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August 9, 2018

National Security Adviser John Bolton demanded that officials finalize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreement before President Trump arrived in Brussels for last month's NATO summit, U.S. and European officials told The New York Times.

In June, Bolton had Kay Bailey Hutchison, the American ambassador to NATO, let the other members know that Bolton wanted the communiqué completed before Trump landed in Europe, five officials said. In June, Trump refused to sign a joint communiqué with the other G7 leaders, and afraid that he might do the same thing in Brussels, all the NATO countries agreed to have the declaration finished by July 6 at 10 p.m. local time.

Two senior European officials told the Times that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis also wanted to avoid a repeat of the G7 fiasco, and the NATO declaration was finished ahead of schedule, establishing an Atlantic Command post and extending an invitation to Macedonia to join. When Trump did arrive in Brussels, he was shown only "broad outlines," not the entire 23-page document, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

12:35 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly left Attorney General William Barr and other members of the Justice Department perplexed, The Washington Post reports.

Their confusion stems from Mueller's decision to not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice during Mueller's probe into 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling. In public, Barr — who reportedly considers Mueller a friend — said that it was Mueller's "prerogative" to make the call, or lack thereof, on obstruction.

But privately, Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller's legal theories. In the report, Mueller's team pointed to a long-standing legal opinion at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council, which says that a sitting president should not be indicted. Mueller reportedly concluded that meant they could not accuse the president of a crime and, at times, the report implies that Congress should assume the role of making prosecutorial decisions.

This reportedly surprised Barr who did think Mueller had the authority to make such a decision (Barr eventually came to the conclusion that the evidence did not constitute obstruction.) Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told the Post that it was, indeed, a surprise that Mueller leaned so heavily on the OLC opinion.

"It doesn't make any sense, because on collusion, he seemed to be perfectly empowered to reach a conclusion on whether the president committed a crime," Turley said. "The other problem is that his mandate clearly allowed him to make a decision." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

11:58 a.m.

President Trump normally seems to relish the idea that he and the media are foils. He's gone so far as to call some outlets the "enemy of the people," but he still stops and talks with them as often as he can. But, apparently, First Lady Melania Trump can convince him not to.

On Thursday, as the president crossed the White House's South Lawn shortly after the public release of the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling, he walked right past a "mob of reporters." Instead of stopping to take a few questions like he usually does, Bloomberg reports, Trump just waved silently before boarding the presidential helicopter and heading down to Florida for the weekend.

Trump, per Bloomberg, sought to show defiance after Mueller's findings became public — although the White House has largely claimed the report vindicates Trump, he is reportedly still frustrated with the news coverage on the matter. Ignoring the reporters on the lawn fed right into that plan of defiance. However, people briefed on the matter told Bloomberg that it was the first lady, not the president, who suggested spurning the press. Trump appeared to continue following the first lady's advice as he ignored reporters' questions upon arriving in Florida on Thursday evening, as well. Read more about the aftermath of the Mueller report at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

11:20 a.m.

The United States on Friday made the first arrest related to the mysterious raid of North Korea's embassy in Spain in February, sources familiar with the situation told The Washington Post.

During the raid, which took place in the middle of the day, masked intruders reportedly tied up staff and stole computers before fleeing to the U.S. On Thursday, U.S. authorities arrested Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, in connection with the break-in. Ahn is a member of Free Joseon, a group dedicated to the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his familial dynasty. Free Joseon reportedly claimed responsibility for the embassy raid in March. Free Joseon was trying to assist the U.S. government by turning over the stolen items, which the group claimed potentially had "enormous" intelligence value, per the Post.

The State Department said that the United States had nothing to do with the incident, despite initial reports out of Spain that the CIA was involved.

Ahn's case will remain sealed after a judge ruled in favor of his attorney's request. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

10:56 a.m.

A man was arrested on Friday after accusations that he made threatening phone calls to Democratic officials.

John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, reportedly left vulgar messages rife with racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric on Tuesday. Kless ranted about gun rights, 9/11, and illegal immigrants, per The Washington Post. He also threatened the lawmakers with violence.

Among the recipients of the threats were Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). In all three messages, Kless mentioned "hatred" for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), though he reportedly did not call the congresswoman herself. Kless' threats were made following several other alleged death threats specifically targeting Omar. She said that they have increased ever since President Trump posted a video consisting of graphic footage of 9/11 edited together with clips of Omar making comments for which she has been criticized for downplaying the tragedy of the attacks.

Kless appeared in court on Friday and was released. Arraignment is set for May 3 in Fort Lauderdale. Tim O'Donnell

10:14 a.m.

The White House revealed on Friday that President Trump spoke with Libya's Gen. Khalifa Haftar via phone call on Monday.

Trump reportedly praised Haftar, who is leading a rebel assault on the country's capital Tripoli, as he and his Libyan National Army try to wrest control from the incumbent United Nations-backed government. The two discussed Haftar's "significant role" in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, as well as their "shared vision" for Libya's future.

Trump's praise of Haftar is seen as a reversal of United States policy in Libya — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo demanded a halt to Haftar's assault earlier this month.

The news of the phone call reportedly led to thousands of Libyans taking to the streets in protest. "The call has no meaning, but we will respond to it," a protester told Reuters.

It is unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call. Tim O'Donnell

8:20 a.m.

Police arrested two men in connection with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry, Northern Ireland on Saturday.

McKee, 29, was shot and killed amid a riot in Derry on Thursday as she was watching Irish nationalist youths clash with police during a riot. Police reportedly said McKee was not the gunman's intended target, but was hit by a bullet fired in the direction of the police officers.

Police described the shooting as a "terrorist incident." The Irish News reports that they believe the suspects in the murder are linked to the dissident republican group the New Irish Republican Army, an offshoot of the Irish Republican Army which remains opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the fragile ceasefire in Northern Ireland. McKee's murder follows the explosion of a large car bomb in Derry in January, which was also blamed on the New IRA.

There are fears that militant groups are trying to exploit political tensions caused by the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union, Reuters reports.

Northern Ireland's political leaders — nationalists and unionists alike — urged for calm following the violence.

A vigil was held for McKee in Derry. Tim O'Donnell

7:43 a.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday called on the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Warren said her reasoning is based on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which Attorney General William Barr made available — with redactions — to Congress and the public on Thursday.

In an appearance on CNN's The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday evening, Warren added that "the report is absolutely clear that a foreign government attacked our electoral system to help Donald Trump."

Warren is the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to openly call for impeachment, per NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

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