Midday News Wrap | WYPR

Midday News Wrap

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap, Tom spoke with  NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson, Baltimore Sun Opinion Editor Andy Green and longtime local columnist Barry  Rascovar about  some of the week's top national and local news stories including further accusations of sexual misconduct, this time against Sen. Al Franken;  the tax code revision passed by the House yesterday; and the status of the Senate plan, which -- for now, anyway -- is tied to repealing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. 

The News Wrap began with discussion of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony this week to the House Judiciary Committee, the ongoing Russia investigations, and the upcoming special election in Alabama to fill a U.S. Senate seat.  Carrie Johnson joined Tom from the studios of NPR in Washington.  

Here in Baltimore, Police Detective Sean Suiter, a 43-year-old father of five children, died yesterday from injuries he received when he was shot in the head on Wednesday afternoon in Harlem Park while investigating a murder there.   

In other local news, a verdict was reached this morning in the Trial Board hearing for Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in 2015.  He has been cleared of all charges. 

WYPR reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi was at Lt. Rice's Trial Board hearing this morning.  She joined Tom in studio to discuss the verdict. 

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In this edition of the Midday News Wrap, we focus on the status of the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code. The GOP-controlled House and Senate have hammered together separate plans that propose a $1.5 trillion tax cut, but with a different set of rates, different deductions and on a different timetable.  Democrats, and not just a few Republicans, reject both plans as tax windfalls for the rich that assault America's middle class and threaten the poor. 

To help us sort out some of the key parts and operating principles of the GOP tax plans, we turn to Marshall Steinbaum , Research Director and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic think tank based in New York.  Mr. Steinbaum joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington DC.  

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President Donald Trump is in the final stretch of his marathon, 12-day swing through Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China. He arrived in Vietnam Friday, and over the weekend  he travels to the Philippines for a regional security summit, before heading back to Washington Tuesday. 

The often-bombastic US president toned down his rhetoric against North Korea during his diplomatic tour, stating in Seoul, South Korea, that America was not seeking "conflict or confrontation."  Mr. Trump also presented a far softer side during his two days in China, the world's number-two economic power, where he arrived to much pomp and circumstance.  As President Xi asserts his power within China and around the world, is President Trump's new welcoming approach to Beijing a diplomatic masterstroke or something less ?   

Weston Konishi joins us in Studio A.  He’s a Senior Fellow at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington, D.C.   

Also joining the conversation is Matthew Pennington.   He reports from Washington on US-Asian affairs for the Associated Press, and formerly served as the AP’s correspondent in Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  He joins us from the AP's Washington studios.

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It's another edition of the Midday News Wrap, our Friday discussion of some of the week's top news stories with a panel of journalists and commentators.  Joining Tom Hall on this week's panel: reporter Jenna Johnson, who covered the 2016 Trump Campaign.  Now, she covers the White House for The Washington Post, and she joins Tom on the line from The Post's radio studio.  Also on the panel and with us in Studio A is Pastor Shannon Wright.  She is the Third  Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party and the first Black woman ever elected to any party office in Maryland.  In 2016, she was a Republican candidate for president of the Baltimore City Council.  She is also the co-host of the Wright Way With Shannon and Mike morning show  and a panelist on Roland Martin on News One.

photos courtesy BBJ, CBS.

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap, ​our Friday review of some of the week's top news stories, Tom is joined in Studio A by Heather Mizeur, a former delegate in the Maryland General Assembly who ran a vigorous but unsuccessful campaign in 2014 for the Democratic nomination for governor. Mizeur recently launched a non-profit group called MizMaryland-Soul Force Politics, which is producing a policy blog and a podcast that Mizeur is hosting.

Melody Simmons also joins Tom in the studio.  Simmons is a veteran journalist and a reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal, which, on Wednesday, published her long piece -- in a BBJ series called "The Amazon Effect” – about the economic impact various Amazon projects will have on the city, and what they might cost in taxpayer subsidies.

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On this edition of the Midday News Wrap,  we look at President Trump's visit to Puerto Rico and his talk of relief efforts for the US territory in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

The National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby, issued a statement about "bump stocks," the device that the Las Vegas mass shooter used to increase the carnage he inflicted. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles," the statement read, "should be subject to additional regulations.”

President Trump is reportedly planning to de-certify the Iran nuclear deal, leaving it to Congress to think about pulling out of the agreement altogether. Reports are that his top advisers are recommending the US stay in.  Last night while posing for a picture with military leaders and their wives, Trump described the moment as the "calm before the storm."  The Commander in Chief did not elaborate further.

And here in Baltimore, a highly respected lawyer from a prominent local law firm has been appointed to serve as the monitor of the Consent Decree between the Police Department and the Department of Justice. 

Tom discusses these and other of the week's top news stories with reporter John Lemire, who covers the White House for the Associated Press; Charles Robinson Political/Business reporter for Maryland Public Television; and Andrew Green, the Opinion Editor of the Baltimore Sun.  

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Three million people are without power in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.  And the latest deadly earthquake in Mexico has left more than 280 dead as search and rescue efforts continue.

