In our news wrap Thursday, the White House has a new reason for why President Trump fired James Comey as FBI Director. In a Fox News interview, presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani said it was "because Comey would not say that he, Trump, wasn't a target" in the Russia investigation. Also, Iran's foreign minister insisted that his government will not agree to any changes to the 2015 nuclear deal.
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In the day's other news, the White House has a new reason for why President Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. In his FOX News interview last night, presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani said it was, "Because Comey wouldn't say that he, Trump, wasn't a target in the Russia investigation."
This is at least the third explanation that the president and his aides have given for firing Comey.
Iran's foreign minister insisted today that his government will not agree to any changes in the 2015 nuclear deal. In a YouTube video, Javad Zarif dismissed President Trump's demands that European leaders fix the agreement.
Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all. We will neither outsource our security, nor will we renegotiate or add on to a deal we have already implemented in good faith. The U.S. has consistently violated the agreement, especially by bullying others from doing business with Iran.
President Trump is weighing whether to recertify Iran's compliance with the agreement or end U.S. sanctions relief by May 12.
The Trump administration stayed mum today on whether U.S. Special Forces are helping Saudi Arabia battle rebels in Yemen. The New York Times reported about a dozen of Green Berets are helping to locate and destroy rebel missiles being fired at Saudi cities. The report said there is no indication that the commandos have actually crossed into Yemen.
A fierce rainstorm roared through Northern and Western India overnight, killing more than 90 people. Some 160 others were injured. The deluge brought winds of 80 miles an hour that blew down trees and destroyed homes. Most of the deaths and the worst of the destruction came in the northern city of Agra. The famed Taj Mahal is located there, but it was undamaged.
Meanwhile, there's word that the 10 cities with the most polluted air are all in India. The World Heath Organization released its findings today, based on data from 2016. According to the WHO, roughly seven million deaths a year worldwide are caused by air pollution.
Talks are under way in Beijing, as China and the U.S. try to avert a trade war. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the U.S. delegation arrived today, as China's Foreign Ministry said any agreement must benefit China as well.
Hua Chunying (through translator):
We welcome negotiation and consultation, but it must be on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, and the result should be mutually beneficial. Let's wait and see.
The talks will continue through tomorrow, with the focus on technology trade and tariffs.
Back in this country, the U.S. military is now investigating the crash of a Puerto Rican National Guard plane that left nine airmen dead. The aging C-130 Hercules nosedived onto a highway near Savannah, Georgia, yesterday just after taking off for Arizona. It was making its final flight before the aircraft was retired. Officials say the plane was at least 40 years old.
In Arizona, teachers are set to end their six-day strike after scoring a major victory. The governor signed a budget bill today including a 20 percent salary hike for teachers over three years. It didn't meet their demands for more school funding. Schools are expected to reopen tomorrow.
The Motion Picture Academy today expelled Bill Cosby, after his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. At the same time, the organization expelled director Roman Polanski. He fled the United States 40 years ago after pleading guilty to drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
And on Wall Street, upbeat economic data rescued stocks from an early swoon. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 400 points initially, but ended up five points up and closed at 23930. The Nasdaq fell 12 points, and the S&P 500 slipped six.
Still to come on the "NewsHour," former CIA Director Michael Hayden on the agency under the Trump administration; on this National Day of Prayer, what's behind Christian evangelicals' strong support for the president; and much more.