The Weekly National News Roundup – by Shlomo Rudman

Employee Steals Airplane – Richard Russell, a 29 year-old ground service agent for Horizon Air, stole a Q400 twin-engine turboprop aircraft from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and took it for a joyride on Friday night. Russell, who had no known formal flight training, took the aircraft for a series of acrobatic maneuvers over Puget Sound before crashing in a wooded area of a nearby island. Russell died in the crash. He told air traffic controllers who were in contact with him that he learned to fly the plane by playing video games.

Strzok Fired – FBI agent Peter Strzok, who infamously sent disparaging text about candidate Trump during the 2016 election, was fired by the FBI for violating bureau policies. Following Strzok’s firing, President Trump tweeted his approval of the decision, calling the entire Russia investigation a hoax and once again claiming there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Omarosa Recorded Trump, WH Sues – Former White House Communications Advisor and The Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman released taped audio of conversations with President Trump and of Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her. She later released a tape in which Trump campaign advisor Katrina Pierson can be heard discussing an alleged tape in which Trump uses racial slurs. On Thursday, Omarosa released yet another recording in which Lara Trump is heard offering her a $15,000 per month job to work on the Trump 2020 campaign. The Trump administration has filed a lawsuit against Omarosa, alleging breach of contract over an non-disclosure agreements the White House has made all employees sign. Omarosa says she never signed the NDA, and some experts question whether such an NDA would be valid regardless. A report claims that President Trump told advisors he wanted Omarosa arrested over her disclosures.

White Nationalist Rally Flunks – On the anniversary of the racist Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally, white supremacist Jason Kessler held a second rally in Washington, D.C. While authorities prepared for hundreds to show up, only a few dozen white nationalists ended up appearing, with protesters countering the rally far outnumbering rally participants.

Russian, Chinese Companies Blacklisted – On Wednesday, the United States announced a blacklist of Russian and Chinese companies for what it says is a violation of the economic embargo placed on North Korea. The U.S. says China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Co. helped North Korea earn more than $1 billion per year by helping fuel illegal shipments of cigarettes and alcohol. The U.S. Treasury also blacklisted Russia-based Profinet for providing port services to North Korean ships in violation of UN sanctions.

Brennan Security Clearance Revoked – The White House on Wednesday revoked the top-level security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan who has been vocally opposed to President Trump. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Brennan was leveraging his former position to make unfounded and slanderous allegations against the president. In a NYT op-ed, Brennan struck back, saying revoking his clearance would not quiet him and that he was sure there was collusion between President Trump and the Russian government to interfere with and affect the 2016 presidential election.

Trump Signs Defense Bill – In a ceremony at Fort Drum, President Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The legislation includes a $16 billion increase in funding for the military. In his speech following the bill signing, Trump failed to mention Senator McCain, for whom the bill is named after. Trump has been openly hostile to the dying Senator since he voted not to repeal Obamacare.

Mueller Appointment Upheld – A federal judge upheld the Constitutionality of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment. Trump-appointed judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court of Columbia ruled that Mueller has the authority to prosecute Concord Management, a Russian company accused of helping in the hack of DNC servers in the leadup to the 2016 election. Friedrich is the fourth judge to uphold Robert Mueller’s appointment and power as Special Counsel.

Pompeo Announces Iran Action Group – On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the forming of a group to coordinate U.S. policy towards Iran, as the administration continues in it’s attempts to effectuate changes in the Iranian leadership. The group will be headed Brian Hook, a diplomatic veteran who is currently the director of policy planning at the State Department.

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