Many critics, both foreign and domestic, considered President Donald Trump’s debut address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York a different kind of natural disaster, this one of the diplomatic variety.  He threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man,” a soubriquet the President appears to think is funny.   Kim Jung-Un, however, found the President's comments to be less than amusing, blasting Trump as a  "dotard," and a "frightened dog."

City of St. Petersburg

On this edition of the the Midday News Wrap:  An IED explosion rocks  the Parsons Green tube station in Southwest London during rush hour this morning leaving 23 people hospitalized.  It is the fifth act of terrorism in Britain this year.  The death toll from Hurricane Irma continues to rise as clean-up continues.  At least 39 people on the U.S. mainland, and at least 43 people in the Caribbean have died as a result of Irma.   

On Wednesday night, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying they a reached an agreement about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  The President, however, tweeted on Thursday morning that there was no deal.  Also, the Department of Justice said this week that none of the Baltimore Police officers who were charged in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray will face federal civil rights charges in his death.   Discussing these issues and more,  Tom is joined by Michael Fletcher  of ESPN's The Undefeated and Andrew Revkin, senior reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublica.  

  

Tom is joined by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the senior senator from Maryland. This morning, he led an interfaith meeting to respond to the violence in Charlottesville.  We’ll talk about President Trump’s pandering and bigoted response to that dark day, his decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and the prospects for tax reform.  

Senator Cardin is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We’ll also talk about the growing tensions with North Korea and the president’s recent comments about the prospects of a military conflict. 

Midday News Wrap 8.18.17

Aug 18, 2017
Photo courtesy Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun

It's the Midday News Wrap, our review of the week's top news stories, with a rotating panel of journalists and commentators.

Protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument was the pretext for a Unite the Right rally by armed neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansmen in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.  Dozens were injured in the ensuing melee with counter protesters, and a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd.  

President Trump angered critics and supporters alike with his shifting analyses of the violence in Charlottesville, his refusal to unequivocally denounce the white supremacist groups by name, and his insistence that counter-protesters share equal blame for the weekend violence. 

In the days that followed, Confederate-themed monuments became rallying points for anti-racism protests and criticism in many US cities, resulting in the removal of monuments here in Baltimore and North Carolina, with other states, including Florida and Kentucky, pledging to remove their monuments as well.  

To help parse these and other news stories, Tom is joined by Dr. Ray Winbush, Research Professor and Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and Ayesha Rascoe, White House correspondent for the Reuters news agency.  

Tom speaks with Senator Ben Cardin, the senior senator from Maryland and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about President Trump's  escalating war of words with North Korea. This conversation was recorded on Thursday morning.  At that time, President Trump had already talked about the "fire and fury" of a response to North Korea should they initiate hostilities. This morning, the President tweeted that the US military was "locked and loaded" with military solutions should North Korea act "unwisely." The President appears to be implying that he’s ordered some sort of new military plan for North Korea.  Most military observers doubt that American preparedness for a conflict with North Korea is, in fact, substantially different than it has been for some time. 

Baltimore City Government

On Wednesday Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh released her plan for curbing the spike in violence in the city. Her violence reduction plan takes a holistic approach to fighting crime.  The mayor wants more training for police officers, increased access to housing and jobs, and free community college for Baltimore city public school graduates. Critics say the Mayor’s plan lacks accountability and measurable goals. 

Dominique Maria Bonessi is WYPR's City Hall reporter.

Edward Jackson is a professor of criminal justice at Baltimore City Community College. He’s also a former Baltimore City Police Department Colonel, who retired from the department in 2004. He was recently appointed by Mayor Pugh to Baltimore City’s Community Oversight Task Force. 

They join Tom to discuss the mayor crime plan and a crime reduction plan put forth by the city council's public safety committee led by 2nd district councilman Brandon Scott. 

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury.  The Trump White House has called in the Marines, or at least one highly respected Marine General, to impose order in the West Wing, and to squash the constant barrage of leaks.  Those leaks, however, continue at an unprecedented pace.

A transcript of phone calls with the Presidents of Mexico and Australia were revelatory about the President’s negotiating style.  A transcript of a phone call with the head of the Boy Scouts will never be leaked, because the phone call was imagined by the President.  In West Virginia last night, he played hits from the campaign like “Lock her up!” and reveled in the defection of the state's Democratic governor to the Republican Party.  In Baltimore, the City Council and the Mayor wrestled over plans to stem the violence on city streets.  

A lot to parse in this week's News Wrap. Tom is joined today by Associated Press White House reporter Darlene Superville, on the line from Washington.  And joining us in the studio is Jean Marbella of the Baltimore Sun. She has been a writer and editor at the Sun for 30 years, currently serving on the Sun’s investigative and enterprise team.

Photo courtesy WBUR

It's the Midday News Wrap, with guest host Nathan Sterner sitting in for Tom Hall.  Among the stories Nathan spotlights in this week's review: the drama of competing healthcare bills, the wrangling and chaos within the Republican Party, and the still-unfolding puzzle of possible Russian ties to President Trump's inner circle.

