In the our news wrap Friday, as Senate Republicans begin the July 4 recess, President Trump urged them to immediately repeal Affordable Care Act even if they don't yet have a replacement plan. Also, cable news hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough charged that the White House had threatened them with a tabloid expose last spring, amid a Twitter feud with the president.
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Senate Republicans have begun the Fourth of July recess with President Trump urging them to get rid of Obamacare, even if they can't replace it yet.
In a tweet this morning, he said: "If Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal, and then replace at a later date." The White House said later that it is still — quote — "fully committed" to getting a bill through the Senate.
The president's feud with cable news hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough escalated today. Mr. Trump drew widespread condemnation yesterday for crudely criticizing Brzezinski's appearance and intelligence.
Today, the "Morning Joe" team on MSNBC charged the White House had threatened them with a tabloid expose last spring.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC:
We got a call that, hey, The National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys.
And it was, you know — Donald is friends with — the president's friends with the guy that runs The National Enquirer.
And they said, if you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story.
The National Enquirer said that it was unaware of any discussions involving the White House and the "Morning Joe" hosts.
The president answered Scarborough's allegation another tweet. He said — quote — "Fake news. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no."
A scaled-back version of President Trump's travel ban is now in force, affecting six mostly Muslim nations and refugees in general. It took effect late Thursday. There were scattered protests in Los Angeles and other cities, but none of the airport chaos that had greeted the original order in January.
Meanwhile, Hawaii asked a federal judge to expand the list of those eligible beyond immediate family members of those already in the U.S.
China lodged a public protest today over U.S. plans to sell $1.4 billion in arms to Taiwan. The Foreign Ministry said that the move runs counter to President Trump's commitment to the one-China policy. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a renegade province.
Separately, Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain. He greeted thousands of Chinese troops at an army garrison, a display aimed at groups calling for Hong Kong's independence. Xi made clear that China is not letting go.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING, China (through interpreter): After 20 years of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the practice of one country, two systems has gained universally acknowledged success. Of course, we have encountered some new situations, new problems and new challenges in the practice. It is not horrible to have problems. The point is to figure out some ways to solve them.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also caused a stir, dismissing the 1997 agreement with Britain. A spokesman said it — quote — "no longer has any practical significance."
There is word that the flow of refugees out of Syria has reversed. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports nearly half-a-million Syrians have returned to their homes this year. Most have returned to areas where government forces have regained control after years of fighting.
Back in this country, a gunman opened fire at a hospital in New York City, killing one doctor and seriously wounding several others, before taking his own life. Police said the shooter was also a doctor who had once worked at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Emergency crews and heavily armed police descended on the scene. Officials said it was an isolated incident, and not an act of terror.
Local and federal authorities in Chicago unveiled new efforts today to cut the flow of illegal guns, including adding more federal agents. The announcement came as President Trump tweeted that crime and killings in Chicago have reached epidemic proportions. Officials in the city said there's actually been some improvement, but they also welcomed the federal help.
JOEL LEVIN, U.S. Attorney:
Significant progress is being made in the effort to combat the violence in Chicago, but the level of violence continues at an unacceptable level, and it is a battle which can only be fought with all hands on deck. That is state, federal, and local law enforcement.
As of Sunday, there have been more than 1,300 shootings in Chicago this year. That's down from nearly 1,600 at the same point last year.
Firefighting crews are making progress against a wildfire that threatened to engulf an Arizona town. Officials reopened a major roadway in Prescott Valley today, north of Phoenix, and hundreds of people were allowed back into their homes. A few thousand others are still in shelters.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 62 points to close at 21349. The Nasdaq fell about four points, and the S&P 500 added three. Both the Dow and the S&P were up 8 percent for the first half of the year. That is the Dow's best showing since 2013. The Nasdaq rose 14 percent, its best since 2009.
And on a lighter note, Crayola is asking for help naming a new shade of blue. Out of 90,000 submissions, the top five contenders are, dreams come blue, star-spangled blue, blue moon bliss, reach for the stars, my favorite, and blue-tiful.
You can vote on Crayola's Web site starting tomorrow through August 31.