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 after 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.
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."
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.
'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.
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 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 gunman Stephen 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."
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.
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.
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.
Quakes damage roads as ash spews from Hawaii volcano
HONOLULU (AP) — Earthquakes were damaging roads and buildings on Hawaii's Big Island on Wednesday as ash emissions streamed from Kilauea volcano.
The strongest shaking was recorded around 8:30 a.m., measured as a 4.4-magnitude earthquake. The floor of the summit crater has also dropped about three feet (90 centimetres), as the threat of a strong, explosive eruption at the top of the volcano loomed. The ground was deflating as the crater's lava levels fell, causing stress faults around the crater to move, resulting in the earthquakes. More were expected.
Ash spewed from the summit at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, though emissions decreased from Tuesday.
There were occasional bursts of ash coming from the crater causing ash to fall downwind to several communities, though there were only trace amounts, said the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Ash plumes on Tuesday had spouted as high as 12,000 feet (3,657 metres) into the air, scientists said.
These plumes are separate from the lava eruptions happening roughly 25 miles (40 kilometres) away from summit, where about 20 lava fissures have destroyed more than two dozen homes and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
Shorter drug treatment OK for many breast cancer patients
Many women with a common and aggressive form of breast cancer that is treated with Herceptin can get by with six months of the drug instead of the usual 12, greatly reducing the risk of heart damage it sometimes can cause, a study suggests.
It's good news, but it comes nearly two decades after the drug first went on the market and many patients have suffered that side effect.
The study was done in the United Kingdom and funded by UK government grants. Results were released Wednesday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and will be presented at the group's meeting next month.
Herceptin transformed care of a dreaded disease when it was approved in 1998 for women with advanced breast cancers whose growth is aided by a faulty HER2 gene, as 15 per cent to 20 per cent of cases are. It was later approved for treatment of those cancers in earlier stages, too, based on studies that had tested it in patients for 12 months. That guess, that the drug should be taken for a year, became the standard of care.
But the drug can hurt the heart's ability to pump. That often eases if treatment is stopped but the damage can be permanent and lead to heart failure.