Trump says he’ll meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of trading insults and threats of nuclear annihilation, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un by the end of May to negotiate an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday. No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korea leader.
The meeting would be unprecedented during seven decades of animosity between the U.S. and North Korea. The countries remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.
“Great progress being made,” Trump tweeted after the South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, announced the plans to reporters in a hastily called appearance on a White House driveway.
Trump added that sanctions will remain in place until there’s a deal.
Trump took office vowing to stop North Korea from attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the U.S. mainland, a goal that Pyongyang is on the cusp of reaching. He’s oscillated between threats and insults directed at Kim that have fueled fears of war, and more conciliatory rhetoric.
Trump teases big news; it arrives in the dark, on driveway
WASHINGTON (AP) — The first inkling that something big was afoot on North Korea came from President Donald Trump himself: He popped his head into the White House briefing room late Thursday afternoon to tease a “major statement” coming soon — from South Korean officials.
Then ABC reporter Jon Karl ran into Trump in a West Wing hallway and the president let out a little more string. Asked if the announcement was about talks with North Korea, Trump offered: “It’s almost beyond that. Hopefully, you will give me credit.”
Within hours came the remarkable news that after years of brinksmanship and threats of mutual obliteration, Trump had agreed to sit down with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — a man he’s long derided as “Little Rocket Man.”
Instead of a televised addressed to the nation or a press conference in the stately East Room, the news ultimately was delivered by a South Korean national security official standing on the White House driveway.
In the dark.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. TRUMP AGREES TO MEET WITH KIM JONG UN
The sit-down, announced by U.S. and South Korean officials, would be the first of its kind between a leader of North Korea and a sitting president of the United States.
2. PRESIDENT DEFIES GOP WARNINGS OF TRADE WAR
Trump, bucking many members of his own party, orders steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S.
School shooting calls released; gun bill on governor’s desk
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — In a newly released recording from the day of a deadly Florida school shooting, the parents of a 17-year-old girl tell a 911 dispatcher their daughter is texting from a classroom where the door’s glass was shot out. Later, the student texts that police have arrived. After getting the rest of the message, the mother raises her voice, “Three shot in her room. Oh my God. Oh my God.”
As a gun-control bill sits on the governor’s desk, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office released 12 minutes of radio transmissions from its deputies and a neighbouring police agency highlighting the chaos during the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That material also included 10 of the 81 recordings of frantic calls by students and parents to a 911 centre.
The excerpts showed a deputy on school grounds first thought the loud bangs were firecrackers, then realized they were gunshots — yet he never ran toward them. Other responding deputies and officers desperately tried to sort through a chaotic scene, treat the injured, lock down the school and locate the shooter.
Three weeks after the Parkland high school shooting, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has a gun-control bill on his desk that challenges the National Rifle Association but falls short of what the Republican and survivors of the massacre demanded.
Now he must decide whether to sign it. Scott has not said what he will do, and he plans to take up the issue Friday with relatives of 17 people slain in the attack.
911 calls, radio traffic show chaos in high school massacre
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — In the minutes after a gunman opened fire in a Florida high school, killing 17, frantic students and parents begin flooding 911 with calls.
A deputy on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus first thought the loud bangs were firecrackers but quickly realized they are gunshots — yet he never ran toward them.
Other responding deputies and police officers desperately tried to sort through a chaotic scene, treat the injured, lock down the school and locate the shooter.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released 12 minutes of radio transmissions from its deputies and neighbouring Coral Springs police, along with recordings of 10 of the 81 calls its 911 centre received during the Feb. 14 shooting. The sheriff also released a written timeline laying out how the radio calls correlated with what was seen on unreleased school security video.
Investigators say video shows suspect Nikolas Cruz opening fire with an AR-15 assault rifle 15 seconds after he enters the school’s freshman building, and firing periodically over the next six minutes. Deputy Scot Peterson, the resource officer assigned to protect the school, is at the nearby administration building. It will be more than 90 seconds before he heads toward the shooting. The first 911 call comes in 68 seconds after Cruz opens fire. The first responding deputies arrive two minutes after that.
Trump orders stiff trade tariffs, unswayed by grim warnings
WASHINGTON (AP) — Unswayed by Republican warnings of a trade war, President Donald Trump ordered steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. on Thursday, vowing to fight back against an “assault on our country” by foreign competitors. The president said he would exempt Canada and Mexico as “a special case” while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The new tariffs will take effect in 15 days, with America’s neighbours indefinitely spared “to see if we can make the deal,” Trump said. He suggested in an earlier meeting with his Cabinet that Australia and “other countries” might be spared, a shift that could soften the international blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.
Those “other countries” can try to negotiate their way out of the tariffs, he indicated, by ensuring their trade actions do not harm America’s security.
