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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: big changes at the EPA in the Trump administration.

    As a candidate, the president vowed to get rid of it in — quote — “almost any form.” The budget he unveiled yesterday would reduce its budget by a third, more than any other federal agency.

    What is less known is a series of recent moves that would give industry more of a voice when it comes to shaping its approach to scientific recommendations.

    That’s the focus of our Leading Edge segment tonight.

    Jeffrey Brown looks at what’s afoot.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It all has to do the way the EPA and the government evaluate science underlying many regulations. Earlier this month, the EPA and the Interior Department announced they would review and overhaul who serves on key scientific advisory boards.

    The EPA move attracted particular notice, since its administrator, Scott Pruitt, decided not to renew the contracts for half the members of the so-called Board of Scientific Counselors.

    Our scientific correspondent, Miles O’Brien, is here now to help fill in the picture.

    So, Miles, the Board of Scientific Counselors, what is that? What do they do?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Jeff, a formerly obscure board at the EPA made up of 18 scientists, most of them academics, a few of them from industry, their goal is to get really deep in the weeds with EPA staff researchers and give them some sound advice on research priorities and equipment and techniques that allow them to do their work.

    They do not get involved in policy, however.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What exactly happened last week?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, nine of them whose term had come up, their first term came up, were told they were not being automatically renewed, which has been the practice in the past.

    It is an unusual move. They were told they could reapply for their jobs, but it is something that has taken that board aback, for sure. I spoke with the chairperson of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Deborah Swackhamer. She’s a professor emerita at the University of Minnesota.

    She was quite shocked.

    DEBORAH SWACKHAMER, Chair, Board of Scientific Counselors: It is highly unusual for someone to not be reappointed. This is not a political board in any way, shape or form, and we don’t advocate for any kind of regulation or lack of regulation. We’re not political.

    So to say that we are somehow — we would behave differently because we were appointed under President Obama is — actually, it’s a little insulting. We are scientists. We are not going to be swayed by who’s president or who is administrator.

    I have served under three presidents and four administrators of EPA in my time on various boards, and it never has influenced how I think about the science that I’m reviewing.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, the board stands by its autonomy and its objectivity, and yet this happens, Jeff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so what was the reason — the reasoning given by the Trump administration?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, a spokesperson for the EPA says this: “We should have people who understand the impact of regulations on the regulating community.”

    The administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, last month was in Pennsylvania talking to some coal miners, and he was talking about the broader issue of industry input on EPA regulations.

    Listen to this.

    SCOTT PRUITT, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency: As we spend time with the industry across this country recognizing that we have such opportunity with respect to energy independence, that just by spending time, some on those on the environmental left think that we’re somehow compromising outcomes with respect to our environment.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, Miles, a new administration, as you say, often get to appoint a lot of their own new people. What kind of responses were you hearing about this action?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, it’s a definite shift. And there is something at work here that’s been going on for quite some time.

    I spoke to a former assistant administrator for the EPA during the George W. Bush administration, Jeffrey Holmstead. He’s now an attorney in private practice. And it is his contention — and this is widely held in conservative circles — that simply stating a conflict of interests is enough to eliminate it.

    This is what he has to say.

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD, Former Assistant Administrator, EPA: See, I don’t understand why there’s a conflict. As long as they are disclosed, the fact that someone has done some consulting work for industry shouldn’t disqualify them from offering their scientific views on things. And those — anyone who’s engaged in that debate can take those views into account.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, of course, on the other hand, many in the science committee fear a broader move towards greater influence for the industry, those who are being regulated.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Yes. The concern here, Jeff, is that if you stack these boards with people who are industry researchers, who are weighing in on subject matters that affect the corporations that pay their salaries, that that is going to put the thumb on the scale or in some way block regulation that would be scientifically justified.

    It’s a reasonable concern, and we’re kind of in the middle of this debate between traditional academics and industry researchers to try to sort this out.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what is to come? What is next?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, this is what’s interesting.

    There are 21 separate boards of all manner that are advising the Environmental Protection Agency. The granddaddy of them all is the Scientific Advisory Board. Changing its constituency requires a vote of Congress.

    And so far, the House has done just that. In March, it passed legislation which would allow the EPA to change the rules to allow more industry input on that Scientific Advisory Board. Couple that with the so-called secret science legislation which makes it very difficult for researchers on these boards to use certain types of data related to human studies in weighing their decisions, and scientists are very concerned that there are other shoes that are going to drop here.

    Let’s listen to Deborah Swackhamer one more time.

    DEBORAH SWACKHAMER: It almost feels like this is the first of a wave of potential actions that are going to further marginalize science advice, and, therefore, marginalize the science being done at EPA, marginalize the science being done in other government agencies, and then ultimately just there is going to be this very slow-motion, snowball effect.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And just to add to the optics here, the EPA has taken down its Web site on climate change. The spokesperson is telling us they’re changing it to reflect the priorities of the new administration and the new administrator, Mr. Pruitt.

    Now, Mr. Pruitt, you will recall, when he was the attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA more than a dozen times and more recently, as the newly appointed EPA administrator, said, carbon dioxide is not even a greenhouse gas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Miles O’Brien, thanks, as always.

    MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, Jeff.

    The post In Trump’s EPA, industry has more voice in shaping science appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And sticking with politics, Montana’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for grabs, and Democrats are eager to frame the fight as a referendum on President Trump.

    To discuss why tomorrow’s special election is garnering national attention, we are joined by Anna Rau of Montana PBS.

    Anna, thank you for joining us.

    Montana is a very red state. Why is this even close?

    ANNA RAU, Montana PBS: Well, that’s the question, actually, going forward. And I think people are watching it from the outside very closely, because it has tightened in the last month. You have seen it go from maybe 15 — 12 to 15 points, and then internal polling within the campaigns are showing closer maybe eight to 10 points, maybe six to eight points, so in some of the best polls for the Democrats.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about the candidates in this race. Tell us just quickly the differences between the two of them.


    Well, they’re both outsiders, political outsiders. But Rob Quist is a country bluegrass player. He played with the Mission Mountain Wood Band back in the ’70s. He’s very popular throughout the state for his music, but has absolutely no political experience.

    And Greg Gianforte is a millionaire from Bozeman who made his money creating a great business in Montana that employed over 500 people. So he created all these high-wage jobs in the software business in Bozeman. So he has this kind of business acumen behind him, but, again, very little political experience. He did run for governor in November, but lost narrowly to Governor Bullock, who was the incumbent.

