10 things you need to know today: May 9, 2018
Trump quits the Iran nuclear deal, Cohen reportedly received $500,000 from a firm tied to a Russian oligarch, and more
Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from Iran deal
President Trump announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal brokered under former President Barack Obama, calling it "horrible" and "one-sided." "If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen," Trump said. "In just a short period of time, the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons." The leaders of the U.K., France, and Germany urged Iran to "continue to meet its own obligations under the deal" despite Trump's plan to reimpose punishing sanctions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he would dispatch envoys to discuss saving the pact with other world powers, but warned that Iran could quickly resume enriching uranium "without any limitations."
Cohen's shell company received $500,000 from firm tied to Russian oligarch
A shell company that President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, used to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels also received more than $1 million from a company controlled by a Russian oligarch and other businesses, according to documents and statements by Daniels' lawyer and others. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, last year received $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm with deep ties to Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Avenatti said Cohen's shell company also received suspicious payments from companies including drugmaker Novartis and AT&T, which conceded it paid Cohen for "insights" into the administration.
Pompeo makes second trip to North Korea
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Tuesday on his second trip to North Korea to iron out preparations for President Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo's visit raised hopes that Pyongyang would release three American prisoners as a gesture of good faith. Pompeo left a day after Kim held his second visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, seen as part of his country's preparations for the summit. "Plans are being made. Relationships are building," Trump said. "Hopefully, a deal will happen and, with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone."
CIA nominee Gina Haspel vows not to restart harsh interrogations
President Trump's nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, plans to assure senators she would not restart harsh interrogations using techniques that critics call torture, according to excerpts of prepared remarks released ahead of her Wednesday confirmation hearing. Haspel, 61, has been deputy director of the CIA since February 2017. She reportedly offered to withdraw her nomination last week to avoid what could be a bruising fight over her role in a top-secret CIA program that used "enhanced" techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation against terrorism suspects following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Haspel decided to go ahead with the confirmation process after White House officials assured her she had their support, and she spoke by phone with Trump, who on Tuesday said she would be "tough on terror."
GOP establishment fares well in key primaries
Republican primary voters on Tuesday nominated several Senate candidates deemed to have good chances against vulnerable Democrats in the fall midterms, rejecting controversial candidates that party strategists considered to be likely losers in a general election. Anti-Washington coal baron Don Blankenship, who had claimed to be "Trumpier than Trump," lost to former lobbyist and congressional aide Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia. In Indiana, businessman Mike Braun, who also mocked Washington, beat Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who called for Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize. On the Democratic side, Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, handily beat liberal activist and former representative Dennis Kucinich for the nomination to face Attorney General Mike DeWine in the Ohio governor's race.
Trump administration ignored warnings against expelling 300,000 immigrants
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored the advice of senior U.S. diplomats and urged the Department of Homeland Security to end protections for 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians living under temporary protected status (TPS), current and former State Department officials told The Washington Post. In cables, the diplomats said they were strongly opposed to ending the immigrants' TPS because sending an influx of people back to those areas could destabilize the regions and launch a surge in new illegal immigration, the Post reports. Congress established TPS in 1990, which prevents deportation of people from countries that are reeling from violence or natural disasters.
Congo confirms 2 Ebola cases in new outbreak
Authorities in Congo on Tuesday confirmed two cases of Ebola in the African nation's northwest. Five samples were gathered after the Equateur Province Health Ministry reported 21 cases of hemorrhagic fever, and two of five samples tested positive for Ebola. A team of experts will travel to the area on Wednesday to start efforts to keep the new outbreak from spreading and look into how it started. It is the ninth outbreak in the country since 1976. The latest, in May 2017, killed four people but was quickly contained. It was declared over in July 2017. A massive outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone killed 11,300 starting in 2014.
Syria: Israel fired missiles just after Trump scrapped Iran deal
Syrian state media on Tuesday accused Israel of firing missiles at Kisweh, south of Damascus, within two hours of President Trump's announcement that he was pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. Israel went on high alert after Trump's announcement, and the Israeli military reported "irregular activity" by Iranian forces in Syria. Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah have been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government battle a 7-year-old rebellion. Israel has used air strikes against forces from the two Syrian allies to prevent them from forming a front near Israel.
Aides urge Trump to fire EPA chief Scott Pruitt
White House aides are urging President Trump to fire Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and the president is reaching his breaking point in defending Pruitt against criticism, The New York Times reports. Trump has backed Pruitt for months despite the 11 federal investigations the EPA chief faces related to his recent ethics scandals. But officials say that he now sees Pruitt's problems as a "bottomless pit," and doesn't want to wait and see where it ends. CNN reports that Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler is poised to take over if Pruitt is ousted. The White House has denied that Pruitt is on his way out.
Facebook shakes up management
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday ordered the biggest executive shakeup in the company's 15-year history. The move appeared to consolidate power at the top, leaving the roles of Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, while giving more responsibility to Chris Cox, the chief product officer in charge of the flagship Facebook service. He now will preside over the widely used Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp services. The changes were seen as part of the effort to improve executive communication and user privacy at the social network to address the backlash over fake news posts orchestrated by Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the recent scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper use of personal data. Facebook also is launching a new team focusing on blockchain technology.