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DC Roundup: Barbs Against Sessions, Transgender Military Ban, Russian Warning

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President Donald Trump speaks about the healthcare vote during a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 25, 2017.

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday include President Donald Trump criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, banning transgender soldiers from joining or serving in the military, and Moscow warning of cooling relations after the U.S. House passed legislation approving new sanctions against Russia.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 20, 2017.
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 20, 2017.

More Health Care Headaches for US Senate Republicans -- One day after getting a green light to debate health care in America, Senate Republicans failed Wednesday to pass a viable plan to repeal former U.S. president Barack Obama's health care law, despite continuing pressure from the White House.

FILE - Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, March 2, 2017.
FILE - Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, March 2, 2017.

Sessions, Under Fire From Trump, Reportedly Readies Intel Leak Probes -- Attorney General Sessions has made clear that he has no plans to resign in the face of harsh criticism from Trump, but he is said to be considering action that could ease the president's displeasure.

Trump Fires More Barbs at Attorney General Sessions -- Trump fired new barbs Wednesday at Jeff Sessions, his embattled attorney general, in his latest salvo against the country's top law enforcement official. In a pair of Twitter comments, Trump questioned why Sessions has not replaced Andrew McCabe, the current acting chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Trump: Transgender People Barred from US Military -- Trump says the U.S. military will no longer let transgender people serve in any capacity, reversing a policy former President Barack Obama's administration announced a year ago. In a string of Twitter comments, Trump said that "after consultation with my Generals and military experts," he was ending acceptance of transgender people into the country's armed forces.

Nevada Army National Guard Sergeant Sam Hunt, an electrician with G Company, 2/238th General Support Aviation Battalion, is pictured on the flight line at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stead, Nevada, May 12, 2017. Hunt is the first openly transgen
Nevada Army National Guard Sergeant Sam Hunt, an electrician with G Company, 2/238th General Support Aviation Battalion, is pictured on the flight line at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stead, Nevada, May 12, 2017. Hunt is the first openly transgen

Transgender Soldiers, Veterans Shaken by Trump's Ban on Their Service -- After 13 years of military service that included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Indiana National Guard reservist Cameron St. Andrew felt crushed Wednesday by Trump's decision to ban transgender people from the U.S. military. The sergeant first class, who transitioned to living as a man while on active duty, said getting kicked out of the military two years before his planned retirement could mean losing many of his pension and health care benefits, and even harm his chances of being hired again. "Why serve a country that doesn't want me? It breaks my heart, to be honest," said St. Andrew, 37, of Indianapolis.

Moscow Warns of Decreasing Ties, Retaliation Over New Sanctions -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says Moscow will likely retaliate against the United States in response to a new set of sanctions punishing Russia for interfering in last year's presidential election. The House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday that also expands congressional checks on Trump’s abilities to ease those penalties.

A street is blockaded during a strike in Caracas, Venezuela, July 26, 2017. The sign reads "fraudulent."
A street is blockaded during a strike in Caracas, Venezuela, July 26, 2017. The sign reads "fraudulent."

US Sanctions 13 Venezuelan Officials Over Planned Constitutional Assembly -- The Trump administration on Wednesday announced new sanctions against 13 individuals connected to the Venezuelan government and state oil company in an effort designed to dissuade President Nicolas Maduro from implementing a new, controversial constitutional assembly.

US Energy Secretary Duped Into Fake Interview with Russian Comedians -- U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine and other energy matters during a lengthy phone call this month with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine's prime minister. Perry actually was talking with comedians known in Russia for targeting celebrities and politicians with audacious stunts, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a written statement.

US Muslims See Friendly Neighbors, But Foe in White House -- U.S. Muslims say they have experienced widespread suspicion about their faith in the first months of Trump's presidency. But they also have received more support from individual Americans, and remain hopeful they can eventually be fully accepted in American society. That's according to a new survey. The Pew Research Center report says nearly three-quarters of U.S. Muslims view Trump as unfriendly to them. Sixty-two percent say Americans do not view Islam as part of the mainstream after a presidential election that saw a surge in hostility toward Muslims and immigrants.

White House: Foxconn to Bring 3,000 Manufacturing Jobs to Wisconsin -- Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer and major supplier to Apple Inc., has announced plans to build a $10 billion plant in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, to make LCD display screens. The company, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry and which supplies Apple with screens for the iPhone, made the announcement Wednesday as company executives paid a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House.

US Treads Water on Cyber Policy as Destructive Attacks Mount -- The Trump administration's refusal to publicly accuse Russia and others in a wave of politically motivated hacking attacks is creating a policy vacuum that security experts fear will encourage more cyber warfare. In the past three months, hackers broke into official websites in Qatar, helping to create a regional crisis; suspected North Korean-backed hackers closed down British hospitals with ransomware; and a cyber attack that researchers attribute to Russia deleted data on thousands of computers in the Ukraine.

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