    And I think there was a situation there where the whole ticket went red, except for the governor’s race. So some of those Republicans actually crossed when they got to Gianforte and Bullock, and voted for Bullock.

    So, that’s been kind of a thing here too that Quist think he’s got a shot, and Democrats think they have a shot because of what happened in the governor’s race. So, it’s kind of those two candidates, very colorful candidate.s

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do polls and your interviews with voters tell you, though, is most on voters’ minds?

    ANNA RAU: Well, early on in the campaign, it sounds like the two candidates were saying public lands and regulations out of Washington were the big issues, because out West we have the extractive industries, timber and mining.

    And so when it came to Republican voters, they were very concerned about EPA regulation and government overreach. When it came to Democrat voters and some Republican voters, public lands and public access was a big issue. In Montana, we have over 25 million acres of public land.

    Also, health care. At the very end here, health care has really picked up, especially with what’s going on in Washington, D.C. And Gianforte and Quist have come out very strongly on the health care bill. And there’s been some controversy about their positions on it.

    But Quist has made that a cornerstone of his campaign because he had a health care issue in the ’90s that he says explains some of his problems financially and is in favor of maybe a single-payer program. And Gianforte, for his part, has said he wouldn’t support the current repeal and replace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just very quick final question. How much has Donald Trump, President Trump, come up in this campaign?

    ANNA RAU: Well, Gianforte has said from the very beginning, make no mistake about this, this is a referendum on Donald Trump. I think that he was very popular in Montana. So, Quist tries to make it — his campaign tries to make it less about Trump and more about the characters of the candidates and their politics.

    So they try to argue, it’s not a referendum. But you see thousands and thousands of dollars coming from small donors out of state to Quist in some support for him, maybe the last stand or the stand they’re trying to make in Montana to say, we aren’t happy with the Trump — with what the Trump administration is doing.

    So, I think, to a certain extent, you have to argue that Trump, the Trump administration and what has been coming out has had an impact on the race and certainly on fund-raising for Quist. So, it will be interesting to see how much impact it has tomorrow night.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Anna Rau of Montana PBS, thank you very much.

    ANNA RAU: Yes, thank you.

    The post Why Democrats think they have a shot at Montana’s special election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, let’s go back to the health care battle and the new analysis that came out late today from the Congressional Budget Office of the GOP bill that passed the House of Representatives almost three weeks ago. It now sits with the Senate.

    The CBO found that the House bill would lead to 23 million more people being uninsured by the year 2026 and it would reduce the deficit by about $119 billion over a decade.

    Our Lisa Desjardins has been studying the numbers and watching the politics of all of this, and she joins me now.

    So, Lisa, you have had a little bit of time to look at this. Essentially, what is different about the CBO’s look at this version of Republican health care from what the earlier version was?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, in those top-line numbers, not much.

    The changes that the Republicans made meant that there was an improvement in the number of people with insurance by one million people. That’s something Republicans were happy to see, but it’s not really very much.

    Judy, I think, overall, the differences are in the individual effects here. We see from CBO a forecast that says under this Republican bill you would see a wide disparity, with the less healthy seeing much higher bills and also older people seeing much higher bills.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we know the Republicans were trying to do a number of things with this legislation to make it more palatable to more people to win not only approval in the House, but to win approval in the Senate. They were trying to get premiums down.

    Talk about some of the changes they made and what the CBO is saying about that?

    LISA DESJARDINS: The biggest change a lot of people would be familiar with is, they want to give states the ability to waive out of requirements called essential benefits.

    These are things that say any health insurance must cover the basics. They want states to be able to waive out of that. They also want states to be able to waive out of requirement on preexisting conditions, allow insurers to charge more for the sick than they can now.

    CBO looked at those potential waiver changes and what that mean for premiums. Let’s look at an example of what we’re talking about. First of all, a 21-year-old who’s making, say, $26,500, so, low-income — that is who this is targeted at — now that 21-year-old’s premium would be $1,700.

    But under this bill in a state that waives out of those requirements, that 21-year-old would pay $1,250. That’s good for that healthy 21-year-old.

    Let’s look now instead at a 64-year-old American paying $1,700 now. But, Judy, look at that. Under this GOP bill, with the waivers out of requirements, the CBO thinks that 64-year-old would see their premiums skyrocket. Essentially, what the CBO has found — and it’s going to vary market to market — is that the less healthy and older Americans would see more costs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, premiums are part of the story, but we know something else that the CBO was looking at was, frankly, the overall quality of health care under this new legislation.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And this is such an important point.

    We have talked about premiums. It’s sort of a buzzword in a way, almost. But CBO went deeper and said that, in some of these states with the waivers, premiums may go down for some people, but, overall, they think that health care costs could substantially increase, because what you’re getting are health insurance packages that cover a lot less.

    So, if you’re sick, you might have a low premium, but you’re going to pay a lot more out of pocket. Also, Judy, I asked on a call I just got off of with the CBO about stabilization. Are these markets going to be stable?

    They told me point blank they think there will be a stability problem in these waiver markets. They say some people may not be able to get premiums at all and it would take those markets back to the days before the Affordable Care Act.

    Essentially, Judy, more of a gamble for Americans. You would able to pay less, but you would have much higher risk.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sounds like this is going to be even more complicated than what the Republicans — it’s going to make what they sent over more complicated and make it challenging to get it passed.

    LISA DESJARDINS: I don’t see any Republicans coming out with happy tweets or statements today. No, Democrats are talking about the CBO score, not Republicans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, following the story, thank you very much.

    The post Less healthy, older Americans would pay more under GOP health bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump’s first trip abroad placed him at the Vatican today, marking Mr. Trump’s first meeting with the leader of the Catholic Church.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is in Rome for us tonight, and he has this report.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It was a meeting of two men with a difficult history.

    After a public greeting, President Trump and Pope Francis spoke privately for half-an-hour. Later, there were introductions all around, and group pictures, with Mr. Trump smiling broadly, and the pontiff stone-faced.

    Just a little over a year ago, they clashed publicly. The pope took on the Trump campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through interpreter): A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The candidate answered with a dig of his own.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Today, instead of barbs, they exchanged gifts. Mr. Trump presented the pope with a first-edition set of Martin Luther King Jr.’s works. Francis offered his three main teaching documents and an olive branch medal.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We can use peace.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Later, after touring the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, and the president offered a new assessment of the pope.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He is something. He is really good. We had a fantastic meeting. We had a fantastic tour. It was really beautiful.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: President Trump’s take on his meeting with Pope Francis differs greatly from the interpretation of veteran Vatican analysts. They believe that the president was exaggerating. The Vatican issued an unusually brief statement about the discussions.

