News Wrap: Trump administration reportedly considering military expansion in Afghanistan
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, in the day's other news — and there was other news — there's word that the Trump administration is considering a plan to return to an expanded role for the U.S. military in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reported the proposal could send up to 3,000 more U.S. troops to the country, and give the Pentagon, not the White House, the power to set troop levels. President Trump is expected to make a decision before a NATO summit on May the 25th.
The Trump administration is also ramping up efforts to battle the Islamic State in Syria by arming Kurdish fighters there with heavier weapons. It's all part of an operation to recapture the city of Raqqa from ISIS. The decision was made despite fierce opposition from NATO ally Turkey, which claims that the Kurdish forces are linked to rebels who are battling the Turkish government.
White House officials today defended a decision not to immediately act on warnings about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had testified just yesterday that she alerted the White House in January that Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer today said that Yates' warning was minimized by the White House because she was, in his words, a strong supporter of Clinton.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: She had come here given a heads-up, told us there were materials. And at the same time, we did what we should do.
Just because someone comes in and gives you a heads-up about something and says I want to share some information doesn't mean that you immediately jump the gun and go take an action.
I think if you flip the scenario and say, what if we had just dismissed somebody because a political opponent of the president had made an utterance, you would argue that it was pretty irrational to act in that manner.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In a related development, CNN is reporting that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina intends to look into President Trump's business dealings in Russia.
Spicer responded by saying that the president has directed a law firm to send Graham a certified letter stating that the president has no connections.
South Korea has elected a liberal president for the first time in a decade; 64-year-old Moon Jae-in comes to power after months of political turmoil in that country that led to the impeachment of former conservative President Park Geun-hye. With the highest turnout in 20 years, Moon secured 41 percent of the vote, leading his nearest opponent by 17 points.
We will take a closer look at the impact of the election later in the program.
Back in this country, the U.S. Department of Energy declared a state of emergency after a breach at a nuclear storage facility some 200 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington. Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation were evacuated or told to seek cover after the roof of a tunnel used to transport nuclear waste caved in.
The site's spokesperson updated the situation this afternoon on Facebook Live.
DESTRY HENDERSON, Hanford Nuclear Reservation: All personnel in the immediate area have been accounted for. They are safe, and there's been no evidence of radiological release.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The effort to rid the Hanford site of radioactive material has been ongoing since it stopped producing plutonium back in the 1980s.
Violence erupted at a Florida airport overnight after Spirit Airlines canceled nine flights, stranding hundreds of travelers. Enraged passengers swarmed the ticket counters at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport when they were told there were no available pilots. Three people were arrested. Spirit Airlines blamed the cancellations on an ongoing dispute over the pilots' contracts.
President Trump has set his sights on reelection, rolling out a revamped campaign Web site today touting his achievements thus far. It promises — quote — "the truth that the mainstream media is hiding" about the president's first 100 days in office. Mr. Trump filed legal papers for reelection the same day he took office.
Nearly 250 migrants are missing and feared dead after two separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean over the weekend. Survivors from one wreck told United Nations agencies that smugglers crammed more than 130 people onto a rubber boat designed for 20 people. Today, a U.N. spokeswoman gave a grim assessment of the number of migrants who've disappeared trying to make the perilous journey.
CECILE POUILLY, UNHCR: The total number of people who are feared dead or missing while trying to cross from North Africa to Italy since the beginning of the year has now reached more than 1,300 people, and a total of over 43,000 people trying to cross the Central Mediterranean to reach Italy since the beginning of the year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Officials fear the surge in migration will continue to rise as the weather becomes warmer.
A new study has found that your Americans' lifespan can vary by as much as 20 years based on where they live. That's according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. U.S. counties with the highest life expectancy, in Colorado and California, also had high incomes and education levels. Communities with the lowest life expectancy, in the Dakotas, along the Mississippi valley, and in Appalachia, were poorer and less educated.
And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 36 points to close above 20975. The Nasdaq rose nearly 18 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.