Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2018

Trump and Kim sign denuclearization document at summit, Sessions curbs asylum for domestic and gang violence victims, and more


Trump and Kim end summit with signing of denuclearization document

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded their summit in Singapore on Tuesday by signing a document in which Trump "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea, and Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Trump later said denuclearization would begin "very quickly — very, very quickly," although it would take many more meetings to hammer out terms of a lasting deal. Kim called the unprecedented summit "historic," and said that he and Trump had "decided to leave the past behind." Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that they hadn't discussed withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, but said he would halt U.S.-South Korea "war games," because they're "very provocative."


Sessions says gang and domestic violence no longer grounds for asylum

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said domestic abuse and gang violence would no longer be considered grounds for seeking asylum in the U.S. Sessions, in a rare move, personally intervened to overturn a key immigration court decision granting asylum to a Salvadoran woman who was raped and beaten by her ex-husband. "I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life," he said, "but the 'asylum statute is not a general hardship statute,'" he added, citing a previous immigration case. The move could have far-reaching implications for people seeking refuge in the U.S. from violence in their home countries.


Trump influence faces tests in Tuesday primaries

President Trump's influence in the Republican Party is being tested in Tuesday primaries, particularly in South Carolina. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, an early Trump supporter, will rely on voters who are pleased with the president's policies to help him beat four challengers as he faces questions over ties to corruption in the state government. Rep. Mark Sanford (R), a Trump critic and a former governor who has never lost an election, is facing a competitive Republican primary against Katie Arrington, a state representative presenting herself as a staunch Trump ally. Primaries also are being held in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia. GOP voters will pick a challenger for Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, a state Trump won by more than 30 points.


Judge hears arguments on Trump profit from foreign governments

Lawyers for Maryland and the District of Columbia on Monday asserted in federal court that President Trump was "profiting on an unprecedented scale" from foreign government interests at his Washington, D.C., hotel, in violation of the Constitution's "emoluments" clause, which bans payments to federal officials from foreign governments. Justice Department lawyers said Trump is doing nothing wrong when his hotel rents rooms to foreign officials, as long as he does not do favors for them in return. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, who will decide this summer whether the case can move forward, questioned the Justice Department's take on the ban. If a foreign government rents rooms at the Trump hotel and touts it to get in good with Trump, "That's not covered?" he asked.


Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter purge

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Ohio could continue its effort to trim its voting rolls by purging people who haven't voted in years. The court voted 5-4 to uphold Ohio's efforts, with conservative justices in the majority. Republicans in Ohio and other states have pushed for numerous restrictions on voter registration, saying the moves will combat voter fraud, although there is no evidence it is a problem. Civil rights groups said the justices should focus on making it easier for Americans to vote, not harder. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Congress enacted the voter registration law to prevent states from disenfranchising low-income and minority voters, and the court's decision permits "the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against."


Spain accepts refugee ship rejected by Italy

Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said Monday that his country would accept a rescue ship turned away by Italy and Malta with 629 would-be migrants on board. The migrants were rescued from inflatable boats over the weekend as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe. Italy's new populist, anti-immigration government denied the ship, the Aquarius, entry even though its Coast Guard coordinated the rescues. "It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations," Sanchez's office said. The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, praised Spain, tweeting, "Saving lives at sea is an obligation that states must always uphold."


Net neutrality rules expire

The Obama-era net neutrality rules intended to guarantee an open internet expired on Monday, opening the door for internet providers to offer paid "fast lane" web services. The Federal Communications Commission repealed the landmark rules in December in a 3-2 vote, with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the other two Republicans backing the repeal with support from internet service providers. Without net neutrality, critics warn, giant corporations like Verizon and Comcast can throttle traffic to sites they don't own or partner with, or give customers who pay more better connections to services like Netflix. The Senate passed a bill in May reinstating net neutrality, but the House is not expected to take it up. The fight now moves to court.


Pope Francis accepts resignation of Chilean bishop

Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation of a Chilean bishop, Juan Barros, who has been accused of witnessing abuse by the South American country's most notorious pedophile priest and doing nothing to stop it. Francis offended clerical abuse survivors in a January visit to Chile when he defended Barros against what he called the "calumny" of victims who said Barros covered up sexual abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima. "Today begins a new day for the Catholic Church in Chile and hopefully the world," said Juan Carlos Cruz, one of Karadima's victims. Two other bishops also resigned.


Trump's top economic adviser in good condition after heart attack

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow suffered a heart attack on Monday and was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was reported to be in good condition. President Trump tweeted the news ahead of his North Korea summit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Kudlow's doctors described the heart attack as "very mild," and they "expect he will make a full and speedy recovery." Kudlow, a former CNBC contributor and Wall Street economist, has been leading efforts to pull together a trade policy toward China and U.S. allies. Over the weekend he said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "stabbed us in the back" with "polarizing" comments after a Group of Seven meeting in which tensions flared over Trump's new tariffs.


Wildfire forces closure of San Juan National Forest

The San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado is shutting down Tuesday for the first time in its 113-year history due to a drought-driven fire that has expanded to 22,131 acres. The 1.8-million-acre forest spans nine counties and is popular with U.S. and international tourists, who flock there in the summer season, which is just getting underway. Authorities in the national forest already had imposed fire restrictions. "Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property," said Richard Bustamante, SJNF forest fire staff officer. The area will remain closed until there is enough rainfall to reduce the danger.


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