    RICCARDO CRISTIANO, Reset Magazine: They qualified the meeting as cordial, which means that the meeting wasn’t a cold one, but a cordial one, but, in any case, it was not a warm meeting.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Longtime Vatican watcher Riccardo Cristiano says he doubts there was any meeting of minds.

    RICCARDO CRISTIANO: I think that it was a opportunity to meet, but also the impression is that they understood they have different perspectives.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Analyst Robert Mickens was far more upbeat. He says it was a success for the Vatican.

    ROBERT MICKENS, La Croix International: Pope Francis is always very gracious. He likes to build bridges of encounter. It’s very, very important to get the superpower online with the soft power, the Holy See.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The president also met with the Vatican’s secretary of state, who encouraged continued U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave his own appraisal on the flight from Rome to Brussels.

    REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: Well, we had a good exchange on the difficulty of balancing, addressing climate change, responses to climate change, and ensuring that you still have a thriving economy.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The president arrived in Brussels this evening for meetings with European Union and NATO officials, and was greeted by the Belgian prime minister and royal family.

    Thousands of demonstrators also turned out, protesting the president’s immigration and environmental policies.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Rome.

    The post President Trump and Pope Francis trade gifts, not barbs, in first meeting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we return to the Manchester attack and the ongoing investigations happening in Britain.

    William Brangham takes a deeper look.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As British officials continue to piece together who was behind this attack, and to try to stop another from occurring, we wanted to take a closer look at just how the U.K. handles counterterrorism.

    For that, I’m joined by R.P. Eddy. He served on the staff of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, where he worked closely with British officials. And he is the author, along with Richard Clarke, of “Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes.”

    R.P. Eddy, thanks very much for being here.

    I wonder if you could just start off telling us the distinctions that U.K. intelligence and terror officials have as compared to, say, U.S. officials?

    R.P. EDDY, Former White House National Security Official: Well, overall, it’s a fairly similar system.

    There is probably two key differences. One is, it’s easier to open up investigations and surveillance on individuals in the U.K., British citizens or others, than it is in the United States. The second thing is that we have an inverted model.

    In the United States — for example, here, I’m sitting in New York City. The NYPD would go out and collect much of the intelligence about a terrorist attack, potential terrorist attack, and then the FBI would make the arrest, depending on the maturity of the intelligence collection in the city.

    In London, in the U.K., it’s opposite. The Metropolitan Police Service or the local police would actually do the arresting, where MI5 and MPS would do the intelligence gathering.

    But the key difference is, it’s easier to begin surveillance on people of concern.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the U.K., I know, also has a wide network of CCTV cameras, where I know that that’s been a relevant tool in prior terror investigations.

    R.P. EDDY: It’s a massive difference.

    So, they adapted the use of closed-circuit televisions much earlier than we did in the United States in our major cities. And in every terrorist investigation since the ’80s, CCTVs have been hugely useful in very quickly figuring out who was behind it and wrapping up the cell.

    That and the laws, most of these things are children of growing up in the era of the IRA threat. So they addressed their terrorism threat and got over some of their learnings earlier than we did.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Even so, with all those tools, it’s clear that the U.K. officials missed this particular plot.

    And it seems to me that this is just an indication of how difficult it is to identify individuals or maybe a group of individuals who are trying to plot quietly these types of attacks.

    R.P. EDDY: Well, let’s say there’s probably two big reasons for that. The first one is technological.

    And you have heard a number of U.S. government officials and British government officials over the last three or four years bemoan the fact that it’s much easier now to encrypt your communications on your cell phone or over the Internet to a military-grade level than it used to be.

    So, in some instances, we’re blind as we try to do collection on those signals intelligence. So that’s the first reason that it’s a little harder, or much harder.

    The second reason is, ISIS is different than al-Qaida. Now, part of why they’re different is, they’re interested in — or they’re more willing to allow or to foster what you would call retail attacks, small attacks by lone wolves or people who are just sort of getting converted into extremism by ISIS, whereas al-Qaida, as we know, is more interested in large-scale attacks, taking down huge buildings, blowing up embassies, doing things simultaneously.

    So the latter model, the al-Qaida, is easier to find, requires more planning, and, of course, requires larger cells, requires more training.

    The ISIS model, of being an idea of mass destruction, is much harder to catch. Someone can be just converted into extremism over the Internet. They don’t even have to meet anybody, and they can go off and carry out smaller, harder-to-surveil, harder-to-stop terrorist attacks.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The theater that was the site of this attack is what’s known as a soft target, a place where the security apparatus is just not that robust.

    How do we as a society writ large go about trying to harden places like that? Either we do that to try to prevent these types of things or we just, in some level, try to become accustomed to the fact that this might be a more common occurrence.

    R.P. EDDY: Well, we should never become accustomed to it. And I would say, editorially, I don’t think we should allow these conversations that say, oh, it was only 22 people, look how many died from dirty water the same day.

    Those are both horrible things, but they’re different. Terrorism, these terrorist acts, terrorize, and they change things politically and they change our way of life.

    So, can we accept that our soft targets are going to be hit? No. Is it very, very hard to protect these soft targets? Absolutely. Think about the last time you went to the airport. When you got through TSA, the magnetometers, you had a degree of safety. But as you waited in line, queued up, 50 or 1,000 of you, you are a very soft target.

    The same thing happens at theaters. The same thing happens at football games. So it’s a very unfortunate reality that we really can’t secure everything. And ISIS is sort of well-situated by allowing or fostering these smaller attacks to hit us at that weak point.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, R.P. Eddy, thank you very much for your time.

    R.P. EDDY: Thanks for having me.

    The post Manchester attack reveals risk of ‘soft targets’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are now multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties to the Trump campaign.

    On Capitol Hill, the probes have expanded to look into possible obstruction and cover-up. There are many questions swirling around.

    And we put some of them to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. She’s a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She’s also ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    I spoke with her a short time ago.

    Senator Feinstein, thank you very much for talking with us.

    First, about those memos that were written by former FBI Director James Comey, I know your committee has been asking for those. Have you received them yet from the FBI?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: No, not to my knowledge. We have not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you expect to get them?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, that’s an interesting expectation.

    And there are two answers. One is yes, and one is no. I think we’re serious. I believe we’re serious. And then we have to take the next step. We have invited very politely the former director to come and meet with us and be able to ask him questions in public. However, he has agreed to go before Intelligence, which I appreciate. I’m on the committee.

