National News

National News at a Glance

Posted June 5, 2018 10:08 p.m. EDT

Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault Charges

Harvey Weinstein returned to court in Manhattan on Tuesday to plead not guilty to sexual assault charges lodged against him in an indictment last week. It was Weinstein’s first court appearance since his May 25 arrest on charges that he sexually assaulted two women in New York. Last week, a grand jury indicted Weinstein, 66, on one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape and one count of first-degree criminal sexual act. Weinstein has steadfastly denied he forced any of the dozens of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct to have sex with him.

Miss America Scraps Swimsuits, in an Effort to Reshape Its Image

The Miss America organization — whose chief executive resigned in December over lewd emails and whose new chairwoman, Gretchen Carlson, once sued Fox News for sexual harassment — on Tuesday announced it would scrap both the swimsuit and evening gown portion of the competition, replacing them with “a live interactive session with the judges” in which a contestant “will highlight her achievements and goals in life.” Carlson, the 1989 Miss America, said in an interview that her aim was to “make the event more inclusive” and described it as a “competition,” not a “pageant.”

Senate’s August Recess Cut, Keeping Democrats Off Campaign Trail

Sen. Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he is canceling most of the Senate’s monthlong August recess, a move that could keep vulnerable Democrats tethered to Washington as the midterm elections approach. McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, presented the schedule change as an opportunity for lawmakers to pass spending legislation and to approve more of President Donald Trump’s nominees. With 10 Democratic senators up for re-election in states won by Trump in 2016, the campaign implications were hard to overlook. But Democrats are pressuring their Republican colleagues to dedicate the reclaimed time to addressing rising health care and prescription drug costs.

Hundreds More Homes Destroyed as Lava Surge Fills Coastal

Lava flows from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island wiped out hundreds more homes and then quickly filled a nearby coastal bay, officials said Tuesday, pointing to a volatile new phase in the eruption of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County, said that the authorities were still seeking to get a definitive number of homes destroyed in recent days. “But it’s safe to say that hundreds were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland overnight,” Snyder added, referring to rural communities on the island’s far eastern edge.

Report Finds Dim Outlook for Benefits’ Trust Funds

The financial outlook for Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund deteriorated in the last year, and Social Security still faces serious long-term financial problems, the Trump administration said Tuesday. The projections are the first from the administration since President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law in December. They show no sign that a burst of economic growth will significantly improve the finances of the government’s largest entitlement programs. The Medicare trust fund will be depleted in 2026, the administration said. By contrast, the government said last year that the trust fund would be exhausted in 2029.

David Koch Steps Down From Business and Conservative Political Group

Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who combined his vast wealth and libertarian-tinged brand of conservatism to influence candidates and campaigns at all levels of U.S. politics, is stepping away from his political and business interests because of declining health, his company announced Tuesday. Koch’s brother, Charles, said in a letter to employees at Koch Industries that David Koch’s health problems had made it impossible for him to continue working. The Koch family has been influential in conservative politics for generations. David Koch, in fact, was the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party in 1980.

Aide Who Mocked McCain Leaves White House Post

A White House communications aide who made headlines in May for cracking a macabre joke about the health of Sen. John McCain of Arizona has left the White House. The aide, Kelly Sadler, made off-the-cuff comments about the Republican senator’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, saying it did not matter because McCain was “dying anyway.” McCain, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, has a malignant brain tumor and has been in treatment for several months. The joke was shared with the news media, igniting a firestorm.

White House Unblocks Twitter Users Who Sued Trump but Appeals Ruling

The White House has unblocked the accounts of seven Twitter users who sued President Donald Trump for barring them from viewing or responding to his tweets, even as the administration has decided to appeal a federal judge’s ruling in May that Trump violated their constitutional rights. The decision to unblock the plaintiffs from interacting with Trump’s account was a gesture of constitutional modesty by the Trump administration at a time when he and his lawyers have been making increasingly aggressive assertions of executive powers. The judge had not ordered the president to unblock them as part of the ruling.