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Morning News Brief

Jul 6, 2018

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We've been debating in the newsroom - is this really a trade war with China? Should we really be using that metaphor yet? Well, now we pretty much can. At 12:01 Eastern Time today, the United States fired the first shots in the trade war by imposing tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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President Trump tried to put some heat on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana Thursday, campaigning alongside Tester's GOP rival, Matt Rosendale. But as the temperature in Great Falls approached 90 degrees, Tester kept his cool.

"It's time to retire liberal Democrat Jon Tester," Trump told a crowd of more than 6,000 supporters at the Four Seasons Arena.

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We're now going to turn to Myron Ebell. He led Donald Trump's EPA transition team, and he's on the line with us now. Thank you for joining us.

MYRON EBELL: Thank you, Ailsa.

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Joining us now for more is former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman. She served in the role under President George W. Bush. Welcome.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: Ailsa, glad to be with you.

The "Trump Baby" blimp is nearly 20 feet tall, wearing nothing but a diaper and a grimace. A tuft of yellow hair tops his orange head. He is armed with a cellphone, ready to tweet.

And now he is nearly ready to fly over Parliament in London.

Mayor Sadiq Khan's Greater London Authority has given activists permission to launch the bouncing behemoth from Parliament Square Garden on July 12, when President Trump is set to arrive in London for a three and a half day visit to the U.K.

As guests arrived at the U.S. ambassador's residence for the annual Independence Day party in Moscow on Wednesday, the band onstage was covering songs by the rock group Chicago.

"Only the beginning!" the lead singer belted out as local dignitaries juggled hotdogs, tacos and cocktails across a soggy lawn. The buoyant lyrics seemed symbolic of President Trump's quiet détente with Russia as he prepares for the first full-fledged summit on July 16 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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For some reaction to the Pruitt news today, let's bring in Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. He's a member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Senator Cardin, welcome back to the program.

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Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this," Trump also wrote.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

President Trump has narrowed his list of Supreme Court candidates to three, according to two sources close to the process.

The three are Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge with Kavanaugh and Barrett as the top two at the moment.

It's important to maintain that caveat, because President Trump has not made a final decision, and it could change.

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Former Fox News co-President Bill Shine has been named White House deputy chief of staff for communications and assistant to the president, the White House announced Thursday.

Guns have always been a part of life in the West. Forty-two percent of Utah residents own a gun, according to a 2017 Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. The number of Utah women who own guns has surged in the last five years.

At Florida's Capitol in Tallahassee, four times a year, dozens of anxious people gather to hear a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. Felons whose sentences and probation are complete stand before the governor and other Cabinet members to ask for clemency and the restoration of their right to vote.

After waiting for years, Joanne Calvarese made her case to the clemency board in June.

"I feel that I have paid my consequences," Calvarese said. "I know I don't deserve your mercy, but I beg you for it."

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Activists in two separate protests against the Trump administration's immigration policies were arrested at the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday — one group unfurling a banner calling for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while in another act of defiance, a woman climbed the statue's base to protest immigrant family separations.

Morning News Brief

Jul 5, 2018

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We are now four months out from fall's midterm elections, and we know one thing Democrats stand for. The party is offering itself as a counterweight to President Trump.

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Despite all the Democrats' special election wins, high voter turnout in primaries and polls showing strong party enthusiasm heading into the midterms, the fact remains that Democrats are still stuck at their lowest level of power in nearly a century.

Even though President Trump's poll numbers have stabilized, party leaders see 2018 as a chance to seize back one key lever of government: the House of Representatives. But Democrats and their core voters can't seem to agree on the best direction to take.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading back to North Korea on Thursday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other senior officials.

His mission: to flesh out the details of a vaguely worded joint declaration that Kim signed with President Trump in Singapore last month.

In that document, the U.S. pledges security guarantees for North Korea, while North Korea commits to "work toward a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

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A former IT specialist for congressional Democrats who has figured prominently in right-wing conspiracy theories pleaded guilty Tuesday to making false statements on a loan application. Nevertheless, federal prosecutors said they found no evidence that he stole government secrets, as many conservatives, including President Trump, have suggested.

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