10 things you need to know today: March 1, 2019

The U.S. and North Korea split on why nuclear talks collapsed, Trump reportedly demanded top-secret clearance for Kushner, and more

Trump reportedly demanded top-secret clearance for Kushner.
(Image credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump, Kim government split on reason for summit collapse

The U.S. and North Korea on Thursday gave conflicting accounts on why President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cut short their denuclearization summit without a deal. Trump said the talks collapsed because Kim demanded that the U.S. lift all economic sanctions without a commitment from Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear arsenal. North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said North Korea wanted only partial sanctions relief in exchange for closing its main nuclear complex. He said the negotiations fell apart because the U.S. demanded further steps toward denuclearization. Ri said Kim was ready to agree to permanently halt nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, but the U.S. wasted an opportunity that "may not come again." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said negotiations would resume quickly.

The Associated Press The Washington Post

2. Trump reportedly ordered top-secret clearance for Jared Kushner

President Trump last year directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance despite concerns shared by career intelligence officials and the top White House lawyer, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Thursday, citing current and former administration officials. Kelly reportedly was so uncomfortable about the request that he documented it in writing. Kushner worked with a temporary clearance for months as a decision on his permanent status was delayed. Intelligence officials raised concerns about his family's real estate business and ties to foreign governments and investors, and his failure to report contacts with foreigners. Trump has told the Times he had no role in Kushner's top-secret clearance, which he received last May.

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The New York Times The Washington Post

3. Inslee announces presidential bid

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that he was running for president, joining an increasingly crowded field that already includes 12 other candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump. Inslee revealed his plans in a video made public Friday, making environmental issues the focus of his campaign. "I'm Jay Inslee and I'm running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation's number one priority," Inslee said. "We're the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we're the last that can do something about it," Inslee added. "We can do this. Join our movement. This is our moment."


4. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to face corruption indictment

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday announced his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. The decision came after a two-year investigation into whether Netanyahu and wealthy business leaders traded official favors for valuable gifts. Netanyahu, who will be the country's first sitting prime minister to be indicted if the case moves forward, can ask for a hearing to challenge the charges, which he called politically motivated. "I tell you, citizens of Israel, this whole tower of cards will collapse," he said Thursday on national TV. Netanyahu is standing for reelection to a fourth term in just 40 days, and politicians on the left and center are calling for his resignation.

The New York Times

5. GOP's Meadows, Jordan ask DOJ to investigate whether Cohen lied in hearing

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) in a letter to the DOJ on Thursday said they are referring "significant evidence" that Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, "committed perjury and knowingly made false statements" during his Wednesday testimony before the House Oversight Committee. The two Republicans gave several examples of instances where they claim Cohen perjured himself, including when he said that he did not want to work in the White House. "This is demonstrably, materially, and intentionally false," the letter says. The congressmen also allege Cohen lied about contracts with foreign entities, about having "never defrauded any bank," and about committing crimes due to his "blind loyalty" to Trump. Cohen testified that Trump has been deeply involved in various crimes and lies.


6. Senate confirms former coal lobbyist as EPA chief

The Senate on Thursday confirmed former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the new leader of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler, who has won praise from Republicans for helping to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations, was approved in a 52 to 47 vote. He has been running the EPA on an interim basis since President Trump's first administrator, Scott Pruitt, left in July after facing several scandals over his spending practices and management of the agency. One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against confirming Wheeler, citing his work weakening federal rules to cut power-plant greenhouse gas emissions and fuel standards for cars and pickup trucks.

The Washington Post

7. Pakistan takes captured pilot to border for handover to India

Pakistan on Friday moved an Indian pilot captured from a warplane shot down in the disputed Kashmir region to a border crossing, where he was to be handed over to India. Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, has said his country was returning the pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, as a peace gesture following clashes that have escalated tensions on the Line of Control that separates the parts of Kashmir controlled by the two nuclear-armed neighbors. India imposed a security lockdown in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir, and banned a major political and religious group in an ongoing crackdown against rebels seeking to end Indian rule in the region.

The Associated Press

8. Republican senators urge Trump to withdraw emergency declaration

Several Senate Republicans who are considering voting with Democrats to block President Trump's declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday called on Trump to withdraw the declaration. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of 10 Republicans considering giving Democrats the final vote they need, said Trump has other options for collecting $5.7 billion for his promised border wall: "He's got sufficient funding without a national emergency." Another Republican senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump could get the money he wants "without setting the Constitution on its head." Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that Republicans "put themselves at great jeopardy" by going against him, because it's "very dangerous" to vote against border security.


9. Cohen to testify again before House Intelligence Committee

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee again on March 6, after spending Thursday speaking to the lawmakers in a closed-door session. The panel's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), called the first hearing productive. On Wednesday, Cohen testified publicly before the House Oversight Committee, saying Trump was involved in various crimes before and after entering office. "I'm committed to telling the truth and I'll be back on March 6 to finish up," Cohen told reporters. He's scheduled to begin a 3-year prison sentence in May after he pleaded guilty to financial crimes and lying to Congress, which lawmakers on Wednesday said challenges his credibility. Schiff said committee members were able to "drill down in great detail" on Thursday.

The Associated Press

10. Phillies sign Bryce Harper to record $330 million contract

Superstar outfielder Bryce Harper on Thursday signed a record $330 million, 13-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Negotiations on Harper's free agency after seven years with the Washington Nationals had dragged on into the early days of spring training. The total deal exceeds the contract of Manny Machado, the other prize free-agent slugger this off-season, who last week signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, making Harper's deal the largest in baseball history even though he'll make less per year than Machado. Harper's agreement reportedly includes a no-trade clause and no opt-outs, meaning Harper could be in Philadelphia for the rest of his career.


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