Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2018

Former first lady Barbara Bush dies at 92, CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and more


Former first lady Barbara Bush dies at 92

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas. She was 92. Bush was in failing health due to congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and had decided just days earlier to focus on comfort care instead of seeking further treatment. Bush was only the second woman in American history, after Abigail Adams, to be the wife of one president and the mother of another. She and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, were married for 73 years, and he was at her side, holding her hand, when she died. Mrs. Bush was widely known and respected as a dedicated advocate for charitable causes, such as literacy, and a shrewd supporter of the political careers of her husband and sons. "Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end," former President George W. Bush said.


Pompeo secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly went to North Korea to meet with the authoritarian state's leader, Kim Jong Un, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing two people with direct knowledge of the trip. President Trump confirmed the report Wednesday, tweeting that the "meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed." Pompeo made the unannounced visit as an envoy for Trump to lay the groundwork for a summit between the leaders to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The clandestine meeting took place shortly after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, replacing Rex Tillerson. Days later, the U.S. confirmed South Korean reports that Kim was willing to discuss denuclearization.


North, South Korea plan to jointly declare aim for denuclearization

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to publicly declare his willingness to denuclearize during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week, Moon's chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, said Tuesday. Negotiators from the rival, neighboring nations have worked out a rough outline for a joint declaration the two leaders will make when they meet on April 27, and it includes confirmation of the plan to dismantle North Korea's controversial nuclear weapons program. "Although the special envoys have already confirmed a willingness to denuclearize, it will make a difference if the two heads of state will meet and more clearly confirm it and make it a formal statement," Im told reporters.


1 passenger killed when Southwest jet engine blows apart in flight

One person died Tuesday when an engine exploded and shattered a window on a Southwest Airlines flight, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia while en route from New York City's LaGuardia airport to Dallas. It was the first accidental airline fatality in the U.S. since 2009. A passenger said "some of the crew couldn't hold back their horror" when the engine blew apart. The passenger who died, identified as Wells Fargo executive Jennifer Riordan, was sucked partially out of the shattered window before she was pulled back in. European regulators this month said they were requiring inspections of engines like the one that blew apart by early next year.


Gorsuch joins liberal justices ruling deportation law too vague

A divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a federal law used to deport immigrants who commit felonies is unconstitutionally vague, dealing a blow to President Trump's hardline immigration policies. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed by Trump last year, sided with his liberal colleagues in the 5-4 decision. The case, Sessions v. Dimaya, concerned a Filipino immigrant with permanent U.S. residency status who was convicted of burglary in California. Congress had ordered the deportation of immigrants that committed felony crimes with "a substantial risk that physical force ... may be used," which the defendant argued was unspecific. The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, said the vagueness left people "in the dark." Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion, "Vague laws invite arbitrary power."


Rep. Charlie Dent becomes latest Republican to announce resignation

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) announced Tuesday that he would resign in the "coming weeks" rather than at the end of his term, as he had previously said. Dent is one of 43 House Republicans who have announced that they will retire rather than seek reelection in this fall's midterms. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also plans to leave, following the completion of his term. Democrats are hoping that a blue wave powered by disappointment with President Trump will help them pick up the roughly two dozen seats they need to take back control of the House. Dent, a moderate Republican, said he made the decision after "careful reflection," saying he was "especially proud of the work I have done to give voice to the sensible center in our country." Pennsylvania will hold a special election to replace him.


White House confusion over Russia sanctions becomes public

An internal battle over proposed new Russia sanctions erupted into public view on Tuesday. President Trump's new top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley mistakenly signaled the sanctions would be announced Monday due to "momentary confusion." Haley responded, "With all due respect, I don't get confused." Kudlow reportedly called her to apologize. The sanctions were proposed as punishment for Moscow's support of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which the U.S. blames for a suspected chemical weapons attack. Trump reportedly was not comfortable with the sanctions yet. Moscow is reportedly discussing a bailout of the business empire of Oleg Deripaska, already targeted by American authorities, as banks and suppliers flee, endangering the jobs of more than 60,000 Russians.


Fox News says Hannity has its 'full support'

Fox News Channel executives said Tuesday that host Sean Hannity had their "full support" even though he failed to tell them, and viewers, that he was a client of President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Hannity kept quiet about the relationship even as he slammed the FBI, the Justice Department, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller over last week's raid on Cohen's office, home, and hotel room. Cohen's lawyer was forced to disclose that Hannity was Cohen's secret client during a Monday court hearing. Mark Feldstein, the chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, said Hannity should have disclosed his "glaring conflict-of-interest when he defended Cohen on the air," and that "the onus should be on both Fox and Hannity to clear their names."


Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for a day of 'racial-bias training'

Starbucks said Tuesday it would close more than 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores for a day next month to give employees "racial-bias education." The move could cost nearly $20 million in sales. The coffee chain's CEO, Kevin Johnson, called for the sensitivity training for nearly 175,000 workers after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week when a manager called the police. The men were waiting for another friend, and had been denied access to the restroom because they had not made a purchase. "Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities," Johnson said in the statement.


Stormy Daniels releases sketch of man she said threatened her

Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims she had an affair with President Trump more than a decade ago, released a sketch of the man she said threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, warning her to keep quiet about the alleged affair. The incident, she said, occurred shortly after she tried to sell her story to a tabloid magazine. Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, unveiled the sketch in an appearance on ABC's The View. Avenatti said he was offering a $100,000 reward for information helping to catch the man. People close to Trump have suggested that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, made up the detail about the threat during her recent interview on 60 Minutes. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election, in exchange for her silence.


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