Trump increases tariffs on billions of chinese goods

Trump threatens more tariffs on China, the royal baby, and 650 former prosecutors say Trump committed obstruction

President Trump threatens to raise tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars on Chinese goods, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcome their first child, hundreds of former federal prosecutors say Trump would face obstruction charges if he wasn’t president, and much, much more.


Good evening, it’s Monday, May 6th, here’s what you need to know…


1. Trump threatens to hike tariffs on China as trade talks stall


Financial markets in China and the U.S. plunged on Monday after President Donald Trump threatened to increase tariffs on China as trade talks between the two countries stalled. Trump threatened to hike U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods this week and floated the possibility of taxing hundreds of billions more in goods from China. On Twitter, the president complained that trade talks were progressing too slowly and planned to raise tariffs on nearly all Chinese exports, increasing ongoing trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. This was followed by reports that Beijing was considering canceling upcoming trade talks with the U.S., ending the likelihood of striking a trade deal and causing investor concern. Stock markets around the world fell sharply upon the news, including European, Asian, and American markets, where the Dow Jones was down nearly 1% at its lowest point. However, by the end of the trading day on Monday, markets rebounded partially as China confirmed that they would still send a delegation to Washington this week for trade negotiations that aim to end the years-long trade war.



2. It’s a boy! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcome their first child


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, have welcomed their first child, a healthy baby boy early Monday morning. The royal baby, weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces, was born at 5:26 AM, just minutes after the Duchess went into labor, according to Buckingham Palace. Prince Harry, who was present at the birth, said he was “incredibly proud” of his wife and overjoyed about the birth of their first child. Harry promised that more details, including the baby’s name, will be released in the coming days. The latest addition to the royal family is seventh in line to the British throne and Queen Elizabeth II’s eighth great-grandchild. Speaking to TV cameras, Harry promised that the public will get their first glimpse of their newborn son in probably about two days, in keeping with the privacy of royal families. The birth of the royal baby comes almost a year after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan married at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.



3. 650 former prosecutors say Trump would face obstruction charges if he wasn’t president


Hundreds of former federal prosecutors have signed onto a letter saying they believe President Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he were not the president. The letter comes weeks after the redacted version of the Mueller report was publicly released and outlined possible evidence of obstruction against President Trump. Special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General Barr without making a recommendation on whether Trump obstructed justice, in part due to the DOJ’s policy prohibiting the “indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president.” The letter, signed by more than 650 former prosecutors with the Department of Justice, said the Mueller report provided “overwhelming” evidence to establish a case against President Trump on the issue of obstruction.  “The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming,” the letter added. The letter was posted on and includes a directory of names and positions held by prosecutors who have signed onto it. POLITICO


(UPDATE 5/17/19: The total number of signatories has jumped to 916) 



4. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin denies request for Trump’s taxes


In a letter on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied the House Ways and Means Committee of their request for six years of President Trump’s personal tax returns, saying the demand by House Democrats did not have a “legitimate legislative purpose.” “I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” Mnuchin wrote to committee Chairman Richard Neal. Mnuchin consulted with Justice Department lawyers for advice and said that the DOJ would be issuing a formal legal opinion on the matter. “As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” the letter added. The Treasury’s denial comes after the Department missed two previous deadlines by the House committee to submit Trump’s tax returns, which resulted in contention between Secretary Mnuchin and Democratic lawmakers.



5. U.S. sends aircraft carrier to the Middle East as deterrence


The U.S. Is deploying an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East following unspecified threats made by Iran amid escalating tensions between the two countries. The task force comes in response to “a credible threat” made by Iran that reportedly indicated possible attacks on American troops. The exact threats by the Islamic Republic have not been revealed, but the United States’ deployment of military force is meant to send a warning message that any attack will be met with “unrelenting force.” National security adviser John Bolton made the announcement on Sunday night and said that the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East as a safeguard against Iranian provocation. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said. The Pentagon and Trump administration officials have not provided any details on the supposed threat, but it likely stems from increased pressure from President Trump on Tehran in recent weeks. Most notably, the intensifying economic sanctions placed on Iran in response to their enrichment of uranium that could allow the nation to build nuclear weapons.


