5 things for June 28: Anthony Kennedy, Trump & Putin, North Korea, Disney & Fox
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1. Justice Anthony Kennedy
The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wasn't a total surprise, but it still sent shock waves through Washington and the country that could reverberate for decades. Kennedy, the court's crucial swing vote for years, personally delivered his resignation letter to President Trump at the White House. His retirement means huge changes could be coming on hot-button issues: abortion, same-sex marriage and affirmative action.
The President was downright giddy at the prospect of not only making his second Supreme Court pick in less than two years but also at the dream scenario it presents for him and the GOP: installing a consistently conservative court that can influence American law, life and culture for generations. It's the main reason so many Republicans voted for Trump in 2016.
Democrats, already beaten down by days of SCOTUS rulings, were absolutely deflated. Some hoped to shame Republicans with cries of hypocrisy after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said hearings for Kennedy's replacement would be held this fall. They reminded anyone who would listen that the GOP blocked Barack Obama's high court nominee from a hearing in 2016. But CNN's Chris Cillizza says Senate Dems are powerless to stop Trump's pick. And who will that be? Probably someone off the list of potential picks that Trump put out during the campaign and updated last year.
2. President Trump & President Putin
We'll find out later today the particulars of an upcoming summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. National security adviser John Bolton met with Putin in Moscow to work out the details. Helsinki, Finland, and Vienna, Austria, look like the likely meeting sites. The summit will probably happen next month, after Trump visits Britain and attends a NATO meeting in Belgium. The prospect of a Trump-Putin meeting has sent ripples of consternation through European capitals. Many fear attempts to isolate Moscow for its destabilizing activities could be quickly undone by Trump.
3. North Korea
After his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month, President Trump declared that the North Korean nuclear threat was over. Well, not so fast. New satellite images show the North has made improvements to a facility used to produce weapons-grade fissile material. Infrastructure upgrades at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center include modifications to the site's plutonium production reactor and construction of several support facilities. North Korea says it "cannot confirm the report," but one observer says this is "still an active site producing plutonium for" the country.
4. Migrant crisis
A ship stranded at sea for days -- and loaded with 233 migrants -- finally docked in Malta. The search and rescue ship, which belongs to German charity Mission Lifeline, was stuck in the Mediterranean for five days while European leaders bickered over the migrants' fate. A deal to let the ship dock in Malta was reached Tuesday. Malta, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland and France have all said they'll take in the migrants. How to deal with migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Mideast has become a hot-button issue in Europe, with some nations tightening their borders.
5. Disney & Fox
Disney is one huge step closer to buying most of 21st Century Fox. The Justice Department OK'd a settlement with Disney that would let it purchase most of Fox's assets for $71.3 billion (though Disney would have to sell off 22 of Fox's regional sports networks). But this mega deal isn't done yet. A federal judge still has to sign off, and Fox's shareholders have to vote on it. So, where does this leave Comcast, which made its own $65 billion bid for Fox? We're not sure; Comcast hasn't said yet. 21st Century Fox is the next big prize as the media industry consolidates to survive against competitors like Netflix and Facebook. Last week, a judge signed off on AT&T's purchase of Time Warner.
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