Jun 27, 2017

Russia probe frames Senate hearing on surveillance law

The ongoing Russia probe framed the Senate Judiciary Committee's routine hearing to re-up Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law that allows U.S. surveillance of foreigners as a counterterrorism strategy.

Why it matters: Prominent Republicans have raised concerns about parts of Section 702 in light of leaks that prompted the Russia probe. Sen. Lindsey Graham alluded to Michael Flynn's downfall at the hearing and asked point blank: Did you monitor my conversations?

Sen. Dick Durbin expressed concerns that the NSA said it could not provide a count of how many people are being watched. "How are we supposed to believe that transparency is really the guiding principle?" Durbin asked.

One of the most controversial parts of Section 702 is how the NSA records conversations about foreign agents. Earlier this year, the NSA announced it was stopping some "about" collection. But the NSA's Paul Morris said he was "nervous" about legally amending the "about" collection.

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America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.