10 things you need to know today: May 23, 2018
Trump warns North Korea summit might not happen, conservative Republicans call for second special counsel, and more
Trump warns North Korea summit could be delayed or canceled
President Trump said Tuesday that there was a "very substantial chance" that his planned June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be delayed, or even canceled. "You never know about deals," Trump said. "I've made a lot of deals. You never really know." Trump's statement deepened doubts about the potentially historic summit in Singapore. North Korea recently scrapped a meeting with South Korea, and threatened to cancel the Trump-Kim meeting over joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises and harsh statements by Trump aides. Pyongyang had committed to denuclearization and is closing its nuclear test site, but now says it won't give up its nuclear weapons. Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest said it appears "the summit's dead" because "the two sides are too far apart."
Conservatives demand second special counsel to look at FBI tactics
Conservative House Republicans allied with President Trump on Tuesday called for a second special counsel to look into how the Justice Department and the FBI handled the early investigation of Russian election meddling and possible links to Trump's campaign. At least 18 GOP lawmakers backed a resolution telling Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate what they have said was possible misconduct by the Justice Department and the FBI during the 2016 campaign. The White House has invited two senior House Republicans to a Thursday meeting to give them access to information GOP lawmakers requested about an FBI informant involved in the investigation into Russians' contacts with Trump campaign associates. Democrats, who were not invited, called the move "partisan."
Michael Cohen business partner strikes deal with prosecutors
A business partner of Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Cohen's business dealings. The partner, Russian immigrant Evgeny Freidman, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to tax evasion. Under a deal with prosecutors, Freidman will stay out of prison if he cooperates with state and federal prosecutors in their investigations. He reportedly has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to avoid prison time. Friedman, known as the Taxi King, has been Cohen's partner in the taxi business, and he reportedly kept managing Cohen's cabs after New York City officials last year barred him from doing so. Freidman's plea deal could intensify pressure on Cohen to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates.
Stacey Abrams wins historic Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary
Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal (R), becoming the first black woman to be a major party's candidate for governor in the U.S. She also is Georgia's first African-American nominee. Abrams, a Yale-educated lawyer and businesswoman, defeated ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans in the primary. She will face the winner of a July Republican runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp in an election that will test whether the state's politics have shifted enough for a liberal Democrat to win after more than a decade of Republican rule. "We are writing the next chapter of Georgia history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard, and no one is uninspired," Abrams said.
Congress approves easing some Dodd-Frank rules
The House voted Tuesday 258-159 to roll back Dodd-Frank rules for midsize and regional banks put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. The bill, already passed by the Senate, lets banks with up to $250 billion in assets avoid supervision from the Fed and stress tests. Under Dodd-Frank, banks with at least $50 billion in assets had to abide by tougher financial rules. Republican lawmakers say easing the regulations will make it easier for small banks and credit unions to lend more money to people. Some Democrats warned the bill also assists some large regional banks that failed during the financial crisis. The bill does not affect the biggest banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Venezuela's president expels top 2 U.S. diplomats
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday gave the top two U.S. diplomats in the country 48 hours to leave, escalating tensions two days after he won a second term in a vote the U.S. and other nations dismissed as illegitimate. "The empire won't dominate us here," Maduro said. One of the expelled diplomats, U.S. chief of mission Todd Robinson, had pressed strongly for the release of a U.S. citizen, Joshua Holt, who is imprisoned in the crisis-plagued South American nation. Maduro accused the U.S. diplomats of conspiring to overthrow him. "We completely reject the false allegations that have been made by the Maduro regime against our two colleagues," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
Hawaii volcano lava nears power plant
Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano began encroaching on a power plant on Tuesday in the latest new danger posed by an ongoing eruption. Molten rock bubbling out of a newly reactivated fissure came within about 300 yards of a well on the 800-acre Puna Geothermal Venture Plant property. If lava gets into any of the facility's wells, it could release toxic and flammable hydrogen sulfide gas. Most of the wells have been capped with steel plates, although Hawaii emergency management officials say intense heat could weaken the metal. "That's why having lava flow across the well causes some uncertainties that have to be dealt with," said Thomas Travis, an administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. "To our knowledge, no one has faced this before."
10 McDonald's workers file sexual harassment complaints
Ten female McDonald's workers have filed sexual harassment complaints with the federal government in the last few days after they said the fast-food chain ignored or retaliated when they reported the behavior internally. The complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by women in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and six other cities. The women said their bosses ignored, mocked, or terminated them after they reported the mistreatment. "I felt I had no choice but to tolerate it," said Kimberley Lawson, 25, who works at a McDonald's in Kansas City, Missouri. McDonald's said in a statement it takes sexual harassment allegations "very seriously and are confident our independent franchisees who own and operate approximately 90 percent of our 14,000 U.S. restaurants will do the same."
Southern Baptist seminary leader removed over remarks criticized as sexist
The board of Southwestern Theological Seminary has removed Paige Patterson from his job as president after a backlash from women over past sexist statements. The seminary's board of trustees said in a brief statement early Wednesday that it would replace Patterson, 75, with an interim leader, and make him president emeritus. The prominent Southern Baptist leader came under fire over recently resurfaced taped comments he made between 2000 and 2014 in which he remarked on a teenage girl's figure and said abused women should almost always stay with their husbands. Thousands of women had called for his removal. "Misogyny and disrespecting women has nothing to do with scriptural teaching," said Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University English professor who attends a Southern Baptist church.
Novelist Philip Roth dies at 85
Philip Roth, one of the most prolific and celebrated writers of his generation, died Tuesday. He was 85. A close friend, Judith Thurman, said the cause of death was congestive heart failure. Between his first collection of stories, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), and his final novel, 2010's Nemesis, Roth won two National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, two National Book Critics Circle awards, and three PEN/Faulkner Awards. He is best known for 1969's Portnoy's Complaint, and his literary explorations of sex and life as an American, a Jew, and a man. Many of his protagonists were thinly veiled versions of himself — Nathan Zuckerman, Alexander Portnoy, David Kepesh — and his work explored and blurred the lines between truth and fiction.