Breaking News Emails
Another busy week in politics will culminate with a distraction: the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Here's a look at some of the politics news we followed, and the week's other top stories — in the form of five charts:
1. Trump Pushes the GOP to Its Breaking Point
Donald Trump has summoned a tornado of negative stories that threaten to rip his campaign from its foundation if he doesn't stop, supporters inside and outside Trump's orbit are warning. Several top backers — including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — are trying to persuade Trump to move past his feud with the parents of the late Iraq War soldier Humayun Khan, stop bashing fellow Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain, and refocus his attacks on Hillary Clinton. But hopes aren't high among Republican allies that Trump, 70, can make such a fundamental change at this point. And the Trump campaign publicly denies that any intervention is occurring at all.
2. Hillary Clinton Jumps to Nine Point Lead Over Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton has jumped out to a nine-point lead over Donald Trump, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll shows, nearly doubling the five-point advantage she held over her Republican foe before the political conventions. In a head-to-head match-up, the Democratic ticket of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine receives the support of 47 percent of registered voters, while the Republican ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence gets 38 percent, the survey shows. Last month, Clinton led Trump by a margin of 46 percent to 41 percent.
3. Obama Declares Criticism of Iran Deal Illogical
President Barack Obama said Thursday that it "defies logic" that a $400 million U.S. payment to Iran in January could be considered a "ransom" for hostages." The State Department announced the payment on Jan. 17, a day after the Tehran freed four Americans and on the same weekend that U.N. sanctions on Iran were lifted. The State Department has said the payment was part of a settlement of a decades-long legal dispute before an international tribunal in The Hague and that the timing was coincidental. Obama started his news conference — the last one scheduled before he goes on vacation — by promising to keep up U.S. pressure on ISIS as U.S. forces expanded airstrikes into Libya this week.
4. American Woman Killed in Knife Attack in London
An American woman was killed and five other people were injured in a stabbing attack on the streets of the British capital, police said. A 19-year-old Norwegian man of Somali ancestry was arrested on suspicion of murder after the incident in Russell Square, a busy area near the British Museum. Another American citizen was among the injured — along with Australian, Israeli and British nationals, according to London's Metropolitan Police. The square is flanked by many large hotels popular with tour groups. Zakaria Bulham, 18, was charged Friday with murder and attempted murder.
5. FAA and NTSB Clash After Texas Hot Air Balloon Crash
Federal regulations don't appear to have required the pilot of the hot air balloon that crashed in Texas, killing all 16 people aboard, to disclose his past substance abuse issues — an apparent loophole that the lead investigator of the crash called "unacceptable" on Monday. The FAA told NBC News that it had no record of any action against the pilot in Saturday's crash, Alfred G. "Skip" Nichols IV, 49, or against his company, Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides. Missouri court records show, however, that Nichols had an extensive record of driving while impaired and other driving violations dating to 1997, some of them felonies. He had so many violations that while he was licensed to pilot a balloon, at least one court decided he was ineligible to drive a car until June 2020.
And ... The Summer Olympics Are Here!
In case you've been living under a rock, it's likely that you've at least seen or heard some of the hype surrounding the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Unfortunately for the Brazilian city, much of the buzz leading up to the games has been negative: Zika. Doping. Pollution. Poverty. Even if you are not a diehard fan of gymnastics or track and field, there are plenty of intriguing storylines and inspirational stories worth following at this year's Olympics. And if you're still not convinced, at the very least the games should provide a small respite from the non-stop barrage of 2016 campaign headlines. As you watch the Olympics and/or participate in post-competition conversations around the water cooler at work, check out the burning questions that should be answered when the dust settles in Rio.