    But I think he also ought to provide the documents to our committee and be willing to come and explain those documents. We are the oversight committee, after all. He has said he wants to make a public appearance. He will do that at Intelligence, and I think he also should provide those documents and make an appearance at Judiciary and explain them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of an obstacle is it, Senator, if those documents are not turned over?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I mean, one way or another, they’re going to be turned over. I think it’s just a question of time.

    And I think that his documents are fundamental to the issue of his firing. How many times did he meet with the president? What were the circumstances? What was said? And was there any unusual request, such as leading to an investigation, potential investigation of the president of the United States?

    And I think that that’s something that one way or another is going to come out, and those documents will come out. And it’s quite proper that they do so. That’s what — he kept notes to be able to protect himself in the event of something that’s untoward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, how much of this investigation do you expect may ultimately be about any efforts by the president or by the White House, the administration, to stop or slow down this investigation?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Hard to tell.

    I don’t think I can answer that at this stage. I think the president — it’s interesting the president is apparently in the process of retaining outside counsel. That would likely have to do with events that an investigation might reveal.

    I am one that believes that both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee ought to add investigators and people with prosecutorial expertise to the staff for this investigation. I think it has to be well -known now that even the 9/11 Commission had about 100 staffers and people with prosecutorial experience and investigative experience.

    We, in the Intelligence Committee, have our intelligence staff, and they’re accustomed to reading intelligence, interpreting intelligence, and they’re very good at what they do. But one of the things that’s been brought to my attention is that you need technical people.

    If you’re going to follow the money …


    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: … as Representative Speier said, and get involved with financing, you need financial people that will show you how to and, in fact, get the appropriate information in the appropriate way.

    If it’s an investigation you’re looking at, you need people, I think, who are trained investigators. And…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator — Senator, if I may, it sounds as if you’re saying this investigation, the potential size of it has grown much larger than even what it seemed to be a week ago.

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that’s right. I think that is happening.

    I think, as events go and comments are made by principal parties, it adds to the investigative material that’s out there. And I think that what both the House and the Senate needs to do is create the atmosphere where Bob Mueller could come in as an absolutely responsible and respected former prosecutor, former U.S. attorney, former director of the FBI, and be the special counsel, and see that the FBI counterterrorism investigation and criminal investigation — it’s both — are able to proceed as rapid — is able to proceed as rapidly as possible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Washington Post reported last Friday, Senator, I’m sure you know, that the investigation — that there is a — quote — “person of interest” in this investigation who is a senior official in the Trump White House who’s very close to the president.

    Do you know who that is?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: No, I do not. I read the same article, but I do not know who that person is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you getting the cooperation from everyone you’re seeking?

    We know that General Flynn, Michael Flynn, has declined to turn over documents, but, other than General Flynn, are there others who are not cooperating?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I think, with respect to the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley and I spoke on the floor. And we have written letters asking for materials and asking that Mr. Comey, inviting him to appear.

    I think we perhaps need to do more than just invite. I think it’s important that he come before the oversight committee that has responsibility for oversight of the FBI and at least do us the courtesy of appearing, and that we should be able to look at his material and ask questions about them.

    So, I think both Senator Grassley — are on the same pathway to that. And, hopefully, we will be able to accomplish it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Senator, I want to turn you to one other issue that’s much before Congress right now, and that is the health care reform bill that passed the House of Representatives.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s now in the Senate.

    The Congressional Budget Office came up — came out just this afternoon with its own estimate of the cost and the implications. And among other things, it says that almost as many people will be without insurance under this proposed legislation as there was in the original Republican proposal.

    Is it your sense that this bill has a chance in the U.S. Senate right now?

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, no one knows what’s in it. My understanding, there was a committee of about 12 men appointed from the Senate to put together a bill.

    I think the same mistake is being made in the Senate that was made in the House, no public hearings. The medical profession has no chance to respond. The insurance industry can’t respond. Those people that run hospitals can’t respond, and the general public can’t respond.

    And it’s unbelievable. This is the first time in my over 20 years in the Senate a big bill, a costly bill, a bill important to every single American citizen has no hearing and goes right on to the floor as some kind of secretive document.

    I have no idea what’s in the Senate bill. And it’s not the way business should be done. It creates an atmosphere that makes a bill more difficult to pass, not less difficult. And it certainly gets the emotions going.

    You have 24 million people who are going to be without insurance. It makes no sense to me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will certainly all be watching to see what happens to it in the Senate.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, we thank you.

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

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    A registered nurse prepares a trauma room in the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The Congressional Budget Office issued its analysis of the Republican bill to replace Obamacare, a bill that passed the House of Representatives. It estimates the measure would leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance by 2026. Now, that is one million fewer than an earlier version. The report also projects deficit reduction of $119 billion over 10 years. That is slightly less than before.

    We will take a closer look later in the program.

    Word has leaked that President Trump disclosed that the U.S. had positioned two nuclear submarines off North Korea. The New York Times is reporting that Mr. Trump revealed the information in an April 29 phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. According to confidential transcripts, he also praised Duterte for doing — quote — “an unbelievable job” fighting drugs. Thousands of drug suspects have been killed since Duterte took office.

    Fighting raged for a second day in the Southern Philippines, where Islamist militants have seized control of a city. At least 21 people have been killed. The fighting broke out yesterday in Marawi City, on the island of Mindanao. President Duterte responded by imposing martial law.

    Thousands of residents fled the area today amid tight security, as Duterte vowed to hunt down the militants.

    RODRIGO DUTERTE, Philippine President: If I think you should die, you will die. If you fight us, you will die. If there is an open defiance, you will die. And if it means many people dying, so be it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Philippines president also said that he might extend martial law nationwide if the Islamic State group gains a foothold.

    Taiwan will become the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The country’s constitutional court ruled today that a ban on such unions violates the Taiwanese constitution. Now lawmakers have two years to enact new laws or amend the current statutes. If they do not, couples will be allowed to submit a written document to have their marriages recognized.

    In economic news, Moody’s rating service lowered China’s credit rating by one notch because of its surging debt load. Beijing protested the decision.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 74 points to close back above 21000. The Nasdaq rose 24 points, and the S&P 500 added six, marking a new record.

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    Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS14Z2C

    Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). File photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., doubled down Wednesday on her call for former FBI director James Comey to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and provide it with documents detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump.

    “He should provide those documents and make an appearance at Judiciary and explain them,” Feinstein, the panel’s top Democrat, told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff in an interview.

    WATCH: Feinstein: Comey memos will be turned over one way or another

    “They’re going to be turned over. I think it’s just a question of time,” Feinstein added of the documents, which presumably include a memo of a February meeting between Comey and Mr. Trump where the president allegedly asked Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn.

