Senate Judiciary Committee to summon Trump Jr. for questioning

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to hear Donald Trump Jr.’s account of his 2016 muckraking meet-up with a Russian lawyer.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said his committee will reach out by letter to the real estate scion regarding the recently revealed emails shared between Trump Jr. and music publicist Rob Goldstone.

If the younger Trump doesn’t agree to show up, a subpoena will follow, he said.

Both Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said they would like Trump Jr. to testify in the near future as part of their probe into Russian meddling during the presidential campaign.

Here’s what we know about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia

Panel members will be free to ask “anything they want to ask,” Grassley said Thursday.

Witnesses who decline to answer subpoenas can be held in contempt. A lawyer for Trump Jr. did not comment Thursday, but his client expressed a willingness to testify under oath.

Grassley said panel members will be free to ask "anything they want to."

Grassley said panel members will be free to ask “anything they want to.”

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. said Tuesday night on Fox News.

On Tuesday, Donald Jr. posted a series of emails in which Goldstone offered him an opportunity to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

How our breathless next-thing news sickness helps Trump

Trump Jr. said that a June 9, 2016, meeting followed — but no meaningful information changed hands during the Trump Tower get-together. Other attendees included his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

But the emails showed Trump Jr. appeared eager to accept negative information from the Russians as his father ran for the White House against Clinton.

Manafort could also appear next week before the committee in its ongoing Russia probe.

PHOTO TAKEN ON TUESDAY, NOV. 5, 2013 RUSSIA OUT

The appearance request for Trump Jr. comes after he released emails between him and music publicist Rob Goldstone (picture) regarding a meeting with a Russian lawyer.

(Irina Bujor/AP)

President Trump, meanwhile, defended his son during a joint news conference with the French president in Paris.

GOP planning attack campaign on reporters covering Trump Jr.

“My son is a wonderful young man who took a meeting with a Russian lawyer — not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer,” Trump said.

In the emails, the attorney was described as working for the “Russian government,” having Clinton dirt courtesy of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

The President blamed Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch for allowing the lawyer into the country in the first place — a charge Lynch denied.

As the Daily News first reported Wednesday, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office provided lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya with a waiver allowing her to enter the country without a visa for a case — but that “parole letter” expired months before the June 2016 meeting. 

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Pastors suing Coca-Cola claim black community loses ‘more people to sweets than streets’

A couple of African American pastors in the Washington, DC area claim that Coke’s sugary drink and “deceptive marketing” are destroying their communities more than violence in the streets.

Pastors William Lamar, from DC’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Delman Coates, from Mount Enon Church in Maryland, claim that the soda manufacturer deceived customers of their product into believing the health risks weren’t as bad as they actually are. They claim the cost to their communities has been large.

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© Arnd Wiegmann

The DC Superior Court received the pastor’s complaint Thursday. The Praxis Project, a public health group, says that the ABA and Coca Cola went through with a campaign that set out to confuse consumers about what can cause obesity, according to court documents.

The plaintiffs claim that it has been hard to protect the health of their mostly African American communities due to the fact that they are being harmed by soda, the documents show.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a study that proves black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by health problems, in comparison with their white counterparts.

Diabetes, hypertension and obesity are all bigger concerns in communities of color. Soda is consumed at a higher rate in these communities and they are even exposed to advertising for these products at a higher rate, according to the CDC.

“It’s become really clear to me that we’re losing more people to the sweets than to the streets,” Coats told the Post. “There’s a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think that’s largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns.”

Coca-Cola fought back against the claims as well as another lawsuit that was filed last January by the same legal team handling this case. The earlier case was eventually withdrawn in order to be filed again with new plaintiffs.

“The allegations here are likewise legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them,” Coca-Cola said in a statement, the Post reported.

The suit filed in January 2017 by the Praxis Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest also cited a deceptive ad campaign by the ABA and Coca-Cola. They claimed that the cases of diabetes in California rose 50 percent between 2001 and 2012, according to a blog post on the Praxis Project website.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola & Pepsi sponsored about 100 health orgs in 5yrs, weakening obesity fight – study

The Praxis Project also claimed that current trends point to an outcome of half of African American and Latino children developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. The suit cited the jump in the obesity rate from 9 percent in 1984 to 25 percent in January 2017.

One of the Coca-Cola ads mentioned in the January complaint was from 2013. Titled “Be OK,” it claimed that laughing for 75 seconds is one activity that could burn off the 139 calories in one of their drinks.

