Dear Commons Community,
There was just too much news coming out of Washington, D.C. yesterday.
First, a lone gunman who was said to be distraught over President Trump’s election opened fire on members of the Republican congressional baseball team at a practice field in Alexandria, Virginia, using a rifle to shower the field with bullets that struck four people, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Trump, in a televised statement from the White House, condemned the “very, very brutal assault” and said the gunman had died after a shootout with the police. Law enforcement authorities identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis.
Second, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel examining Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, has requested interviews with three high-ranking current or former intelligence officials, the latest indication that he will investigate whether President Trump obstructed justice, a person briefed on the investigation said on Wednesday.
Mr. Mueller wants to question Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence; Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, the former N.S.A. deputy director.
None of the men were involved with Mr. Trump’s campaign. But recent news reports have raised questions about whether Mr. Trump requested their help in trying to get James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to end an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Last week, Mr. Coats and Admiral Rogers declined to answer questions before Congress about the matter.
Mr. Mueller’s office has also asked the N.S.A. for any documents or notes related to the agency’s interactions with the White House as part of the Russia investigation, according to an intelligence official.
Third, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, and to force President Donald Trump to get Congress’ approval before easing any existing sanctions.
The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill. It is intended to punish Russia over issues including alleged meddling in the election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support for the government of Syria in that country’s six-year-long civil war.
The measure sets up a process for Congress to review changes in sanctions, puts into law actions previously established via presidential executive order, imposes new sanctions on Russians found guilty of human rights abuses or conducting cyber attacks.
Quite a news day!