Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 28, 2018

China says Kim Jong Un pledged to denuclearize, the White House announces a revised trade deal with South Korea, and more


China says Kim Jong Un pledged to denuclearize in surprise visit

China said Wednesday that it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize during his surprise "unofficial" visit to China this week that included a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In exchange, China promised to uphold its friendship with Pyongyang. It was the first known trip abroad for Kim since taking power in 2011. Xi reportedly invited Kim to make the visit, which began on March 25 and wrapped up on Wednesday. Kim traveled with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and his top aides, including Choe Ryong Hae, who is considered the country's No. 2 leader. Kim and Xi held "successful talks," China's Xinhua news agency reported, in what was seen as a run-up to North Korea's planned talks with South Korea and the U.S.


U.S., South Korea agree to revise their trade deal

The White House said Tuesday that the Trump administration had successfully renegotiated the 6-year-old South Korea-U.S. trade agreement. The U.S. said it would exempt South Korea from President Trump's 25 percent tariff on steel imports, in exchange for Seoul's agreement to let twice as many U.S.-made cars into Korea without passing local safety standards, and to accept a 25-year extension on a tariff on South Korean pickup trucks exported to the U.S. South Korea also agreed to limit its steel exports to the U.S. to 2.68 million tons a year, about 70 percent of its average exports from 2015 to 2017. The White House called the trade agreement, Trump's first, a victory for his "America first" agenda.


12 states to sue to block census question about citizenship

At least 12 states indicated Tuesday that they would sue to block Trump administration plans to add a question in the 2020 census to determine whether respondents are citizens. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he would lead a multi-state lawsuit. The states say asking about citizenship for the first time in more than half a century would violate the Constitution and result in an undercount. "The census is supposed to count everyone," said Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts. "This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal." The Constitution requires all residents to be counted regardless of citizenship. The Trump administration said the question was necessary to help provide an accurate count of eligible voters.


Court document: Ex-Trump aide met with person linked to Russian intelligence

A court document filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors Tuesday night regarding the sentencing of a Dutch lawyer who lied to Mueller's team says that Rick Gates, President Trump's former deputy campaign manager, was "directly communicating in September and October 2016" with an unidentified person tied to "a Russian intelligence service." The document says Gates, now a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling, knew about the person's ties to Russian intelligence. President Trump has dismissed Mueller's inquiry as a witch hunt. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) released a statement Tuesday urging Trump to let Mueller "complete his work," and they have written a bill seeking to let special counsels contest any attempt to fire them.


Trump reportedly pushes to have military pay for border wall

President Trump has privately pushed for the U.S. military to pay for his proposed wall on the Mexican border, after failing to deliver on a campaign vow to make Mexico pay for the construction, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing several people familiar with the discussions. Trump reportedly was not happy that lawmakers only included $1.6 billion toward the wall in a massive spending bill passed last week to avert a government shutdown, so he suggested the Pentagon should pay for it because the nation faced a "national security" risk. Trump mentioned his idea in a meeting last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), three people familiar with the meeting told the Post, but officials on Capitol Hill said it was unlikely to fly.


Larry Nassar's ex-Michigan State boss charged with sexual assault, harassment

The former Michigan State University dean who supervised former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who faces decades in prison for child pornography and sexually abusing athletes, was charged Tuesday with criminal sexual misconduct and other crimes. Four medical students came forward to say William Strampel, who led the university's medical school from 2002 to last year, had sexually assaulted or harassed them. One alleged victim said she "was not surprised Nassar had been able to victimize so many women under the supervision of Strampel." The arrest of Strampel, 70, on Monday night ignited fresh criticism against the school's board of trustees, which resisted for a year calls to investigate how Nassar managed to molest girls and women for decades.


Baton Rouge officers who killed Alton Sterling won't be charged

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Tuesday that the two Baton Rouge police officers who fatally shot Alton Sterling in 2016 would not be criminally charged. Sterling, a black man, was selling CDs outside a convenience store when the officers confronted him and shot him as they were detaining him. "We have concluded that the officers in question acted as reasonable officers under existing law and were justified in their use of force," Landry said in a written report on the investigation. The police department still plans hearings to decide whether to discipline the officers. Federal prosecutors decided 10 months ago not to file civil rights charges. Sterling's relatives reacted strongly. "This is white America," Sterling's aunt, Veda Washington, said.


Zuckerberg reportedly agrees to testify before Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to testify before Congress to appease lawmakers and Facebook users who are clamoring for an explanation regarding the company's privacy practices, CNN Money reported Tuesday, citing unnamed "Facebook sources." Zuckerberg has been under intense scrutiny after a whistleblower stepped forward to reveal the platform had exploited personal data; Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Trump's 2016 campaign team, allegedly accessed private information from 50 million Facebook users without permission. Zuckerberg has said he is "really sorry" about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which he called a "breach of trust," but declined to testify before British lawmakers. He resisted going to Capitol Hill, reportedly discussing sending other Facebook executives instead, before being persuaded that he should go.


Investigation finds Maryland school shooter killed himself

Austin Rollins, the suspect in a shooting last week at Great Mills High School in Maryland, fatally shot himself in the head just as the school's resource officer, Deputy Blaine Gaskill, fired a shot that hit him in the hand, authorities said Tuesday. Before the investigation, police were not sure whether Rollins killed himself or was fatally shot by Gaskill. Police said Rollins shot a classmate who was his former girlfriend, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, in the head, and she later died. Another student, 14-year-old Desmond Barnes, was hit in the leg and survived. Authorities released 911 calls including one from Barnes, who said, "I've just been shot."


Computer expert says Cambridge Analytica also used Facebook data in Brexit campaign

Chris Wylie, the computer expert who has said Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica was used to help President Trump's campaign, told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he believes Facebook users' information also was used by the Brexit movement. "All kinds of people had access to the data," said Wylie, who helped Cambridge Analytica develop ways to use personal data to target and influence voters. "It was everywhere." Wylie, a 28-year-old Canadian, helped Cambridge Analytica get started in 2013 and left the next year. The company says it used no Facebook data in its work for Trump and denies any wrongdoing.


Pope Francis hospitalized with respiratory infection
Pope Francis.
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