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Forgive & forget? Trump tells Macron friendship with Paris ‘unbreakable’

Despite media efforts to get two recently elected world leaders to butt heads, by reminding them of their election-time animosity, the new bond between Trump and Macron seems to be “unbreakable” following US president’s first official visit to Paris.

While noting they do have “occasional disagreements,” US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that “the friendship between our two nations – and ourselves, I might add – is unbreakable.” Trump was speaking after his talks with Emmanuel Macron, while patting his counterpart’s shoulder.

“Both President Macron and I understand our responsibility to prioritize the interests of our countries and at the same time to be respectful of the world in which we live,” Trump said.

In an apparent reference to issues regarding Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate change deal, the president quickly added that “the US remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection.”

After having offered their seemingly bright perspective on a joint work in world politics, the two leaders looked reluctant to take questions from the media, however.

In a short pause caused by some problem with the microphones, Trump promptly suggested:
“You have no questions? Let’s go!”

READ MORE: ‘France is no longer France’: Trump meets Macron to seek common ground

However, reporters did get a chance to ask their questions, and were not easy at all on the two presidents.

Trump was once again asked to comment on the alleged Russian interference in US politics, while the same reporter wondered whether Macron thought that “President Trump is taking a hard enough line on Russia.”

“To answer your question, I will not interfere in US domestic policy and I think it’s always good not to interfere in the other’s domestic life,” Macron said in English.

“What a good answer that is!” Trump beamed.

When it was Trump’s turn to listen to his previous statements backfire, a French reporter reminded of the American president’s earlier statements “implying” that “Paris was not safe anymore,” with Europe being “infected by terrorism at its own fault.” A wicked smile appeared on Trump’s face when he was asked whether he “would repeat those strong words today.”

“You better let me answer that one first,” Trump said, addressing Macron.

“You know what? It’s gonna be just fine, because you have a great president, you have someone who’s gonna run this country right… You have a tough president, he’s not gonna be easy on people that are breaking the laws, and people that show this tremendous violence. So I really have a feeling that you are gonna have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris, and I’m coming back,” Trump said, before turning to Macron and adding:

“You better do a good job, please! Otherwise you’re gonna make me look very bad.”

Despite an array of friendly remarks, Trump still caused media and online controversy after complimenting First Lady Brigitte Macron’s “good physical shape” on camera.

READ MORE: Trump compliments French first lady’s figure in awkward moment

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GOP operative who tried to get Clinton emails committed suicide

The GOP operative who admitted reaching out to Russian hackers for Hillary Clinton’s emails killed himself days after opening up to a reporter.

Peter Smith told the Wall Street Journal in May that he reached out to people he believed were affiliated with the Kremlin to find messages from the Democrat’s private server.

The Journal report from late last month, which showed that he had claimed to be working with future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, said Smith died about 10 days after the conversation.

No information was given about the 81-year-old’s death, and the coroner in Lake County, Minn., where he lived, told the Daily News at the time that it uncharacteristically did not have records about his death.

Republican who claimed Flynn link tried to get Clinton emails

Police in Minnesota, however, discovered what appeared to be a suicide note after Smith was found at a hotel near the Mayo Clinic on May 14, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

“NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER,” the note reportedly read, adding that there had been a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and that his $ 5 million life insurance policy was expiring.

Records show Smith died of asphyxiation with a bag over his head that was connected to a helium source.

Details about Smith’s unidentified illness were not immediately available, and the Mayo Clinic was barred from sharing whether he was a patient there.

A FEB. 1, 2017, FILE PHOTO

Emails from Smith’s company and its effort to contact hackers show repeated references to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

He was active online the day before his death, writing two blog posts including one doubting the intelligence community assessment that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election.

Those posts, and Smith’s website, are no longer online, with the page saying that the domain name has expired.

Smith struck a different tone with the Wall Street Journal, saying he believed that beyond Democratic National Committee emails, hackers had taken messages from Clinton’s private email server.

He said he assembled a group to try to find them, eventually making contact with people he believed were linked to the Russian government.

The longtime GOP operative, a financier reportedly close to House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, told the newspaper that he was not working in the Trump campaign.

Emails reported by the Journal saw that Smith and his company repeatedly referenced working with Michael Flynn and Michael Flynn’s son, also mentioning the pair’s Flynn Intel company.

“When I spoke to Peter Smith I had no indication that he was ill or planning to take his own life,” the reporter behind that story, the Journal’s Shane Harris, said on Twitter Thursday evening.

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‘We failed completely to break people smuggling in the Mediterranean’ – UK Lords’ inquiry author

While the EU must continue saving migrants fleeing by sea, it must eradicate people trafficking itself, the chairwoman of the UK House of Lords’ committee believes. This could be achieved by working with a Libyan government – if there weren’t three of them.

