Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 1, 2017

Trump prepares to announce decision on Paris climate deal, House investigators approve more Russia subpoenas, and more


Trump says he will announce decision on Paris climate accord Thursday

President Trump tweeted late Wednesday that he would announce his decision on whether the U.S. will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon. Trump is expected to fulfill a campaign pledge by pulling out of the climate deal, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing three officials with knowledge of the decision. The accord seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions and has been signed by every nation except Nicaragua and Syria. Axios reported that the administration is "deciding on whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal — which could take three years — or exit the underlying United Nations Treaty, which would be faster but more extreme." Trump met Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who favors staying in the deal. European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker said Trump can't just leave an agreement his predecessor, Barack Obama, signed in 2015. "The law is the law and it must be obeyed," Juncker said.


House panel approves subpoenas for Flynn, Cohen on Russia

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday approved subpoenas for testimony, documents, and business records from President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, under an investigation into Russia's alleged attempts to interfere with last year's presidential election. "We hope and expect that anyone called to testify or provide documents will comply with that request," said a joint statement from House panel leaders Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). "We will continue to pursue this investigation wherever the facts may lead." Former FBI Director James Comey has started talks ahead of his expected testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his communications with Trump. He could appear as early as next week.


Hillary Clinton says Russian meddling contributed to her loss

Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Russian meddling was one of the reasons she lost last year's presidential election to her Republican rival, Donald Trump. The former Democratic nominee said in an interview at Recode's Code Conference that she was "leaning" toward believing that Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians, because Moscow "could not have known how best to weaponize" negative information and fake news stories to do the most damage without help from Americans. Trump responded via Twitter, saying, "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate. Hits Facebook & even Dems & DNC."


Trump reiterates criticism of Russia inquiry as 'witch hunt'

President Trump on Wednesday resumed his harsh criticism of the congressional investigations into suspected Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, urging lawmakers to hear testimony from one of his former advisers, Carter Page, to counter what they've heard from CIA and FBI directors. "So now it is reported that the Democrats, who have excoriated Carter Page about Russia, don't want him to testify," Trump tweeted. "He blows away their case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing 'the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan...' Witch Hunt!"


Biden launching PAC to support like-minded candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to announce Thursday that he is launching a new political action committee, American Possibilities, to help elect candidates who still believe in a nation "of ordinary people doing extraordinary things." "That's who we still are," Biden said in an email going out to supporters. Such PACs are a common vehicle for testing the waters for a White House bid, so the move is expected to renew speculation about whether Biden will challenge President Trump in 2020. Biden, 74, has publicly insisted he won't be a candidate, telling supporters in April, "Guys, I'm not running."


Ohio attorney general sues drug companies over opioid crisis

The state of Ohio filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against five major drug manufacturers — Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan — accusing the companies of fueling the opioid crisis. "We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales," state Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "And boy, did they increase sales." A spokeswoman for Janssen called the lawsuit, the second to be filed by a state over the epidemic, "legally and factually unfounded."


Congress investigates another possible Sessions meeting with Russian ambassador

Congressional investigators are looking into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had another undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador during last year's presidential campaign, CNN reported Wednesday, citing Republican and Democratic sources and intelligence officials. Investigators are asking for Sessions' schedules and other information to determine whether he met privately with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on April 27, 2016, when President Trump was there to deliver his first major foreign policy address. Then-senator Sessions, who at his January confirmation hearing failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials, attended a small reception before the speech where Kislyak was present. Sessions later conceded he had contact with Kislyak, but said it was in his capacity as a senator, not a Trump representative. He has recused himself from the Russia investigation.


Exxon shareholders call for more transparency on climate costs

ExxonMobil shareholders approved a measure Wednesday calling for the massive oil company to be more transparent about the costs to the company of complying with global requirements on reducing pollution linked to climate change. The proposal passed with the support of 62 percent of shareholders in a rare defeat for management. The proposal was non-binding, but Exxon CEO Darren Woods said the company would reconsider how it communicates about climate change after the vote.


NASA announces schedule for solar mission

NASA said Wednesday that it plans to send the first unmanned spacecraft mission to the sun next year. The Parker Solar Probe will travel 93 million miles to the sun, and orbit for a total of 24 close approaches between November 2018 and June 2025. Each orbit will take 88 days, with the probe traveling up to 450,000 miles per hour, or fast enough to zip between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in one second. "The spacecraft will explore the sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work," NASA said in a statement.


CNN drops Kathy Griffin over Trump video

CNN dropped comic Kathy Griffin from its New Year's Eve program after she posted a short video in which she held a fake decapitated head resembling President Trump. Griffin issued an apology after the photo was posted online and provoked widespread outrage. Griffin "begged" for forgiveness, saying she clearly "crossed a line." "I went way too far," she said. First lady Melania Trump said the image was "disturbing," and President Trump called it "sick." "Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself," he said. "My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this."


Biden tells Zelensky there's a 'distinct possibility' Russia could invade Ukraine in February
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U.S. sends Russia letter on security demands: 'The ball is in their court'
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Germany is a major wild card in Ukraine-Russia imbroglio
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