Morning rush: Pressure mounts on Iran to fire Syria leader

HURT: Pressure mounts on Iran, Russia to fire Syria leader.

President Donald Trump’s administration has told Russia and Iran that they must step up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down as he approaches the seventh year of his rule over Syria, according to two people familiar with the matter.

As the world watched the horrific video showing a woman holding a severed head and the laments by U.S. officials that Assad may be building chemical weapons again, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was seeking commitments from Putin and the Russians to stop Assad.

One of the goals: Get Russia and Iran involved more closely in countering the rising threat of the Islamic State in Syria.

Tillerson held hours of meetings with top officials from the Russian government and the leaders of Iran and Turkey. He has been urging the three countries to push Assad out more aggressively.

PREVIOUS, 1:47 p.m.: Treasury Department disputes conspiracy theory of Democratic money in Trump campaign

Democratic members of Congress are circulating a leaked document they say implicates the Trump campaign in a series of scandals, including the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and stealing of more than 250,000 emails.

As the Democrats circulate the report, which says campaign operative Roger Stone talked with other individuals with ties to the Russian government about compromising information he might use against Hillary Clinton’s campaign, top officials at the Treasury Department are pushing back.

Goldman banks that financed a Trump Organization foray into Russia are clarifying how much of the debt they face in a two-part bond sale should be held by Russian investors.

PREVIOUS, 1:00 p.m.: Dow off more than 70 points as Yellen dashes hope for strong quarter

U.S. stocks closed near their highest level in more than 15 years, with major indexes largely unchanged, as some investors braced for a possible interest rate increase later this week by the Federal Reserve.

The broad indicator, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, declined just over 70 points and closed at close to a record high. The S&P 500 index dropped less than 2 points. The Nasdaq declined about 30 points.

Around the world, benchmark stock indexes closed in the red. France’s CAC 40 closed down 0.23 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed down 0.27 percent. Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.03 percent.

Precious metals prices jumped as investors fled risky assets, fearful the rally could stall after the Fed is set to meet Thursday.

PREVIOUS, 9:27 a.m.: Ryan warns Congress will take action if Trump & Co. lash out at Robert Mueller

Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House, told his colleagues that they are prepared to take action if the President Donald Trump administration re-escalates its war of words with special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a meeting with Republican members of the House, Ryan said the GOP-led Congress plans to examine its options to protect Mueller if he is targeted in the administration’s broad attacks on the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the issue.

Lawmakers from both parties are concerned about the Trump administration’s strong words against Mueller, a longtime friend of the president who has overseen the Russia investigation since May. Trump has recently questioned Mueller’s qualifications for the job and said the special counsel has made political decisions in the past.

Last week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Trump accused Mueller of being under pressure from the Democrats to investigate his campaign and colluded with Russia.

“The fact that we have to even think about defending an investigation like this is ridiculous and obvious political theater,” Ryan said at the meeting, according to the person.

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