In our news wrap Wednesday, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was interviewed by the House Judiciary Committee--the first senior administration official cited in the Mueller report to appear before Congress. But Democrats said she refused to discuss her work or even where her office was. Also, Congress held its first hearing on reparations for slavery in more than a decade.
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The Federal Reserve is leaving its benchmark interest rate unchanged, but that could change the near future.
Today's announcement came in the face of renewed pressure from President Trump to cut rates. Chairman Jerome Powell said the Central Bank may need to intervene soon because growth indicators worldwide have been disappointing.
Apparent progress on trade turned to greater uncertainty, and our contacts in business and agriculture report heightened concerns over trade developments.
The question is whether these uncertainties will continue to weigh on the outlook and thus call for additional monetary policy accommodation.
We will explore the Fed's decision and the president's pressure after the news summary.
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was interviewed today by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, but refused to say much. Hicks was the first senior administration official cited in the special counsel's Russia report to go before a congressional panel. Democrat said that she refused to discuss her White House work or even to say where her office had been. The White House argued had immunity. Democrats call that claim bogus.
Congress has held its first hearing on reparations for slavery in more than a decade. At issue is a proposal for a bipartisan commission to study the question and make recommendations. The House Judiciary Committee heard today from witnesses ranging from actor Danny Glover to Senator Cory Booker, who is a Democratic presidential candidate.
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates argued the legacy of slavery lives to this day.
Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to all regardless of color.
But America had other principles in mind. And the god of bondage was lustful, and begat many heirs. What this committee must know is that while emancipation deadbolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open.
On the other side, writer Coleman Hughes, who said he is descended from slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson, he argued that reparations would create false victims.
I understand that reparations are about what people are owed, regardless of how well they're doing. I understand that. The people who are owed for slavery are no longer here. And we're not entitled to collect on their debts.
Reparations, by definition, are only given to victims. So, the moment you give me reparations, you have made me into a victim without my consent.
The hearing fell on the day known as Juneteenth. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when emancipation finally reached slaves in Southern Texas, as it spread through the last remnants of the defeated Confederacy.
In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy said today that a mine that was used to attack a Japanese oil tanker last week had — quote — "a striking resemblance to Iranian mines." Tehran has denied any responsibility for the attacks. Meanwhile, Israel wrapped up its largest military drill in years. Thousands of troops simulated a war against the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which Israel views as Iran's proxy.
A record 71 million people were displaced around the world last year by war, persecution and other violence. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that's an increase of more than two million from a year earlier. It says the total would amount to the world's 20th most populous country. The single largest group of refugees are still Syrians, at some 13 million.
International prosecutors charged four men with murder today for blasting a Malaysia Airlines plane out of the sky over Ukraine in 2014. It happened in a region controlled by Ukrainian rebels who are backed by Russia. The attack killed all 298 people on the flight from Amsterdam. Dutch officials say the suspects probably thought it was a Ukrainian military plane, and they used a Russian missile to destroy it.
They saw to it that it was brought in, in the area where they were in charge, and it was brought to the launch site. And from this launch site, the MH-17 was shot down, and they were responsible for this whole operation.
Russia and Ukraine forbid extradition of their citizens, but prosecutors say the suspects will be tried in absentia next March.
Back in this country, aviation experts warned that pilots need detailed training to ensure they can handle any problems in the Boeing 737 MAX jet. Retired pilot Sully Sullenberger once landed an airliner in the Hudson River. At a congressional hearing, he said 737 pilots should have repeated sessions in flight simulators.
The 737 MAX has been grounded since fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
President Trump today awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom to supply-side economist Arthur Laffer. He pushed for the Reagan tax cuts, arguing that tax cuts will generate enough growth to pay for themselves. The Trump tax cuts relied upon the same theory. Mainstream economists say that, in fact, Laffer's prescriptions have led to higher deficits whenever they have been tried.
On Wall Street today, stocks managed only modest gains after the Federal Reserve's statement on interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 38 points to close at 26504. The Nasdaq rose 33 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.
And the Library of Congress has named a new U.S. poet laureate. She is Joy Harjo. She is the first Native American woman to hold the position, and will serve for the next year. Harjo has won numerous awards and is known for collections such as "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky" and "In Mad Love and War."