    Feinstein said the memos would shed light on Comey’s firing May 9. Comey’s removal sparked questions about whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to block the federal probe into Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

    The firing led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the federal probe into potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

    Last week, Feinstein and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced that Comey had declined an invitation to testify publicly before the panel. Feinstein and Grassley said in a joint statement they were “extremely disappointed” with Comey’s decision.

    Though Comey declined to appear before the Judiciary panel, he agreed to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump’s campaign.

    Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee will take place after Memorial Day, the committee’s leaders said last week. The panel is one of several congressional committees investigating the issue.

    In the PBS NewsHour interview, Feinstein said she hoped the House and Senate committees would add staff with “prosecutorial expertise” to aid in the investigations.

    When asked if the scope of the investigations were growing, Feinstein said “that is happening.” She said as more “comments are made by principal parties, it adds to the investigative material that’s out there.”

    Feinstein’s comments came as Trump wrapped up his first foreign trip as president, and as new developments in the Russia investigations continued this week, despite the administration’s focus on foreign policy and the White House budget.

    Wednesday evening, CNN reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to tell the Department of Justice about meetings he had with Russian officials last year when he applied for security clearance.

    Watch the full interview below.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The investigation into Monday night’s bombing in Manchester, England, is spreading; 22-year-old British-born Salman Abedi blew himself up at a concert Monday night, killing 22 people.

    Today, police in Libya arrested his father and younger brother. British officials say Abedi recently returned from Libya.

    Meanwhile, several more arrests in Manchester.

    Ciaran Jenkins of Independent Television News has that story.

    CIARAN JENKINS, ITN: This is now a hunt for Salman Abedi’s accomplices, armed police and special forces forcing their way into a Central Manchester property earlier. It took a controlled explosion to get them in.

    In the south of Manchester, three more arrests, and another in Wigan tonight, followed the arrest yesterday of Abedi’s older brother. Now, there is a real urgency to police activity in this city today. Remember, the current threat level means an attack is expected imminently. Police want to know if there are more bombs in circulation, or if there are other potential attackers and, crucially, who made this man’s deadly device.

    Police have yet to say definitively if it was the work of an accomplice, but, this afternoon, the first confirmation that Abedi didn’t act alone.

    Do you believe somebody else put the bomb together, and are you searching for that person? Is this a search now for a bomb-maker?

    IAN HOPKINS, Chief Constable, Greater Manchester Police: I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating. And, as I said, it continues at apace. There’s extensive investigations going on and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak.

    CIARAN JENKINS: The threat level is at its highest for the first time in 10 years, the army enlisted to protect key landmarks at Buckingham Palace and in Westminster. Manchester armed police patrol Piccadilly Station and the Arndale shopping center.

    WOMAN: It’s not going to stop me going about my daily life or anything like that. It’s just something in the back of the mind that’s a bit scary.

    WOMAN: It really all just feels like a different place, you know?

    CIARAN JENKINS: As the hours pass, we learn a little more of the innocent children who were killed, and the adults who accompanied them.

    Michelle Kiss, a mother of three, taken, her family said, in the most traumatic way. And Kelly Brewster, her friends said she died saving a young life, throwing her body on her niece as the bomb exploded. Saffie Rousso from Leyland was the youngest victim, 8 years old.

    CHRIS UPTON, Headmaster: Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone, and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming, with a creative flair.

    CIARAN JENKINS: There is resilience in a Manchester, all too conscious of the still-imminent threat, but there is impatience too to see those who brought horror to this city taken off the streets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This evening, police in Manchester announced two more arrests. And Britain’s home secretary criticized U.S. officials for leaking the name of the bomber and other information.

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    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    Amid headlines Monday about President Donald Trump’s trip through the Middle East, and the deep budget cuts he had proposed back home, the U.S. Supreme Court issued something of a landmark ruling on patent infringement lawsuits.

    In a unanimous decision, the justices said patent owners can only bring such cases in states where the companies they are suing are incorporated. (Justice Neil Gorsuch, weeks into his tenure on the bench, did not take part in the case.)

    The case didn’t grab much as much attention as some others. But the decision could have huge implications for so-called “patent trolls,” companies that make money by using patents they’ve bought to file infringement lawsuits and collect licensing fees.


    Watch Making Sen$e’s report on patent trolls above.

    Patent trolls generally don’t make any products or provide services. They tend to just acquire patents and use them against other companies. If those companies don’t agree to pay a licensing fee, the trolls will take them to court. When that happens, they often engage in a practice known as “venue shopping” — looking for courts that are more likely to rule in their favor.

    For example, according to Lex Machina, more than 33 percent of all patent cases in the first quarter of 2017 were filed in the Eastern District of Texas, where local rules lead to quicker trials and where patent trolls (also known as non-practicing entities) win cases more often.


    Last May, Making Sen$e reported on the broad fight over patent enforcement, including a concern from some in the field about how patent trolls could hurt innovation and a company’s bottom line.

    “Venue shopping” can also be costly for smaller companies.

    This Supreme Court case involved TC Heartland, an Indiana sweetener manufacturer that was sued by Kraft Heinz Company over its use of liquid water flavorings.

    Kraft filed the patent lawsuit in a federal court in Delaware — a state that had the second-most patent cases in the first quarter of this year, according to Lex Machina.

    READ MORE: Column: How intellectual property rules help the rich and hurt the poor

    Heartland asked for the case to be heard instead in Indiana, Reuters reported, saying just 2 percent of its sales were in Delaware. But an appeals court blocked that request, and the case reached the high court this year.

    Beyond the out-of-pocket cost, there was “also the distraction of your company being stuck in a lawsuit often times about a central component of the product you were making,” said Morgan Reed, president of the ACT—The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 app companies.


    Before the Supreme Court ruling, “small business could essentially be dictated to where [the suit] was going to happen,” Reed said. “[They] could find themselves thousands of miles away from home, having to find legal counsel in a jurisdiction that frankly was found to be incredibly unfavorable to defendants.”

    The ruling is a also win for those smaller companies that generally don’t have the capital to fight patent trolls in court. Often, when patent trolls claim smaller companies like app developer Todd Moore’s have infringed on their patent, “We just have to write them a check, so they will go away,” Moore told economics correspondent Paul Solman.

    READ MORE: Inventor behind Priceline bemoans broken patent system

    Moore said the ruling was “great news”; in his mind, patent trolls are about “nothing more than extortion.”