Surrounded by steel and aluminum workers holding hard hats, Trump cast his action as necessary to protect industries “ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices. It’s really an assault on our country. It’s been an assault.”
His move, an assertive step for his “America First” agenda, has rattled allies across the globe and raised questions at home about whether protectionism will impede U.S. economic growth. The president made his announcement the same day that officials from 11 other Pacific Rim countries signed a sweeping trade agreement that came together after he pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year.
Democrats’ Texas rift shows difficulty in retaking Congress
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrats are salivating at the prospect of flipping a wealthy Houston enclave that has been solidly Republican since sending George H.W. Bush to Congress in 1967 — the kind of race they’ll have to win for any hope of retaking the House in the November midterms.
But their new opportunities, here and in other states, sometimes have them going after each other instead of the Republicans, and that could spoil their chances. Aside from the normal conflicts of ambition and personality, there’s a more significant Democratic rift lingering from the 2016 presidential primary between the party’s Bernie Sanders progressive wing and its Hillary Clinton establishment.
The tensions clouding the upcoming runoff between the party’s top two candidates in the Houston district — corporate attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and activist Laura Moser — could shadow other House races nationwide. Party leaders believe frustration with President Donald Trump, coupled with a surge of energized female candidates, could spell a banner midterm election season. But with so many Democratic candidates in so many districts, party power brokers may try and tip the scales, sometimes with clumsy results.
In Houston, Moser advanced to the May 22 runoff despite opposition from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The national campaign group published an opposition research memo calling her “a Washington insider who begrudgingly moved to Texas to run for Congress” and targeted her for once joking that she’d rather have “my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in small-town Texas.
Sanders, whose Our Revolution group endorsed Moser, called the party’s attack “appalling.”
Views of Trump’s trade adviser carry the day at White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the squabbling Trump White House, no insider is ever above rebuke and no one blacklisted beyond redemption. Trade adviser Peter Navarro, once barred from sending private emails and spotted skulking in West Wing hallways, has emerged from the chaos ascendant.
With his chief ideological rival, Gary Cohn, now headed for the exit, Navarro and his protectionist trade policies are taking centre stage as President Donald Trump prepares to impose the steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that Navarro has long championed.
Navarro, a 68-year-old former economics professor whose ideas were once considered well outside the mainstream, joined the Trump campaign in 2016 after one of his books on China happened to catch the eye of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner during an internet search.
From the presidential campaign, Navarro made the leap to the new administration to head a new White House National Trade Council. But he was quickly sidelined by chief of staff John Kelly and closely managed by former staff secretary Rob Porter.
As alliances shifted and staffers departed, though, Navarro made his move, encouraging Trump to embrace a plan that many economists, lawmakers and White House aides warn could lead to a trade war and imperil U.S. economic gains. Trump signed a pair of proclamations Thursday imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
UK police: 21 people sought treatment after ex-spy poisoning
LONDON (AP) — Around 21 people have received medical treatment after a nerve-agent attack on an ex-Russian spy, British police said Thursday, as the U.K. vowed strong action against whoever was responsible for the “brazen and reckless” act.
Three people remain hospitalized after the poisoning Sunday in the southern English city of Salisbury — former spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a British police officer who tried to help them.
Health authorities say there is little risk to the wider public. But Wiltshire county acting police chief Kier Pritchard said “around 21 people” have had treatment, including the Skripals, who were found unconscious on a bench.
Pritchard said “a number” of the 21 were having “blood-tests, support and advice.” Previously, authorities had said only that “several” people had sought treatment.
The ex-spy and his daughter remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital. A police officer who came to their aid, Sgt. Nick Bailey, is hospitalized in a serious condition, though he is conscious and talking, officials said.
White House aide launches first wave in final-days PA push
PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the first wave of the White House’s new western Pennsylvania offensive, one of President Donald Trump’s chief aides on Thursday attacked Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb on abortion while casting Republican Rick Saccone as “a reliable vote” for the president.
White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, the first of three Republican heavyweights set to campaign in the region before Tuesday’s special election, charged that even a single vote could affect Trump’s policy agenda on Capitol Hill.
“Every vote counts at the ballot box, but every vote counts in Washington right now too,” she told a dozen campaign volunteers at an Allegheny County GOP office. She added later, “The president wants a reliable vote in Washington.”
Conway acknowledged she was the “warm-up band” for the White House’s final-days push to preserve a Republican congressional seat in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, a working-class region that stretches from the Pittsburgh suburbs to the West Virginia border. The president is scheduled to attend a local rally on Saturday followed by his son, Donald Trump Jr., on Monday.
The high-profile reinforcements from the president’s orbit were welcomed by Saccone, a 60-year-old state representative, who has wholeheartedly embraced Trump throughout his campaign. Trump carried the region by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016. Yet with the election just days away, polls suggest that Saccone is essentially tied with Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine and former federal prosecutor who has never before run for office.