1. American detainees
Early this morning, a triumphant President Trump welcomed home three American detainees who had been held in North Korea. Trump, along with first lady Melania Trump, clapped and smiled as the men — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk — walked off the plane at Joint Base Andrews, flashing victory signs. Kim Dong Chul said his release felt “like a dream.” This is a huge diplomatic victory for Trump and a major milestone ahead of his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The President actually thanked Kim Jong Un, saying it was “nice” of him to release the men ahead of the summit.
“Frankly we didn’t think this was going to happen,” Trump said. “It’s a very important thing to all of us to be able to get these three great people out.” The men were taken to Walter Reed Medical Center for medical treatment. Trump then huddled with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who secured the men’s release during his 13-hour visit to North Korea — to talk about the summit, which sources tell CNN will be held in Singapore.
A new CNN poll shows three-quarters of Americans approve of Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong Un.
2. Israel and Iran
It was a volatile night in the Golan Heights as Israel and Iran traded fire. More than 20 rockets were fired into Israel from Syria. Many of the rockets were stopped by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The Israelis say an elite division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard operating in Syria was responsible for the rocket fire. Israel responded with airstrikes of its own on targets in Syria. It was the most direct confrontation yet between the two regional enemies.
3. Michael Cohen
As federal investigators continue to probe Michael Cohen’s business dealings, another part of his life draws new scrutiny: his aggressive pitch promising access to President Trump after the 2016 election. Sources tell CNN that Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, landed several lucrative consulting deals by pitching himself as the person who could help companies get close to the most powerful man in the world. Cohen was paid $1.2 million by pharmaceutical giant Novartis; at least $200,000 by AT&T; $150,000 by Korea Aerospace Industries and about $500,000 from a company linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin. Cohen has not been accused of wrongdoing, but some say what he did looks a lot like influence peddling.
4. Gina Haspel
It was a tough go of it for President Trump’s pick to lead the CIA. Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for CIA director, faced hard questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about her role in the detention and harsh interrogation program set up during George W. Bush’s administration after 9/11. She said she wouldn’t restart the program, but she didn’t explicitly criticize waterboarding and other interrogation tactics that some say were nothing less than torture.
Sen. John McCain, currently back home in Arizona being treated for brain cancer, urged the Senate to reject Haspel because she refused to specifically call torture immoral. McCain was held captive and tortured during the Vietnam War. McCain’s not expected to be present for the Senate’s vote on Haspel’s nomination, which is expected to be very close. Republicans will need a few Democrats to vote for her, but several have already said they’re voting against her.
5. Hawaii volcanic eruptions
Lava. Earthquakes. Lethal gas. Residents on the Big Island have been dealing with those woes, caused by the erupting Kilauea volcano, for a week. Now they’ve got something else to worry about — explosive eruptions that could hurl rocks and debris. The USGS said this could happen in the coming weeks as lava inside Kilauea’s crater sinks and interacts with groundwater, cause steam explosions. There are also concerns that the lava — which has covered an area of land equal to about 100 football fields — could hit a geothermal plant where flammable liquids are stored.
I need a doctor
Dr. Dre’s done some incredible things in music, but (spoiler alert!) he’s not a real doctor and just lost a trademark dispute with Dr. Drai, who actually is.
Good to know
If you get stopped by the cops in New York City, they’ll give you a business card so you can get the bodycam footage, just in case.
No sitter needed
You’ve probably seen that photo of the Arkansas State professor holding a baby while teaching class. It’s not the first time he’s done something like that.
The beaches in San Diego are always beautiful, but even more so now because of the blue glow created by bioluminescent plankton in the water.
Pentagon’s Niger ambush report
This afternoon, we’ll get the final report from the Pentagon on the ambush in Niger last year that left four US service members dead. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, said yesterday the troops tried to carry out an unauthorized mission.
The age of Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s next prime minister. Mahathir’s surprising victory makes him the world’s oldest leader.
That’s how much the Democrats lead the Republicans, in percentage points, in the generic congressional ballot, according to a new CNN poll. The Dems’ advantage in the generic ballot was 16 percentage points back in February.
Otters vs. jaguars
Two jaguars learn the hard way they’re no match against a den of otters in Brazil. (Click to view)