Daily Archives: July 24, 2019

Europe faces second ‘intense heat wave’ of the summer after hottest June on record

Millions of Europeans are facing a second heat wave of the year as record breaking temperatures sweep across the continent this week.

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The city of Bordeaux, France, registered a peak temperature of 106.1 F on Tuesday, according to Meteo France. The previous record in the city was 105.2 F in August 2003, another heat wave that was blamed for 15,000 deaths.

People cool down at the Gardens of the Trocadero in Paris, July 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, millions of Londoners are bracing themselves for the hottest day in British history, with the Met Office warning there is a 60% chance temperatures could reach 102.2 F on Thursday.

Similar temperatures are expected in Paris, with Meteo France predicting that temperatures could reach between 104 F and 107.6 F on Thursday.

Eric Cabanis/AFP/Getty Images PHOTO:Sunflowers in a field in Ayguesvives, France, July 23, 2019.

Huge areas of Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are all under a heat alert, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The heat wave could accentuate the risk of drought and an “extreme fire risk” in Portugal and Spain.

The July heat wave comes after the world experienced the hottest June on record.

Climate experts have said that such heat waves early in the summer are likely to become more frequent as the planet heats up.

People cool off in a fountain as the sun sets during a hot summer day, in Pamplona, northern Spain, July, 23, 2019.

“The July heat wave follows an unusually early and exceptionally intense heatwave in June, which set new temperature records in Europe and ensured that the month of June was the hottest on record for the continent, with the average temperature of 2° Celsius above normal,” Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the WMO, told ABC News. “Such heat waves are consistent with climate scenarios which predict more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events as greenhouse gas concentrations lead to a rise in global temperatures.”

Fires are raging across central Portugal and the Arctic, she said, and the “high temperatures pose a major threat to people’s health.”

“As to whether it compares to 2003, the answer is yes and no,” she said. “Temperatures are certainly comparable in some countries, and we expect many temperature records to be broken in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and possibly [the] U.K. But since the 2003 heat wave, there has been huge progress in heat early warnings and heat-health action plans to protect people’s health.”

Trump Goes on Twitter Rant Before, During Mueller Testimony

An impatient and feisty President Donald Trump took to Twitter blasting Robert Mueller on Wednesday even before the former special counsel began his much-anticipated testimony.

The president launched eight tweets more than an hour before Mueller answered questions in front of Congress about his nearly two-year probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Besides Mueller, Trump also called out congressional Democrats who have repeatedly called for him to testify. The president also took shots at his 2016 presidential rival “crooked” Hillary Clinton, and even former FBI director, “lyin’ & leakin'” James Comey.

Trump began his tirade by accusing Democrats of “illegally” fabricating a crime, and “pinning it on a very innocent President.”


Despite having nothing on his public schedule until early Wednesday afternoon, Trump’s tweets go against his previous comments on Monday when he told reporters that he may “see a little bit” of Mueller’s testimony, citing his “no collusion, no obstruction,” catchphrase.

During his nearly four-hour testimony, Mueller was ripped by Republicans and praised by Democrats, reiterating that the president was not exonerated in his investigation and subsequent 448-page report. However, Mueller added that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves the presidency.

“My staff and I carried out this assignment with that critical objective in mind: to work quietly, thoroughly, and with integrity so that the public would have full confidence in the outcome,” Mueller said.

Nonetheless, during the first hour of testimony, Trump tweeted a quote from Fox News anchor Chris Wallace who called the early moments of the testimony it “a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”

Trump also tweeted that the at-times coy Mueller could be lying to the House Judiciary Committee.

“It has been reported that Robert Mueller is saying that he did not apply and interview for the job of FBI Director (and get turned down) the day before he was wrongfully appointed Special Counsel,” Trump said. “Hope he doesn’t say that under oath in that we have numerous witnesses to the interview, including the Vice President of the United States!”

Finally, Trump tweeted defiantly, “Mueller was asked whether or not the investigation was impeded in any way, and he said no.” In other words, there was NO OBSTRUCTION.”

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More Mueller testimony coverage from Fortune:

—Robert Mueller testimony: What we learned so far

—How 2020 Democrats responded to Mueller’s testimony

—Trump 2020 campaign using Mueller testimony to raise $2 million

—Read Robert Mueller’s full opening statement

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Trump again claims Mueller wanted to return as FBI director, an assertion Mueller disputes

John Wagner

National reporter leading The Post’s breaking political news team

July 24 at 1:01 PM

President Trump continued to insist Wednesday that Robert S. Mueller III sought to become FBI director in 2017, an assertion the former special counsel disputed during his congressional testimony and White House officials have discredited.

