HC Wake-Up Call: Sessions & DOJ Form 'Religious Liberty Task Force,' Rudy Giuliani Doesn't Know If Russian Collusion Is A Crime, & Trump's Iran Plans

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Jeff Sessions Announced A New "Religious Liberty Task Force"

The Department of Justice has created a "religious liberty task force," which aims to better protect faith-based groups and implement policies that support them, the attorney general announced on Monday. ""The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt and how we conduct our operations," Sessions said at the DOJ's Religious Liberty Summit in Washington. "That includes making sure that our employees know their duties to accommodate people of faith."

According to Sessions, there's a "dangerous movement" trying to strip away the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, which is why the task force is needed. "We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives. We’ve seen U.S. senators ask Judicial and Executive Branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office," Sessions said.

Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams will co-chair the task force. 

Rudy Giuliani Claims He "Doesn't Even Know" If Russian Collusion Is A Crime

President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on a number of news shows Monday morning. When CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's upcoming trial, Giuliani claimed he didn't know if collusion with Russia can be considered a crime. "Four months, they're not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians," Giuliani said. "You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime. ... The President didn't hack."

In an interview on Fox & Friends, Giuliani further defended Trump — this time in light of the possibility that Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, might have turned on him. Last week, Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis released a tape of Cohen and Trump talking about purchasing a story from a former Playboy model who allegedly had an affair with Trump in 2006. At one point, Trump can be heard saying "in cash," and Cohen responding "no, no, no." According to Giuliani, Trump is saying they shouldn't pay in cash, but rather, a check. "Everything that's been released so far shows the president is absolutely innocent," Giuliani said on Monday. "He didn't do anything wrong. The last two tapes are evidence in his favor." 

Trump Is Now Open To Meeting With Iran

To the surprise of many, Trump said on Monday that he's willing to meet Iran's leaders "any time they want to" and without preconditions, POLITICO reported. Just a little over a week ago, Trump tweeted a harsh message at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani: "NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE." Around the same time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo compared the Iranian regime to the mafia. "To the regime, prosperity, security, and freedom for the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfill the Revolution," Pompeo said. "The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government."

However, Trump appeared much more optimistic about potentially meeting with Iran's leadership at Monday's joint news conference at the White House. The feeling might not be mutual, though. "With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable," said Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi. 

What to look for...

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