April 26, 2017

Amid U.S.-North Korean tensions so high that defense analysts warn one misstep could lead to war, all 100 senators are meeting at the White House Wednesday afternoon for a special, unusual briefing on North Korea from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, intelligence chief Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It isn't clear if President Trump will attend at all, though a senior administration official told CNN "if he attends — which is not determined — it will just be a brief drop-by."

The briefing was arranged by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several senators seem unclear why they are traveling down the street on a fleet of buses instead of meeting at the Capitol. "That meeting is a Senate meeting led by Leader McConnell, just utilizing our space," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. "We're not there to talk strategy." A McConnell spokesman said President Trump offered the auditorium at the Eisenhower Office Building when McConnell requested a briefing. "I, frankly, don't understand why it's not easier to bring four people here than it is to take 100 there," said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

A U.S. nuclear submarine docked in South Korea on Tuesday, the same day North Korea conducted its largest-ever live-fire military exercises to mark the anniversary of its military founding. The USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group is headed toward the Korean peninsula, and on Wednesday, the U.S. began setting up the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea, and is conducting a previously scheduled Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test from California. "The real question now is somebody going to make a stupid mistake, because some kind of minor escalation could get out of hand," Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told CNN. You can watch part of the North Korean exercises and a live report from CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang below. Peter Weber

2:34 p.m. ET
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Two and a half years after leaving NBC, Ann Curry has announced she will be making her return to the small screen, Variety reports. Starting in 2018, Curry will host a new six-part series on PBS called We'll Meet Again.

We'll Meet Again will feature "reunions between people who have been affected by real-life events," Variety reports, including World War II, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the Sept. 11 attacks. Curry told Variety she signed onto the project quickly because she "had a sense of the potential depth of the stories."

Curry was unceremoniously dropped from NBC's Today show in 2012 and had been working in a separate production unit of NBC News until 2015. After she left NBC News, Curry founded her production company, Blink Films, which will co-produce We'll Meet Again. Kimberly Alters

2:14 p.m. ET

President Trump has a gender gap problem. Hillary Clinton won among female voters by about 14 percent in November, and recent polling consistently shows the president is more popular among men.

That holds true among white evangelical Christians — some of Trump's most reliable supporters — with one key exception: White evangelical women in the millennial generation are actually more likely to back Trump (73 percent gave him their vote in 2016) than their male counterparts (60 percent voted Trump):

(Christianity Today)

"Christian conservative women are realizing their voice isn't being heard," says Kelsey Gold, a Trump supporter who recently graduated from Liberty University and coordinated a group called Young Women for America. "Most of us don't condone the rhetoric that Trump uses, but most support his policies," she added in comments for a piece exploring this unusual dynamic in Christianity Today.

Scott Waller, chair of the political science department at the evangelical Biola University, suggested Trump's positions on abortion and national security as plausible explanations for this "really interesting statistic that kind of defies the national trend." Waller argues Trump's "black-and-white description" of issues like terrorism and immigration might appeal to a "more traditional evangelical understanding that we're all naturally depraved [which] plays into a kind of need for government to restrain and protect." Bonnie Kristian

1:41 p.m. ET

Summer wildfires have forced the evacuation of about 12,000 residents and vacationers in southern France this week as officials scramble to arrange temporary housing across the Côte d’Azur region. More than 4,000 firefighters have mobilized to fight the "apocalyptic" flames, which are visible from many beachside resorts.

"The sky was all red," one vacationing evacuee told France's Le Monde. "It was a huge blaze with enormous flames spreading everywhere."

Wildfires are also burning in nearby Corsica, Portugal, Italy, and Albania. Bonnie Kristian

1:32 p.m. ET

President Trump has been publicly toying with Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, referring to the top Justice official as "beleaguered," criticizing Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, and professing from the White House Rose Garden that he is "disappointed" in the former Alabama senator.

But when asked about Sessions' future in the Trump administration, Trump demurred, saying, "Time will tell." Many of Sessions' former Republican colleagues have come to his defense, perhaps none more strongly than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). While Graham said in a statement Tuesday that Sessions was "one of the most decent people I've ever met in my political life," he took his rhetoric a step further Wednesday by directly criticizing the president's "weakness."

"I would fire somebody that I did not believe could serve me well, rather than trying to humiliate them in public, which is a sign of weakness," Graham said:

In tweets early Tuesday morning, Trump had denounced Sessions for being "very weak" on Hillary Clinton's "crimes." Perhaps, per Graham's comments, it takes one to know one. Kimberly Alters

12:45 p.m. ET

Rolling Stone on Wednesday published its latest cover story, a profile of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the language is ... sympathetic. Very sympathetic. Here are 10 embarrassingly fawning lines from this love letter to "the north star," presented without further comment:

1. "His dark hair is a color found in nature."

2. "His words are coherent and will not need to be run through Google Translate when he is done (except if you want to translate his French into English)."

3. "Where are we? Narnia? Coachella recovery tent? 2009? We are in Ottawa, Ontario, a mere 560 miles from Washington, D.C. And yet, we are half a world away."

4. "Trudeau has a tat of a raven and, sigh, the planet Earth."

5. "[A]t times Trudeau and his young staff give off the aura of a well-meaning Netflix adaptation about a young, idealistic Canadian prime minister."

6. "Is he the free world's best hope?"

7. "Trudeau reminds me of, well, Obama as he smiles and listens patiently to me droning on about my Canadian wife as if it is actually interesting. For Trudeau, listening is seducing."

8. "Justin Trudeau is now the adult in the room."

9. "As we chat, he smiles and locks in with his blue eyes ... "

10. "Trudeau doesn't play golf; he snowboards. There is a real person inside him."

Read the full profile here. Bonnie Kristian

12:31 p.m. ET
Allison Shelley/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been released from the hospital, roughly six weeks after being shot in the hip during an attack on a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was discharged Tuesday, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday, after making "excellent process in his recovery."

MedStar said in its Wednesday statement that Scalise's injury was initially "life-threatening." The congressman is "in good spirits" and will now undergo a "period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation," the hospital said.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, has been serving as House majority whip in Scalise's absence. Kimberly Alters

12:25 p.m. ET

The United Kingdom will ban all sales of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles beginning in 2040, the British environment secretary, Michael Gove, announced Wednesday. "We can't carry on with diesel and petrol cars," Gove said in a BBC interview. "There is no alternative to embracing new technology."

While demand for low-emission electric and hybrid vehicles is rapidly rising in Britain, they accounted for less than 3 percent of new car sales in the country in 2015. Still, the "timescale involved here is sufficiently long-term to be taken seriously," said David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at the U.K.'s Aston University. Gove's plan includes nearly $2 billion in government spending to incentivize the change.

Germany's Bundesrat in October approved a similar but non-binding ban on production of all new internal combustion engines by 2030; earlier this month, France implemented a binding measure that bans all new gas and diesel car sales. Like the U.K. rule, it takes effect in 2040. Bonnie Kristian

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