CONGRESS WANTS TO RECALL AG JEFF SESSIONS OVER FALSE TESTIMONY ON TRUMP/RUSSIA: Papadopoulos admitted he told Sessions at a March 2016 meeting he had made contacts with Russians who said they could set up a meeting between Trump and President Vladimir Putin. Sessions quickly dismissed the idea and said he'd prefer no one ever speak about it, according to one person who was there, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share the private conversation. Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are now asking Sessions to follow up. "This is another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation's top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath, about the Trump team's contacts with agents of Russia — a hostile foreign power that interfered in the 2016 election," Sen. Al Franken wrote in a letter to Sessions.
RUSSIAN HACKERS WORKED RELENTLESSLY FOR MONTHS TO PENETRATE CLINTON CAMPAIGN: An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party's nominee. It wasn't just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton's inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors. While U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email thefts, the AP drew on forensic data to report Thursday that the hackers known as Fancy Bear were closely aligned with the interests of the Russian government. The AP's reconstruction— based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks — shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign's top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta's emails in March 2016.
It also helps explain how a Russian-linked intermediary could boast to a Trump policy adviser, a month later, that the Kremlin had "thousands of emails" worth of dirt on Clinton.
TRUMP GLEEFULLY TWEETS AFTER BRAZILE ATTACKS CLINTON: Donna Brazile, a former interim chairwoman of the party, says in a forthcoming book that an August 2015 agreement gave the Clinton campaign a measure of direct influence over the party's finances and strategy, along with a say over staff decisions and consultation rights over issues like mailings, budgets and analytics. In response to the report Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in a CNN interview that she believed the primary contest between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders had been rigged. "This is a real problem," she said. "We have to hold this party accountable." President Donald Trump also jumped on the controversy with a tweet on Thursday night that suggested the Justice Department should investigate the "real collusion and dishonesty," even though Brazile and the Sanders campaign have not alleged criminal activity. "Donna Brazile just stated the DNC RIGGED the system to illegally steal the Primary from Bernie Sanders," he wrote.
TRUMP TRIP TO JAPAN: GOLF FIRST, THEN WE'LL TALK ABOUT THE OTHER STUFF: Golf diplomacy has become part of Japan’s playbook on Donald Trump. Abe made a stopover in New York soon after the U.S. presidential election last November and presented the then-president-elect with a pricey Japanese Honma driver. Trump reciprocated with a golf shirt and other golf-related goods. The two hit the links at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after a summit meeting in Washington in February. They will be joined by top Japanese pro Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo. The prestigious club changed its policy to allow women to be full members in March after coming under pressure as the venue for golf at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. Japanese TV showed Abe playing golf Friday in preparation for Sunday’s outing with Trump.
U.S. WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE MOVES INTO NORTHEAST SOMALIA: The U.S. military for the first time has conducted two airstrikes against Islamic State group fighters in Somalia, where the group is a growing presence in a country long threatened by the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab. The U.S. Africa Command said the two drone strikes killed “several terrorists” in northeastern Somalia, with the first around midnight local time and the second later Friday morning. The U.S. said the strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government. Local officials confirmed the strikes. At least six missiles struck in Buqa, a remote mountainous village roughly 37 miles north of Qandala town in the northern state of Puntland, a Somali security official told The Associated Press. The airstrike may have targeted top leaders of the group, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.