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News Wrap: Trump defends authorizing Barr to release classified information

In our news wrap Friday, President Trump defended allowing Attorney General William Barr to release classified information on how the Russia investigation began, saying the “attempted coup” should never happen again. Also, North Korea warned that nuclear talks with the U.S. won't resume unless Washington backs off its demands. Pyongyang claimed the U.S. is essentially asking North Korea to disarm.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has finally bowed to pressure and announced her resignation.

    She had been besieged on all sides, after failing to push a Brexit deal through Parliament. Her announcement today triggers a battle in the Conservative Party to become the next prime minister. We will get the details after the news summary.

    President Trump today defended a decision to let Attorney General William Barr release classified information on how the Russia investigation began. Just what gets released will be up to Barr, but Mr. Trump ordered intelligence agencies to cooperate with his investigators.

    He discussed this before leaving the White House to travel to Japan.

  • Donald Trump:

    Everything that they need is declassified, and they will be able to see how this hoax, how the hoax or witch-hunt started, and why it started. It was an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States. It should never, ever happen to anybody else.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, called the president's decision — quote — "un-American."

    Fellow Democrat Mark Warner, chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted that Attorney General Barr — quote — "has no problem selectively releasing information in order to mislead the American people."

    In Russia, a court in Moscow today ordered former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan to be held for another three months. He was arrested last December on suspicion of spying. He has denied the charges. Today in court, Whelan claimed that he has been mistreated, and that he is being held in retaliation for U.S. Government sanctions.

  • Paul Whelan:

    I have been threatened. My personal safety has been threatened. There are abuses and harassment that I am constantly subjected to. There's a case for isolation. I have not had a shower in two weeks. This is typical prisoner of war chapter one isolation technique.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Whelan could face up to 20 years in a Russian prison if he is convicted. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said again today that there is no evidence that he committed any wrongdoing.

    North Korea is warning that nuclear talks with the U.S. will never resume unless Washington backs off its demands. Pyongyang charged today that the U.S. is essentially asking the North to disarm. The Trump administration says that North Korea is making excessive demands for sanctions relief in exchange for only partial denuclearization.

    Back in this country, floodwaters kept rising in parts of the Midwest and south, following days of severe storms. In Jefferson City, Missouri, crews worked to restore power after a tornado carved a three-mile path through the city late Wednesday. At the same time, the Missouri River flooded streets in Jefferson City. Parts of Kansas and Western Arkansas also braced for new flooding.

    A long-awaited disaster aid package stalled again today in Congress. It includes $19 billion for states hit by wildfires, hurricanes and floods. The Senate passed it yesterday, after stripping out border security money, but President Trump said that he would sign it anyway.

    Today, however, Texas Republican Chip Roy blocked a final vote in the House, with most lawmakers already gone for Memorial Day.

    Rep. Chip Roy, (R)-Texas: If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation's capital to vote on it. Secondly, it's a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats blasted the move, calling it sabotage. The House could try again next week. Otherwise, it will have to wait until it returns to work on June 4.

    There has been new action in the fight over state abortion laws. In Mississippi, a federal judge today blocked a statute that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. In Alabama, opponents of a ban on nearly all abortions asked another federal court to intervene. And Missouri's governor signed a ban on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

    Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein reportedly has a tentative deal to resolve lawsuits over alleged sexual misconduct. The Wall Street Journal and others reported today that the settlement is worth $44 million. Most would go to Weinstein's accusers. Lawyers for at least one of the plaintiffs disputed the report.

    Celebrity chef Mario Batali pleaded not guilty today to indecent assault and battery. He is accused of forcibly kissing and groping a woman at a Boston restaurant in 2017. It is the first criminal charge against him after a series of sexual misconduct allegations.

    And on Wall Street today, gains by financial companies helped the broader market. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 95 points to close at 25, 585. The Nasdaq rose eight points, and the S&P 500 added three.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": after three years without a Brexit deal, Prime Minister Theresa May steps down; protests and concern, as some transgender Americans are targeted in a series of killings; 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell gives his pitch on why he wants to be president; and much more.

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