JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is now under scrutiny for possible obstruction of justice, and he’s fighting back.
This follows news reports that special counsel Bob Mueller has broadened his probe originally focused on Russia meddling in the election. On Twitter today, the president complained — quote — “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice. Nice.”
Later, Mr. Trump charged that Hillary Clinton committed a list of infractions, and was cleared anyway.
There’s also word that Vice President Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to deal with the Russia investigations. His office tells The Washington Post that former U.S. attorney Richard Cullen will handle inquiries from congressional committees and the special counsel. The president hired his own private lawyer last month.
We will examine all of this, and talk to the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, right after the news summary.
The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against both Iran and Russia. The overall bill is aimed at Iran’s missile program. An amendment expands sanctions on Russia for meddling in last year’s election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today it sends a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and to President Trump.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: Not only did we pass a new round of tough sanctions for Russia’s meddling in our election. We codified existing sanctions into law, making them harder to lift. Any idea of the president’s that he can lift sanctions on his own for whatever reason are dashed by this legislation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin fired back during a national call-in show in Moscow, and said the sanctions say more about the U.S. than about Russia.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Why have they started to talk about introducing these sanctions with no grounds? Of course it is evidence of continuing internal political struggle in the United States. If there weren’t other problems, they would have thought up something else to hold Russia back, as it has always been, a policy of holding Russia back.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will take a closer look at the Senate’s sanctions bill a little later in the program.
A leading Republican in the House of Representatives, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, remains in critical condition tonight after a gunman shot him during a congressional baseball practice. A lobbyist who was wounded is also in critical condition. President Trump visited Scalise in a Washington hospital last night.
Today, at the White House, he said Scalise’s recovery will be more difficult than people thought.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s in some trouble. He’s a great fighter and he’s going to be OK, we hope.
And Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long divided country. And I have a feeling that Steve has made a great sacrifice, but there could be some unity being brought to our country. Let’s hope so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman, James Hodgkinson of Illinois, died after being shot by police. Meanwhile, the annual congressional baseball game is being played tonight, raising money for charity.
The American college student released from North Korea, and now in a coma, has a massive loss of brain tissue. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said today that Otto Warmbier suffered a severe neurological injury. They could not say if he was beaten. Warmbier’s father condemned the North Koreans, but said the family wants to move on.
FRED WARMBIER, Father of Otto Warmbier: What I would say to the North Korean regime, I would say I’m so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months, brutalized and terrorized. And he’s now home with his family. And I’m just tremendously proud of Otto. His spirit is with us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The State Department now says that a U.S. diplomat who went to North Korea to secure Warmbier’s release also contacted three other Americans being held. The department wouldn’t comment on their conditions.
In London, rescue crews have pulled more bodies from a burned-out apartment tower. The death toll in Wednesday’s fire reached at least 17 today, amid rising outrage.
Paul Davies of Independent Television News has this report.
PAUL DAVIES: A second dawn brought no end to the agony. There are no flames now, but this smoldering shell that was once home to so many families still holds an unknown number of their bodies.
Fire crews believe, in flats not yet safe to enter, there are a whole families who couldn’t get out or obeyed the instruction to stay put. Many, many remain missing. And it could take weeks to confirm their fate.
DANY COTTON, Commissioner, London Fire Brigade: It’s the upper floors that will be more challenging and will need some additional shoring for us to be able to get in there. The size of this building, it could take weeks. I want to be realistic. This is a very long process.
PAUL DAVIES: These images show the destruction on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower. This is the area least affected by that all-consuming fire. As this photograph shows, it gets worse as you go up. Very few escaped the higher floors.
If the initial response to this tragedy was horror, as the hours have passed, there have been mounting questions and mounting anger.
WOMAN: There is a system in place. That is the product. That is it.
WOMAN: There’s nothing at all. Yes, but they’re lying.
PAUL DAVIES: Labor’s leader visiting the area heard the concerns of residents who say fears they’d expressed about the tower’s safety were ignored.
MAN: Someone has to be held accountable. Someone has to be held responsible. We don’t want it kicked to the long grass. We don’t want the government to sort of hide with some hollow platitude about lessons being learned.
PAUL DAVIES: The prime minister paid her own private visit to Grenfell Tower this morning and was criticized for meeting only the emergency teams, and not the local community.
AFAF BADR, London Resident: People are very angry. People are crying. People are lost, missing. She’s the prime minister. Where is she?
PAUL DAVIES: London’s mayor visiting the scene said anger was understandable.
MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, London: We can see the anger in the community, justifiably so, because many members of the community have been saying …
WOMAN: Not just the community. It’s everyone outside as well.
MAN: Fed up with these politicians. No handshakes. We want action, not handshakes.
PAUL DAVIES: Sadiq Khan said the inquiry should be immediate and that no one should have to wait two years to find out why this happened.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Britain’s national government and local police have now opened investigations into the fire.
Islamist fighters in Somalia attacked a popular restaurant overnight and killed at least 31 people. It happened in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, and involved five gunmen. The Al-Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb, and then stormed inside, taking hostages. Witnesses said they shot victims at point-blank range. Somali security forces finally killed the gunmen early this morning.
Back in this country, jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial deliberated into the evening again, after reporting that they’re deadlocked. The judge in Norristown, Pennsylvania, told them to keep at it. The 79-year-old Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a woman in 2004.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 14 points to close below 21360. The Nasdaq fell 29, and the S&P 500 slipped five.