Thursday morning news: June 20, 2019

Trump administration relaxes anti-coal regulations » The Trump administration on Wednesday finalized its plans for a sweeping rollback of Obama-era regulations on coal plants.

At a news conference, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said “Americans want reliable energy that they can afford.”

WHEELER: We can’t deny the fact that fossil fuels will continue to be a key part of the energy mix both at home and abroad. Coal use is rising worldwide. 

The 2015 Clean Power Plan was a wide-ranging effort to cut U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal.

The replacement Affordable Clean Energy rule will give states more leeway in requiring coal plants to use upgraded technology.

WHEELER: ACE will continue our nation’s environmental progress, and it will do so legally and with proper respect for the states. 

Democrats and environmental activists immediately slammed the move as reckless. Opponents have vowed to challenge the new rule in court.

ICE director says family status not a factor in deportations » Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mark Morgan said Wednesday his agency will enforce the law “across the board.” His comments came in response to an announcement from President Trump earlier this week. The president declared ICE will soon deport millions of people in the country illegally.

Morgan said his agency will not favor any demographic.

MORGAN: If you are here illegally in violation of federal immigration law, if you’ve received due process, there should be consequences, including families. 

Critics say families who have been in the country for years could be at risk for deportation and that many families could be torn apart.

More than 20,000 migrants have tried to cross the southern border over the last few weeks. Many are families or unaccompanied children.

House panel questions former White House official » The House Judiciary Committee questioned former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks behind closed doors on Wednesday. It was part of the panel’s probe into whether the president obstructed justice during the Russia investigation.

The White House told Democrats that Hicks is absolutely immune from compelled testimony about her White House service. That according to advice from the Justice Department.

Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California complained Wednesday that Hicks clammed up and wasted the committee’s time.

LIEU: Even as something as simple as where was your office located? Objection! It was ridiculous. There’s no such thing as absolute immunity. 

But Republican Doug Collins said Democrats wasted everyone’s time by calling Hicks to Capitol Hill for another round of questions.

COLLINS:  She’s been to the Hill twice before. She’s reported in the Mueller report. This was simply something that was again a re-do. This seems to be the summer of reruns in my committee because we’re simply talking about things that are already out there in public or getting the same answers over and over again. 

UN expert: Investigate Saudi crown prince for journalist’s death » A United Nations investigator said Wednesday that there is “credible evidence” that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

UN human rights expert Agnes Callamard said Mohammed bin Salman should be held accountable for Khashoggi’s death.

CALLAMARD: It is a logical step for me to be asking for him to be included in the sanctions until and unless there is evidence provided that he was not involved, did not know, should not have known of the execution. 

The Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the Saudi kingdom’s rulers was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year.

Callamard released a 100-page report after a five-month investigation. She said  “Every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the crown prince being aware, at a minimum.”

The report calls for further investigation and for other nations to impose sanctions on the crown prince and others.

Callamard will present her findings in a hearing before the Human Rights Council in Geneva next week.

Record cocaine bust in Philadelphia » Law enforcement officials seized 16 tons of cocaine this week from a container ship at the port of Philadelphia. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: U.S. Attorney William McSwain said “The drugs, found in containers on a freighter … were potentially worth more than $1 billion on the street.” He added that “This amount of cocaine could kill millions—MILLIONS—of people.”

It was the largest U.S. cocaine bust in three decades.

Court documents revealed that some crew members smuggled the cocaine aboard while the freighter was near the coast of South America. The ship reportedly stopped at ports in Colombia, Peru, and Panama. The vessel arrived in the U.S. Monday under the Liberian flag.

At least two crew members face charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Trump raises $25 million in 24 hours » President Trump raised roughly $25 million within 24 hours of kicking off his reelection campaign.

Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced the staggering total in a tweet on Wednesday. She said it’s proof that “enthusiasm across the country for this president is unmatched.”

Trump’s massive haul dwarfs what the top Democratic contenders took in over the course of months. It’s a sign that the president’s fundraising operation is already in high gear. Democratic officials say many of their donors have yet to engage as they wait for a field of two dozen candidates to thin out.

(AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) In this April 30, 2007, file photo, a shovel prepares to dump a load of coal into a 320-ton truck at the Arch Coal Inc.-owned Black Thunder mine in Wright, Wyo.

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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