Developments in Washington, D.C., on Thursday include President Donald Trump announcing plans to pull United States out of the Paris climate agreement, world leaders criticizing his move, hundreds of business leaders trying to persuade the president to stay in the pact, and House Democrats accusing Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of starting his own Russia probe:
WATCH: Trump plans to pull U.S. from Paris climate agreement
Trump to Pull US Out of Paris Climate Deal —- The U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate deal, President Donald Trump announced Thursday, fulfilling a key campaign promise but putting at risk global efforts to deal with the effects of climate change. At a ceremony in a sweltering White House Rose Garden Thursday, Trump said the accord did little to help the environment and unfairly punished the U.S. by holding it to tougher standards than other top polluters.
Europe Leaders React Angrily to Trump Climate Pact Decision —- European leaders expressed dismay and anger in equal measure Thursday at Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States, the world’s second-worst polluter, from the landmark Paris climate accord.
US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Deal Disappoints Many Businesses —- President Trump is moving the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, signed by nearly 200 other nations. Trump said Thursday that the Paris agreement hurts U.S. economic growth, costs millions of American jobs and puts U.S. firms at a disadvantage. However, his decision contrasted with the views of hundreds of American business leaders who urged him to continue participating in the climate agreement.
Hundreds of Businesses Urge Trump to Stay in Paris Climate Deal — Hundreds of businesses have urged President Trump to keep the United States in the Paris climate deal, and there is evidence that business support for the agreement is growing. As a presidential candidate, Trump called climate science a “fraud” and pledged to get out of the Paris climate accord if he won the election.
WATCH: Explainer on climate change
World Leaders Reaffirm Commitment to Fighting Climate Change — World leaders affirmed their commitment to combating climate change on Thursday ahead of Trump’s announcement on whether he would pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Report: Flynn-owned Firm Was Paid Millions to Produce Pro-Turkey Film —- Former National Security Advisor’s Michael Flynn’s consulting firm reportedly signed a $530,000 lobbying contract last year to promote Turkish interests, including a documentary that was never completed. The Wall Street Journal first reported this week the documentary, which was shelved in November, was to discredit Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric whom Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused of masterminding last year’s coup attempt.
Democrats Accuse Recused Nunes of Launching Own Russia Probe — U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is facing complaints of launching his own investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election after recusing himself from leading the committee’s Russia probe in April. Aides to Democratic committee members have complained that Nunes, a Republican, has begun investigating allegations that senior members of President Barack Obama’s administration improperly “unmasked” the identities of Trump associates who were caught communicating with Russian officials.
Trump to Keep US Israeli Embassy in Tel Aviv for Now — Trump is keeping the U.S. embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv, even while promising to eventually move it to Jerusalem. Trump, in his long campaign for the presidency, vowed to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to concur with the Israeli government’s long-standing preference. But the issue is caught in the unending debate over the creation of separate Jewish and Palestinian states, with both the Israelis and Palestinians claiming Jerusalem as their capitals.
Justice Officials: No Pause in Hate Crime, Civil Rights Prosecutions Under Trump — Last month, Eric Treene, a career prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, found himself facing intense questioning from Senator Al Franken: What “message” does the presence of controversial Trump strategist Stephen Bannon in the White House send to “those who commit hate crimes?” Treene sidestepped the question, maintaining that there has been no change in the Department of Justice’s policy on prosecuting hate crimes, despite the change of administration.
US Groups Focused on ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Still Waiting for Funds —- A recent rising tide of violent activity has been attributed to white supremacists. Christian Picciolini helped found the nonprofit organization Life After Hate, which helps individuals, friends and family affected by extremist groups. In January, just a few days before Donald Trump was inaugurated, Life After Hate found it had been given a $400,000 grant to develop an online way to reach out to teens at risk of joining extremist groups. Although the grants were supposed to be disbursed within 30 days of the announcement of the winners, there has been no official word from the Trump administration on when or whether those funds will appear in mailboxes.
Noose Found in US Capital’s African American Museum — A noose was found in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the museum said Wednesday. Police came to investigate and remove the noose found in the Segregation Gallery on the second floor of the museum, reopening the exhibit just three hours later, Smithsonian officials said. This is the second noose found on Smithsonian grounds just this week.
