July 23, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Joe Parker reporting.

Trump legal team said to be working to discredit special counsel.

President Trump's legal advisers are said to be looking into possible conflicts of interest within special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team that they could use to discredit Mueller's inquiry into Russia election meddling.

VOA White House correspondent Peter Heinlein has the story.

The New York Times reports Trump aides are conducting wide-ranging checks into the professional and political ties of the team Mueller has assembled for his Russia probe.

The checks are said to be in preparation for what is described as a "looming showdown" between the president and Mueller.

The Trump team is said to be scrutinizing everything from donations to Democratic Party candidates by investigators to the personal relationship between Mueller and former FBI chief James Comey, whom Trump fired.

A member of Trump's outside legal team, Jay Sekulow, said the lawyers "will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue," even complaining to Mueller directly if needed.

Peter Heinlein, VOA news, the White House.

The Washington Post is reporting that Russia's ambassador to the U.S. told his supervisors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters with Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year during the presidential election contrary to what Sessions has said.

The Post quoted "current and former U.S. officials" in its story, which said U.S. intelligence agents intercepted communications from Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to his superiors about the meeting.

Sessions said in his February confirmation hearing before the Senate that he did not recall having any contact with Russian officials while acting as a Trump foreign policy adviser last year.

In March, news reports revealed that Sessions had met at least twice with Kislyak.

This is VOA news.

Israeli officials say three Israelis died and one more was wounded when a Palestinian broke into a home of a West Bank settlement and stabbed the inhabitants while they were eating dinner.

Two of the victims died Friday soon after the attack in the area north of Ramallah. Another victim died later in the day.

The assailant was shot by Israeli police and is hospitalized in Israel. It's been confirmed as 20-year-old Omar al-Abed. His brother also has been arrested.

At least 60 people have been kidnapped from a village in southern Kandahar, Afghanistan, by Taliban insurgents, according to Afghan officials, with seven of those prisoners reportedly killed.

A spokesman for the provincial governor told the Associated Press the villagers were kidnapped in a series of Taliban attacks on buses over the last four days although the head of Kandahar provincial police told AFP the kidnappings took place Friday in the villagers' homes.

An al-Qaeda suspect accused of supporting terrorists made his initial appearance in a U.S. federal court in Philadelphia on Friday following his extradition from Spain.

Ali Charaf Damache was indicted in 2011 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on charges that he aided terrorism, including a plan to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Authorities believe Damache conspired with an American woman, Colleen La Rose, who was known as Jihad Jane, to recruit people to carry out terror attacks in Europe and Asia.

President Donald Trump commissioned the USS Gerald R. Ford today, a nearly $13-billion warship, after three years of delays and billions of dollars of cost overruns when he delivered the key address at a ceremony in the southeastern coastal city Norfolk, Virginia.

The new carrier will be the flagship of the new class of "super carriers," the first new class in 40 years and the most expensive warships ever built.

The president said the power of the ship will send a message: "Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong."

The ship will have a lifespan of 50 years and its nuclear power plant will allow it to operate for 20 years without the need to refuel.

The Republican push to craft a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, hit another stumbling block on Friday.

The Senate parliamentarian is reported to have decided that Republicans would need at least 60 votes to keep anti-abortion provisions in the bill.

Now, the Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority, but it's highly unlikely that Democrats would vote to retain provisions that would block the women's ability to receive abortions.

For more on these stories, visit our website at voanews.com. Joe Parker reporting from Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.