The decision by Gary Cohn comes in the wake of an administration plan for steel and aluminum tariffs that the free-trade supporting advisor was known to oppose. The former Goldman Sachs president, credited with helping push the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax bill passed last year, is expected to leave in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the president is reportedly considering media personality and campaign advisor Larry Kudlow as a possible replacement. Cohn’s exit might impact the financial sector as the market saw a dip in late August when his departure was last in the air.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The U.S. Justice Department has challenged three California laws passed last year on the grounds they obstruct federal immigration policy. The California legislation prohibits businesses from aiding federal agents searching for undocumented workers and local law enforcement from alerting them when detainees are released. Another targeted law created a state inspection program for immigrant detention centers. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ upcoming remarks will call the legislation “unjust, unfair and unconstitutional” while Gov. Jerry Brown said the suit was a “stunt.” White House officials threatened to challenge other states considering similar legislation.
Though their two countries have technically been at war since the 1950s, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have agreed to meet at a summit next month in the demilitarized zone between their nations. As officials from Seoul visited this week, Kim spoke of the potential to “write a new history of national reunification.” The South Korean delegation says Pyongyang’s promised to stop missile tests and other provocation during the talks, and that Kim is open to denuclearization if his regime’s security can be guaranteed.
A federal watchdog has found that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway twice broke federal law preventing officials from influencing political races. The Office of Special Counsel — unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating the Trump campaign — says Conway, whose ethics have been questioned before, fell afoul of the Hatch Act when she spoke in favor of embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in two television interviews late last year. The OSC’s report has gone to President Donald Trump for disciplinary action, but the White House has already slammed its findings.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says a military cargo plane crashed today as it landed at Hmeimim Air Base, the chief military outpost for Russian forces in Syria, leaving 26 passengers and 6 crew members dead. While investigators are examining the circumstances of the crash, officials say there’s no evidence the plane was fired upon, saying a technical glitch was likely to blame. The Antonov An-26 crashed about 500 meters short of the runway, the Defense Ministry added.
Hoping to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump said that Canada and Mexico wouldn’t be able to win exemptions from high tariffs on imported steel and aluminum unless they agreed to sign a new treaty. Mexico said the tariffs, which Trump announced last week, could violate existing NAFTA rules and delay ongoing negotiations. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent Republicans refused to back the tariffs, saying they could backfire and cause a trade war that would damage the U.S. economy.
Sergei Skripal, 66, spent 13 years in a Russian prison after being convicted of passing state secrets to MI6, but took refuge in Britain after a U.S.-Russian spy swap in 2010. On Sunday, he and his adult daughter Yulia were found unconscious, and police say they were exposed to an “unknown substance.” Both are in critical condition. U.K. authorities say they’re not ruling out “state threats” after the 2006 London poisoning of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko, while the Kremlin says it’s willing to cooperate should Britain ask for help.
Sam Nunberg, who was fired from President Trump’s campaign in 2015, yesterday publicly defied special counsel Robert Mueller’s summons to appear before a grand jury investigating Russian election interference, saying, “I’m not spending 80 hours going over my emails.” In a series of interviews, Nunberg claimed former Trump advisor Carter Page colluded with the Kremlin, argued Vladimir Putin is “too smart to collude with Donald Trump,” and said he believes Mueller has “something” on the president. While at first daring Mueller to arrest him, Nunberg later said he’d end up cooperating.
Know This: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, 80, says he’ll step down this year after 40 years in office. A third former associate agreed to testify against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the Israeli leader arrived in the U.S. to meet with President Trump. And 36 exotic animals have disappeared from a Florida wildlife sanctuary after a fake ad appeared on Craigslist encouraging readers to “help yourself.”
Watch This: Hundreds of protesters picketed a speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer in Michigan, with arrests ensuing on both sides after a small group of Spencer supporters arrived and people elbowed and punched each other in front of riot gear-clad police.
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Dayanna Volitich, 25, claims the white nationalist podcast she hosted under the name “Tiana Dalichov” was simply “political satire and exaggeration.” But Crystal River Middle School, where Volitich teaches social studies, suspended her Sunday over the now-deleted “Unapologetic,” which featured a “friend” claiming science has proven that race determines intelligence. Volitich also boasted of sharing such beliefs with students. Since The Huffington Post exposed her Saturday, Volitich has recanted her provocative statements, but she’ll remain suspended during an investigation by her employer, the Citrus County School District.
He’s … fired? Orestes Fintiklis, majority owner of Panama’s Trump International Hotel, seized the building last week in his ongoing attempt to oust the Trump Organization, blaming slow sales on their management and “tarnished” name. Security barricaded the doors as Fintiklis reportedly sang a Greek protest song. Yesterday the courts sided with Fintiklis: Police evicted Trump staff as workmen with crowbars stripped the name from building signage. The Trump Organization says it will “prevail” — and seek damages — as some wonder whether the company’s foreign disputes will affect White House policy.
It’s a valuable lesson. Unlike their counterparts in the financial technology sector, 70 percent of the top-funded edtech CEOs are people of color. Observers say the field’s socially oriented bent is responsible: It attracts investors who care more about effecting change than making money, and entrepreneurs typically come from backgrounds where education — seen as a key socioeconomic elevator — is strongly encouraged. That diversity is a selling point in more ways than one: CEOs and employees from different backgrounds mean a less one-size-fits-all approach to education.
In the ongoing dispute over who’s to blame for mass gun carnage, the Trump administration has scheduled a meeting Thursday with representatives of the video game industry to discuss the claim that violent games encourage violent behavior. The shooter in last month’s Parkland school massacre wasn’t reported to be a gamer. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents major game publishers and console manufacturers, agreed to the meeting. It noted that despite gaming’s worldwide popularity, the U.S. is unique in its gun violence, stating, “Video games are plainly not the issue.”
The steaks are high. Mexico’s boxing star admitted to testing positive for traces of banned substance clenbuterol, but says it’s due to his country’s problem with drug-tainted meat. Other Mexican athletes have made the same excuse for positive tests and continued competing after additional testing, while NFL players were warned that eating meat in Mexico or China could cause false positives. Alvarez said he’d submit to more tests to “clarify this embarrassing situation” before his May 5 Las Vegas rematch against unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin.