News Wrap: Anti-corruption protesters arrested across Russia
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House isn’t saying tonight whether tape recordings do exist of President Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
Over the weekend, several Republican senators urged the president to answer that question, yes or no.
At the White House today, reporters pressed Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the subject.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: I think the president made it very clear on Friday that he would get back as soon as possible on this and his position on that conversation.
QUESTION: Right, but what is he waiting for? What’s the delay?
SEAN SPICER: He’s waiting — he’s not waiting for anything. When he’s ready to further discuss it, he will.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Spicer also wouldn’t say if Attorney General Jeff Sessions will invoke executive privilege when he goes before a Senate committee tomorrow. Sessions faces questions about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential race.
A second U.S. appeals court has upheld a block on President Trump’s modified travel ban. In Seattle today, three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court agreed with a ruling by a lower court in Hawaii that the ban discriminates against Muslims. A federal appeals court in Virginia already issued a similar ruling in a separate case.
The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia charged today that the president’s ongoing business ties violate the Constitution. They sued in federal court, citing the Emoluments Clause, designed to head off conflicts of interest.
In Washington, the two officials, both Democrats, said it’s a matter of saving democracy.
KARL RACINE, D.C. Attorney General: We’re concerned that foreign governments are coming to the Trump businesses for the single purpose of currying special favor from the president of the United States, so that their interests can get a higher priority than the interests of the American people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A White House spokesman said the suit is motivated by partisan politics. A similar lawsuit is pending in New York state.
The White House also condemned Russia’s crackdown today on protesters against corruption. More than a thousand people were arrested across the country.
Alex Thomson of Independent Television News filed this report.
ALEX THOMSON: Hundreds arrested in Moscow alone on a day of protests nationwide against corruption generally and Vladimir Putin particularly. “Putin is a thief,” the chant, and “Russia without Putin” — all of this organized by the Kremlin’s most prominent critic by far, the anti-corruption campaigner and presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny.
If Navalny’s plan was to rain on President Putin’s parade, it’s certainly succeeding in this part of the demonstration. Thousands of people gathered here, plainly the vast majority of them here pro-Navalny.
MAN (through interpreter): Putin is killing our people. He’s killing you and me. He’s sending people to Ukraine and Syria to die for his interests. Let’s tell him we’re not having it.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I came here for the truth. Our government is not conducting itself properly.
ALEX THOMSON: Navalny was allowed to demo in Moscow, just not here, on the main road leading straight up to Red Square. But late last night, he ordered his people to this illegal location. That made confrontation inevitable.
“Muscovites,” he told people in a late-night appeal, “come to Tverskaya Street. Don’t go anywhere else.”
Alexei Navalny himself never made it to his own protest, arrested at his home in Moscow. He could now be detained for up to 30 days.
Across Moscow, as across Russia, these were the official independence day celebrations, the kind the Kremlin wanted people to see and, let’s face it, most Russians. Putin remains hugely popular. Navalny’s support runs at just 2 percent.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I don’t think protesting today makes any sense. People are celebrating. They’re happy. Why spoil the mood?
ALEX THOMSON: This was Vladivostok demonstrations and arrests well before most of Moscow had even got up this morning, north to Siberia, Novosibirsk, and another of more than 200 cities where anti-corruption protesters gathered, and west to St. Petersburg, the same pattern, gathering chanting and arresting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And back in this country, newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte will not go to jail after all for assaulting a reporter. The Republican pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge, and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service. He will also attend 20 hours of anger management counseling and pay a fine of $385.
A Pennsylvania jury has begun deliberating in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial. The defense rested abruptly today. Cosby himself, accompanied by his wife for the first time, declined to testify. His defense team argued the comedian and his accuser had a consensual relationship. Prosecutors argued that Cosby drugged the woman.
In Orlando, Florida, today, they remembered the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. A gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people at a gay nightclub last June 12, before police killed him. He’d pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. This morning, a vigil began at 2:00 a.m., the same hour as the rampage. Names of the victims were read aloud, and hundreds carried candles and laid flowers.
BUDDY DYER, Mayor of Orlando, Florida: We are not here to relive the horror of that day. We’re here for a greater purpose. We’re here to remember the innocent lives that were lost. We’re here to honor them.
Orlando has been anointed to show the world how to combat hatred and evil and promote quality and embrace diversity. And we don’t just have the opportunity to do this. We now have the responsibility to do this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The owner of the Pulse nightclub said that she plans to turn the site into a memorial.
The U.S. Interior Department is recommending the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be downsized. It now covers 1.3 million acres. President Trump has said the protective designations amount to — quote — “a massive federal land grab.” He’s ordered reviews of Bears Ears and 27 other sites.
Wall Street’s week is off to a sluggish start. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 36 points today to close at 21235. The Nasdaq fell 32, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
And the first family is finally under one roof again at the White House. First lady Melania Trump and the couple’s 11-year-old son, Barron, arrived Sunday night to take up residence. They’d stayed in New York until the school year ended.