6. Trump opposes Mueller testifying before Congress


A tentative date of May 15 has been set for special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and face questions over his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said on Sunday that the committee has proposed the May 15th date to Mueller, but he has not yet agreed to appear before the House. In a reversal on Sunday, President Trump said Mueller “should not testify” before the committee after telling reporters on Friday that the decision should be left up to Attorney General William Barr. In a pair of tweets, Trump criticized special counsel Mueller’s investigation and once again claimed “NO COLLUSION” as he slammed congressional Democrats for wanting Mueller to testify. “There was no crime…and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems,” the president tweeted on Sunday. Democratic lawmakers likely want the opportunity to ask Mueller questions after AG Barr has been accused of mischaracterizing his team’s report and conclusions.


7. North Korea’s launches several “projectiles”


North Korea has launched several unidentified short-range projectiles off its eastern coast into the Sea of Japan on Saturday – the country’s first such launch since November 2017. The projectiles were launched in the morning and traveled between an estimated 40 to 120 miles northwest. South Korea’s military originally stated that North Korea launched one missile, but later corrected its statement to say “several projectiles” were launched. President Trump and other U.S. officials were “fully briefed” on North Korea’s launch and the White House said it was monitoring the situation. The launch is believed to send a message to the United States that Pyongyang is unhappy with stalled denuclearization talks after an unsuccessful summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in February. The two countries met in Hanoi, Vietnam, earlier this year with the aim of crafting a denuclearization deal that would result in North Korea ending nuclear weapons testing and development in exchange for sanctions relief by the United States. The talks abruptly ended without a deal and tensions seem to be increasing between the two countries as nuclear diplomacy appears to fade.



8. Israeli-Palestinian violence intensifies


Hostilities between Israel and Palestine have flared up in the last several days as both sides have fired a series of airstrikes and rocket attacks at each other, resulting in more than two dozen civilian deaths and numerous injuries. The heavy fighting that occurred over the weekend came as Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 250 rockets into Israel, according to military officials, and prompted airstrikes on the Palestinian territory from Israel. The rocket fire killed four Israelis, forcing Israel to retaliate by launching its own attacks that killed more than 23, including a pregnant woman and two babies. Much of the violence occurred at the Israel-Gaza border after protests erupted in the Palestinian territory against the Israeli blockade which was set up to stop the flow of weapons into the area. The conflict between Israel and Gaza is the most violent encounter since 2014 and comes amid heightened tensions in the region.



9. 41 dead after passenger jet crash in Moscow


At least 41 people are dead after a Russian-made passenger jet made an emergency crash-landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, causing the aircraft to erupt into flames. Video footage of Aeroflot flight SU 1492 shows the plane going airborne before it makes a hard, high-speed landing and skids along the runway, causing the rear section of the aircraft to immediately catch fire. The plane was in the air for less than 30 minutes before it was forced to return to the airport due to a “loss of communication” on-board caused by a reported “lightning strike,” according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. Dramatic videos of the scene following the crash show passengers escaping the burning wreckage via emergency slides and running from the large flames and billowing black smoke. There were 78 people on board the Murmansk-bound flight and among the 41 dead are a U.S. citizen, two children, and a flight attendant who died trying to evacuate passengers following the disastrous landing. The incident is under investigation to determine the exact cause of the crash and what led pilot’s to turn the aircraft around.