In tweets in advance of Wednesday’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Trump referenced a May 2017 meeting he had with Mueller and characterized it as an interview to replace former FBI director James B. Comey, whom Trump had fired.

“It has been reported that Robert Mueller is saying that he did not apply and interview for the job of FBI Director (and get turned down) the day before he was wrongfully appointed Special Counsel,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Hope he doesn’t say that under oath.”

“[W]e have numerous witnesses to the interview, including the Vice President of the United States!” Trump added.

Trump has previously cited the meeting as evidence for his contention that Mueller had conflicts of interest.

Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Vice President Pence, said in an email Wednesday that Pence was present for a meeting in the Oval Office “when Robert Mueller interviewed for the job of FBI Director in May of 2017.”

During his testimony under oath Wednesday, Mueller confirmed he met with Trump about the position of FBI director but “not as a candidate.”

“It was about the job but not about me applying for the job,” Mueller said in response to questioning from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.).

Trump’s contention that Mueller wanted to return to the position of FBI director, which he held from 2001 to 2013, has been disputed by people familiar with their meeting.

Mueller was invited to the White House because Trump aides were concerned about the political fallout and controversy over Trump’s firing of Comey and believed having Mueller, a former FBI director, meet with the president could have a calming effect, according to a former administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon told investigators the purpose of the meeting was not a job interview but to have Mueller “offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI,” according to the special counsel’s report, and “although the White House thought about beseeching Mueller to become Director again, he did not come in looking for the job.”

The former administration official confirmed that account, saying Mueller told White House officials he took the meeting only as a courtesy to the president.

Trump was friendly during their talk, the official said, and when the issue came up of whether Mueller might be interested in once again becoming FBI director, he said he could not take the job unless a law was changed. In July 2011, Congress cleared legislation allowing Mueller to serve an additional two years as director beyond his 10-year term. That law effectively prevented him from serving again.

At the meeting, White House officials told Mueller they were willing to push Congress to pass a new law to make his reappointment possible, but Mueller told the president he was probably not the best person for the post, according to the former official.

David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.

CNN’s Jake Tapper Warns Mueller Testimony Will Be Distorted by Pro-Trump Media

Following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, CNN anchor Jake Tapper warned that associated and allies of President Trump will ignore the substance of the hearing and instead utilize “memes” and “edited videos” to portray Mueller as old and confused.

With Republicans and conservatives already rushing to social media and Fox News to frame the former FBI director’s stumbles during the GOP’s Q&A sessions as proof that Mueller looked “old” and “shaky,” Tapper noted during a break after the Judiciary Committee’s hearing that Trumpworld will continue to hammer home that point.

“We’ve been talking about the fact that Mueller very clearly said the report does not exonerate the president,” the CNN anchor said during a panel discussion. “He laid out a case that there was obstruction of justice. He couldn’t bring charges no matter what he would have wanted to do because of the OLC memo.”

Despite Mueller laying out this case, per Tapper, there was “another reality out there.”

“This is the reality of the president’s fans,” Tapper stated. “And they deal in memes and they deal in edited videos and I think there’s a lot that happened today when it comes to Mueller refusing to answer questions or acting perhaps a little befuddled at times.”

He continued: “And look, again, all of us should look so good at 74. I mean, whatever. Nobody at 74 is the same person he could at 35. It seemed he couldn’t hear. I’m not making light of it or want to be ageist or disparaging. I think that those moments are going to be taken and will be used against Mueller to try to undercut him—to try to discredit him.”

After another panelist noted that they “already are,” Tapper added that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had already been on Fox News and said that this was “not the Robert Mueller he knew.”

The CNN host concluded by pointing out that there was “another reality” that most people don’t have the time to sit and watch the entire hearing and will instead rely on news highlights showing Mueller “refusing to answer questions or seeming like he’s not even familiar with his own report.”

Ann Berry: Brexit or no Brexit, a divided Britain needs the queen more than ever

On July 24, Boris Johnson became Britain’s new prime minister. The former mayor of London has promised to pull the nation out of the European Union on October 31 – with or without a negotiated deal in place.