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© Ismail Zitouny

The EU-spearheaded Operation Sophia, launched in 2015 to stop human smuggling in the Southern Central Mediterranean and “prevent the further loss of life at sea,” has not only failed its goal but effectively led to an increase in people trafficking and deaths, according to a damning report released by the UK House of Lords’ EU External Affairs Sub-Committee on Wednesday.

“First of all, we need to look at why we’ve not been able to disrupt the smugglers’ business programs of smuggling people from countries such as Eritrea and Niger and other countries too, to take the treacherous journey, to go to Libya and then from Libya to get into very dangerous waters in very unseaworthy vessels,” the chairwoman of the committee which produced the report, Baroness Verma, told RT.

The search and rescue operations involving sophisticated vessels have actually played in the hands of people smugglers who adapted and effectively stopped from getting people to Europe, abandoning them in unseaworthy vessels in international waters.

READ MORE: EU to pressure refugees’ home countries with visa restrictions to make them take back their citizens

“The migrant crisis has not decreased, but what’s happened of course is that once we intervened through operation Sophia with very sophisticated naval vessels the smugglers have decided to transfer the people, the trafficked people in the less safe vessels,” Baroness Verma said.

“And so they are taking them in these dinghies and then take them 30 or so kilometers away from Libyan shores and then just leave them there. And of course, that’s extremely dangerous. It therefore means that there’s a bigger pressure on the naval vessels to rescue people. And we failed completely to therefore break this model the smugglers are using.”

The goal for the report was not by any means to encourage the EU to stop rescuing people in the troubled waters, the Baroness stressed, but to combat the trafficking itself instead.

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© Alkis Konstantinidis

“We need to look at the problem at source, we need to look at the start of the pipeline rather than by the time the people have come to Libya and when they are getting into these unseaworthy vessels and trying to cross the Mediterranean. We need to be able to brake the model at source,” Baroness said.

“That’s why we recommend that in its current form the operation Sophia has failed. What we don’t say, and I would like to reinforce that is that the Committee doesn’t say not to save people. We do need to continue saving people that will take this risky journey.”

Trafficking eradication can be achieved through closer cooperation between the EU countries, as well as with the governments of the countries where the trafficking blooms, especially Libya. The three warring governments in Libya, however, does not make the objective easier.

“This is a problem for all of Europe,” Barones Verma stated.

“We also have to be able to work with the Libyan government, and at this moment in time we don’t have a Libyan government that we can constructively work with.”

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Knicks hire Kings executive Scott Perry as new GM

Steve Mills found his No. 2 outside of the organization, agreeing to contract terms Thursday with veteran executive Scott Perry to become the new GM of the Knicks, a source confirmed.

Perry, 53, needed permission to interview with the Knicks on Thursday by the Kings, where he was hired just three months ago to work under GM Vlade Divac. The Kings are also requiring monetary compensation for Perry, according to USA Today, with the expectation that the Knicks will pay up.

If not name-recognition, Perry does hold an extensive – and largely promising – resume as an NBA executive. He was part of the Pistons front-office team that assembled an NBA champion in 2004, then moved to the Seattle Supersonics when they drafted Kevin Durant. More recently, he worked for the Orlando Magic under Rob Hennigan (that did not go as well), and was hired by Sacramento just before the club was widely praised for its 2017 draft and free agency.

Still, Perry never held the top GM job. And Mills, the new team president, doesn’t have much experience in his position. The Knicks are also currently out of cap space – save for about $ 1.4 million – after using most of it on an eye-brow raising $ 71 million deal for Tim Hardaway Jr. Their biggest issue is Carmelo Anthony, who Mills is still trying to move to the Rockets as they pivot to a rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis.

Knicks-Rockets deal to send Carmelo to Houston ‘at 2-yard line’

The Knicks are going outside the Garden with their GM hire.

The Knicks are going outside the Garden with their GM hire.

(Mark Lennihan/AP)

They already have 11 players under guaranteed contracts, and are expected to add second-round pick Damyean Dotson to that list.

Perry’s transfer to the Knicks comes exactly two weeks after Phil Jackson was fired as team president. Mills served as GM under Jackson for three seasons, and, as the Daily News reported, quickly made a power move to convince James Dolan he should be team president.

Many around the league believed Mills would elevate Allan Houston to GM given their comfort and close relationship. Both have worked under Dolan in some capacity for the majority of the last 20 years, achieving the owner’s important loyalty.

Instead, Mills looked to Sacramento — and simultaneously made the Knicks the only NBA team with an African-American holding both the team president and GM positions. There are only six African-American team presidents and/or GMs in the entire league.

