Jul 5, 2017

Hobby Lobby settles Mesopotamian smuggling case

Hadi Mizban / AP

The Department of Justice announced this afternoon that it had settled a civil action with Hobby Lobby, in which the craft store admitted to smuggling thousands of ancient cuneiform tablets and other Mesopotamian artifacts into the United States via the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The backstory: Hobby Lobby began assembling "a collection of historically significant items" in 2009, but against the advice of a cultural property lawyer, still chose to import thousands of valuable clay artifacts in 2010 and 2011 in shipments labeled as tile samples.

The punishment: Under its settlement with the government, Hobby Lobby has to forfeit all of the smuggled artifacts, pay a $3 million fine, and institute internal policies and training surrounding the purchase of cultural property.

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Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.