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News Wrap: Trump denies telling McGahn to fire Mueller

In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump denied he tried to have special counsel Robert Mueller fired. Though the Mueller report says Trump asked former White House counsel Don McGahn to get rid of Mueller, Trump tweeted that he “never told” McGahn that. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports Trump approved paying $2 million to North Korea for American captive Otto Warmbier's release in 2017.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    There is fresh fallout tonight from the Russia report. President Trump is denying that he tried to have special counsel Robert Mueller fired. According to the report, former White House counsel Don McGahn says the president directed him to get rid of Mueller, but that he refused.

    On Twitter today, Mr. Trump said, quote: I never told Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so.

    There is word that President Trump approved paying $2 million to North Korea to win the release of American student Otto Warmbier in 2017. "The Washington Post" reports that the North Koreans claimed it was the cost of caring for Warmbier. He had been comatose since being imprisoned in March 2016, for allegedly destroying a propaganda sign. Warmbier died shortly after he was returned to the U.S. It is unclear if the $2 million was ever paid.

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and Russia's President Vladimir Putin held their first summit today. They met as the U.S. maintains a policy of maximum pressure on North Korea, to force it to give up nuclear weapons. The leaders sat down in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

    Afterward, Putin said Kim is willing to end his nuclear program, if he gets concrete security guarantees.

  • President Vladimir Putin (through translator):

    Denuclearization is the disarmament of North Korea. I can confirm once again, the North Korean side talks about this. They need a guarantee of their safety, of the preservation of their sovereignty. And what guarantee could it be except the restoration of international law?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Putin did not elaborate on what kind of arrangement he meant. But he did say he will discuss the issue with Chinese leaders in an upcoming visit to Beijing.

    In Sri Lanka, the U.S. embassy is warning Americans there to avoid places of worship this weekend, in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings. The country's prime minister said today that would-be attackers are still on the loose.

    Investigators also searched the home of two of the alleged Easter bombers. Police arrested their father on suspicion of aiding his sons. Meanwhile, authorities lowered the death toll to 253 from 359. They gave no explanation.

    Gunmen in Pakistan shot and killed a polio vaccinator today, in a new surge of violence against immunization efforts. It was the third such attack this week, as the Taliban and militant clerics preach the vaccine is a foreign ploy to sterilize Muslims.

    France's President Emmanuel Macron is calling for tax cuts and pension reforms, in a bid to end anti-government protests. Macron gave a nationally-televised speech today after months of sometimes violent demonstrations.

  • President Emmanuel Macron (through translator):

    So in the face of all these worries that have been expressed, to tell you what I have understood and heard, it seems to me that the best direction to answer to the needs of fiscal justice is not to increase the taxes of this person or that. No, it's rather to lower taxes for the maximum number of our fellow citizens.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The so-called Yellow Vest movement began in November, and organizers say that Macron's response today fell short. They promise more protests on Saturday.

    A new tropical cyclone is blasting Mozambique tonight, six weeks after another storm killed hundreds in that East African nation. This new storm began coming ashore near the city of Pemba, with sustained winds of 136 miles an hour. Thousands in northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania have been ordered to evacuate.

    In the U.S., a tornado carved a 130-mile path across Texas and Louisiana early today, killing a woman and her son. They died when a tree fell on their home in northern Louisiana. The storm was part of severe weather that had ripped up roofs, power lines and trees in Texas on Wednesday, and killed three people in the state.

    The Texas man who organized the notorious dragging death of a black man in 1998 has been put to death. John William King, an avowed racist, was executed by lethal injection last night. The victim, James Byrd, was chained to a truck and dragged for nearly three miles.

    A former police officer in Florida was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting a black musician in 2015. Nouman Raja was in plainclothes and in an unmarked car when he confronted and shot Corey Jones, after Jones' car had broken down. After today's hearing in West Palm Beach, Jones' family and attorneys said justice have been served.

  • Benjamin Crump:

    Based on the fact that this is the first time in over 30 years that a police officer has been convicted for killing a black person in the state of Florida, it is a milestone for many black Americans, not only in Florida but all across the United States.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will look at a new, nationwide study on police conduct a little later in the program. Federal agents raided the homes and offices of Baltimore's mayor, Catherine Pugh, today. The FBI and IRS are investigating sales of Pugh's children's books to firms that do business with the city, and whether the sales were really kickbacks. The mayor faces mounting calls to resign, including from the state's governor today.

    The Pentagon's watchdog agency has cleared Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of ethical violations. He was alleged to have used his official position to favor Boeing, where he had worked for 31 years. He's been acting secretary since January, when James Mattis resigned the post.

    And, on Wall Street, a mixed day of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 135 points to close at 26,462, the Nasdaq rose 16 points, and the S&P 500 slipped one point.

    Still to come on the NewsHour: what Joe Biden's announcement means for the 2020 race. The largest database ever compiled of police misconduct, tracking the influence of the Islamic State after its territorial losses, and much more.

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