In the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, talks between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to an abrupt end Thursday after Trump walked out of the talks aimed at reaching a denuclearization agreement. Their second summit fell apart over Kim Jong-un’s demand that the U.S. lift all sanctions on North Korea in exchange for the closure of one nuclear facility. This is President Trump speaking at a press conference.
President Donald Trump: “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that. So we continue to work, and we’ll see, but we had to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.”
The summit’s collapse comes just days after House Democrats introduced a resolution to formally end the Korean War after nearly 70 years of conflict. After headlines, we’ll go to Hanoi to speak with Christine Ahn, founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War.
On Capitol Hill, President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen accused his ex-boss of committing multiple criminal acts before and after he became president, during more than five hours of explosive public testimony before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday.
Cohen testified that Trump had asked him to pay $130,000 in hush money—in violation of campaign finance laws—to adult film star Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election, offering as evidence a copy of a $35,000 reimbursement check Trump wrote to him in 2017—after Trump became president.
Cohen also claimed that Trump had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks was preparing to publish a trove of emails to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Cohen also confirmed the president repeatedly checked in about the status of a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project well into the 2016 campaign, despite public claims to the contrary.
Cohen’s testimony came two months before he is scheduled to begin a 3-year prison sentence for lying to Congress, a series of financial crimes and campaign violations. Cohen told Congress he was ashamed of his own failings.
Michael Cohen: “I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed, because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat.”
Cohen is scheduled to testify behind closed doors today to the House Intelligence Committee. We’ll have much more on Michael Cohen’s historic testimony to Congress later in the broadcast.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday he will return a captured fighter pilot to India, after Pakistan’s military shot down two fighter jets that entered into its airspace. Khan’s gesture is aimed at de-escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors, after India carried out airstrikes inside Pakistan Tuesday for the first time since 1971. The fighting has stoked fears of a nuclear exchange and has stranded thousands of travelers, after Pakistan closed its airspace to all domestic and international flights.
Russia warned Wednesday it is prepared to build a new generation of nuclear-capable missiles if the U.S. deploys similar weapons in Europe. This is Russia’s deputy representative for disarmament speaking at a United Nations forum in Geneva on Wednesday.
Alexander Deyneko: “What is important here is that in its tactical and technical features, in particular the flight time from the command center, our weapons would correspond to the threat directed against Russia. We know how to do this, and we would implement these plans immediately, as soon as such a threat would become a reality.”
This month, the Trump administration formally announced it is withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—the INF—the landmark 1987 treaty banning all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, negotiated between Reagan and Gorbachev.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has arrived in Brasília for talks with Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Last month, Bolsonaro joined President Trump and many Latin American heads of state in recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim leader. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called Bolsonaro “a modern-day Hitler” and has accused him of plotting a military intervention in Venezuela. Juan Guaidó’s trip to Brazil came as Venezuela’s foreign minister told a U.N. body Wednesday the United States is plotting to overthrow Venezuela’s government. Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Jorge Arreaza accused the Trump administration of “weaponizing” humanitarian aid, even as the U.S. has frozen tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Venezuelan assets. Arreaza also said President Donald Trump should negotiate directly with President Maduro.
Jorge Arreaza: “Again, we are calling for dialogue—dialogue with the United States, yes, why not?—between President Maduro and President Trump. Why shouldn’t they meet, so that they could try to find common ground and explain their differences?”
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Tuesday for the first time since the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. A White House statement on Kushner’s closed-door meeting with the prince in the Saudi capital Riyadh made no mention of Khashoggi, nor of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in a half-century. The White House said the talks were aimed at “increasing cooperation” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
The State Department has said it will not intervene in the case of a Saudi man accused of killing a 15-year-old American student in a hit-and-run in Portland, Oregon. The suspect, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, is said to have fled the United States back to Saudi Arabia, with the help of Saudi officials, who reportedly helped him obtain a fake passport in order to fly him out of the U.S. It’s believed to be one of several similar cases of Saudi nationals accused of crimes being spirited out of the U.S. Click here to see our interview with Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, The Oregonian reporter who broke the story.
Back on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday that would expand a federal system of background checks on firearms purchases. The bill passed on a vote of 240 to 190 with the support of just eight Republicans. The House is poised to vote on a second bill today that would extend the review period for background checks from three days to 10. The bills are the first major pieces of gun control legislation to advance on Capitol Hill since before the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012, but they appear unlikely to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has signaled it would veto the bills.
House Democrats unveiled a bill Wednesday to dramatically revamp the U.S. healthcare system. This is the bill’s chief sponsor, Congressmember Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “It is time to ensure that healthcare is a right and not a privilege, guaranteed to every person in our country. It is time for Medicare for all.”
Congressmember Jayapal’s “Medicare for All” bill has over 100 co-sponsors. It would expand Medicare to include dental, vision and long-term care, while making the federally run health program available to all Americans. It would eliminate health insurance premiums, copayments and deductibles, while changing how healthcare providers are paid. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, says the legislation would eliminate nearly $500 billion in waste spent annually on bureaucracy, inefficiency and excessive corporate profits.
In North Carolina, a former paid consultant for Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris was arrested Wednesday, charged with ordering workers to illegally fill out and mail in other people’s absentee ballots ahead of last November’s congressional election. Leslie McCrae Dowless also faces felony charges of obstruction of justice. He is accused of rigging the election in North Carolina’s 9th District to tilt the vote in favor of Harris, who was initially declared the winner in a close race. Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections vacated the results and ordered a new election. On Tuesday, Mark Harris said he would not run in a new election for the seat, citing his ailing health—not voter fraud—for his decision. His former opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, says he will run again. Prosecutors say Mark Harris could still face criminal charges over the vote-rigging scandal.
In Texas, a federal judge has barred state election officials from carrying out a purge of voting rolls that could have seen thousands of naturalized citizens wrongfully barred from voting in the next election. Wednesday’s order by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas comes a month after Texas’ secretary of state flagged the names of nearly 100,000 registered voters who declared they were not U.S. citizens when obtaining a driver’s license. Civil rights groups say most—if not all—of those flagged were later naturalized and that the Republican-led effort to purge voter rolls was aimed at suppressing the vote of Latinos in Texas.
The Senate has ended debate on whether to confirm Andrew Wheeler as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a final vote on the former coal industry lobbyist today. On Wednesday, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said she would vote “no” on Wheeler’s confirmation, citing his efforts to roll back greenhouse gas emissions standards and his assault on regulations limiting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Wheeler appears to have the support of the remaining 52 senators who comprise the Republican majority. Wheeler has been the acting head of the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals.
And in London, police arrested nine climate activists Wednesday as they nonviolently blocked the entrance to a hotel where a petroleum industry conference was underway. Some of the activists superglued themselves to the hotel’s windows and doors, forcing police to spend about two hours removing them as the International Petroleum Week conference met inside. In a statement, activist Sam Knights of the group Extinction Rebellion said, “These companies are destroying our planet. We have to start talking about that. We have to start pointing out, again and again, that their business model is based on the mass murder of hundreds and millions of people.”