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May 29, 2018

The White House confirmed Tuesday that it will be going forward with the implementation of heavy tariffs on Chinese imports next month following weeks of concern that doing so might spark a trade war, The New York Times reports. Some $50 billion in imported goods will be subject to the 25 percent tariff, with a finalized list of goods expected by June 15. The U.S. also plans to implement restrictions to China's access to American technology, with the administration citing national security concerns.

Trade negotiations between the nations are ongoing, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying the trade war was "on hold" less than two weeks ago. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will travel to China to continue talks in early June. Jeva Lange

11:00p.m.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was celebrated on Sunday as she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, becoming the 21st person the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has recognized with the award.

The acclaimed Emmy-award winning comedic actress, best known for starring in Seinfeld and Veep, was praised by 2010 Mark Twain recipient Tina Fey, who lauded Louis-Dreyfus for her "secret precision" and commitment to making her Seinfeld character Elaine Benes flawed. "Julia let Elaine be selfish and petty and sarcastic and a terrible, terrible dancer," she said.

Before the event, Louis-Dreyfus told The Associated Press she remembers when she realized she could crack people up. "The first time I really knew was when I stuffed raisins in my nose and my mother laughed," she said. "I ended up in the emergency room because they wouldn't come out." PBS will air the ceremony on Nov. 19. Catherine Garcia

10:29p.m.

On Sunday, Hurricane Willa strengthened into a Category 4 storm, and is expected to make landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico by Tuesday.

Willa now has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, and is about 220 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. A hurricane watch is now in effect for the shore between Mazatlan and San Blas, and forecasters are warning Willa could produce dangerous storm surge and dump as much as 10 inches of rain in some parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit, and southern Sinaloa states. Catherine Garcia

10:04p.m.

Over the last month, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has been diligently following up on leads regarding Roger Stone and whether he was in communication with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, during the 2016 presidential election, several people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Sunday.

Stone, one of President Trump's longtime advisers, bragged during the campaign about his ability to get in touch with Assange, and predicted future leaks on Assange's website. Now, prosecutors are looking at those comments, as well as private conversations he allegedly had with associates about his connection to Assange, to determine whether he knew in advance that WikiLeaks was going to publish emails hacked from Democrats, the Post reports.

In July, the special counsel filed charges saying that Russian military intelligence officers created the online persona Guccifer 2.0 to spread the hacked emails through WikiLeaks, and used the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account to exchange messages with Stone; he said those conversations were innocent.

Stone told the Post his only connection to WikiLeaks was through former friend Randy Credico, who had Assange on his radio show in 2016. A person familiar with the probe said Credico told Mueller's grand jury that in 2016, Stone told him he had a secret back channel to WikiLeaks. Mueller is also digging into Stone's relationship with Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer for a website centering around conspiracy theories, and whether he was the contact between Stone and WikiLeaks, the Post reports. Catherine Garcia

9:06p.m.

The Department of Health and Human Services is considering establishing under Title IX a legal definition of gender as a biological condition determined by a person's genitalia at birth, The New York Times reports.

Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government. The Times obtained a memo, written in the spring, that calls on several government agencies to adopt a single definition of gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable." In the memo, the department said the sex listed on a "person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."

The Obama administration had loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, and if this legal definition proposed by the Trump administration is approved, an estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were born into may lose federal recognition.

Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, would not answer questions from the Times about the memo. During the Obama administration, he was head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, and was upset by the administration's expansion of sex to include gender identity, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

1:07p.m.

Members of Congress were out in force Sunday weighing in on Saudi Arabia's "fist fight" explanation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. And while they were united in varying degrees of skepticism about Riyadh's story, lawmakers did not put forward a unified theory of how to respond.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) labeled the Saudi account "insulting," arguing no one "analyzing this with any type of intelligent background" would believe "a fist fight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw."

He argued for a broad rethinking of U.S.-Saudi relations, including arms sales, over Khashoggi, the war in Yemen, and Riyadh's record on religious liberty.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, on CNN explicitly accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of involvement.

Corker argued there "has to be a punishment" if MBS is implicated; on Friday, he mentioned sanctions as a possibility.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be expelled until the matter is settled.

And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, on ABC called for an inquiry into whether President Trump's financial ties to Saudi Arabia could be influencing his changeable response to Khashoggi's death.

Schiff said he expects Trump "to accept the crown prince's denials much as he has accepted [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's denials and [North Korean leader] Kim's denials." Bonnie Kristian

12:13p.m.

Moscow on Sunday pushed back against President Trump's Saturday night announcement that he intends to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control agreement with Russia that dates to the Reagan era.

"This would be a very dangerous step," said Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, as quoted in Russian state media. He argued the announcement is like "blackmail" ahead of National Security Adviser John Bolton's planned trip to Russia this coming week.

"Unlike our American colleagues, we understand all the seriousness of the issue and its significance for security and strategic stability," Ryabkov continued. "If the Americans continue to act as crudely  ... and unilaterally withdraw from all sorts of agreements and mechanisms, from the Iran deal to the International Postal treaty, then we'll be reduced to taking action in response, including of a military nature. But we don't want to go that far."

Trump has argued with NATO support that Russian missile tests conducted in the last decade violate the terms of the treaty. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to," he said. Bonnie Kristian

11:55a.m.

A coalition of human rights and journalism groups including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders on Sunday called for Turkey to instigate a United Nations investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"U.N. involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh," said Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The business ties Mahoney has in mind are likely a major U.S.-Saudi arms deal President Trump has refused to cancel regardless of what happened to Khashoggi.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has already stressed the "need for a prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi's death and full accountability for those responsible."

After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he died in "a brawl and a fist fight" inside the consulate. However, an unnamed senior Saudi official on Sunday told Reuters a 15-man team "overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence," in Reuters' paraphrase, accidentally killing him with a chokehold intended to smother his shouts. Bonnie Kristian

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