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Post : AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT
URL : http://nationalpost.com/pmn/pmn-news/ap-news-in-brief-at-1204-a-m-edt-136
Posted : May 16, 2018 at 8:05 pm
Author : The Associated Press
Tags : AP
Categories : PMN News, PMN World

Unapologetic Trump Jr.: Not troubled that I met with Russian

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Questioned intently by a Senate committee, President Donald Trump's son struck a firmly unapologetic tone, deflected many queries and said he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in hopes of election-season dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to transcripts released Wednesday.

Donald Trump Jr., speaking in a closed-door interview last year with the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he did not give much thought to the idea that the June 9, 2016 meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race.

"I don't know that it alarmed me, but I like I said, I don't know and I don't know that I was all that focused on it at the time," Trump Jr. said in response to a question about whether he was troubled by the prospect of Russian support, the transcripts show.

The committee on Wednesday released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting, which Trump Jr. attended with the expectation of receiving compromising information about his father's Democratic opponent.

The transcripts reveal some new details about how the meeting -- a key point of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign -- came to be arranged and efforts afterward to mitigate the political damage arising from its disclosure.

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Trump disclosure of Cohen payment raises new legal questions

NEW YORK (AP) -- President Donald Trump revealed in his financial disclosure Wednesday that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified "expenses," with no mention of a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual tryst she said they had.

The head of the nation's ethics office questioned why Trump didn't include this in his previous year's sworn disclosure and passed along his concerns to federal prosecutors.

"I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing," David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Apol wrote that he considers Trump's payment to Cohen to be a repayment on a loan and that it was required to be included in Trump's June 2017 disclosure.

But Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham that he didn't think the repayment "had to be disclosed at all because I think it was an expenditure that he reimbursed."

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. WHAT TRUMP'S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REVEALS

The documents show the president reimbursed attorney Michal Cohen as much as $250,000 -- with no mention of a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

2. WHY NKOREA THREATENS TO SCRAP US SUMMIT

Pyongyang says it has no interest in a "one-sided" affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

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Seoul pushes for successful Trump-Kim talks as North warns

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea said Thursday it's pushing to reset high-level talks with North Korea and will communicate closely with Washington and Pyongyang to increase the chances of a successful summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on resolving the standoff over the North's nuclear weapons.

The announcement by Seoul's presidential National Security Council came a day after North Korea threatened to scrap next month's historic meeting between Trump and Kim, saying it has no interest in a "one-sided" affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nukes. The North also broke off a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest the U.S.-South Korean military exercises the North has long claimed are an invasion rehearsal.

The North's surprise announcement seemed to cool what had been an unusual flurry of outreach from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. Analysts said it's unlikely that North Korea intends to scuttle all diplomacy. More likely, they said, is that it wants to gain leverage ahead of the talks between Kim and Trump, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

South Korea, which brokered the talks between Kim and Trump, will "closely mediate using multiple communication channels with the United States and with North Korea so that the North Korea-U.S. summit can proceed successfully," said the NSC after a meeting chaired by Chung Eui-yong, the top security adviser of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The NSC also urged the North to faithfully abide by the agreements reached between Moon and Kim in their summit last month, where they issued a vague vow on the "complete denuclearization" of their peninsula and pledged permanent peace. Senior officials from the two Koreas were to sit down at a border village on Wednesday to discuss how to implement their leaders' agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve overall ties before the North cancelled the meeting.

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'Thank the Party!' China tries to brainwash Muslims in camps

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) -- Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China's new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.

When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.

"The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking -- your own ethnic group," said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp. "I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can't sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time."

Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese -- and even foreign citizens -- in mass internment camps. This detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a U.S. commission on China last month said is "the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today."

Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.

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Trump rails against California for its immigration policies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday hammered California for its so-called sanctuary immigration policies, in what appeared to be his latest push to embolden his base leading into the midterm elections.

As the debate over immigration heats up on Capitol Hill, Trump surrounded himself with mayors, sheriffs and other local leaders from California who oppose the state's immigration policies and who applauded his administration's hard-line efforts.

"This is your Republican resistance right here against what they're doing in California," said California Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, coopting a term used by Democrats opposed to Trump's presidency. She, like others, said the president and his policies were far more popular in the state than people realize.

"It's a crisis," Melendez said of the situation.

They were responding to legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that bars police from asking people about their immigration status or helping federal agents with immigration enforcement. Jail officials can transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one of about 800 crimes, mostly felonies, but not for minor offences.

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Vegas shooting papers hint some may have encountered gunman

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Police documents released Wednesday about the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history included reports from at least two people who said a person they believed to be the gunman ranted in the days prior to last October's Las Vegas Strip attack about the federal government and gun control.

The claims by those people and others could not be verified because the names of all witnesses were blacked out in the 1,200 pages of police reports and accounts that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department made public after losing court battles to keep them secret.

Police and the FBI have not determined a motive in the ongoing investigation. Authorities said they believe Stephen Paddock acted alone and the attack had no link to international terrorism. Law enforcement refused Wednesday to provide any additional information including refusing to say whether the reports were credible.

A jailed man whose gave a statement in November to police and the FBI recalled a man he believed to be Paddock telling him that Federal Emergency Management Agency "camps" set up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were "a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin' down doors and ... confiscating guns."

"Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves," the man said Paddock told him less than a month before the Oct. 1 shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds. "Sometimes sacrifices have to be made."

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Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history, officials announced Wednesday.

The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement involves far more victims.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar's boss was later charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct.

"We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories," said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State's governing board. "We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention."

It is not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It is also unclear where the money will come from. University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders will now work on a way to pay the bill.

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In veiled shot at Trump, Tillerson warns democracy at risk

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a veiled shot at President Donald Trump on Wednesday, warning that a growing national crisis of ethics and integrity has put American democracy at risk.

In remarks to graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson lamented assaults on facts that he said would lead to a loss of freedom if not countered. And he said that only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.

"When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America," Tillerson said. "If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the non-profit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years."

Tillerson did not mention his former boss by name Wednesday but alluded to some policies of the Trump administration by decrying those who neglect or ignore long-standing allies or deny that free trade is an engine of global growth.

"We must never take these long-held allies for granted," he said, in apparent reference to Trump overruling the advice of his former top diplomat and others and withdrawing from some international agreements, threatening import tariffs.

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Senate backs effort to restore 'net neutrality' rules

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate "net neutrality" rules as "political theatre" because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech savvy and value unfettered access to the internet. "This is a defining vote. The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet," said Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the measure.

At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favouring their own sites and apps. Critics, including the Trump administration, said overregulation was stifling innovation, and they backed the FCC's move, which is still set to take effect next month.

Markey said net neutrality has worked for the smallest voices and the largest, but he said internet service providers are trying to change the rules to benefit their interests.

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