Thursday April 6, 2017 5 Top Stories to Start Your Day
1. Breaking News: House Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced Thursday that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Senator Devin Nunes, will no longer lead the panel’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 campaign and allegations of collusion with the Trump campaign. Speaker Ryan stated that “Chairman Nunes has offered to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and I fully support this decision.” Nunes, a California Republican, released a statement, “”I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter.” Nunes has been under pressure to leave his post after he revealed that he had been invited to the White House grounds to look at confidential material that he said showed that several names had been “unmasked” during the collection of security investigations of foreign officials. Nunes reported what he had seen to the White House and not to any members of the House Intelligence Committee.
2. President Trump, speaking on the chemical gas attack in Syria, spoke about the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday stating that the attack on a rebel-held town in Syria’s Idlib province was a “heinous” act that “crossed a lot of lines for me.” He did not say what the United States planned to do about the attack and Russia jumped at the chance to push Trump into laying his cards on the table as to what the U.S response will be. Russia’s Foreign Ministry instead challenged the US to answer what their plans are. He stated, “Russia’s approach to Assad is clear. He is the legal president of an independent state. What is the US approach?”
3. President Donald Trump has warned China that the United States will be left to take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang. Trump stated Wednesday that “China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t.” Continuing Trump stated that “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.” Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader will be visiting the United States Thursday into Friday but the visit will take place at Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-lago.
4. Wednesday, President Trump announced the removal of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council. It is believed that the action indicates the growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who took over the position after the resignation of Michael Flynn. The administration stated that the removal of Bannon was not a demotion for Bannon and that the changes were due to the efforts of the Trump administration to “deconstruct” the federal government, including slimming down bureaucracies.
5. The vote on whether Judge Neil Gorsuch is still being fought by Senate Democrats while the Republicans are promising a showdown by changing Senate rules and going “nuclear.” Neither party is listening to the other with Democrats arguing that a new candidate needs to be selected as Gorsuch has a history of backing big business and Democrats are arguing that this administration should pay a price for not allowing former President Obama’s pick to even have confirmation hearings. Judge Merrick Garland ended up being the lame duck of Supreme Court nominees. Republicans argue that they worked with Democrats to approve Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Judge Elena Kagan.
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