Friday morning news: May 4, 2018

Iran foreign minister rejects nuclear deal revisions » Iran’s foreign minister says his country will not agree to any changes to the 2015 nuclear deal.

ZARIF: Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all. We will neither outsource our security, nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.

Mohammad Javad Zarif with that declaration on Thursday.

Zarif said—his words—“Iran stands firm in the face of futile attempts at bullying.” And with the May 12th deadline nearing for President Trump to decide on renewing sanctions against Iran, Zarif levied a threat. He said if the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear deal:

ZARIF: We will exercise our right to respond in any manner of our choosing.

Zarif said the UN nuclear watchdog agency confirmed in 11 checks that Iran has kept its part of the bargain. In 2015 it agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for lifted sanctions.

President Trump has threatened to pull out of the agreement unless the terms of the deal are improved. The proposed revisions include a call for Iran to limit its missile program.

Trump signs faith initiative » President Trump marked the National Day of Prayer on Thursday with a Rose Garden ceremony, announcing the creation of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

Trump said the new office will focus on protecting religious freedom and guaranteeing that faith-based groups have strong advocates throughout the federal government.

TRUMP: This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.

The White House later will appoint an adviser who will lead the office and make recommendations to the administration. With input from religious leaders across the country, the new adviser will highlight—quote— “any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law.”

Trump, Giuliani, Stormy » New revelations this week from one of the newest members of President Trump’s legal team, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He said Thursday that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because he wouldn’t say the president was not a target of the Russia investigation. The president initially said he fired Comey for mishandling the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Giuliani also acknowledged that Trump reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for hush money paid to pornographic performer Stephanie Clifford. WORLD Radio’s Jim Henry has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Cohen paid $130,000 to Clifford to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump. That payment happened just before the 2016 election. Giuliani said Cohen later received reimbursement in the form of a legal retainer.

Some say Cohen’s payout on Trump’s behalf qualified as an unreported campaign contribution. Giuliani says the matter was strictly personal.

On Twitter Thursday morning, the president said Clifford’s claims were false and “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions played no [role] in this transaction.”

Giuliani said of the non-disclosure agreement with Clifford that Trump—quote—“didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know but he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this.” End quote.

The White House later clarified Trump’s position that he did not know about the payout to Clifford at all at the time—only learning about it later.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

TX teen arrested on terror charges » Authorities in Dallas have thwarted a potentially deadly attack on an area mall.  

17-year-old Matin Azizi-Yarand allegedly planned a mass shooting at the Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, Texas. Law enforcement officials say the suspect spent $1,400 on weapons and tactical gear and then contacted people he thought were co-conspirators, but were actually FBI informants.

Prosecutors have charged Azizi-Yarand with criminal solicitation of capital murder and making a terroristic threat. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. After his arrest, the suspect spoke to KDFW TV in Dallas, and was asked for his response to the charges against him.

YARAND: Seem a bit extreme, yeah.

When asked if he was an ISIS sympathizer, he responded:

YARAND: No comment.

Officials say after the attack, Azizi-Yarand planned to release a “Message to America” explaining his motivation.

AZ budget deal signed, schools reopen » Teachers are back on the job and students are back in school in Arizona today.

Governor Doug Ducey signed a budget plan on Thursday to give striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise, ending their five-day walkout.

DUCEY: This is a real win for our teachers, for our kids, for our educators. We’re excited that it’s a bipartisan bill, and it’s time to do this. 

In addition to more education funding, teachers will get a nine percent raise in the fall and five percent in each of the next two years.

More than a million students had been out of class since the walkout began last week.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: John Stonestreet discusses the legacy of former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. And later, WORLD CEO Kevin Martin with a special message on the 5th anniversary of The World and Everything in It. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) In this April 24, 2018, file photo, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is interviewed by The Associated Press, in New York.

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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