A “no deal” Halloween Brexit is a ghoulish prospect. Overnight, tariffs would apply to most exports the United Kingdom sends to the EU – by far the nation’s largest trading partner. Border checks for goods would appear where none currently exist – at ports utterly unprepared for them. The U.K. services sector, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of GDP, would lose its guaranteed access to the European single market.

In November, the Bank of England warned that such a chaotic departure from the EU threatens to tip Britain into a recession worse than the 2008 financial crisis. The bank – equivalent to the US Federal Reserve – projects a “no deal” Brexit scenario of an 8 percent economic decline and a plunge in the value of the pound.


Any Brexit at all – even an orderly one – will drive home deep national divides. The 2016 referendum on whether Britain should exit the EU saw 51.9 percent of votes to “Leave,” only 3.8 percentage points more than the 48.1 percent wanting to Remain.

Voters were split along several lines. By age: 71 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted Remain. By income: the majority with household incomes under £40,000 (nearly $50,000) chose Leave. By education: 68 percent with college degrees wanted to Remain.

Splits by region threaten to shatter the 312-year-old United Kingdom. In a 2014 referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country, 55 percent of Scottish voters said no. Passionate voters turned out at a record 85 percent. But for all its desire to be part of the U.K., Scotland may want to be part of the EU more: in the Brexit referendum, 62 percent of Scots voted Remain.

If Brexit happens, Britain will need strong icons that predate the EU to serve as national focal points for life outside it. The 1,200-year-old monarchy is a natural fit. If by some miracle Brexit is avoided, leadership – even if only ceremonial – will be vital to rally a divided people.

Scottish leadership is openly exploring independence again in order to stay in the EU. A standalone Scotland almost certainly would not qualify for EU membership. But not having it will infuriate Scots watching their futures determined by Leave voters in England and Wales.

The British government is in disarray. The Foreign Office minister quit in the past 48 hours. More resignations will follow if Boris Johnson continues his “Leave at all costs” crusade. The main opposition Labour Party has flip-flopped between grudging support for Brexit, demands for a second referendum, and triggering another election to see if Labour can take power.

Only one institution stands above the fray: The Crown. The queen has preserved the dignity of the British monarchy for the past 67 years by staying out of party politics. Neutrality has kept republican sentiment at bay since long before her reign.

The queen’s public comments on Brexit (she does not use the word) have only been veiled references to “coming together to seek out common ground.” Senior members of the government reportedly plan to ask the queen to demand a Brexit delay. This is a step too far: bypassing the new prime minister would cause a constitutional crisis. Behind closed doors, perhaps she can hint at the merits of measured action. We will probably never know. But at a certain point – and we are close to it – national unity transcends politics and becomes central to a nation’s identity.

If Brexit happens, Britain will need strong icons that predate the EU to serve as national focal points for life outside it. The 1,200-year-old monarchy is a natural fit. If by some miracle Brexit is avoided, leadership – even if only ceremonial – will be vital to rally a divided people.

The queen can – and must – articulate more loudly that Britain is stronger united than fractured. As late as a few days before the 2014 independence vote, she restrained her “enduring love of Scotland,” merely suggesting that people headed to the ballots “think very carefully about the future.” If Brexit happens, more visibly embracing Scottish unity is critical to getting ahead of round two.


A 2018 poll showed the queen at a 74 percent positive approval rate. Younger members of the royal family enjoy soaring popularity. The queen must prepare them to focus that goodwill on healing the nation – and fast. But having ruled longer than any other British monarch in history, the queen has a gravitas and credibility across generations unmatched by any other national public figure. She is still admired as the only living head of state who served in World War II and the only female royal to have joined the British armed forces.

At 93 years of age, Brexit or no Brexit, Britain needs the queen – and more of her – more than ever

Who is in Boris Johnson’s Brexit team so far?

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s incoming prime minister, Boris Johnson, starts appointing his government team on Wednesday, after weeks of planning and of jockeying among Conservative hopefuls looking for top jobs in his new cabinet.

FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson, leader of the Britain’s Conservative Party, leaves a private reception in central London, Britain July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Johnson, a figurehead for the campaign to leave the European Union in 2016, is expected to appoint a cabinet team “showcasing all the talents within the party that truly reflects modern Britain”, according to a source close to the new leader.

