Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 4, 2018

Federal agents reportedly monitored Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's phones, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts, and more


Feds monitored Michael Cohen's phone calls

Federal agents monitored the phones of President Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, NBC News reported Thursday, citing several senior officials and others with knowledge of Cohen's legal troubles. NBC News reported that several officials said Cohen's phones were not wiretapped, and that investigators merely kept a log of the numbers he called and the numbers of those calling him. It was not immediately clear how federal investigators got authority to log Cohen's phone calls. The monitoring was already going on when FBI agents raided Cohen's New York office, home, and hotel room in early April, one person told NBC. President Trump reportedly was warned not to call Cohen after the raid due to the danger of wiretapping, but did it anyway.


Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts, forcing evacuations

Authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation of more than 1,500 people late Thursday after the Kilauea volcano erupted following a series of small earthquakes over several days. Lava spewed from a 492-foot-long crack in the Leilani Estates subdivision near the town of Pahoa on the island of Hawaii, sending molten rock flowing several feet around the crack for two hours, Hawaii Volcano Observatory scientists said. Resident Jeremiah Osuna used a drone to get footage of lava burning through trees, describing the scene as a "curtain of fire." Authorities set up a shelter for residents of the Leilani Estates and the Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions in two community centers. Gov. David Ige called in the Hawaii National Guard to help with the evacuation.


Trump weighs cuts to U.S. troops in South Korea

President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to present options to cut the number of U.S. soldiers in South Korea, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing several people briefed on the matter. Trump is preparing for a landmark meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who pledged to work toward denuclearizing the Korean peninsula during a recent meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. U.S. officials said Trump isn't using the drawdown as a bargaining chip. They say he wants to cut back because he thinks South Korea doesn't adequately compensate the U.S. for maintaining its 28,500 troops. The White House said Thursday it would welcome the release of three Americans imprisoned in North Korea as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit.


House chaplain rescinds resignation despite Ryan bid to oust him

The House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, rescinded his resignation on Thursday, informing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that he wanted to remain in the position until the end of the year. Conroy had announced last month that he was stepping down under pressure from Ryan. In his letter, Conroy accused Ryan's staff of invoking his Catholicism and a prayer he delivered in November calling for lawmakers to remember the needy as they pushed through tax reform. Conroy at first said he believed Ryan had the power to fire him, but changed his mind under the "advice of counsel." Ryan, who received a letter from 100 House members demanding to know why he wanted Conroy out, confirmed the chaplain would stay.


Arizona teachers end walkout after they get a 20 percent raise

Thousands of Arizona teachers will end a week-long walkout and return to schools on Friday after the state agreed to give them a 20 percent raise by 2020 and invest $138 million more in public schools. The concessions did not meet all of the demands in one of the largest in a string of teacher protests across the nation. The Arizona strike shut down schools that serve hundreds of thousands of students. Arizona is one of five states where public schools have been forced to close temporarily due to teacher protests demanding increased spending on education. The first protest came in West Virginia, where teachers shut down schools for nine days before staff got a raise.


Iranian foreign minister says Tehran won't renegotiate nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday that Iran would not accept any changes to its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions. President Trump has harshly criticized the agreement, negotiated under the Obama administration, and threatened to scrap it unless the U.S. and its allies can fix what he calls its "terrible flaws." Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to extend relief from the sanctions. "Iran will not renegotiate what was agreed years ago and has been implemented," Zarif said in a video posted on YouTube.


Report: Pruitt got help from lobbyists, donors to arrange travel

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has recruited conservative activists, lobbyists, and GOP donors like Sheldon Adelson to help craft itineraries for a bucket list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing four people familiar with the matter. Pruitt allegedly drew up the list after he was confirmed as EPA chief last year, and told aides to find official reasons for the visits, recruiting the lobbyists and donors to help. Adelson assisted with the planning of a trip to Israel that Pruitt was set to take in February. That trip was canceled only a few days before Pruitt was scheduled to leave as Pruitt's expensive travel habits came under scrutiny.


Dust storm, lightning leave 125 dead in India

A massive dust storm and lightning killed at least 125 people in India, authorities said Thursday. At least 111 deaths were reported as dust clouds engulfed the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Punjab, causing houses to collapse on sleeping residents. Another 14 people died in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where more than 41,000 lightning strikes were recorded on Wednesday. The dust storm was caused by the collision of two weather fronts and higher-than-normal temperatures. "I haven't seen such a devastating storm in at least 25 years," Shivam Lohia, who owns a resort hotel in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, told AFP. "Everyone was scared and running for cover as trees and homes were getting blown away. It was a nightmare."


Academy of Motion Pictures expels Cosby, Polanski

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the annual Oscar awards, announced Thursday that its Board of Governors has decided to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski. The organization said the men did not meet its standards of conduct to "uphold the Academy's values of respect for human dignity." Last month, Cosby was found guilty on three counts of indecent aggravated assault, having been convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting plaintiff Andrea Constand in 2004. Polanski, the director of Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby, has lived as a fugitive from the U.S. after being charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old in 1977. He has received six Oscar nominations, and won Best Director for The Pianist in 2002.


27 more women accuse Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct

Twenty-seven more women have come forward to accuse veteran journalist Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct in the workplace, The Washington Post reported Thursday. CBS News fired Rose last year after eight women accused him of sexual harassment. Others told managers about concerns regarding Rose's alleged behavior as early as 1986 and as recently as spring 2017. The new allegations date back as far as 1976, when Rose allegedly inappropriately exposed his penis to a former research assistant at NBC News, where they worked. "Management, numerous broadcasters, and studio staff ... failed and refused to take any remedial action," said an attorney representing three of the women. Rose said the report was "unfair and inaccurate."


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