News Wrap: Trump says he wants to boost U.S. nuclear arsenal


JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: President Trump says that he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to make sure that it's — quote — "at the top of the pack."

In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Trump also denounced Russia's launch of a ground-based cruise missile as a violation of a 1987 arms control treaty. And he said he supports some form of a border tax, but offered no specifics.

HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump's education secretary defended the rollback of public school bathroom rules for transgender students. The Education and Justice Departments last night withdrew guidance on the issue from the Obama administration. It had said public schools must let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

At today's CPAC conference, Betsy DeVos insisted students, parents and teachers need more flexibility.

BETSY DEVOS, U.S. Education Secretary: This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration's overreach, to suggest a one-size-fits-all, federal government approach, top-down approach to issues that are best dealt with and solved at a personal level and a local level.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House yesterday denied reports that DeVos opposed changes to the guidance, but was overruled by the Justice Department.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A number of Republican lawmakers home on break this week are facing angry constituents at town hall meetings. Some attendees have expressed concerns about President Trump and his approaches to environmental protection and the Affordable Care Act.

In Arkansas last night, Senator Tom Cotton was confronted by shouting demonstrators who asked about the health care issue.

WOMAN: Will you commit to replacements in the same way that you have committed to the repeal?


SEN. TOM COTTON, R-Ark.: Everyone in this room has been hurt or helped …

WOMAN: I have only been helped. Obamacare saved my life, Senator.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, amid more jeers in Louisiana, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy was asked if he would author legislation to get rid of big contributions in elections.

REP. BILL CASSIDY, R-La.: To get money out of politics means that you would need to have public funding.



REP. BILL CASSIDY: I fundamentally disagree.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The protest bears similarity to events in the summer of 2009, when Tea Party groups voiced discontent about President Obama's health care overhaul.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will let the federal government continue to use private prisons. He issued a new memo today. It replaces an Obama administration memo that intended to phase them out, citing subpar management.

And also from the Trump administration today, there's a sign that states with recreational marijuana use laws have stricter federal enforcement in store. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Department of Justice will be looking into it.

Newly released e-mails show a cozy relationship between the now head of the Environmental Protection Agency and energy companies. Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma's former attorney general, was sworn in as EPA chief last week. More than 7,500 pages of e-mails from his attorney general's office were released under court order. They show Pruitt and his staff coordinated with oil and gas executives to fight Obama era environmental regulations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iraq, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought their way into a military base outside Mosul, and onto the grounds of the city's airport. It's part of a major assault to drive Islamic State fighters out of Iraq's second biggest city. Iraqi police units and army forces engaged in heavy clashes with ISIS militants, before seizing the airport's runway.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country, officials are investigating, after an off-duty Los Angeles policeman fired his gun during a dispute with teenagers on his lawn. Cell phone video showed the officer struggling with a 13-year-old yesterday. After other kids approached, the man pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a shot. No one was hurt, but two teens were arrested.

Protests erupted overnight, with hundreds marching through the streets. Some blocked traffic, and 24 people were arrested. The officer was placed on administrative leave.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stocks were mostly higher on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 34 points to close at 20810. The Nasdaq fell 25, and the S&P 500 added nearly a point.

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