President Trump has canceled plans for a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to be held in Singapore. In a letter signed by Trump and addressed to Kim, Trump cited Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent comments as his reason for canceling the talks. Trump went on to write, “You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
Trump’s withdrawal came after North Korea blasted recent comments by Vice President Mike Pence, who suggested Kim Jong-un will end up like slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if he doesn’t denuclearize North Korea. On Thursday, President Trump said the U.S. stands ready to attack.
President Donald Trump: “I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world. I’ve spoken to General Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, that has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready, if necessary.”
North Korea’s foreign ministry called Trump’s decision “extremely regrettable” but said it stands ready to talk if the White House reverses its position. After headlines, we’ll go to Seoul, South Korea.
President Trump signed a bill Thursday exempting thousands of banks from key regulations in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Under the new law, the vast majority of banks will no longer have to follow the regulations aimed at preventing another financial meltdown like the 2008 financial crisis.
The White House held a pair of classified briefings Thursday with senior congressional leaders on the FBI’s use of a confidential informant to investigate alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign. Democrats were furious that Emmet Flood, President Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, attended both meetings, along with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Flood’s involvement was “entirely improper.” He also said the briefing provided no evidence that the FBI was spying directly on the Trump campaign as the president has alleged.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.”
New York Democratic Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said Thursday it appears someone in the Trump administration or Congress broke the Intelligence Identities Protection Act when they revealed the name of the FBI’s confidential informant—Stefan Halper, a retired professor tapped in 2016 to investigate the Trump campaign.
[Update: Harvey Weinstein’s bond was set at $10 million, and paid $1 million in cash to post bail.]
In New York City, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered himself to police this morning, as a Manhattan prosecutor brings charges that Weinstein sexually assaulted two women. One of them, former aspiring actress Lucia Evans, says Weinstein invited her to his Miramax office, where he physically overpowered her and forced her to perform oral sex. In another case, involving a woman who has not been named, Weinstein faces charges that include first-degree rape. His lawyers have reportedly negotiated an agreement that will see him surrender his passport and wear a movement-tracking device. His bail is expected to be set at $2 million.
In total, more than 100 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, in cases that stretch back decades. Among them is Rose McGowan, who says Weinstein raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. McGowan said in a statement Thursday, “I, and so many of Harvey Weinstein’s survivors, had given up hope that our rapist would be held accountable by law. Twenty years ago, I swore that I would right this wrong. Today we are one step closer to justice.” We’ll have more on Harvey Weinstein’s arrest later in the broadcast.
CNN reports that eight women have accused Oscar-winning movie star Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment. One of the women says Freeman repeatedly put his hands on her lower back and tried to lift her skirt, asking if she was wearing underwear. Another woman told CNN that she and others stopped wearing form-fitting clothing after Freeman repeatedly commented on their bodies. Freeman responded quickly after CNN’s report broke Thursday, writing in a statement, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected—that was never my intent.”
In Georgia, a jury has awarded a record $1 billion in damages to a sexual assault survivor, after finding a security company was negligent when it hired the man who raped her. Hope Cheston was just 14 years old when she was raped by an armed security guard, who was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime. Jurors were brought in to award damages in the civil suit after a judge found the guard’s employer—Crime Prevention Agency—failed to properly train and screen its officers. After the $1 billion settlement verdict, Cheston’s lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, told The New York Times, “A jury, from now on, will know there is no ceiling on the damages that rape causes to a woman.”
In Nigeria, a new report by Amnesty International finds thousands of women and girls who survived sexual assault and kidnapping by Boko Haram militants faced widespread hunger and starvation, as well as further sexual abuse by the Nigerian security forces who claimed to be rescuing them. Amnesty’s report found that since 2015, thousands of women and girls died of malnutrition and starvation in camps for internally displaced people in Nigeria’s Borno state due to a lack of food, while soldiers demanded sex in exchange for humanitarian assistance. This is one woman who asked to remain anonymous as she described the abuses to Amnesty researchers.
Anonymous woman: “You’ll see a soldier with food in his hand, and he’d say, 'If you like me, take this food.' They would say, 'Come with us,' and we would think of our children crying for food. If you’d accept the food, he’d come back to have intercourse with you. And if you refused, he’d use force to rape you.”
In Syria, government forces have recaptured the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees outside Damascus, after a brutal month-long campaign drove ISIS from the area. The assault reportedly killed scores of civilians and left most of the camp in ruins. With its capture, Syria’s military now controls all the areas around Damascus for the first time in seven years.
In Benghazi, Libya, a car bomb exploded outside a hotel on a busy road in the city’s center late Thursday, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a series of bombings in Libya that followed the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.
In the Gaza Strip, a 22-year-old Palestinian man has succumbed to his wounds and died, after he publicly set himself on fire to protest Israel’s stifling blockade of the territory and its massacre of over 100 Palestinians in recent nonviolent protests. Fathi Walid Harb had burns to more than half his body following his self-immolation Sunday.
His death came as Israel’s military chief, Avigdor Lieberman, said Thursday that the government is preparing to greenlight an additional 2,500 new homes in 30 Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international law and multiple U.N. resolutions.
And Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and her family were the targets of an intelligence-gathering campaign by a secretive Israeli firm that was acting on behalf of an American-Israeli organization established to combat the movement to boycott and divest from Israel. That’s according to an investigative report by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which found the company Israel Cyber Shield—which has ties to Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry—compiled a dossier on Sarsour that it gave to the organization Act.IL. Act.IL is an anti-BDS group that receives much of its funding from billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The group distributed the dossier to U.S. college campuses in an effort to bar Sarsour from speaking to university students. Last June, a number of prominent New York lawmakers called on the City University of New York to cancel a commencement address by Linda Sarsour, who says she faced a barrage of death threats ahead of her speech.