Knicks smart to refuse Ryan Anderson in potential Carmelo deal

With the exception of maybe Clarence Gaines (a Jackson hire), it’s a safe bet the Knicks front office will remain intact. Among the reasons former Cavs GM David Griffin removed his application from this hiring process was because Mills wouldn’t allow him to restructure the front office by bringing in his own guys. As the News reported, one of Griffin’s requests was to remove Houston, the assistant GM.

Perry was credited with helping restore the Sacramento Kings’ long-lost credibility this offseason. They drafted point guard De’Aaron Fox and flipped another pick into two – drafting Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also completed some reasonable free agent deals, which went against the bungling reputation of the Kings.

At his previous stop in Orlando, however, Perry was the assistant GM for a team that went just 132-278 with several botched roster moves during his tenure. In a league where only  

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Germany & France to develop ‘new generation’ European fighter jet to replace existing fleets

Germany and France have agreed to develop a “new generation” European fighter jet in an effort to strengthen the EU and increase cooperation between the two countries. French President Emmanuel Macron called the plan a “profound revolution.”

The announcement was made by France following talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Macron in Paris.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump © Guido Bergmann

“The two partners hope to finalize a joint roadmap by mid-2018,” the French presidency said in a statement, as quoted by AFP.

The fighter jets, which will replace the two countries’ current fleets, “were very heavy projects for our armies and our governments,” Macron said during a joint press conference with Merkel.

He went on to state that joint European aircraft will save money and remove competition between different jets which are currently on the market.

“The aim of this fighter jet for a new generation is first to launch a common research and development programme to be able to plan it together, and then for our two armies to be able to use it together. I confirm to you, it’s a profound revolution, but we are not afraid of revolutions,” Macron said.

The two sides also agreed to develop a cooperation framework for the next model of the Tiger attack helicopter, and for tactical ground-to-air missiles, Reuters reported, citing a document released after the Thursday talks.

The document also said that Germany and France have agreed to work together to procure ground systems, including heavy tanks and artillery, and that a contract is expected to be signed before 2019 for the German-led Eurodrone project, which is aimed at ending EU reliance on US- and Israeli-made military drones.

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© Jonathan Ernst

The project announced on Thursday comes after France withdrew from the Eurofighter project in the 1980s to make its own Rafale warplane. The new fighter jet will replace both the Eurofighter and the Rafale.

Europe currently has three fighter planes – the Eurofighter Typhoon, France’s Rafale, and Sweden’s Gripen. However, some analysts say the EU needs just one combat plane, due to budget pressures and development costs.

Macron and Merkel also discussed strengthening European integration on defense, counterterrorism, and immigration.

Referencing Macron’s proposal of a single EU finance minister, parliament, and budget, Merkel said she is open to those ideas.

“Personally I was always in favor, it’s about how [to create a European finance minister]. In general I’m not against a euro budget. In 2012 I proposed a small eurozone budget but I failed big time back then but I’m very glad this idea is now back on the table,” the German chancellor said.

“I believe that we have shown shortly after the new government here was installed that we are ready to activate Franco-German relations with a new impetus,” Merkel said.

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New GOP Obamacare repeal bill further cuts consumer protections

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans unveiled their latest plan to repeal Obamacare on Thursday, a bill that goes even further to gut consumer protections in current law by letting insurers sell cheaper bare-bones plans that don’t cover many aspects of health care and did little to win over moderates who were unhappy with the original legislation.

The bill includes items aimed at appeasing hardline conservatives including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who crafted similar legislation. Cruz said the changes had persuaded him to support letting the bill come up for a debate.

To appease moderates, the bill also reinstates some of the taxes on wealthier people that previous repeal bills had planned to eliminate. But centrists remained unmoved, voicing serious concerns about the legislation’s move to slash Medicaid spending in future years as well as other aspects of the bill and promising to vote to block debate on the bill if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tries to bring it up next Tuesday, as promised.

“My strong inclination and current intention is to vote no on the motion to proceed,” moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters as she exited a meeting where Republican senators were presented with the latest legislation. “The only thing that could change my mind is if there was something that was in the new bill that wasn’t discussed.”

McConnell cancels first two weeks of August Senate recess

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) reiterated their worries about the planned cuts to Medicaid and their impact on funding programs to help drug addicts. Both were among a half-dozen senators who said they weren’t ready to vote to let the bill get to debate, even after huddling with McConnell and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma Thursday afternoon.

