President Trump is slated to announce his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy tonight. The nomination is poised to cement the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, vastly reshaping the court for decades to come.
President Trump is reportedly considering four potential nominees. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the favored nominee among the religious right. The New York Times reports she says she would like to see the scope of abortion rights changed. Barrett is a member of the obscure Catholic group People of Praise, which Vox reports requires members to “swear an oath of loyalty and give each other input on personal life decisions.” Judge Brett Kavanaugh is an appellate judge from Maryland who has ruled against Obamacare and abortion rights in the past. Last fall, he joined a panel of judges in issuing an order to prevent an undocumented immigrant teenager in U.S. detention from obtaining an abortion. That decision was later overturned. Raymond Kethledge is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit who has been dubbed “Gorsuch 2.0.” He has ruled against voting rights. CBS also reports he is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment. Judge Thomas Hardiman is a U.S. appeals court judge that The Washington Post reports is a “Second Amendment extremist.” The Post reports that his placement on the court could lead to “a vast expansion in legal gun ownership” and that he been sympathetic to anti-abortion activists in past rulings. This is President Trump speaking to reporters Sunday.
President Donald Trump: “I’m getting very close to making a final decision. And I believe this person will do a great job. But I’m very close to making a decision. Have not made it official yet, obviously. Have not made it final. But we’re very close to making a decision.”
Reporter: “How many people are you deciding between now?”
President Donald Trump: “Well, it’s still—let’s say it’s the four people, but—and they’re excellent, every one. You can’t go wrong.”
North Korea has accused the Trump administration of pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two days of talks in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang. Pompeo did not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his visit, although he did meet with senior North Korean officials. Following the meeting, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, “The attitude and demands from the U.S. side during the high-level talks were nothing short of deeply regrettable.” Pompeo said the talks were “productive.” The high-level talks come after President Trump met face to face with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a historic summit in Singapore less than one month ago.
President Trump is headed to Europe Tuesday to meet with European leaders at the NATO summit in Brussels. In advance of the summit, Trump reportedly sent sharply worded letters to the leaders of Germany, Belgium, Norway, Canada and other NATO allies, complaining that they are spending too little money on military expenses. This week’s summit comes after Trump lashed out at European allies during the G7 summit in Quebec last month. After his trip to Brussels, Trump is expected to visit London, where widespread protests are planned against his visit. He’s then set to travel to his private golf course in Scotland—the Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire—and then fly to Helsinki for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16.
In San Diego, a federal judge will hold a hearing today on whether to delay Tuesday’s deadline that mandated the reunification of all children under the age of 5 whom the Trump administration separated from their parents at the border. Under court order, the Justice Department released the names of more than 100 children under 5 years old who were separated from their parents. The Trump administration is claiming it needs more time to match children with their parents, including at least 19 parents who have already been deported. The American Civil Liberties Union says less than half of separated children under the age of 5 would be reunited by Tuesday. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has admitted nearly 3,000 children were separated from their parents by the Trump administration. He had previously claimed that only 2,047 children were separated. We’ll have more on the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and immigration crackdown after headlines.
The New York Times reports the Trump administration stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats at the World Health Assembly in Geneva by seeking unsuccessfully to derail a resolution to encourage breastfeeding, and to instead promote the interests of the billion-dollar infant formula industry. The U.S. officials reportedly first tried to water down the resolution. When that failed, the officials reportedly told Ecuador that if it introduced the measure, Washington would withdraw aid to the country and unleash punishing trade measures. Ultimately, after a slew of other nations refused to introduce the measure in fear of retaliation, Russia stepped in, and U.S. officials backed off from the threats.
In southwest Japan, flooding and landslides from record rainfall have killed at least 95 people and forced 2 million more to flee their homes. Dozens more are still missing. Scientists have linked heavy rainfall and increased flooding to climate change.
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be sworn in today for another 5-year term as president, with sweeping new powers. Ahead of his swearing-in, his government fired another 18,000 state workers as part of a far-reaching crackdown on civil society following the failed military coup two years ago. In total, Erdogan’s government has fired nearly 150,000 people and arrested tens of thousands of human rights activists, lawyers, academics, journalists, political dissidents and Kurds.
In a historic development in East Africa, Ethiopia and Eritrea have re-established diplomatic ties after a nearly 2-decade-long border dispute that killed tens of thousands of people in the late 1990s. The leaders of the two countries met for a landmark meeting in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, over the weekend, in which the two leaders agreed to reopen embassies in their respective capitals and resume flights between the two countries. Eritrea also agreed to allow landlocked Ethiopia to use Eritrean ports on the Red Sea. This weekend’s summit was the first time the leaders of the two countries had met face to face in nearly 20 years. This is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: “If there is peace between Ethiopian and Eritrean people, the Horn of Africa region will be a region of peace and development. Our people who live scattered as refugees in humiliation will come back with dignity. Our citizens will not be sold and exchanged like commodities.”
In Haiti, anti-austerity protests are continuing in the capital, Port-au-Prince, after Haiti’s Commerce and Economic ministries announced massive fuel price increases late Friday night as part of austerity measures being imposed on Haiti by the International Monetary Fund. The government quickly canceled the fuel price increases after the massive protests, in which at least two people were killed and luxury foreign hotels were attacked. U.S. airliners have canceled flights to Haiti amid the protests.
In Brazil, a legal and political battle has erupted after a judge ordered former president and current presidential front-runner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, to be released from prison as he appeals a corruption conviction he says is politically motivated. Hours after the Sunday morning ruling, a second judge overruled the order. Lula remains in jail. His supporters gathered outside the prison Sunday during the legal battle. This is Gleisi Hoffmann, a lawmaker from Lula’s Workers’ Party.
Gleisi Hoffmann: “It can’t be, so much maneuvering for Lula to stay imprisoned. Why does Lula need to be in prison, when he has the right to be released? Why this maneuvering from the Brazilian court and the Federal Police in this slow-paced operation on Lula’s freedom, taking their time with administrative moves that are not legal? This is embarrassing for Brazil in the face of the world.”
In Thailand, seven boys from a youth soccer team have been freed so far from the underwater cave where they’ve been trapped for over two weeks. Rescuers are undertaking a major effort to free the final five boys and their coach, who remain trapped in the cave.
And in Washington, D.C., federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against all remaining defendants who were arrested at President Trump’s Inauguration Day “Disrupt J20” protests in January of 2017. Prosecutors had initially threatened over 200 people, including journalists, with a slew of felony charges that carried sentences of up to 60 years in prison. The dismissal of all remaining charges means prosecutors failed to win a single conviction in front of a jury related to the protests during Trump’s inauguration. Click here to see our full coverage of the J20 protests and protest trials.