Comey OK’d to Testify; House Committee Issues Subpoenas — The House intelligence committee says it is issuing subpoenas for Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen — Trump’s former national security adviser and his personal lawyer — as well as their businesses as part of its investigation into Russian activities during last year’s election.
Treasury Chief ‘Confident’ Congress Will Raise US Debt Limit —- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday he was confident that Congress would raise the federal debt limit “before there’s an issue” with U.S. creditworthiness, and he pledged that the Trump administration’s tax reform plans would be paid for. “We’re going to get it increased,” Mnuchin told Fox Business Network about the debt limit. “The credit of the United States is the utmost. I’ve said to Congress they should do it as quickly as they can. But we are very focused on working with them and I’m confident we’ll get there before there’s an issue.”
In US and Abroad, a Worrisome Time for LGBT Activists — In the United States and many other parts of the world, this is a worrisome time for LGBT activists, as the pace of civil rights victories has grown uneven and reports of anti-LGBT violence and persecution surface relentlessly. In the past two months, there have been large-scale detentions of gay men in Nigeria and Bangladesh, and chilling accounts of roundups and torture of scores of gays in Chechnya. In Indonesia, a major police raid on a gay sauna was followed two days later by the public caning of two gay men. More than 70 countries continue to criminalize gays’ sexual activity.
Chinese Maker of Ivanka Trump Shoes Denies Labor Violations — A Chinese company that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands denied allegations Thursday of excessive overtime and low wages made by three activists who have been arrested or disappeared.
Palestinian Premier Meets Israeli Minister After Trump Visit — Israel’s finance minister met with the Palestinian prime minster in the West Bank city of Ramallah this week in the wake of President Trump’s recent visit to the region, Israeli and Palestinian officials said Thursday.
Biden Launches PAC: It’s ‘Time for Big Dreams’ — Declaring “this is a time for big dreams,” former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday launched a political action committee that’s stoking fresh speculation he may seek the presidency in 2020. The 74-year-old Democrat unveiled American Possibilities PAC through social media and in an email that directs supporters to a new website. The committee allows him to raise money for candidates, pay for politically related travel costs and maintain relationships with longtime donors.
Trump Administration Approves Tougher Visa Vetting — The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.
Creative Kushner Mapping Underscores Holes in Visa Program — The Kushner Cos. engaged in a bit of creative mapmaking to qualify one of its buildings in a booming New Jersey waterfront neighborhood across from Manhattan for a federal visa-for-investment program targeting struggling areas. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, placed its 65 Bay Street building in Jersey City in a map stringing together three dozen other areas, some with high unemployment.
Putin Denies Russia’s Involvement in Hacking, Hails Trump — President Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the Russian state has never engaged in hacking and said Moscow will wait out the current political storm in the U.S. to forge constructive relations with Trump, whom he praised as a straightforward person with a “fresh set of eyes.”
Fearing Trump’s Next Move, Liberals Urge Supreme Court Conservative Kennedy to Stay — Liberal activists are urging U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative with whom they often disagree, to put off any thought of retirement, fearing President Trump would replace him with a jurist further to the right.
As US Retreats, EU and China Seek Climate Leadership at Summit —
China and the European Union on Friday will seek to save an international pact against climate change that Trump appears to be set to pull out of. As China emerges as Europe’s unlikely global partner on areas from free trade to security, Premier Li Keqiang will meet top EU officials at a summit in Brussels that will also discuss North Korea’s missile tests.
White House Unveils List of Ex-lobbyists Granted Ethics Waivers — The White House on Wednesday disclosed a group of former lobbyists working in Trump’s administration who have been issued ethics waivers, following a request from the U.S. government’s ethics agency. The list of at least 11 waivers includes White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, according to a chart issued on the White House website.
White House OKs Ethics Waivers to 14 Groups, Individuals — Michael Catanzaro, a former oil and gas lobbyist, can help shape the Trump administration’s energy policies. Shahira Knight can weigh in on retirement matters even though she previously worked for Fidelity, a financial company specializing in retirement services. The White House late Wednesday posted on its website ethics waivers granted to four ex-lobbyists and numerous others who have joined government. In all, the White House has granted 14 ethics waivers.