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News Wrap: Trump reportedly sent Mueller private messages through attorney

August 8, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In our news wrap Tuesday, there’s word President Trump has exchanged private messages with Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Russian investigation. USA Today reports Trump has sent messages of “appreciation” through his attorney to Mueller. Also, at least seven people are dead after a powerful earthquake rocked China.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: There’s word President Trump has exchanged private messages with Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Russia investigation. USA Today reports that Mr. Trump has sent messages of — quote — “appreciation” through his attorney to Mueller. The president has publicly called the Russia probe a — quote — “witch-hunt” and was said to be considering firing Mueller.

At least seven people are dead, after a powerful earthquake rocked Southwest China. The quake struck near a national park in Sichuan Province. More than 80 people were injured. Separately, further north — or further south, I should say, rescue crews worked to find survivors of a landslide caused by heavy rains. At least 23 people were killed there.

In South Africa, embattled President Jacob Zuma survived yet another vote of no-confidence today. Zuma’s been dogged by allegations of corruption and a sinking economy. He would have had to resign if the motion had succeeded. Members of Parliament voted in a secret ballot.

Afterwards, Zuma celebrated with supporters.

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, South Africa: I have just come to say thank you to all of you. Those comrades, those comrades who were in Parliament needed the support from the membership and supporters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Zuma’s term continues until elections in 2019. His party is expected to replace him as its leader in December.

The U.S. says that an unarmed Iranian drone came within about 100 feet of an American warplane today. It happened in the Persian Gulf, as the plane prepared to land on an aircraft carrier. The Pentagon says that it was the 13th unsafe or unprofessional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces this year.

Venezuela’s new Constitutional Assembly has passed a decree declaring itself superior to other branches of government. The order bars the opposition-controlled Congress and other agencies from taking actions that would interfere with the body’s laws.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from 14 countries gathered in Peru to address the crisis. But Venezuela’s foreign minister said they were just pawns of the U.S.

JORGE ARREAZA, Foreign Minister, Venezuela (through interpreter): That persecution of Venezuela, the constant siege, the constant attempt to topple a legitimately elected government, well, it’s become common, but it has entered a much stronger phase. Now they meet in subgroups to provide the political groundwork to U.S. imperialism to keep pushing.

Today, it is Venezuela, but tomorrow it might be any of our countries.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, a U.N. report released today says that Venezuela’s armed forces were responsible for 46 deaths since April.

Back in this country, the Justice Department is now backing Ohio’s method for purging voter rolls, a reversal from the Obama administration. The matter is before the U.S. Supreme Court. In a filing yesterday, the government said that Ohio’s system for removing inactive voters is legal. But civil liberties groups say the process unfairly blocks eligible voters.

Google has fired the engineer who wrote a memo criticizing the company’s gender diversity program. The note, which sparked an uproar, suggested men may be more biologically suited for tech jobs than women. Google’s CEO denounced the memo in an e-mail yesterday.

On Wall Street, the president’s comments on North Korea sent stocks lower today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 33 points to close at 22085. The Nasdaq fell 13, and the S&P 500 dropped six.

And two passings of note in the arts world. Country music icon Glen Campbell has died. He sold more than 45 million records and won six Grammys, famous for hits like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman,” Campbell became a fixture at the top of music charts and on radio and TV in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2011, Campbell announced that he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He died today in Nashville at the age of 81.

READ MORE: Glen Campbell’s last song chronicled his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease

And Broadway star Barbara Cook also died today. She was known for her prolific career in musicals and cabaret and her soprano vocals. Barbara Cook was 89.

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