Jul 25, 2018

Pompeo: U.S. doesn’t recognize Crimea as part of Russia

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the U.S. does not recognize Crimea as a part of Russia during his testimony centered on President Trump's recent meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Why it matters: Trump's personal position on this issue has been shaky at best in recent months. At the G7 summit, Trump reportedly said he considered Crimea to be Russian because people in Crimea speak Russian — and he's also said that he'll "have to see"if U.S. policy on the issue would change.

  • Pompeo added that there would be no relief on sanctions related to Crimea until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.

More on North Korea:

  • Pressed by multiple senators, Pompeo did not provide any specific details about hard commitments made by North Korea that would lead to denuclearization, though he said later that international sanctions would remain on the regime until it denuclearized.
  • He confirmed that North Korea is continuing to produce fissile material.
  • When asked if North Korea was still making advancements on nuclear production, Pompeo refused to answer, instead asking to address the question in a classified setting.

More on Russia:

  • On the topic of the 2016 presidential election: "President Trump has stated that he accepts our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He has a complete and proper understanding of what happened. I know. I briefed him on it for over a year."
  • Pompeo repeatedly refused to divulge any details about Trump's two-hour one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki during a testy line of questioning from Sen. Robert Menendez, the committee's ranking Democrat, instead choosing to refer back to U.S. policy on Russia.
  • He also stated he had not spoken with the translator from the Trump-Putin meeting. Several lawmakers want the translator to come to Capitol Hill to testify on what happened in the meeting since the White House has not issued a readout on its contents, allowing the Kremlin to drive the narrative on the topic.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

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Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health