Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 10, 2017

President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey, Trump angers Turkey with plan to arm Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS, and more


Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

President Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday over his handling of the investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state. The dismissal came as Comey led the investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with Russia in its effort to interfere in last year's election, and Democrats said Comey's ouster could derail the investigation, with some demanding a special prosecutor to see it through. In a letter to Comey, Trump said he made the decision at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and it would take "new leadership" to restore "public trust and confidence" in the agency. "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau," Trump wrote to Comey. Earlier Tuesday, the FBI corrected a line in Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill, saying in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Clinton aide Huma Abedin had only forwarded a few emails from the server to her husband, not "hundreds and thousands" as Comey had said.


Trump approves arming Syrian Kurds, angering Turkey

President Trump on Tuesday approved a plan to arm the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to help in their effort to drive the Islamic State out of its de facto capital, Raqqa. The main Syrian Kurdish group in the force, YPG, is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, which is fighting an insurgency in Turkey. The Turkish government considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists, and called U.S. plans to send the Syrian Democratic Forces machine guns, mortars, rifles, and ammunition "unacceptable." Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said the group, "partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future."


CNN: Federal prosecutors issued subpoenas to Flynn associates

Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn, the former Trump administration national security adviser ousted for failing to fully disclose contact with Russia's ambassador before President Trump's inauguration, CNN reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The report came hours before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the federal investigation into Russia's effort to interfere in last year's presidential election, and whether Trump aides cooperated with Moscow. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia, reportedly is seeking business records from people who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was ousted as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. A lawyer for Flynn declined to comment.


South Korea's new president sworn in vowing diplomatic push on North Korea

South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, took the oath of office on Wednesday, a day after winning an election to replace Park Geun-hye, who was removed in March over a corruption scandal. Moon, a liberal critic of the two previous conservative administrations' failure to get North Korea to curb its weapons programs, vowed to immediately begin diplomatic work on easing tensions over North Korea's recent missile and nuclear weapons test, and the installation of a controversial U.S. anti-missile system. In his first appointments, Moon named two liberals linked to the "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with North Korea from the 2000s as prime minister and spy chief. The diplomatic push by Moon, a human rights lawyer and former chief of staff to liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, could put him on a collision course with President Trump, who has said military action is on the table if North Korea does not back down.


More than 200 migrants feared dead in 2 Mediterranean shipwrecks

Nearly 245 migrants are feared dead after two recent shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, United Nations officials said Tuesday. More than 1,300 people are now believed to have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, most hoping to reach Italy from Libya or Tunisia, according to the International Organization for Migration. Last year, 5,098 died trying to make the trip. In the first of the two most recent shipwrecks, a rubber boat sank Friday after several hours at sea with 132 people on board. Fifty were rescued but the rest were feared dead. On Sunday, another boat reportedly went down off the coast of Libya, leaving another 163 feared dead.


Tunnel collapses at nuclear waste site in Washington state

Hundreds of workers had to evacuate or take cover at a plutonium-handling facility at the Department of Energy's Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state after part of a tunnel used to store contaminated radioactive materials collapsed. The cave-in occurred on a 20-foot section of the 100-foot rail tunnel at a spot where it joins another tunnel. The government cleans up radioactive materials from the U.S. nuclear weapons program at the facility, about 200 miles from Seattle. "This is purely precautionary," center spokesman Destry Henderson said of the take-cover order in a video posted on Facebook. "No employees were hurt and there is no indication of a spread of radiological contamination."


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray drops re-election bid

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Tuesday that he would drop his bid for a second term because allegations that he sexually abused four men as teenagers in the 1980s, which he has denied, would become a distraction. Murray, a Democrat and the city's first openly gay mayor, championed gay rights as a state senator and, as mayor, has clashed with President Trump, suing over an executive order intended to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that withhold cooperation from federal immigration agents. Murray said the campaign must focus on "issues, not on a scandal," as it would if he stayed in the race. "It tears me to pieces to step away," he said. "But I believe it is in the best interest of this city that I love."


Fireworks cache explodes at central Mexico house, killing 14

Eleven children and three adults were killed in central Mexico when a firecracker tossed during a procession for a local patron saint landed on a cache of fireworks, the country's National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said Tuesday. The fireworks were being stored in a house for a May 15 religious celebration. Another 25 people were injured in the Monday night explosion, which blew out the walls and roof of the house in the town of San Isidro. Most of the people killed were members of just two families.


Judge overturns ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction

A Massachusetts judge threw out former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction because the ex-athlete committed suicide in prison before exhausting his appeals. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh had presided over the 2015 trial in which the former tight end was found guilty of fatally shooting semi-pro player Odin Lloyd two years earlier, but she granted defense attorneys' request to overturn the conviction, a routine move in cases where an inmate dies with appeals still pending. Prosecutors had pushed to leave the conviction in place. Days before he hanged himself, Hernandez was acquitted in a 2012 double murder.


ABC is bringing American Idol back for a 16th season

ABC confirmed Tuesday that it's reviving American Idol for a 16th season. The singing competition, originally aired by Fox, ended last April after a 15-season run beginning in 2002. Idol was the highest rated show on TV for eight straight years, starting in 2003-2004. Details of its return — such as who will host and judge — have yet to be announced. "American Idol is a pop-culture staple that left the air too soon," ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said in a statement. Disney/ABC TV Group President Ben Sherwood promised a "bigger, bolder, and better-than-ever Idol." Variety reported ABC is eyeing a March 2018 premiere and a Sunday night air time.


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