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News Wrap: Trump pardons conservative author who was convicted for illegal campaign contributions

In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump pardoned conservative author and President Obama critic Dinesh D'Souza, who had made illegal campaign contributions and was sentenced to five years of federal probation in 2014. Also, the president traveled to Texas and met with the families of those killed in the Santa Fe shooting.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another big step today toward setting up a U.S./North Korean summit.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in New York City with North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol and reported real progress. Pompeo said that, tomorrow, Mr. Kim will deliver a letter to President Trump from North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. We will have a full report after the news summary.

    In the day's second major story–the Trump administration formally imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Levies of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum were first announced in March, but delayed, pending negotiations.

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested further talks might yet make a difference.

  • Wilbur Ross:

    We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In turn, Mexico announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products. Canada said it's imposing new tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum that it imports from the U.S.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, alongside his foreign minister, declared Washington's actions are totally unacceptable.

  • Justin Trudeau:

    Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world. Indeed, we account for half of U.S. exports, U.S. steel exports. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The European Union also condemned the U.S. tariffs and said that it will respond in kind.

    We will hear with the E.U. ambassador to Washington in just a few minutes.

    In the day's other news, President Trump pardoned conservative author and critic of President Obama Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza had made illegal campaign contributions and been sentenced to five years federal probation in 2014.

    Mr. Trump also said he might commute the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois. He's currently serving 14 years for corruption. And the president talked of pardoning businesswoman Martha Stewart. She served five months in prison stemming from a sale of stock before the price plunged.

    President Trump traveled to Texas today, and met with families of those who died in the Santa Fe school shooting. Governor Greg Abbott and Republican Senator Ted Cruz were on hand as Air Force One touched down in Houston. The meeting with the families was private.

    Later, the president went on to a series of campaign fund-raising events in Houston and in Dallas.

    Mr. Trump claimed again today that ousting FBI Director James Comey had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. He tweeted, "Not that it matters, but I never fired James Comey because of Russia."

    In fact, he's previously said the opposite, at least twice. The first time came within days of Comey's dismissal in May of last year.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it.

    And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the Comey firing as possible obstruction of justice.

    Comedian Samantha Bee apologized today for calling the president's daughter Ivanka a sexual obscenity. It happened last night on "Full Frontal," Bee's show on TBS. The White House condemned the comment as — quote — "vile and vicious." In a Twitter statement later, Bee said her language was inexcusable, and she wrote– "I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it."

    Earlier this week, ABC fired Roseanne Barr over a racist tweet about a former Obama adviser.

    In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad threatened to attack Kurdish fighters in the Northeast. And he warned 2,000 U.S. troops aiding the Kurds against ISIS to go home. Assad also wants to recapture territory in Southwest Syria, near the Israeli border, with the aid of Iran and allied groups.

    In Moscow today, the Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warned Russian leaders that Israel will not accept Iranian forces near its frontier.

    The Supreme Court of China today overturned the fraud conviction of a retail tycoon. Zhang Wenzhong was released in February after 12 years in prison. The court called his case a misapplication of the law. The decision came as the ruling Communist Party tries to reassure nervous business leaders.

    Back in this country, Sears is closing another 72 stores to stem financial losses. That will leave the company with 800 outlets, down from a peak of 4,000 back in 2012.

    And on Wall Street, stocks fell today on worries about the budding tariff war. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 252 points to close at 24415. The Nasdaq fell 20, and the S&P 500 gave up 18.

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