 Early in the week, Senate Republicans lacked the votes for their latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  By Tuesday, President Trump announced, “We’ll let Obamacare fail.”  The confusion deepened later in the week with proposals to Repeal without Replace and Repeal with Delayed Replace.

Also this week, there was the drip, drip of revelations about exactly who else was in the room in June of 2016 when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chief at the time, attended a meeting where they were promised Russian government help for their campaign and some dirt about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  Then on Thursday came the announcement that Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort have all agreed to appear before Senate committees next week to discuss Russia and the 2016 election.

Andy Green, Editorial Page editor of the Baltimore Sun, and Richard Cross, a longtime Republican communications staffer in both Annapolis and Capitol Hill, are here with background and analysis on the week's developments.

But first, Julie Rovner is on the line from DC to help us make sense of the week’s healthcare news.  Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, where she is the Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow.  If her voice is familiar to you, that’s because Rovner was a health policy reporter for NPR for 16 years before joining KHN.  She is the author of the book “Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z,” now in its third edition.  

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On this Fête Nationale in France, President Trump has completed a quick trip to Paris where he visited Napoleon’s tomb, dined at the Eiffel Tower, viewed a military parade on the Champs Élysées, and got to know his younger French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, a little better.

He made inappropriate remarks about the body of the first lady of France, but gone were disparaging remarks about how no one was going to visit Paris anymore. He promised to return, and Macron assured Mr. Trump that he was welcome any time.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Today, all eyes are on Hamburg Germany, the site of the G-20 summit, where about three hours ago, Donald Trump met Vladimir Putin for the first time as President. The meeting takes place as North Korea continues its sword rattling, the Syrian conflict continues to displace and kill thousands, big policy differences between the US and other G-20 members in areas like climate change are once again laid bare, and new economic agreements that exclude the US are taking shape.

courtesy CNN Photo

When Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill a little more than a week ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be voted on this week -- before Congress’s July 4 recess.  But, on Tuesday of this week, McConnell, realizing he didn’t have the 50 votes needed to pass the bill, pulled the plug on the vote.  What’s next for the bill that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would result in 23 million more people without health insurance in the next decade?   

Also this week, the President’s Travel Ban is back, in part. The Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments next fall regarding lower court decisions that stayed the President’s executive order: And that parts of President’ Trump’s revised travel ban could be enforced.

The Trump administration made further claims about fake news this week.  

We’ll take on these stories and others this week on the Midday News Wrap:  Tom is joined  in the studio by AP White House correspondent Julie Bykowicz and, on the line from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. Carol Anderson, the Chair of African American Studies at Emory and author of the NYT best-selling book “White Rage.”   

Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there will be a vote next week. Democrats are predictably, not happy, citing the bill’s deep cuts to the Medicaid program. Senator Chuck Schumer called the bill heartless. At least four republican senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson have said they hope to get to yes, but they’re not there yet.

Former Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of all charges in connection to the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds live streamed on Facebook the moments immediately after he was shot. A dashcam video of the shooting was released after the verdict, but it's left many people wondering how the officer was acquitted? 

photo courtesy Arizona Republic

Last Wednesday, on a baseball field in Alexandria, VA, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and three others were shot, including a Capitol Hill police officer who lives in Baltimore County.  Congressional leaders vowed to tamp down their vitriolic rhetoric.  But in a week that included the anniversary of the worst mass killing in US history, there seems to be no end in sight to this violence,  even in our political discourse. 

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against President Trump for what they say is a violation of anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. Congress has filed a suit too.  Jeff Sessions gave often defiant testimony to the Senate Intel Committee on Tuesday.  And there are now published reports confirming that President Trump is himself a subject of an investigation into possible obstruction of justice.  Plenty to talk about with Tom's News Wrap guests, Ayesha Rascoe, a White House correspondent for Reuters, and Alan Walden, who was last year's Republican candidate for Mayor of Baltimore.  

Former FBI Director James Comey was center stage yesterday in public and classified appearances before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Following Comey's public testimony, President Trump’s private lawyer pronounced the President vindicated. The President himself tweeted the same thing this morning. Many observers, however, disagree. Partisanship was by no means absent during Comey’s testimony. Like beauty, Obstruction of Justice is in the eye of the beholder.  The cloud of scandal hovering over the Trump administration is perhaps murkier than ever.  

Photo courtesy Bowie State University

It's the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday review of the week's top local, national and international news. This week, as headlines focused on President Trump's first foreign trip, his 2018 budget proposal, and on the continuing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the nation was stunned by news of the May 20 stabbing death of Bowie State University student Richard Collins III.  The 23 year-old Collins, who had just been commissioned as a US Army lieutenant, was murdered by a University of Maryland/College Park student, who has been identified as a member of a white supremacist hate group on Facebook. How is the community responding to this tragedy, and what are school officials doing to address rising concerns about racially motivated attacks on their campus? Joining Tom on today's NewsWrap panel to discuss these and other issues in the news this week are Kamau High, managing editor of the Afro-American Newspaper and Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland, and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.”