, but some of their colleagues are already looking beyond that bill, suggesting other ways to at least score some points on a replacement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week that he was looking to bringing a proposal to the Senate floor “in the near future,” likely before the July 4 congressional recess. http://abcn.ws/2shR4M5
Chuck Schumer mocks Trump cabinet meeting in tweet. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer mocked President Trump’s Monday cabinet meeting — which opened with each cabinet member thanking and praising the new administration — in a parody video on Twitter. “GREAT meeting today with the best staff in the history of the world!!!” Schumer tweeted. The video featured him at the center of a table surrounded by staff with each offering a compliment. http://abcn.ws/2suMpXW
@CeciliaVega: Senior WH aides tell me that contrary to reports, there are no convos about firing Robert Mueller. No one talking firing with @POTUS
@MLevineReports: Source: Sessions not expected to answer Senate questions about talks he had w/ @POTUS before Comey’s firing; expected to cite exec privilege
@jonkarl: Under federal law, only the AG can fire the Special Counsel. With Sessions recusal, it’s Rosenstein. See 600.7(d) https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2016-title28-vol2/pdf/CFR-2016-title28-vol2-part600.pdf …
@matt_townsend: So wonder how many @warriors will show up to be honored by @realDonaldTrump at the White House later this year?
@ABCPolitics: Some Cabinet members praise Trump’s leadership, thank him for “opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us” in first full Cabinet meeting. http://bit.ly/2sXcfBg