Thursday morning news: September 20, 2018

President Trump visits North Carolina in wake of Florence » President Trump was on the ground in North Carolina on Wednesday, where he toured storm-ravaged areas and talked to relief and rescue workers, as well as residents impacted by Florence. 

TRUMP: To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you and our hearts break for you. God bless you. We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We are with you all the way.

The president praised the work of first responders and vowed the federal government will provide whatever help is needed.  

Close to 10,000 North Carolina residents remain in shelters, and the threat of further flooding is not over. 

Governor Roy Cooper called Hurricane Florence a storm unlikely any his state has seen before.

COOPER: Mr. President we’ve got a long road ahead, and the days and months, even years ahead to make sure we build back to where we need to be here in North Carolina.

The death toll from Florence in the region reached 37 Tuesday night when two mental health patients drowned when floodwaters swept away a van transporting them in South Carolina. 

President Trump: I don’t have an attorney general » President Trump renewed his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a just-released interview with The Hill newspaper.

He said—quoting here—“I don’t have an attorney general,” adding, I am “so sad over Jeff Sessions.”

And standing outside his Marine One helicopter on the White House lawn Wednesday, the president repeated that sentiment. 20

TRUMP: I am disappointed in the attorney general for numerous reasons. 

President Trump has repeatedly assailed Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia probe. That move led to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate.

But the president said he’s been disappointed with Sessions on other issues, including border enforcement. When asked about Sessions future at the Justice Department, Trump said “We’ll see what happens.”

Many analysts say the president is unlikely to fire Sessions before midterm elections, if at all. Some suggest his comments are aimed at pressuring Sessions to resign.

Kavanaugh » Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says he remains hopeful that Christine Ford will testify on Monday. 

GRASSLEY: Either in an open session or a closed session, or a public or a private interview.

Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers.

Judge Kavanaugh has called her claim entirely false.

Christine Ford’s attorney said Tuesday that the FBI should investigate the matter before she testifies. That came just hours after her lawyer said she was ready and willing to speak with lawmakers.

But the FBI says it does not intend to look into her claims because there is no allegation of a federal crime and the alleged incident is beyond the statute of limitations. 

If Ford does not testify on Monday, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have signaled they’re prepared to move ahead with a vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. 

North Korea update » South Korean leader Moon Jae-in says North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has agreed to take further steps to dismantle the North’s main nuclear complex. 

MOON: [Translated] South and North Korea agreed on a denuclearization plan for the first time. It is a very meaningful outcome. 

Moon said the North has agreed to “permanently abolish the Punggye-ri engine test site and missile launchers” and will allow international inspectors access to the site.

But Kim stipulated that will only happen if the United States agrees to corresponding measures. It’s unclear what those measures would be.

Kim Jong Un said of his meeting with the South Korean president… 

KIM:[Translated] We agreed to make efforts to turn the Korean Peninsula into a land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.

President Trump on Wednesday called the announcement “very exciting.”

But many in Washington remain skeptical. GOP Senator Marco Rubio said Kim is trying to destroy support for international sanctions. He said Kim makes non-binding promises tied to unspecified concessions and will use the positive headlines to try and make the U.S. look unreasonable.  

Iran reportedly ramping up cyberattacks ahead of renewed sanctions » A group of hackers aligned with the Iranian government has reportedly launched a major campaign of cyberattacks ahead of renewed U.S. sanctions. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has more.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The cybersecurity firm FireEye warned this week that a group of Iranian hackers it calls APT-33 has been targeting Mideast energy firms among others.

FireEye says the recent attacks only involve hackers stealing information from infected computers. However, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

Iran quickly rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the new cap on the numbers of refugees admitted into the U.S. Plus, one year after Hurricane Maria. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in New Bern, N.C. 

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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