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News Wrap: Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, calling it ‘seriously flawed’

August 2, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In the our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, but made clear his distaste for the legislation. Also, the White House is knocking down reports that the Justice Department is considering lawsuits against colleges over affirmative action.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Researchers have successfully repaired a disease-causing gene in human embryos, a scientific first in the U.S. The embryos were never implanted, but the breakthrough is a step towards preventing a list of inherited diseases. The research team targeted a heart defect best known for killing young athletes.

We will explore the scientific and the ethical ramifications of the development after the news summary.

President Trump has signed a bill into law that imposing new sanctions on Russia, but he made clear his distaste for the legislation. It punishes Moscow for its 2016 election meddling in this country and also sanctions Iran and North Korea.

In a statement, Mr. Trump said that the bill is — quote — “seriously flawed, particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.” He said he signed it — quote — “for the sake of national unity.”

We will examine what the move says about the president’s relationship with Congress later in the program.

The White House is knocking down news reports the Justice Department is considering lawsuits against colleges over affirmative action. Citing an internal document, The New York Times said the department was taking steps to investigate and sue universities over — quote — “policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”

The Wall Street Journal late today reported that the Justice Department effort centers around a complaint brought by Asian Americans against Harvard University over its emissions policy.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the Times’ report.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: The New York Times article is based entirely on uncorroborated inferences from a leaked internal personnel posting, in violation of Department of Justice policy.

And while the White House doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of potential investigations, the Department of Justice will always review credible allegations of discrimination on the basis of any race.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that race can be used as one factor of many in determining college acceptance.

Two U.S. service members were killed in an attack on a NATO convoy in Afghanistan today. The Taliban-claimed suicide bombing happened near the southern city of Kandahar. A local official said that a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into the convoy. The Pentagon gave no information on the number of troops wounded.

The Trump administration has told Congress that it has all the legal authority it needs to battle the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. It says that the law passed after 9/11 to counter al-Qaida is sufficient for the anti-ISIS fight. Some lawmakers say that it should be revised.

It comes the same day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis were on Capitol Hill briefing senators on ISIS.

It was a milestone day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 22000 points for the first time, thanks to strong earnings by tech giant Apple. In all, the gain Dow gained 52 points to close at 22016. The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a point, and the S&P 500 added one.

There’s word that turnout numbers in Venezuela’s election for an all-powerful Constituent Assembly were manipulated. A company that helped with country’s voting technology says official estimates that eight million people participated in the vote are off by at least a million.

The head of the country’s opposition-controlled National Assembly said that the legislature will call for an investigation.

JULIO BORGES, President of the National Assembly, Venezuela (through interpreter): The National Assembly is changing its agenda so that the main point of discussion becomes this fraud. What has happened in Venezuela is not only a fraud. It was a crime that starts at the top of the electoral system who read a report knowing that the results they were reading were absolutely fraudulent.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The freshly-elected Constituent Assembly is expected to hand embattled President Nicolas Maduro sweeping new powers.

President Trump’s claims about a pair of phone calls are coming under question. Mexico’s government says that President Enrique Pena Nieto didn’t phone Mr. Trump to compliment his immigration policies, as the president said on Monday. And the Boy Scouts denied that its leaders called Mr. Trump to praise his recent speech before the group.

In fact, the chief Scout executive apologized for the political rhetoric in the president’s remarks.

And Britain’s Prince Philip stepped away from public life today. The 96-year-old, who has done more than 22,000 public engagements since his marriage to the queen, made what officials are calling his last solo public appearance, greeting Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace. But the U.K. hasn’t seen the last of the duke of Edinburgh. He will still accompany Queen Elizabeth from time to time.

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