History has been made on the Korean Peninsula today, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shook hands at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries and pledged to work to denuclearize the peninsula and to declare the official end to the Korean War. Today’s historic summit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot inside South Korea. During the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said, “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation.” The North and South Korean leaders pledged to pursue talks with the United States aimed at negotiating a formal peace treaty to replace the uneasy 1953 armistice. This is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking today.
Kim Jong-un: “We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely, in order to make sure our agreement, signed today before the entire world, will not end as just a beginning, like previous agreements before today.”
Today’s breakthrough comes amid a series of diplomatic developments regarding North Korea and its nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-un traveled to Beijing by armored train to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kim’s first foreign trip since taking office in 2011.
Kim is also slated to meet soon with President Trump, in what would be the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Last week, North Korea announced it would stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and would close a site where at least six prior nuclear tests were held. This is South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking today.
President Moon Jae-in: “It is very significant that North Korea took a measure of freezing nuclear first. It will be a valuable beginning for the complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. I clearly declare that the South and North will closely cooperate for the complete denuclearization.”
This morning, President Trump tweeted ”KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” We’ll have more on the historic news from the Korean Peninsula after headlines.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was grilled by lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill about a slew of scandals over his spending habits and ties to industry lobbyists.
Pruitt faces more than a half-dozen investigations. Among the scandals, he paid only $50 a night to live in a Capitol Hill condo owned by the wife of a prominent Washington energy lobbyist whose firm represents a roster of fossil fuel companies. Pruitt had a $43,000 soundproof phone booth installed in his office, which a government watchdog says violated spending laws. Pruitt had the EPA spend $3 million on his security detail, including 18 full-time agents. Pruitt routinely travels first- or business-class, reportedly because Pruitt was confronted by economy-class customers angry over his policies.
On Thursday, lawmakers demanded Pruitt’s resignation and pressed him on reports he has retaliated against employees who raised concerns about his spending habits. This is New Jersey Democratic Congressmember Frank Pallone.
Rep. Frank Pallone: “It has been reported that at least five EPA employees were recently reassigned, demoted or otherwise retaliated against, after they raised concerns about your spending. Is that correct? Yes or no?”
Scott Pruitt: “I don’t ever recall a conversation to that end.”
Rep. Frank Pallone: “All right, well, I’ll take that as a yes.”
We’ll have more on Scott Pruitt’s hearing later in the broadcast.
The Senate has confirmed Mike Pompeo as secretary of state in a 57-42 vote Thursday. Pompeo then rushed to the Supreme Court for his swearing-in, and then to Joint Base Andrews, where he departed to Brussels for his first official trip as secretary of state. Next he’s slated to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The White House has also released a photo of Pompeo shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their secret meeting over Easter weekend. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to meet with President Trump at the White House today.
Meanwhile, the National Security Archive at George Washington University has published declassified documents about President Trump’s nominee to replace Pompeo as CIA director: Gina Haspel, who is currently serving as the deputy director of the CIA. The documents provide additional evidence as to how Haspel personally supervised the torture, including waterboarding, of CIA prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002 at a CIA black site in Thailand, and drafted cables ordering the destruction of videotape evidence of another prisoner’s waterboarding.
A jury in Pennsylvania has found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, at Cosby’s home in 2004. Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades. Cosby called the Montgomery County district attorney an “a–hole” after the prosecutor argued Cosby should be jailed ahead of sentencing. Instead, Cosby was allowed to return to his home in Montgomery County, where he may be forced to wear an ankle bracelet if he leaves his house. The 80-year-old comedian is facing up to 30 years in prison. He will be sentenced later this summer.
Former NBC correspondent Linda Vester has accused longtime NBC anchor Tom Brokaw of groping her and trying to forcibly kiss her back in the early 1990s. She says that once at the Denver bureau office, Brokaw came up behind her, put his hand on her waist and then groped her. A second time, she says, Brokaw insisted on visiting her in her hotel room, and then tried repeatedly to forcibly kiss her. Brokaw has denied the accusations.
In Spain, thousands of people poured into the streets in cities across the country in protest, after five men accused of gang-raping a teen girl back in 2016 were found not guilty of rape and were convicted of only the lower charge of sexual abuse. The five men, who called themselves “wolf pack,” lured the teenage girl into a building and repeatedly raped her while filming the assault on their cellphones. The men’s lawyers claimed that the video footage showing the woman immobile, with her eyes squeezed shut, was evidence of consent. This is social worker Adriana Monparle, speaking at a protest in Madrid Thursday.
Adriana Monparle: “To be honest, I feel shame we are still in a country like this one. In the 21st century, they are saying this is just abuse, just an abuse, but she had to defend herself. I feel shame.”
And in more news about violence against women, the Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. He has admitted to dismembering her body and dumping her into the sea.
In Arizona, 50,000 teachers walked out of their classrooms Thursday, shutting down hundreds of high schools in the latest massive teachers’ strike to protest cuts to education funding. This is educator Mary Kotnour.
Mary Kotnour: “Well, the bottom line is funding, funding for education. So, a lot of people think it’s just for teachers’ salaries, and it’s not. It’s funding for the schools, for our kids. We haven’t had—the funding stopped in 2008 and has not increased. It’s for our support staff, as well. So, it’s for everybody. It’s not, what some people think, just for teachers.”
Thousands of teachers in Colorado also walked off the job and converged at the state Capitol of Denver, forcing 27 districts in Colorado to cancel classes.
President Trump gave a rambling, 30-minute phone interview with “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, in which he railed against the scandals that forced Trump’s personal physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to withdraw from consideration as veterans affairs secretary; boasted about firing former FBI Director James Comey; claimed he’d accomplished more than any other U.S. president in history during his first year in office; and admitted that his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen had represented him in the $130,000 nondisclosure deal with adult film star Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.
President Donald Trump: “Michael would represent me, and represent me on some things. He represents me. Like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”
President Trump had previously claimed he knew nothing about the $130,000 nondisclosure agreement Cohen paid to Clifford only days before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006.
In New York City, 14 members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested at a protest in front of New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, demanding he call for an independent investigation into the Israeli military’s killings of Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Israeli forces have killed at least 37 Palestinians, including two journalists, since the weekly Friday protests erupted on March 30.
In Wisconsin, tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate after an explosion at a Husky Energy refinery in Superior. At least 15 people were injured in the blast. One is in serious condition. The cause of the explosion is unknown.
And in Alabama, the editorial board of the Montgomery Advertiser published a public apology for its previous coverage of lynching on Thursday—the same day the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in downtown Montgomery as a monument to victims of white supremacy in the United States.
In the editorial, the board wrote, “We take responsibility for our proliferation of a false narrative regarding the treatment of African-Americans in those disgraceful days. … We propagated a world view rooted in racism and the sickening myth of racial superiority. … We must never be as wrong as this again.”
The Montgomery Advertiser was among many white-owned newspapers across the United States that failed to investigate—and at times even celebrated—the white mob violence that killed thousands of African Americans throughout U.S. history. Instead, it was black journalists, mostly notably Ida B. Wells, who exposed the horrors of lynching to the world.