    Michael Mullen, Senior Vice President at Kraft, said his company was “disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling on this procedural matter,” but added, “we respect the Court’s opinion and do not believe it has any impact on the ultimate outcome of our case.”

    Some lawmakers have tried to tackle the issue of patent trolls. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Virginia), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has pushed for patent reform legislation targeting trolls and said the decision “will help rein in abusive forum shopping, and restores our nation’s patent venue laws to ensure that cases are brought in judicial districts that have a reasonable connection to the dispute.”

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    GOP candidate Greg Gianforte is in a tight race against democrat Rob Quist. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    HELENA, Mont. — A reporter for the Guardian newspaper is alleging that the Republican candidate for Montana’s sole congressional seat “body slammed” him on the day before the special election.

    The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office says it’s investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte, a wealthy Bozeman businessman.

    Gianforte campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said the candidate was in a private office giving an interview when reporter Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission.

    She says in a statement that Jacobs was asked to leave after trying to ask questions.

    The newspaper posted an audio recording that captured the tension. In the recording, Gianforte can be heard saying that he was “sick and tired of you guys.”

    The post Reporter alleges attack by Montana GOP hopeful appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    On Thursday, budget director Mick Mulvaney testified to Congress on President Donald Trump’s budget.

    “Every single time I’m in the Oval Office with the President, whether it’s on budgets, tax policy, trade policy, energy policy, regulatory policy, those discussions are driven by one goal and one goal only: How to we get America back on track in the economy,” he told lawmakers.

    Congress’ official budget analyst is projecting that the House Republican health care bill would produce 23 million more uninsured people and costly, perhaps unaffordable coverage for the seriously ill.

    The Congressional Budget Office report, issued Wednesday, also found that average premiums would fall compared with President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a chief goal of many Republicans. But that would be partly because policies would typically provide fewer benefits and sicker people would be priced out, it concluded.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    A group of police officers stand outside flats in Hulme, Manchester, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates - RTX37KBB

    A group of police officers stand outside flats in Hulme, Manchester, May 25, 2017. Photo by Andrew Yates/Reuters

    MANCHESTER, England — Home searches across Manchester and beyond have uncovered important items in a fast-moving investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, Manchester’s police chief said Thursday as a diplomatic spat escalated over U.S. leaks about the investigation to the media.

    Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters the eight suspects detained so far are “significant” arrests, and “initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation.”

    He did not elaborate, but those arrests around the northwestern English city include Ismail Abedi, the brother of 22-year-old Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi. The bomber’s father Ramadan Abedi and another brother Hashim have been detained in Libya.

    As police raced to uncover the network that may have helped Abedi attack an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, furious British officials blamed U.S. authorities Thursday for leaking details of the investigation to the media.

    One British official told The Associated Press that police in Manchester have stopped sharing information about their bombing investigation with the U.S. until they get a guarantee that there will be no more leaks to the media. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would discuss the leaks with President Donald Trump at a NATO summit. Upon her arrival in Brussels, May said the U.S.-British defense and security partnership is built on trust.

    But she said “part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently.”

    British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb were published in The New York Times, although it’s not clear that the paper obtained the photos from U.S. officials.

    British security services are also upset that Abedi’s name was apparently leaked by U.S. officials while British police were withholding it — and while raids were underway in Manchester and in Libya, where the bomber’s father lives.

    Hopkins, the Manchester police chief, said the leaks had “caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.”

    Trump on Thursday pledged to “get to the bottom” of leaks of sensitive information, calling the leaks “deeply troubling.” He said he is asking the Justice Department and other agencies to “launch a complete review of this matter.”

    The New York Times defended its publication of crime-scene photographs, saying its coverage had been “both comprehensive and responsible.”

    “The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes,” the paper said.

    May said the national threat level from terrorism remains at critical — the highest level, meaning that another attack may be imminent. Hundreds of soldiers have replaced police protecting high-profile sites including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament in London.

    “The public should remain vigilant,” May said.

    Around the country, many people fell silent and bowed their heads at 11 a.m. for a minute in tribute to the bombing victims.

    In Manchester’s St. Ann’s Square, where a sea of floral tributes grows by the hour, a crowd sang “Don’t Look Back in Anger” — a song by the Manchester band Oasis.

    Queen Elizabeth II visited Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on Thursday to talk to some of the victims, their families and medical staff.

    “It’s dreadful. Very wicked, to target that sort of thing,” the 91-year-old monarch told 14-year-old Evie Mills and her parents.

    Fifteen-year-old Millie Robson, wearing an Ariana Grande T-shirt, told the queen she had won VIP tickets to the pop star’s concert. She was leaving concert when the blast struck, remembering an intense ringing but not entirely aware that she was bleeding badly from her legs.

    She credited her dad’s quick action in picking her up and tying off her wounds to stem the bleeding.

    “I have a few like holes in my legs and stuff and I have a bit of a cut, and my arm and just a bit here, but compared to other people I’m quite lucky really,” she said.

    In addition to those killed, 116 people received medical treatment at Manchester hospitals for wounds from the blast. The National Health Service said 75 people had been hospitalized.

    In Berlin, former U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a message of solidarity to the Manchester bombing victims.

    “(This is) a reminder that there is great danger and terrorism and people who would do great harm to others just because they’re different,” Obama said.

    Investigators are chasing Abedi’s potential links with jihadi militants in Manchester, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The bomber himself died in the attack.

    France’s interior minister says Abedi was believed to have travelled to Syria, and U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was part of “a cell of ISIS-inspired terrorists.”

    Investigators are trying to find whether Abedi knew several Manchester-based jihadis, including Libyan man Abdalraouf Abdallah, who was jailed in the U.K. for terror offenses, and Raphael Hostey, an IS recruiter killed in Syria.

    Investigators are also looking into the Abedi family’s ties in Libya. Abedi’s father Ramadan was allegedly a member of the al-Qaida-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting group in the 1990s — a claim he denies.

    Manchester is home to one of Britain’s largest Libyan communities. Mohammed Fadl, a community leader, said the Abedi family is well known, but Salman did not attend many gatherings.

    “Very few people in the community here were close to him and therefore Salman’s fanaticism wasn’t something the community was aware of,” he told the AP.

    He said he had heard that Salman’s father took his son’s passport away amid concerns about his close ties to alleged extremists and criminals.

    Authorities are investigating whether Abedi could have been stopped, after Libyan community members in Manchester reported concerns about his views.

    Akram Ramadan said Salman Abedi had been banned from Manchester’s Didsbury Mosque, one of the largest in the city.