He is also expected to increase the number of women attending cabinet meetings and to appoint a record number of ethnic minority politicians, his team has said.

The appointments will offer a glimpse into Johnson’s plans for governing Britain after his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.


Dominic Cummings – senior adviser

Cummings masterminded the official Vote Leave campaign in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum and is lauded by some Brexit campaigners for his successful strategy to convince voters to back leaving the EU in the face of a much better financed Remain campaign.

At the time of the referendum, a fellow campaigner said Cummings uses “Soviet propaganda techniques”.

He will act as a senior adviser to Johnson, an appointment which risks a backlash from some lawmakers who dislike his brusque manner and seeming disregard for parliament.

Andrew Griffith – business adviser

Griffith worked his way up through Sky under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership, becoming chief financial officer in 2008 and helping create Europe’s biggest pay-TV group.

A former parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives, Griffith lent Johnson his Westminster townhouse as a base to plot his first steps toward the premiership. He will be tasked with repairing relations with the corporate sector ahead of Brexit.

One colleague who worked with Griffith at Sky said he had an incredible intellect and an ability to “make stuff happen”.

Mark Spencer – Chief Whip

A little-known Conservative lawmaker, Spencer will be Johnson’s chief enforcer in parliament. This will be a crucial role given the Conservatives’ lack of majority in the House of Commons and the deep divisions among the party’s lawmakers over the right way forward on Brexit.

Spencer, who became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2010 after working for his family’s farm business, is well-liked by his colleagues and his appointment was praised by lawmakers from across the party’s factions.


Sajid Javid – finance minister

A former banker, Javid was a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank at the age of 25, going on to work at Deutsche Bank before he entered politics. Media have reported he is set to become finance minister.

The free market champion finished fourth in the Conservative leadership contest. Seen as a steady pair of hands, he is a minister who is described by several public servants who worked for him as decisive and clear.

Javid, 49, is a great admirer of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and has a portrait of the “Iron Lady” in his office. He backed remaining in the EU at the 2016 referendum.

He is the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents and his father was a bus driver.

Dominic Raab – foreign minister

A hardline euroskeptic who says he is relaxed about a no-deal Brexit, Raab resigned as Brexit minister in protest at May’s deal to leave the EU, saying the agreement would trap Britain in the bloc’s sphere.

Raab, a blackbelt in karate, ran for the leadership himself, taking aim at Johnson during the contest by saying: “We won’t get a good deal with bluff and bluster”.

He is the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938 and was an international lawyer before entering politics. Media have reported Raab is being lined up to be foreign minister.

Michael Gove – de facto deputy prime minister

A friend of Johnson’s since university, Gove was said to have convinced him to campaign for Brexit with the pair playing leading roles in the official ‘Leave’ campaign.

Gove was blamed for ending Johnson’s 2016 bid for the party’s leadership. Johnson pulled out of the race after Gove abruptly withdrew his support on the day Johnson was due to launch his campaign, instead declaring he would run himself.

Born to a young unmarried student in Edinburgh, Gove was adopted by a working-class couple in Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland when he was just four months old.

His adoptive father ran a fishing business which he sold as the sector began to decline, something Gove has since blamed on the EU’s fisheries policies.

Gove has a reputation as a radical reformer and has been tipped to become Johnson’s de facto deputy.

Priti Patel – interior minister

Patel campaigned to leave the EU and has been an outspoken critic of outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. She voted against May’s Brexit deal on each occasion it was put before parliament.

Johnson’s team have said she is due to be given a senior ministerial job, with media reporting she is tipped to be interior minister.

Patel’s appointment would mark a political comeback after she was forced to resign as International Development minister in November 2017 over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials that breached diplomatic protocol.

Born to Indian parents, Patel launched an appeal to “Save the British Curry” during the referendum campaign which argued that a post-Brexit immigration system would be fairer to those from outside the EU and ease a shortage of chefs for Indian restaurants in Britain.

Alok Sharma

Sharma is a junior minister in the Department of Work and Pensions and previously worked under Johnson in the foreign office. An accountant by training, he worked in banking for 16 years before entering parliament.

As housing minister he handled the aftermath of a fire in Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in west London, in June 2017 which killed 71 people, and was heckled by survivors at a televised meeting at which he offered them temporary rather than permanent homes in the local area.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan and William James; editing by Stephen Addison