In our news wrap Friday, a new book by an anonymous administration official claims senior officials considered resigning last year in protest of an unfit president with "trouble synthesizing information.” The White House has dismissed the book as lies. Also, the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed for the government to stop using violence against protesters.
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In the day's other news: A new book paints President Trump as unfit to be commander in chief, and claims that senior officials considered resigning last year in protest.
The author is the same anonymous administration official who wrote last year of internal resistance to the president. The Washington Post reports that the book says — quote — "Mr. Trump stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information."
The White House has dismissed it all as lies.
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon testified today that one of the president's longtime confidants, Roger Stone, was a — quote — "access point" to WikiLeaks. The anti-secrecy group released e-mails that damaged Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. Bannon was subpoenaed to appear as a witness in Stone's federal criminal trial. Stone is charged with witness tampering and with lying to Congress.
In Iraq, the leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed for the government to stop using violence against protesters. But the day brought more chaos to the southern city of Basra, where security forces fired tear gas to disperse crowds. New clashes also broke out in Baghdad.
Man (through translator):
We call for reforms, security, good living conditions for all citizens in Iraq. Corruption is rampant everywhere. The security forces are firing live ammunition.
Elsewhere, Iraqi security officials said that 17 rockets hit an air base that houses American troops near Mosul. There were no reports of casualties.
Tensions spiked in Northeastern Syria today when a Turkish military vehicle ran over and killed a protester. He was among a group who chased and pelted a joint Turkish-Russian patrol with stones. The patrol was aimed at keeping Kurdish fighters away from the Turkish-Syrian border.
Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free out of prison today. The leftist leader's supporters greeted him outside. His release follows a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling allowing inmates to remain free while they appeal their convictions. Da Silva, commonly known as Lula, is appealing a corruption and money-laundering case that put him behind bars in 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged NATO nations today to spend more on their common defense, in the face of Russian and Chinese challenges. He spoke in Berlin, Germany, helping to commemorate tomorrow's 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As we celebrate, as we take this victory lap, we must also recognize that freedom is never guaranteed. We spoke to this. It doesn't just happen. Today, authoritarianism is just a stone's throw away. It's rising. And if — if we're honest, it never really went away completely.
Pompeo also unveiled a statue of President Ronald Reagan at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. It overlooks the site of Reagan's 1987 speech demanding the Soviets tear down the wall.
We will return to the anniversary after the news summary.
There was new unrest in Hong Kong today, after a university student died of injuries that were suffered during an anti-government protest. He had fallen from a parking garage early Monday when police fired tear gas. It was a rare fatality in the five months of protests, but activists rallied to condemn police tactics and demand justice.
Later, thousands of mourners gathered at the garage to pay their respects.
Back in this country, federal health officials report a possible breakthrough in vaping-related illnesses that have sickened more than 2,000 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a substance called vitamin E acetate turned up in the lung fluid of 29 patients.
It is used in vaping products sold on the black market. Researchers may need animal studies to prove that the compound is actually causing lung damage.
And in economic news, lingering trade tensions caused China's exports to the U.S. to fall 16 percent last month over the year before. Meanwhile, U.S. sales to China were down 14 percent.
Stocks still managed modest gains on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average inched six points higher to close at 27681. The Nasdaq rose nearly 41 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.