    “There was a sermon about anti-Daesh (IS) and he stood up and started calling the Imam — ‘You are talking bollocks,'” Ramadan said. “And he gave a good stare, a threatening stare into the Imam’s eyes … he was banned.”

    Fadl, the community leader, disputed that account and the bomber’s father insisted Wednesday in an interview with the AP that Salman had no links to militants, saying “we don’t believe in killing innocents.”

    Abedi had been in Libya in the weeks before the attack, and German magazine Focus, citing unnamed federal security source, reported that he passed through Duesseldorf airport four days before the bombing.

    A German security official told the AP on Thursday the report was accurate, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information hadn’t been cleared for public release.

    On the artistic front, Grande cancelled concerts that were to take place Thursday and Friday in London, and in several other sites in Europe. Next week’s premiere of the film “The Mummy” in London was also canceled.


    Dodds and Katz reported from London. Sylvia Hui in London, Rob Harris in Manchester, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Maggie Michael in Cairo and Julie Pace in Brussels also contributed.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron before a working lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Dejong/Pool - RTX37KZJ

    U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron before a working lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. Photo by Peter Dejong/Reuters

    BRUSSELS — U.S. President Donald Trump met his match in a handshake showdown with France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron.

    At their first meeting, ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white.

    Trump finally seemed ready to pull away — but Macron evidently wasn’t. The French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Trump has described himself as “a germ freak” and called handshakes “barbaric.” In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback,” Trump wrote he’d “often thought of taking out a series of newspaper ads encouraging the abolishment of the handshake.”

    Trump’s aversion to hand-shaking seemed to lessen over the course of the U.S. presidential campaign. He’s now deep into an inaugural world tour that has forced him to exchange hand greetings with leaders from Israel to the Vatican.

    Macron won France’s election this month by positioning himself as the anti-Trump, embracing globalization and open borders and quoting philosophers.

    But as a 39-year-old who has never held elected office, Macron clearly was excited about the appearance with the U.S. president, which cemented his status as a new global player — and as a formidable hand-shaker.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks past Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX37LSW

    U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks past Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at the start of the NATO summit at their new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on May 25, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    BRUSSELS — President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to crack down on leaks that prompted Manchester police to withhold information from the United States about the investigation into this week’s bombing. He also chastised NATO leaders for not paying their fair share to protect the long-standing alliance.

    A British official said Thursday that Manchester police have decided not to share further information on the investigation due to leaks blamed on U.S. officials. Trump, who said there is “no relationship we cherish more” than the one with the U.K., declared the leaks “deeply troubling” and said he was asking the Justice Department to lead an investigation into the matter.

    “These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this,” Trump said in a written statement. “The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.”

    Trump issued his sharp rebuke from Brussels, a city he once called a hellhole, where he was addressing leaders at both the European Union and NATO, a pair of alliances whose necessity he has questioned.

    At NATO’s gleaming new headquarters, Trump returned to his longstanding call for member nations to pay their fair share, lecturing leaders about contributing more as they stood listening in awkward silence.

    “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” Trumps said in brief remarks. “If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism.”

    The 28 member nations, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, will renew an old vow to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. Only five members currently meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

    Moreover, though the White House had sent recent signals that the United States would stay in NATO’s mutual defense pact, known as Article 5, Trump made no mention of it as he stood next a monument dedicated to the only time the article had been previously invoked: during the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

    Asked about Trump not explicitly affirming U.S. support for Article 5, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “It goes without saying. His presence at this event underscores our commitments and treaty obligations.”

    Trump’s speech to NATO came hours after the EU council president said a discussion with him produced sharply different views on Russia. And the new French president pushed Trump on a sweeping climate agreement and even engaged in an apparent handshake stand-off.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May said she plans to discuss the leaks with her American counterpart at the NATO gathering to “make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

    British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the Manchester attack were published in The New York Times, although it’s not clear that the paper obtained the photos from U.S. officials.

    Trump, who unlike other leaders at the summit is not planning to address reporters, did not respond to shouted questions as to whether the UK can trust the US with sensitive material.

    Trump and his White House have long complained about “leakers” they think are trying to undermine his presidency. While all administrations deal with some leaks, news outlets have been privy to everything from details of draft documents to the president’s private phone conversations with foreign leaders.

    Recently in the news were reports that the president had shared highly classified information with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting, revealed by those with knowledge of the conversation.


    Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Catherine Lucey contributed from Washington.

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    Speaker Paul Ryan addressed the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the health care reform bill.

    On Wednesday, the budget office said the House bill would leave 51 million Americans uninsured by 2026 and only reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion.

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    Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris as the sun rises, France, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RTSVDJT

    Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris as the sun rises, France, December 9, 2016. Photo by Charles Platiau/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 other Republicans on Thursday urged President Donald Trump to follow through on his campaign pledge to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    The GOP senators sent a two-page letter to the White House saying that remaining in the international agreement signed by Trump’s predecessor pledging to reduce carbon emissions could fuel legal challenges to the administration’s push to roll back environmental regulations.

    Most of the senators who signed are from states that depend on the continued burning of coal, oil and gas. That includes Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe and others who, like Trump, have suggested the scientific data showing the Earth is warming due to man-made carbon emissions is a hoax.

    The letter signers account for fewer than half of Senate Republicans. A similar letter was also sent to Trump this week by attorneys general from 10 Republican-led states, including oil-rich Texas and coal-dependent West Virginia.

    Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to “renegotiate” the accord, but he has wavered on the issue since winning the presidency. His top officials have appeared divided about what to do about the 2015 deal, which was signed by nearly 200 countries.

    There are also influential voices urging Trump not to ditch the Paris accord. A number of high-profile businesses have spoken out in favor of the deal, including Apple, Google and Walmart. Even fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil and Shell say the United States should abide by the deal.

    During Trump’s visit to Rome this week, Pope Francis also urged Trump to take climate change seriously.

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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, in Vienna January 16, 2016.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX22PAD

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal on Jan. 16, 2016. This week, Kerry warned the Senate that new sanctions on Iran could lead to the unraveling of the nuclear accord. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A Senate panel overwhelmingly backed bipartisan legislation that would authorize President Donald Trump to put new sanctions on Iran while keeping the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in place.

    The Foreign Relations Committee voted 18-3 on Thursday despite concerns from former Secretary of State John Kerry and several Democrats that the measure could nonetheless lead to the unraveling of the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration.

    Kerry cautioned lawmakers to “tread carefully” in pushing ahead with new sanctions against Iran in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election last week to another four-year term. Rouhani is a political moderate who scored a resounding victory over a hard-line opponent.

