The U.S. at a glance ...
Lawmakers review N.C. map.
Kushner under spotlight? President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reportedly a person of interest in the lawenforcement investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, an indication that the 10-month-old probe has reached the highest levels of the White House. Sources told The Washington Post last week that a senior White House adviser “close to the president” was now of “significant” interest; hours later, a New York magazine reporter named Kush ner as the aide in question. Kushner, 36, met in December with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank Vnesh econom bank, which is under U.S. sanctions, but the White House did not disclose that meeting until March, when it was reported by The New York Times. Senate investigators now want to question Kush ner about whether financing for a building owned by the Kush ner family’s real estate empire was discussed at the meeting.
Bathroom bill dispute: Republican state lawmakers were racing to pass a compromise transgender “bathroom bill” in Texas this week before the state’s legislative session ends on May 29, amid a growing backlash from the business community. A broad bill requiring transgender individuals to use public restrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate passed the GOPcontrolled state Senate in March. But the measure stalled in the House, also led by Republicans, as high-profile corporations and organizations, including American Airlines and the NFL, threatened to boycott the state. Over the weekend, the House passed a measure that applied only to the state’s public schools, but the bill was rejected as too watered-down by some senators. With the recess fast approaching, the Texas Senate empowered a special committee to work out a compromise. Critics say the bill discriminates against transgender people and would force young students to reveal personal information about their gender.
CBO score: The health-care bill passed by House Republicans would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than if Obamacare remained in place, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this week. The American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed the House 217- 213 in May, will increase the number of uninsured pe ople by 14 million next year, compared with the current law, the CBO said, as well as provide smaller subsidies to most people on the individual market— especially low-income people over 50. The AHCA’s $8 billion fund to cover pre- existing conditions “would not be sufficient” to keep chronically ill people from paying higher premiums or losing insurance altogether, the CBO said. The bill, however, would decrease the budget deficit by $119 billion over a decade. The report provided fresh ammunition for Senate Democrats trying to kill the bill.
Neo-Nazi-turned-Muslim murders: A former neo-Nazi who converted to Islam was charged this week with killing two roommates at his Tampa apartment after they “disrespected” his new faith. Floridaborn Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested after taking hostages at a nearby smoke shop—telling them he was upset because of “America bombing his countries,” police said. Once in custody, Arthurs told officers the bodies of two of his three roommates were back at his apartment. The men had all previously “been friends with a common neo-Nazi belief,” according to police, but Arthurs allegedly felt compelled to shoot dead Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, because they “disrespected his Muslim faith.” A fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, 21, was found crying outside the apartment, and was arrested after authorities found bomb-making materia ls in the building’s garage, and firearms and Nazi propaganda in Russell’s bedroom.
New York City
Weiner pleads guilty: In a tearful appearance, disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty last week to sexting a 15-year-old girl, saying he had destroyed his “life’s dream in public service.” Weiner, 52, was caught sending explicit messages and images to the North Carolina girl last year, while his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, was serving as a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. FBI agents seized Weiner’s laptop, where they found emails that prompted then– FBI Director James Comey to announce he had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s private server—roiling the 2016 campaign in its final days. In a deal with prosecutors, Weiner pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to one count of transmitting obscene material to a minor—a felony that carries up to 10 years in prison and will require him to register as a sex offender. As Weiner entered his plea, Abedin filed for divorce.
Gerrymandering ruling: The Supreme Court struck down two congressional districts in North Carolina this week, ruling that the state’s Republican-controlled legislature had relied too heavily on race when redrawing the district lines after the 2010 census. Republican lawmakers were accused of packing African-American voters into the two districts in order to dilute their vote, which tends to lean Democratic. One district, the serpentine District 12, was appearing before the justices for the fifth time. Justice Samuel Alito argued the district had merely been packed with Democratic voters who happen to be black, but conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined the court’s four liberal justices in striking the district down, 5-3. Another electoral area, District 1, whose shape critics likened to an octopus, was struck down 8-0. Justice Neil Gorsuch sat the case out after missing oral arguments. Legal experts say the ruling could boost the success of similar gerrymandering challenges across the South.
Newscom, AP (2), The News & Observer/AP ■