Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Thursday

1. Trump's 'fire and fury' threat was improvised, taking aides by surprise

Star tribune: President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort. TRUMP AUDIO

The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised, according to several people with direct knowledge of what unfolded. In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them.

The inflammatory words quickly escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new, alarming level and were followed shortly by a new threat from North Korea to obliterate an American air base on Guam. In the hours since, the president’s advisers have sought to calm the situation, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assuring Americans that they “should sleep at night” without worrying about an imminent war.

But the president’s ad-libbed threat reflected an evolving and still unsettled approach to one of the most dangerous hot spots in the world as Trump and his team debate diplomatic, economic and military options.

2. FBI raided ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's house

 Star Tribune: FBI agents raided the Alexandria, Va., home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials. Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge that they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.


3. Inflatable chicken resembling Trump placed near White House

A large inflatable chicken meant to resemble President Trump was placed near the White House yesterday.

The inflatable chicken, which features a golden coif of hair and hand gestures similar to Trump's, is modeled after a statue unveiled in December as the mascot for a Chinese mall. Since the statue's unveiling last year, smaller copies have appeared across the United States. Trump was not in the White House when the chicken was placed. Instead, the president is on a 17-day working vacation at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J.

4. Vikings Fan Sues Minneapolis Police, City Claiming Excessive Force

A Vikings fan is suing the City of Minneapolis and several Minneapolis police officers for excessive force after being acquitted on criminal charges related to the December 2016 incident. Anatascio Lopez, who is from Texas, came to Minnesota for the Vikings December 1, 2016, game against the Dallas Cowboys. According to a criminal complaint, Lopez was being escorted from the stadium by two Minneapolis police officers when he "attempted to grab the officer's TASER." Surveillance video from inside U.S. Bank Stadium, obtained by KSTP, shows the officers using a stun gun on Lopez and striking him with a closed fist as they try to put him in handcuffs.

5. Wisconsin GOP senator suggests brain tumor affected McCain's health care vote

Associated Press: Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson suggested fellow Republican Sen. John McCain's brain tumor and the after-midnight timing of the vote were factors in McCain's decisive vote against the GOP health care bill.

Johnson's comments in a radio interview Tuesday with AM560 "Chicago's Morning Answer" drew a response from McCain spokeswoman Julie Tarallo. She said, "it is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend."

McCain said he voted against the bill last month because it fell short of the Republican promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act with meaningful reform. Johnson said in the interview McCain had "a brain tumor right now. That vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have factored in."

  • Followup: Johnson walks back remark about brain cancer influencing McCain's vote

The Hill: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Wednesday walked back comments he made earlier in the day on a Chicago radio station in which he seemed to imply that Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) brain cancer played a role in his decision last month to vote against the Senate's repeal of ObamaCare.

"I'm disappointed I didn't more eloquently express my sympathy for what Sen. McCain is going through," Johnson said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. He went on to say, "I have nothing but respect for him, and the vote came at the end of a long day for everyone.”


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