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News Wrap: ‘No one is above the law,’ Ryan warns Trump against pardoning himself

In our news wrap Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan publicly broke with President Trump on two issues, dismissing Trump's claims that the FBI planted a spy in his 2016 campaign and warning the president against pardoning himself in the Russia probe. Also, White House officials say Trump commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, publicly broke with President Trump today on two key issues.

    He disputed Mr. Trump's claims that the FBI planted a spy in his 2016 campaign. Instead, the speaker said he agrees with Congressman Trey Gowdy, who is chair of the House Oversight Committee, who has said that the FBI was right to have an informant contact Trump campaign associates.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.:

    I think Chairman Gowdy's initial assessment is accurate. I think — but we have some more digging to do.

    But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of — of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made. But I want to make sure that we run every lead down and make sure that we get final answers to these questions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Speaker Ryan also warned President Trump against pardoning himself in the Russia investigation. The president has claimed this week that he has — quote — "an absolute right" to do so, but he said he has done nothing wrong, and so there is no need for a pardon.

    Today, Ryan said — quote — "Obviously, the answer is he shouldn't, because no one is above the law."

    White House officials say that the president today commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson. She is 63, and has spent more than 20 years behind bars, without parole, after being convicted of a nonviolent drug offense. Celebrity Kim Kardashian West met with Mr. Trump last week, pressing Johnson's cause.

    Facebook has now acknowledged sharing user data with Chinese phone maker Huawei. U.S. government officials have flagged that firm as a national security threat. The New York Times initially reported the data sharing. Facebook then announced the arrangement is ending immediately. Huawei says that it never actually collected or stored Facebook user data.

    In Guatemala, 75 people are now confirmed dead, with nearly 200 missing, after Sunday's volcano eruption, and search teams are growing desperate.

    William Brangham reports.

  • William Brangham:

    It is an apocalyptic scene, a gray blanket of toxic ash and mud left by Guatemala's most violent volcanic eruption in 40 years.

    It's called Volcan de Fuego, the Volcano of Fire, and it first shook this region of Southwest Guatemala in the middle of the night Sunday. Fast-moving mud and lava flows tore through entire villages, catching residents off-guard.

    In the town of San Miguel Los Lotes, rescuers have been digging through buried homes, searching for anyone who might've survived.

    Rony Rocael joined in, hoping to find his teenage daughter.

  • Rony Rocael (through translator):

    We came to help with the search for people, because one is my daughter, who hasn't turned up. So, we came to see if we could rescue her, or at least find her body, so we can have her.

  • William Brangham:

    Elsewhere, the dead were found, entombed in ash and debris. Officials believe those who weren't buried were likely asphyxiated within minutes from breathing in the heavy dust and toxic gases.

    Families have been burying loved ones for days now, as rescue operations continue. In some places, the ground below is still a scalding 500 degrees from the lava. There are occasional glimmers of hope, as when this baby girl was pulled unscathed from a building in the town of El Rodeo. Her family was safely rescued as well.

    But new eruptions yesterday sent people running for safety, and prompted wider evacuations.

  • Woman (through translator):

    The truth is that it was truly ugly, because everyone was walking everywhere. There were cars that crashed. People fell over, but we all had the same nervousness we all had. We were all in a state of panic.

  • William Brangham:

    Meanwhile, officials keep a watchful eye on Volcan de Fuego, unsure if more eruptions will come.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The European Union has responded to newly announced U.S. tariffs by imposing duties on imported American products. The bloc today targeted $3.4 billion worth of U.S. steel and agricultural products. The trade battle is escalating just ahead of this weekend's meeting of the heads of the seven most powerful Western industrialized nations.

    Here in Washington, two top aides to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have resigned, as he faces an ethics probe. Senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt and Pruitt's scheduler, Millan Hupp, are stepping down. Greenwalt received a 50 percent raise this year, before it was rescinded. Hupp has said that she performed personal tasks for Pruitt on government time.

    First lady Melania Trump has made her first public appearance in almost a month. She joined her husband at a briefing on the U.S. hurricane season. Until then, she had not been seen outside the White House since a kidney procedure in early May. On Twitter, the president declared that theories about his wife's status were — quote — "all fake." He said, she is doing really well.

    And several thousand people gathered today at Arlington National Cemetery to mark 50 years since Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. He died on June 6, 1968, after being shot in Los Angeles. He had just won California's Democratic presidential primary.

    At today's ceremony, former President Bill Clinton said Kennedy's message resonates now more than ever.

  • President Bill Clinton:

    He would stand in a synagogue and say the same thing as he'd say at a Knights of Columbus meeting. And if we had had a large Muslim population back then, he would have gone to them and said, you too can be part of America, if you share our values and our vision.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    Robert F. Kennedy was 42 years old when he died.

    On Wall Street today, bank stocks helped lead another rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 346 points to close at 25146. The Nasdaq rose 51, and the S&P 500 added 23.

    And the world is a less colorful place today, after the last living Munchkin from "The Wizard of Oz" passed away. Jerry Maren danced his way down the Yellow Brick Road as a member of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 classic, and handed Judy Garland's Dorothy a token of welcome to Munchkin Land. Jerry Maren was 98 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour," California primaries set up competitive races for November; a former FBI agent sounds the alarm over misinformation spread by foreign countries; mapping history — ancient DNA that is unlocking the story of humankind's journey; and much more.

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