10. Drama at the Kentucky Derby


The Kentucky Derby on Saturday became perhaps the most controversial in the race’s long history when the apparent winning horse, Maximum Security, was disqualified by stewards.  Maximum Security was disqualified following a foul during the race in which the horse veered slightly during a turn, impeding the paths of other horses. As Maximum Security moved out of his lane, Jockey Luis Saez was able to correct Maximum Security’s course following the turn, but the dangerous violation resulted in the horse’s disqualification. Country House, with 65-1 odds, was declared the winner by race officials after reviewing the race infraction. The co-owner of Maximum Security filed an appeal on Monday to contest the decision, but the state racing commission denied it, saying that the decision by stewards “is not subject to an appeal.” It was the second time in the Kentucky Derby’s 145-year history that a winner of the race has been disqualified – the last time was in 1968.


11. Boeing knew about 737 Max issues for a year before alerting FAA, airlines


Boeing is facing heat after a new report by the Wall Street Journal alleges the aircraft-manufacturing company knew about a software error on its 737 Max aircraft for a year before notifying regulators and carriers. The error, which resulted in the improper functioning of the aircraft’s alert system, was believed to have played a role in two deadly aviation disasters – the Lion Air crash in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019. The error was related to the 737 Max’s “angle-of-attack” sensor which indicated to pilots whether the nose-angle sensor was working correctly. Discovery of the issue was reportedly made by Boeing engineers in 2017 but no safety risk was determined after a review of the system error on the 737 Max. The issues were not made known to senior Boeing staff until after the deadly Lion Air crash, in which the company began informing airlines of the problems. However, Boeing still did not provide carriers or aviation regulators with any further details of the problems until after the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March. Following the report by the WSJ, Boeing released a statement saying that the angle-of-attack alert senor issue “did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation.” Boeing said it will provide a software update to fix the issue, but it remains unclear if the FAA will propose any additional changes to the system before certifying the airworthiness of the 737 Max. WALL STREET JOURNAL


12. Michael Cohen reports to prison


President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen reported to federal prison on Monday, where the disgraced “fixer” will begin serving his three-year sentence. Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, was sentenced back in December on charges of arranging hush money payments to women during the 2016 election, lying to Congress, tax evasion and other financial crimes. He will serve his term at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, located about 70 miles northwest of New York City. Before heading to prison, Cohen gave remarks to cameras and reporters in which he criticized the president without using his name and said, “I hope that when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country.” He also hinted of other secrets to divulge about the president and his alleged crimes. “There still remains much to be told and I look forward to the day when I can share the truth,” Cohen added.  



13. 1 million species face extinction due to human activity


An alarming report by the United Nations says one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction due to human activity. The comprehensive report was authored by 145 scientists and biology experts from 50 countries and warns that the global rate of species extinction is at an all-time high due to the unprecedented effects of humans on biodiversity. No specific species threatened by extinction were named in the study, but scientists warn that 25 percent of mammals, over 40 percent of amphibians, 33 percent of sharks, and 25 percent of plant groups are at risk. As a result of these proportions, an estimated 1 million plant and animal species could die out, many of which could occur within the next few decades. The report based its findings on evidence collected from thousands of scientific and government studies over the past five decades. U.K. Professor Robert Watson, who led the study, said “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” While extinctions have always occurred, scientists are more concerned about the increased rate of species loss from human actions that risk the stability of the planet’s ecosystems.



14. “Avengers: End Game” becomes 2nd highest grossing film of all-time


Marvel’s latest blockbuster, “Avengers: End Game” is shattering box office records and has quickly become the world’s second highest-grossing film of all time. “End Game” shot past 1997’s James Cameron-directed “Titanic,” the previous record holder, as the film generated nearly $2.2 billion internationally in only its second weekend in theaters. The superhero flick is now just behind 2009’s “Avatar,” another film directed by James Cameron that holds the record for the largest international box office at $2.8 billion. “Avengers: End Game” is expected to surpass “Avatar” as the highest-grossing film of all time and has already broken numerous records in foreign markets. The Marvel film has also garnered very favorable reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, with Rotten Tomatoes showing a 94% “fresh” rating and a favorable audience score of 88%.


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