In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump said a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone when it came too close to the vessel and ignored warnings to move off. He criticized “Iran's attempt to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.” Also, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan drew fire from Congress over conditions for detained migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the day's other news: Federal court records shed more light on President Trump's knowledge of hush money payments before the 2016 election.
The money went to silence two women who claimed they had had sex with Mr. Trump. The documents showed that he spoke repeatedly with Michael Cohen, his personal attorney at the time, as the payments were organized. Cohen is already in prison, but it was widely reported that prosecutors will not file additional charges.
The U.S. and Iran have clashed again at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. President Trump says an American warship destroyed an Iranian drone today when it came within 1,000 yards of the ship, and ignored warnings to move off.
He spoke at the White House.
President Donald Trump:
The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.
News of the drone incident came hours after Iran confirmed that its Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf. State media said the impounded ship was trying to smuggle fuel out of Iran. The vessel was based in the United Arab Emirates.
And we will be speaking with Iran's foreign minister tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is sending roughly 500 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, in a move aimed at Iran. Reports today said the troops will make ready for advanced warplanes to use a key Saudi air base. It's part of a larger deployment already announced.
The nation's top homeland security official drew fire today over conditions for detainees at the southern border. Kevin McAleenan, who is the acting secretary of homeland secretary, went before the House — U.S. House Oversight Committee. He defended the Trump administration's efforts.
But the committee chair, Democrat Elijah Cummings, rejected it out of hand.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.:
I guess you feel like you're doing a good job, is that right? Is that what you're saying?
We're doing our level best in a very challenging…
What does that mean? What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower? Come on, man. What's that about? None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings.
McAleenan said that conditions improved greatly after Congress recently approved emergency funding. And he said the numbers of children being separated from families has dropped sharply since last year.
The U.S. House voted today to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade. Majority Democrats pushed through a bill to raise the wage to $15 an hour over six years. It is now set at $7.25. The measure is given little chance in the Republican-run Senate.
A heat wave began building to scorching intensity today from the Southern Plains to the East Coast. In Washington, visitors to the National Mall have been stocking up on bottled water. Temperatures in the city could hit 100 degrees by the weekend. More than 150 million Americans will be under heat advisories and warnings for the next several days.
In Japan, at least 33 people were killed today when a man set fire to a popular animation studio in Kyoto. Black smoke billowed from the three-story building for hours, as rescue workers scrambled to pulled people out. They worked well into the night, as bystanders looked on.
Hirofumi Iwaoka (through translator):
I never expected such an incident could happen this close to my neighborhood. So many people lost their lives or got injured, and I really feel for them. It is so outrageous hearing this was caused by arson, regardless what the motivation could have been. I feel anger towards the suspect.
Officials said the suspect was a 41-year-old man who burst into the building shouting, "You die," and doused the place with gasoline. He was burned in the attack before being arrested.
Officials in the Philippines say nearly 8,000 police officers have been punished for misdeeds during a nationwide anti-drug offensive. More than 2,000 were fired outright, and the rest were suspended, demoted or reprimanded. At least 5,500 people have died in the drug raids. President Rodrigo Duterte launched the campaign three years ago.
Back in this country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will not ban the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos. Environmental and public health groups argued that it can cause brain damage in children. But the EPA questioned that claim, in a reversal of earlier findings. Opponents of the decision are expected to fight it in court.
A federal judge in New York didn't bail today for financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges. He's accused of exploiting dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. Epstein was silent as the judge refused to let him await trial at his Manhattan mansion.
Later, a lawyer who's representing some of the victims commended the judge's action.
Only by taking away the freedom of Jeffrey Epstein can we restore the freedom of these victims. They have been living in fear and intimidation since the day they were abused by him, and now he is in jail.
Prosecutors argued that Epstein was a danger to the community and could be a flight risk, and the judge said he agreed.
Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, insisted today that he will not step down, despite protests roiling the U.S. territory. Violence erupted last night, as thousands of people marched to Rossello's residence in San Juan, and police fired back with tear gas. Protests began after online chats showed that the governor and aides were insulting women, gays and even hurricane victims.
President Trump today accused island leaders of corruption and of wasting hurricane aid.
The governor of Hawaii has declared an emergency, as growing crowds of protesters delay construction of a giant telescope. The project is slated for Mauna Kea, but some native Hawaiians say that the work will desecrate sacred ground. Up to 2,000 demonstrators have turned out to prevent construction. The governor's action gives police more options to remove the blockades.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained three points to close near 27223. The Nasdaq rose 22, and the S&P 500 added 10.
And the top U.S. diplomat in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis, L. Bruce Laingen, has died. Laingen was among 52 Americans who were captured when Iranian protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy. They were held for 444 days before being released. L. Bruce Laingen was 96 years old.
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