What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

News Wrap: Trump’s inaugural funds reportedly under investigation

In our news wrap Friday, federal prosecutors are reportedly in the early stages of investigating potentially illegal contributions to Trump’s inaugural committee, while Michael Cohen spoke out for the first time since being sentenced. Also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis met with their Canadian counterparts to denounce China’s detention of two Canadian citizens.

Read the Full Transcript

  • William Brangham:

    President Trump may have another legal problem to ponder.

    Federal prosecutors in New York are reportedly investigating his inaugural committee and whether it received illegal foreign donations. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times say the inquiry is in its early stages.

    Meanwhile, the president's former attorney Michael Cohen is insisting again that candidate Trump directed hush money payments to two women before the 2016 election.

    Cohen spoke in an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. He denied acting on his own, as the president has repeatedly claimed.

  • Michael Cohen:

    First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me, as I said in my allocution, and I said as well in the plea, he directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters.

  • William Brangham:

    In response, the White House called Cohen a — quote — "self-admitted liar" and said he shouldn't be taken seriously.

    The president today tapped budget Chief Mick Mulvaney late today to be acting White House chief of staff. The announcement came in a tweet. Mulvaney will take over when John Kelly leaves as chief of staff at the end of the year.

    The U.S. Border Patrol is defending its actions after a 7-year-old Guatemalan child died in detention this month. The girl and her father were picked up after crossing the border in New Mexico. Officials say she didn't appear ill at first, but her temperature spiked, and she died within hours. It turned out she'd had no food or water for days.

    We will have more on this as part of a broader update after the news summary.

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today condemned China's detention of two Canadian citizens. The two were picked up after Canada arrested Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou. She's accused of violating U.S. trade sanctions on Iran.

    Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis met today with their Canadian counterparts. The Canadians insisted they're acting strictly by the book.

  • Chrystia Freeland:

    In Canada, there has been, to this point, no political interference in this issue at all. For Canada, this is a question of living up to our international treaty obligations and following the rule of law in Canada.

  • William Brangham:

    Canadian officials have also objected to President Trump saying he might intervene in Meng's case if it helps clinch a trade deal with China.

    Separately, China announced today it will suspend $126 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. autos and auto parts. The moratorium is for 90 days, as trade talks proceed.

    Israeli security forces rounded up dozens of Hamas militants in the West Bank today. It followed a series of shooting attacks on Israelis this week. The crackdown sparked battles between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians throwing rocks. Palestinian officials said a teenager was shot and killed.

    U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have captured the last Islamic State stronghold in Eastern Syria. They had battled the militant group for control of the town of Hajin for three months.

    But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened again today to attack the Kurdish fighters that he regards as terrorists. Turkey said he also discussed the situation with President Trump by phone.

    In France, a fourth person has died from wounds suffered in Tuesday's mass shooting in Strasbourg. That word came as the city's famed Christmas market, which was the scene of the attack, reopened for business amid heavy security. The suspected gunman was killed by police last night in Strasbourg.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May pressed on today in her bid to rework a Brexit deal. But leaders from the European Union gave her little hope. French President Emmanuel Macron said it's time for the British Parliament to accept the deal, or not.

    The European Council's president, Donald Tusk, underscored that point at meetings in Brussels.

  • Donald Tusk:

    I have no mandate to organize any further negotiations. We have to exclude any kind of reopening our negotiations on the withdrawal agreement. But, of course, we will stay here in Brussels, and I am always at Prime Minister Theresa May's disposal.

  • William Brangham:

    At one point, May had a heated exchange with European commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He had dismissed Britain's demands as — quote — "nebulous and imprecise."

    Negotiators at the U.N. climate talks in Poland agreed today to extend their meetings through Sunday. They're trying to finalize a rule book for meeting global warming goals. Key sticking points include how to create a global market in carbon credits and whether to compensate countries that have already been damaged by climate change.

    Back in this country, Wisconsin's defeated Republican governor signed legislation that weakens the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. Scott Walker dismissed criticism that the move was a power grab by Republicans. And he sparred, long distance, with incoming Governor Tony Evers.

  • Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis.:

    These bills don't fundamentally change the power of, not just the next governor, but any governor thereafter, going forward. They just make sure that we have transparency, accountability, that we always look to protect the taxpayers, and that we have a sense of stability going forward in state government.

  • Gov.-Elect Tony Evers, D-Wis.:

    This legislation was created without accountability and transparency. So what I have said all along is still true, that the will of the people was not — was ignored.

  • William Brangham:

    The new laws restrict early voting and limit the new governor's ability to enact certain administrative rules. Democrats and advocacy groups are expected to challenge the laws in court.

    Also today, Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed bills to scale back laws on the state minimum wage and paid sick leave. Republicans passed the bills in a lame-duck session before Snyder leaves office. He, too, is being succeeded by a Democrat.

    General Motors has announced it's adding 2,700 jobs to offset planned layoffs. The automaker said last month that 3,300 factory workers would be let go when it closes four different U.S. plants. Now GM says most of those employees will be offered one of the new jobs, but some will have to relocate. President Trump and lawmakers have sharply criticized the plant closings.

    And on Wall Street, weak economic figures from China and Europe sent stocks tumbling again. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 500 points to close at 24100. The Nasdaq fell 159 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 50.

Listen to this Segment