Many also said they wanted to see the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the full bill — even as GOP leaders suggested they might not wait for that score and have the Department of Health & Human Services do its own analysis instead.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during a news briefing on July 11, 2017.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during a news briefing on July 11, 2017.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We’re still talking,” Portman said after exiting McConnell’s office.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also remains a no on the bill because it doesn’t go far enough and fully repeal Obamacare.

Republicans ask for ‘Obamacare horror stories’ but it backfires

McConnell can lose only two of his members and still push forward on the legislation, and it appears as of now he’s not much closer to that than he was before the changes.

But he insisted to reporters Thursday afternoon that the Senate “will be voting next week.”

On Wednesday, President Trump declared he’d be “very angry” if Republicans don’t repeal Obamacare.

“It has to get passed. They have to do it. They have to get together and get it done,” Trump said.

Vice President Mike Pence attended the meeting unveiling the new bill, and said he was “very encouraged” by the latest developments in the legislation.

“We believe the Senate health care bill is the right bill at the right time. It’s important that the Senate move forward next week — bring this bill forward, send it back to the House, and put it on the President’s desk,” he said.

But even as McConnell prepared to unveil the latest version of the bill, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) released a new Obamacare replacement plan of their own. The plan, which would keep most of Obamacare’s taxes in place but take the funds and block-grant them to the states while removing the individual and employer mandates, is a sign that some Republicans are looking ahead to what’s next if the current bill fails in the upcoming days.

Graham and Cassidy argued the plan would help Republicans find the support they need and argued it was a move aimed at productive debate rather than undercutting the current bill, but many other senators expressed skepticism or unfamiliarity with his proposed changes.

“The states can decide what they want to do. A blue state is going to do a blue thing, a red state is going to do a red thing,” Cassidy said on CNN. “It makes that final bill more likely to get to 50 (yes votes).” 

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Trump reveals what he’ll ask Putin next time they meet

President Trump plans to invite Russia’s leader to the White House, but he doesn’t “think this is the right time,” he said, revealing what he will ask Putin next time they meet.

The question of who the Russian leader actually cheered for during the US presidential election campaign still riddles Donald Trump, as he told reporters abroad Air Force One while traveling to France to meet President Emanuel Macron.

“The next time I’m with Putin, I’m going to ask him: Who were you really for? Because I can’t believe that he would have been for me. Me. Strong military, strong borders – but he cares less about the borders – but strong military, tremendous,” Trump said, adding that Putin’s alleged support for him was doubtful since he was all for strong US economy and taking fossil fuels “all over [to] compete with Russia.” The US president added, however, that he only wants to “make great deals with Russia.”

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US President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton © Mike Blake

Trump has yet again strongly denied any alleged collusion with Russia, branding the “Trump-Russia” narrative a “media witch hunt,” which is “bad for the country.”

Trump also stated he would invite the Russian president to the White House, but the time did not seem right, he said, adding that saying it might not have won him any political points.

“I don’t think this is the right time, but the answer is yes, I would,” Trump said. “Let’s be the smart people not the stupid people. The easiest thing for me to tell you is that I would never invite him. We will never ever talk to Russia. That all of my friends in Congress will say, oh he’s so wonderful, he’s so wonderful. Folks, we have perhaps the second most powerful nuclear country in the world. If you don’t have dialogue, you have to be fools. Fools.”

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Up to 1,000 Ukrainian nationalists clash with police, block parliament (VIDEO)

Around 1,000 protesters, mainly from Ukraine’s nationalist movements, have blocked the parliament building in Kiev and several streets in the area, while deputies were voting on immunity of certain MPs. Police deployed tear gas to repel crowds turning violent.

Having gathered in the center of the Ukrainian capital at the entrance to the Verkhovna Rada parliament building on Thursday morning, around 1,000 protesters scattered smoke pellets and started banging on metal barrels with sticks, Interfax Ukraine reported.

Clashes erupted between the protesters – many of who covered their faces with black masks – and police, with some nationalists having pepper sprayed the officers, Ruptly reported. Police deployed tear gas against the protesters.

No one has been arrested, according to Interfax.

Inside the building, MPs were voting on the abolition of parliamentary immunity for certain opposition deputies, as requested by Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

Outside, the protesters with nationalist flags demanded the abolition, with hundreds of them burning flares and smoke pellets, as well as throwing fire crackers, Ukrainian 112 TV channel reported.

READ MORE: Lavrov: Shortsighted policies of US, EU in many ways provoked Ukrainian crisis

The same day, Ukraine-EU summit has been taking place in Kiev. Speaking at the meeting, President of the European Council Donald Tusk has called on Ukraine to stay united and avoid internal conflicts, rather than worry about external threats.

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