Thursday morning news: May 30, 2019

White House, Democrats clash over Mueller remarks » Special counsel Robert Mueller broke his long silence on Wednesday. Both the White House and Democrats claim he reaffirmed their opposing positions on the Russia probe.

SANDERS: We think the president has been fully and completely exonerated based on the fact there was no collusion, there was no conspiracy, and there was no obstruction.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Mueller reiterated the report’s findings that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia. And his report stated no conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice. But Mueller said it did not clear him of wrongdoing.

MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. 

He said because a sitting president cannot be criminally charged, it would be “unfair to potentially accuse someone of crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”

Mueller also announced he’s shutting down his office and returning to private life. And he added that he does not plan to testify before Congress about his report.

MUELLER: I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further on this matter.

He said any testimony would only repeat his report’s findings.

Following Mueller’s remarks, President Trump tweeted, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!”

Democrats have vowed to press on with House investigations.

Flood waters swamp several states as rivers rise » The National Weather Service says every large community near the Arkansas River should expect major flooding within the next 10 days.

With that and other rivers already swelling, more rain is on the way.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said residents have evacuated more than 400 homes.

In Oklahoma, every country was under a state of emergency Wednesday. Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Smith said the levees were holding, but the risk of more flooding remains.

SMITH: We do ask that everybody still remain vigilant that lives along the levees. The levees, as you know, they’re very fragile. So please, please, just pay attention. And we, as you all know, would prefer that you go ahead and evacuate.

Mississippi and Louisiana are also dealing with serious flooding.

Illinois bulldozing pro-life protections » The Illinois House of Representatives and its Democratic majority this week passed a bill that would strip all protections from unborn children. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The state’s so-called Reproductive Health Act would allow for abortions up to the moment of birth. It also removes protections for pro-life doctors and insurers who object to abortion.  

The bill states—quote—“A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state.” It passed Tuesday in a 64-to-50 vote after an emotional floor debate.

The legislation now heads to the Democratic-majority Senate and then to the desk of the governor, also a Democrat. He’s already said he looks forward to signing it into law.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Israel to hold second snap election with Netanyahu unable to form coalition » Voters in Israel will soon head back to the polls for an unprecedented second snap election. That after Israel’s parliament, amid heated debate voted just hours ago to dissolve itself.

AUDIO: [Sound of Israel parliament]

Lawmakers passed the motion when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition by the midnight deadline. The bill asked for a new election on September 17th.

Netanyahu has led Israel for the past decade, and he appeared to capture a fourth consecutive term in April’s election. But infighting among his allies stymied his efforts to piece together a majority coalition.

Rather than concede that task to one of his rivals, Netanyahu’s Likud party advanced a bill to dissolve parliament and send the country to the polls for a second time this year.

NBA Finals tips off tonight » The NBA Finals begin tonight in Toronto. World Radio’s Leigh Jones has details.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The Raptors in their first ever finals appearance are hosting the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors are trying to win their fourth title in five years. They’ve made five straight finals appearances, but this is their first without home court advantage.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant will watch from the sidelines tonight. The finals MVP from each of the last two years has a calf strain.

The action tips off a little after 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein) Flood waters surround homes in Fort Smith, Ark., Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Flood waters from the Arkansas River continue to rise. 

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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