HC Wake-Up Call: Trump Backtracks Russia Comments, GOP Tax Cuts Lawsuit, & New Snake Species

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.)

President Trump Backtracks Russia Comments

ICYMI, Trump angered people on both ends of the political spectrum on Monday when he declined to endorse the U.S. government's assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. More specifically, when asked about the possible interference, Trump said, "My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others; they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be." However, Trump is now claiming he misspoke and actually has "full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies." 

"It should have been obvious — I thought it would be obvious — but I would like to clarify, just in case it wasn't. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' The sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia," Trump said on Tuesday, after explaining that he didn't realize why people were upset until he watched a clip of the answer he gave.

Though Trump clarified a particular quote, The New York Times noted a number of things he left unaddressed: "Mr. Trump also did not retract or explain his withering attack on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department for investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia. He did not withdraw his assertion, standing next to Mr. Putin, that the Russian leader had offered an “extremely strong and powerful” denial of involvement during their two-and-a-half-hour meeting. And he did not amend his answer to a question about whether he believed Mr. Putin or officials like Dan Coats, his director of national intelligence."

Prior to Trump's clarification, Coats had defended the U.S. intelligence community's findings in a statement. "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security," Coats said on Monday. 

Trump addressed the situation again Tuesday night, tweeting that the "meeting between President Putin and myself was a great success, except in the Fake News Media!"

States Suing U.S. Government Over GOP Tax Cuts

New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey are suing the U.S. government over last year's tax overhaul. The suit alleges that the tax law — signed into place by Trump — was designed to specifically hurt Democratic states. According to CNN, the law placed a cap of $10,000 on once-unlimited deductions for state and local taxes. As a result, many homeowners in blue states will see large increases in their federal tax bill. 

"New York will not be bullied. This cap is unconstitutional – going well beyond settled limits on federal power to impose an income tax, while deliberately targeting New York and similar states in an attempt to coerce us into changing our fiscal policies and the vital programs they support," said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a statement. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the provision "un-American." The Treasury Department is currently reviewing the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

A New Snake Species Was Discovered

The Vermicella Parscauda — about 12-15 inches long, with thin white bands and fatter black bands along its body — is the newest venomous snake to join the Bandy Bandy family. A team of biologists in Australia accidentally discovered the species when returning from a research mission. Bandy-bandies are known for their burrowing, but The University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Bryan Fry and his student, Chantelle Derez, noticed that the snake they found was "visually and genetically distinct" from other bandy-bandies. 

After searching for more, the team ended up finding six in the same small area. However, Professor Fry said the species could already be near extinction. "Bauxite mining is a major economic activity in the region, and it may be reshaping the environment to the detriment of native plants and animals," he said. "Every species is precious and we need to protect them all, since we can’t predict where the next wonder-drug will come from."

What to look for...

...free food — hot dogs, specifically. Here's everywhere you can celebrate National Hot Dog Day at no cost.