Wednesday morning news: June 20, 2018


China blasts new US tariff » China is accusing President Trump of declaring a trade war with new tariffs he announced Tuesday.

Trump directed U.S. trade officials to come up with $200 billion in Chinese goods to slap with a 10 percent import tax. The president said the tariffs will take effect soon if China doesn’t change its practices.

And White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says the concessions China has offered are not nearly enough.

NAVARRO: If they thought that they could buy us off cheap with a few extra products sold and allow them to continue to steal our intellectual property and crown jewels, that was a miscalculation. 

The proposed tariffs would cover the biggest group of goods so far in the ongoing trade spat between the two countries. President Trump has already ordered tariffs on a total of $450 billion in Chinese imports in a bid to close the U.S. trade deficit with China.

But for its part, Beijing isn’t backing down. A statement from the Chinese government Tuesday said—quote—“If the U.S. side becomes irrational and issues the list, China will…make strong countermeasures.”


US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council » The United States is pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made it official on Tuesday. They said the council is heavily biased, hypocritical, and ineffective.

HALEY: Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny.

Haley warned a year ago that the United States would leave the council if it did not stop systematically attacking Israel, while giving serial human rights abusers a pass. And Secretary Pompeo said that hasn’t happened.

POMPEO: The councils continued and well documented bias against Israel is unconscionable. Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined. 

Tuesday’s announcement came one day after the UN human rights chief denounced the Trump administration for separating some migrant children from their parents.


Immigration update » Meantime, those family separations remain a central focus in Washington.

Under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, everyone who crosses the border illegally is prosecuted. And if they have children with them, the minors are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Democrats and many Republicans continue to condemn the policy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday…

MCCONNELL: I think we’ve got a problem. We need to fix it. Everybody agrees we need to fix it, and we’re gonna work on that. 

Hours later, President Trump met with top Republicans about a legislative fix. Following a meeting the president endorsed a GOP plan to—quote—”solve the border crisis and family separation issue by allowing for family detention and removal.”

It’s unclear if that plan will win any Democrat support. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insists legislation isn’t necessary.

SCHUMER: The president alone can fix it with a flick of a pen by signing a presidential order. Mr. President, I’ll lend you my pen. You can fix it yourself. 

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed around 2,000 children were separated from adults at the border between April and May.


Horowitz, Wray back on Capitol Hill » More fireworks on Capitol Hill Tuesday, as Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz returned for a second straight day of testimony. He answered questions about his newly released report on the FBI’s Clinton email probe.

The inspector general repeated …

HOROWITZ: We did not find that the prosecutor’s decision not to charge was the result of political bias. 

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy—a frequent defender of the FBI—said he’s not convinced.

GOWDY: They prejudged the outcome of the Hillary Clinton investigation before the investigation ended, and these exact same FBI agents and attorneys prejudged the outcome of the Russia investigation before it even began.

The inspector general revealed Tuesday that his office is investigating whether political bias within the FBI factored into the decision to launch the bureau’s Russia probe.


Nat Def Authorization Act hits Turkey’s Erdogan » The U.S. Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act this week. And it tucked inside a provision blocking the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

The provision sends a message to Turkish president Recep Erdogan. Republicans and Democrats are demanding the release of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson. He’s facing what the U.S. government says are trumped up charges that he participated in a coup attempt against Erdogan. Lawmakers are also troubled by Turkey’s planned purchase of a Russian-made missile defense system.

The F-35 is billed as the most advanced fighter jet in the world. The Turkish government has ordered a hundred of them. And Lockheed-Martin is set to transfer the first of those jets to Turkey at a ceremony in Ft. Worth, Texas, tomorrow.

House and Senate lawmakers will have to reconcile the differences in their bills before legislation can take effect.


SPLC settlement » 

The Southern Poverty Law Center—or SPLC—will pay almost $3.4 million to settle a defamation suit. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In April Maajid Nawaz, who is the founder of the British anti-extremism group Quilliam, sued the SPLC after it said Quilliam hates Muslims.

Nawaz is a self-described secular Muslim who works to challenge Islamic extremism. The SPLC, which is a U.S. nonprofit organization, included Quilliam in its Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.

Nawaz once was involved with extremist groups but changed his views and now works to combat both anti-Muslim prejudice and radical Islam. The SPLC issued an apology and said it was mistaken about Mr. Nawaz.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has previously come under scrutiny for applying its “hate group” label to other organizations with which it disagrees politically, including religious liberty groups like Alliance Defending Freedom.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.


I’m Jim Henry. Up next, Washington Wednesday. And later, Janie Cheaney on the meaning of human rights. This is The World and Everything in It.


(AP Photo/Andy Wong, File) In this Thursday, June 14, 2018, file photo, a Chinese national flag at Tiananmen Square flutters against the capital city tallest skyscraper China Zun Tower under construction at the Central Business District in Beijing. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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