10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2018
Comey calls Trump "morally unfit to be president," the U.S. plans more sanctions to punish Russia for supporting Syria, and more
Comey says Trump 'morally unfit to be president'
Former FBI Director James Comey said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday that President Trump is "morally unfit to be president." Comey said it was "possible" that Russia had material it could use to blackmail the president, such as video of him with prostitutes described in a dossier compiled by a former British spy. "This president does not reflect the values of this country," Comey told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in his first televised interview since he was fired last year. Comey is starting a tour to promote his memoir, A Higher Loyalty. Trump tweeted Sunday that Comey was "slippery" and stupid, accusing him of lying. After the interview aired, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Comey "has no credibility."
Trump administration signals new sanctions against Russia for backing Syria
The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions Monday against Russia for supporting the Syrian government, which is suspected of launching a deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians in a rebel-held area, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday. "Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop," she said. French President Emmanuel Macron, who joined the U.S. in weekend airstrikes in Syria, said he had helped persuade Trump to drop plans to start withdrawing from Syria. "Ten days ago, President Trump was saying that the United States would disengage from Syria," Macron said Sunday. "We convinced him that it was necessary to stay there long-term."
Sen. Tim Kaine confirms opposition to Pompeo confirmation
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Sunday that he would vote against CIA Director Mike Pompeo's nomination to be secretary of state, reducing the odds that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will recommend his confirmation. "We need a secretary of state who's going to stand up for strong diplomacy, and I don't believe that is Director Pompeo's inclination," Kaine said on CBS News' Face the Nation. Kaine backed Pompeo's confirmation as CIA director, citing his experience on intelligence matters, but he said in a separate statement that the hawkish Pompeo "would exacerbate President Trump's weaknesses rather than uphold our diplomatic legacy." Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also plans to oppose Pompeo, so Republicans would need to win over a Democrat for Pompeo to get a positive committee vote.
Kentucky governor apologizes for linking teacher walkout to child abuse
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) released a video message on Sunday apologizing for saying that a teacher walkout would expose unsupervised children to sexual abuse or poisoning. After Republican lawmakers voted to override his veto on tax and spending hikes to boost public education funding, Bevin said Friday that "somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them," adding that he was "offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what's truly best for children." In his Sunday statement, he said he had been misunderstood and did not mean to offend anyone.
Report: Trump lawyer Cohen used same shell company to pay 2 women
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, used the same Delaware shell company to pay hush money in two separate Republican scandals, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night. Cohen used the company, Essential Consultants, to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels for her silence on her alleged affair with President Trump more than a decade ago. The Journal reported Cohen also used it to pay a former Playboy model $1.6 million for her silence about her claim that Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy got her pregnant. Trump's lawyers asked a federal judge Sunday night to let the president review the seized documents before federal investigators do. Cohen's lawyers are expected to argue Monday that many of the seized documents are covered by attorney-client privilege.
Protesters briefly occupy Philadelphia Starbucks where 2 black men were arrested
About 75 protesters briefly occupied a Philadelphia Starbucks on Sunday to demand the company fire a store manager who called police to get two African-American men to leave the store because they had not bought anything. The men were waiting for another friend, and sat at a table after being refused access to a restroom. Another protest is planned for Monday. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said he wanted to meet with the two men who were arrested so he could "offer a face-to-face apology." The men were handcuffed and arrested for suspected trespassing, but no charges were filed. A viral video of the incident sparked angry backlash.
Scandals drag Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's support to record low
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support fell to 26.7 percent in a poll released Sunday, the lowest since he took office in December 2012, as suspected cronyism scandals threatened to prevent him from becoming the country's longest serving prime minister. Another poll released Monday put his support at 31 percent. Abe faces a vote in September that will determine whether he gets a third three-year term, but a popular predecessor said Abe might resign in June ahead of the vote. The speculation about Abe's future came ahead of a summit this week with President Trump, which is expected to touch on handling the threat of North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs, and a potential trade war between the U.S. and China.
Trump campaign spent 20 percent of 2018 funds on legal fees
Since Jan. 1, President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign has spent $835,000 in legal fees, about 22 percent of its total spending, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show. The campaign has paid at least eight law firms, with the two firms working on the Stormy Daniels case receiving a combined $280,000. The reports also state that the campaign has spent $125,000 at several Trump businesses, including Trump International Hotel and Trump Tower, and paid former Trump White House aide Johnny McEntee $22,000. After McEntee was fired over security concerns, he was immediately hired by the campaign. So far this year, the Trump campaign has raised $10.1 million, spending $3.9 million.
Pence adviser resigns 2 days after appointment
A new national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence stepped down on Sunday, just two days after being named to the post, after news of friction over his appointment got out. Pence's office announced Friday that Jon Lerner, a senior aide to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, was coming on board to become the vice president's top adviser on foreign policy. Axios then reported that President Trump had become upset after being falsely told that Lerner, who supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the Republican primaries but backed Trump in the general election, had been a "Never Trumper." Lerner offered to withdraw "to minimize the amount of conflict and internal drama," a White House official said. Lerner will continue to work with Haley.
Barbara Bush, her health failing, won't seek further treatment
Former first lady Barbara Bush, 92, is in "failing health" and, after a series of hospitalizations, has decided to focus on "comfort care" rather than getting further treatment. Mrs. Bush, the wife of 73 years of former President George H.W. Bush and mother of former President George W. Bush, has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and congestive heart failure. She is being cared for at her Houston home and is "surrounded by a family she adores," a family spokesman said in a statement. "It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others."