10 things you need to know today: May 20, 2017
Trump begins tour abroad in Saudi Arabia, Russia probe reportedly reaches current White House official, and more
Trump begins tour abroad in Saudi Arabia
President Trump arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, beginning his first tour abroad since taking office. His arrival was fêted with a brass band, and Saudi King Salman was on the tarmac to greet the president and First Lady Melania Trump, who, like former First Lady Michelle Obama, did not cover her hair in the traditional Saudi style. On Sunday, Trump will give a speech on the subject of Islam. A leaked, unfinished draft of the speech has Trump urging Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship," casting the war on terror as a "battle between good and evil." After his Saudi stay, Trump will visit Israel, Italy, and Belgium.
Russia probe reportedly reaches current White House official
The ongoing FBI probe into ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign has identified a current, unnamed White House official "close to the president" as "a significant person of interest," The Washington Post reported Friday. President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, have been the public centers of the investigation, but neither is presently with the administration. Also Friday, McClatchy reported members of Congress were told investigators are exploring whether any White House officials "engaged in a cover-up."
Comey to testify before Senate Intelligence Committee
Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. "I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media," Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement released Friday evening. The committee will schedule the open session after the Memorial Day congressional recess. These will be Comey's first public remarks since being fired by President Trump on May 9.
Trump said he fired 'nut job' Comey to ease Russia investigation
President Trump told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador in an Oval Office meeting last week he fired former FBI Director James Comey in order to remove the "pressure" of the Russia probe, The New York Times reported Friday evening. "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump said. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." The comments were recorded in a White House document that was compiled based on notes taken during the meeting and distributed as an official account of the event; it was read by a U.S. official to the Times. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not contradict the report.
Iranian President Rouhani wins re-election
Iran's incumbent President Hassan Rouhani easily won re-election Friday, taking 57 percent of the vote in official tallies released Saturday. A moderate who negotiated the nuclear deal Iran made with the U.S. during the Obama administration, Rouhani was challenged by Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner believed to be favored by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "I am proud of [Rouhani] because he showed all of the world we are a good country," a voter in Tehran told CNN. "Our goal is peace for our world." No sitting Iranian president has lost an election since 1981.
Trump administration ramps up immigration enforcement
The Trump administration is ramping up its crackdown on illegal immigration, with the House Judiciary Committee reviewing bills that would increase the severity of certain immigration violations and arm Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with assault rifles and body armor. Additionally, the Bureau of Prisons has begun the process to acquire at least one new private prison specifically for holding undocumented immigrants "in anticipation of population increases." The Detroit News also reported Thursday FBI and ICE agents are using a secret cell phone tracking device designed for counter-terrorism to catch undocumented immigrants.
Huma Abedin files for divorce from Anthony Weiner
Huma Abedin has filed for divorce from her husband, Anthony Weiner, the New York Daily News reported Friday, after the former congressman pleaded guilty to a sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl. Weiner's laptop was seized by the FBI during the sexting investigation, resulting in the discovery of emails from Hillary Clinton to Abedin, Clinton's top aide, and reopening the (ultimately unchanged) FBI investigation into Clinton's handling of classified emails at the State Department. Weiner and Abedin have a 5-year-old son and have been living separately for some time.
Passengers, crew subdue unruly man on L.A.-to-Hawaii flight
The passengers and crew of a flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii on Friday subdued a Turkish national who attempted to break into the cockpit. Two U.S. fighter jets then arrived to escort the plane to its destination, where the man was arrested by federal agents. Identified as Anil Uskanil, 25, the unruly passenger attempted to force his way past a drink cart and through the first class cabin. "It took seconds" to subdue him, said Lee Lorenzen, a passenger who helped flight attendants restrain Uskanil. "He was pushing against the cart and a bunch of guys grabbed him. They found some duct tape. There were pillows and blankets. And they taped him to his chair."
New Orleans removes final contested Confederate monument
New Orleans on Friday took down a 16-foot statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, formerly displayed on a 60-foot column in the city's largest park. The statue was the last of four Confederate monuments the city removed this year amid furious debate over the relative importance of repudiating racism and remembering the past. "They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu at the removal. "These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for."
Pippa Middleton marries in royal-studded wedding
Pippa Middleton married financier James Matthews in Berkshire, England, on Saturday, at a church near her parents' home. Middleton is the younger sister of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who attended with her husband, Prince William, and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who were part of the wedding party. Middleton wore a lacy bespoke dress by British designer Giles Deacon. Missing at the ceremony but expected at the reception was actress Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's American girlfriend with whom an engagement announcement is believed to be forthcoming.