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News Wrap: Another Senate Republican defects on health bill

June 23, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In the our news wrap Friday, Nevada Republican Dean Heller announced that he can't support the Senate health care bill in its current form. Also, President Trump said he wanted to force former FBI Director James Comey to be honest about their conversations when he suggested there might be recordings.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Senate Republican health care bill has suffered another critical defection, the fifth so far. Nevada Republican Dean Heller announced in Las Vegas today that he can’t support the bill in its current form.

SEN. DEAN HELLER, R-Nev.: Well, it’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes. They have a lot of work to do. But you have to protect Medicaid expansion states. That’s what I want. Make sure that we’re taken care of here in the state of Nevada. That’s going to be a very difficult lift, because I can see the other side is going to have problems with that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Four other Senate Republicans oppose the measure over its subsidies. But with Democrats united in opposition, GOP leaders can’t afford to lose more than two of their own and still pass the bill.

President Trump says he wanted to force former FBI Director James Comey to be honest about their conversations when he suggested there might be tapes. He spoke to FOX News after announcing yesterday that he didn’t make recordings. As for firing special counsel Robert Mueller, he said — quote — “We’re going to have to see.”

Later, the White House said Mr. Trump has no intention of doing that.

In Cincinnati, the murder trial of a former university police officer ended today in a hung jury for a second time. Ray Tensing killed an unarmed black man during a traffic stop in July 2015. He testified that he feared Sam Dubose was trying to drag him or run him over. After a judge declared a mistrial today, Dubose’s family called it an unjust result.

City officials urged calm.

MAYOR JOHN CRANLEY, Cincinnati: As a city, we will make sure that people who are feeling a variety of emotions, and, in my opinion, justifiably so, have a right to express themselves peacefully. And we have every expectation that that will be the case.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The University of Cincinnati fired Tensing last year after his indictment.

North Korea is denying responsibility for the death of Otto Warmbier, the American student it held for more than a year. He passed away this week days after being returned home in a coma. In a statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said — quote — “The fact that Warmbier died suddenly is a mystery to us as well.”

Saudi Arabia and three other Gulf Arab nations have issued 13 demands to Qatar. They have already imposed an economic blockade, accusing the Persian Gulf kingdom of supporting terror groups. Today, they said Qatar must shut down the broadcaster Al-Jazeera and downgrade diplomatic relations with Iran, among other steps. Qatar said it’s reviewing the demands.

Officials in London began evacuating five apartment buildings late today over fire concerns. Hundreds of people are affected, and repairs could take several weeks. The buildings have siding similar to a high-rise that erupted in flames last week, killing 79 people. Investigators confirmed today that the siding on that building likely contributed to the flames’ rapid spread.

FIONA MCCORMACK, Detective Superintendent, Scotland Yard: Preliminary tests on the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower show that they combusted soon after the test started. The initial tests on the cladding tiles also failed the safety tests.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The investigators say the fire started in a refrigerator. They’re considering manslaughter and other criminal charges against companies that built and maintained the apartment tower.

Negotiations are officially under way to sort out Britain’s exit from the European Union. Today at an E.U. summit, British Prime Minister Theresa May promised no E.U. nationals living in the United Kingdom would have to leave. May called it a good, constructive start, but E.U. leaders were less enthused.

Russia’s National Election Commission has barred opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president. The commission says a criminal conviction for embezzlement makes him ineligible. The anti-corruption activist maintains the case was politically motivated.

Back in this country, U.S. military leaders will seek a six-month delay before allowing transgender people to enlist. The Associated Press reports service chiefs are sending that recommendation to Defense Secretary James Mattis. He will make the final decision. A ban on transgender troops serving openly ended last year. The service chiefs want more time to develop policies on the change.

President Trump has signed a bill aimed at making the government more accountable to military veterans. Vets and their families looked on during today’s ceremony. The bill gives the Department of Veterans Affairs more power to fire employees and protect whistle-blowers.

And on Wall Street, stocks struggled to make any headway. The Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close at 21394. The Nasdaq rose 28 points, and the S&P 500 added three.

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