    His win is viewed by many as a referendum on his push for international outreach that led to the nuclear deal.

    In a series of tweets Wednesday, Kerry said “there is much up in the air/room for misinterpretation. This is not the moment for a new Iran bill.” Kerry, who spent nearly three decades in the Senate and chaired the Foreign Relations Committee, urged his former colleagues to consider the risk of undercutting the nuclear agreement by imposing new sanctions.

    “We need to consider the implications of confrontation without conversation,” Kerry wrote.

    But Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee’s Republican chairman and one of the bill’s sponsors, said he recently reviewed top-secret intelligence that detailed Tehran’s support for terrorism and other destabilizing actions.

    “It is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world,” said Corker, urging his colleagues to confront the threat Tehran poses.

    Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, said the bill is “100 percent consistent” with U.S. obligations under the nuclear pact. Cardin, arguing for the legislation, said Iran’s leaders are taking the country “on a path of destruction.”

    The committee’s bill imposes mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure also would apply terrorism sanctions to the country’s Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

    In exchange for Tehran rolling back its nuclear program, the U.S. and other world powers agreed to suspend wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions that had choked the Iranian economy. As part of the July 2015 multinational accord, Iran also regained access to frozen assets held abroad.

    Israel and congressional Republicans have long assailed the agreement as a windfall to Iran. They’ve argued the deal only delayed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and failed to allow the kind of inspections of its atomic sites that would guarantee Tehran was not cheating. Lifting economic sanctions saved Iran’s economy, GOP lawmakers added, and allowed the country to funnel more money to terrorist groups.

    Yet the nuclear deal remains in place despite Trump’s pledge during the presidential campaign to discard or renegotiate the pact. Instead, the State Department took a key step last week toward preserving the pact by issuing a waiver to keep the sanctions from snapping back into place. And the Trump administration notified Congress last month that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement.

    Neither Iran nor the other nations that negotiated the agreement have any interest in re-opening the deal, and U.S. companies could lose money if the deal is scuttled. Tehran has inked multibillion-dollar deals with Boeing and Airbus since the deal went into effect.

    The Obama administration had opposed legislation that would slap Iran with more penalties over concerns that such a step could give Iran an excuse to walk away from the deal by saying the U.S. had reneged on its commitments to sanctions relief.

    The post Senate panel backs bill to authorize new sanctions on Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Sen. Joe Lieberman arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in 2012. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Sen. Joe Lieberman has withdrawn from consideration for the role of FBI director. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman has withdrawn from consideration for the role of FBI director. Lieberman interviewed last week with President Donald Trump, who publicly identified him as a leading candidate.

    But Lieberman says he’s pulling out in a letter sent to the White House.

    He says he wants to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, given Trump’s hiring of one of Lieberman’s law partners to represent him in the investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    The White House declined to comment. Several other people interviewed for the job have also withdrawn from consideration.

    Trump fired former FBI director James Comey earlier this month.

    The post Lieberman latest person to withdraw from FBI director search appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Wild horses attempt to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart SEARCH "WILD HORSE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RTX2YH9Y

    Wild horses attempt to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah on Jan. 8, 2017. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    PALOMINO VALLEY, Nev. — President Donald Trump’s budget proposal calls for saving $10 million next year by selling wild horses captured throughout the U.S. West without the requirement that buyers guarantee the animals won’t be resold for slaughter.

    Wild-horse advocates say the change would gut nearly a half-century of protection for an icon of the American West and could send thousands of free-roaming mustangs to foreign slaughterhouses for processing as food.

    They say the Trump administration is kowtowing to livestock interests who don’t want the region’s estimated 59,000 mustangs competing for precious forage across more than 40,000 square miles (103,600 square kilometers) of rangeland in 10 states managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

    The budget proposal marks the latest skirmish in the decades-old controversy pitting ranchers and rural communities against groups that want to protect the horses from Colorado to California.

    “This is simply a way to placate a very well-funded and vocal livestock lobby,” Laura Leigh, president of the nonprofit protection group Wild Horse Education, said about the plan.

    The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other interests have been urging the BLM for years to allow sales of wild horses for slaughter to free up room in overcrowded government corrals for the capture of more animals.

    Doug Busselman, executive vice president of the Nevada Farm Bureau, blamed the stalemate on the “emotional and anti-management interests who have built their business models on preventing rational and responsible actions while enhancing their fundraising through misinformation.”

    Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also grappled with the spiraling costs of managing the nearly 60,000 horses on the range and 45,000 others in U.S. holding pens and contracted private pastures.

    Over the past eight years, the BLM’s wild-horse budget has more than doubled — from $36.2 million in 2008 to $80.4 million in 2017.

    Trump’s proposal anticipates the $10 million savings would come through a reduction in the cost of containing and feeding the animals. The savings also would include cutbacks involving roundups and contraception programs.

    The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act allows older, unadoptable animals to be sold. But for years, Congress has approved budget language specifically outlawing the sale of any wild horses for slaughter.

    Horse slaughterhouses are prohibited in the U.S. but legal in many other countries, including Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

    A year ago, then-BLM Director Neil Kornze said the horses represented a $1 billion budget problem for his agency because it costs $50 million to round up and house every 10,000 horses over their lifetime.

    Still, he said the agency had no intention of reversing the long-standing policy.

    The Trump administration wants a change, saying through the BLM that the “program is unsustainable and a new approach is needed, particularly when overall federal funding is so constrained.”

    It says the budget would allow the agency to manage the wild-horse program in a more cost-effective manner, “including the ability to conduct sales without limitation.”

    The BLM rounded up more than 7,000 horses in 2012, but only about 3,000 in each of the past two years due primarily to budget constraints.

    As of March, the BLM estimated that more than half the horses roaming the range — 34,780 — were in Nevada. An additional 13,191 burros were on the range — about half in Arizona.

    The BLM asserts that U.S. rangeland can sustain fewer than 27,000 horses and burros.

    “The original intent of the act was to make sure those animals had a healthy presence on the range, but also that they be kept at a number that is sustainable,” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the National Cattlemen’s public lands council. “You have horses starving to death … and irreversible damage to Western rangelands.”

    The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Trump’s budget proposal was shocking.

    “Wild horses can and should be humanely managed on-range using simple fertility control, yet the BLM would rather make these innocent animals pay for draconian budget cuts with their very lives,” ASPCA President Matt Bershadker said.

    Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, said the plan could put the horses on the brink of extinction.

    “America can’t be great if these national symbols of freedom are destroyed,” she said.

    The post Wild horses could be sold for slaughter in Trump budget plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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