April 7, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jee Abbey Lee reporting.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, says he is temporarily withdrawing from the panel's investigation into alleged Russian hacking during the 2016 election campaign.
Nunes said "several left-wing activist groups" filed accusations of impropriety against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics, and he would step back from the investigation until the charges are cleared up. VOA's Jeff Caster has more.
Nunes called the accusations "baseless" but said he believes it is "in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress" for him to allow Representative Mike Conaway to temporarily take charge of the committee's Russia investigation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan explained the move to reporters Thursday. "Chairman Nunes wants to make sure this is not a distraction to a very important investigation. So he wants to go clear himself while this investigation continues on without any kind of distractions."
Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, Thursday expressed his appreciation for Nunes's decision, saying it will allow the investigation to get back on track.
Jeff Caster, VOA news, Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump is greeting his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, at his Florida resort Thursday for a two-day summit. Mr. Trump hopes to pressure Beijing into doing more to rein in North Korea's nuclear weapons development.
Earlier this week, Trump warned "if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." His administration is considering sanctions against Chinese banks and companies that give Pyongyang access to international financing.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said the roughly $310 billion U.S. trade deficit with China is also high on the agenda.
This is VOA news.
Syria and Russia once again deny allegations that Syrian warplanes dropped chemical bombs on a rebel-held town in northern Syria this week.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Damascus Thursday the government did not use chemical weapons during airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun and never use them.
The attack killed nearly 100 people and left more than 350 sick, including children.
In (the) wake of the toxic chemical attack in Syria, special adviser to the U.N. special envoy for Syria Jan Egeland is urging the U.S., Russia and other countries to bring the civil war to an end. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
Special adviser on Syria Jan Egeland says a war where children suffocate to death because of toxic chemicals is a "very, very dirty war."
Egeland says he is a humanitarian and does not believe in military solutions, so he is not in favor of reported calls for military action by the U.S. against Syria.
"What I do welcome is a renewed interest from the United States to focus on the carnage in Syria. We need the co-chairs, which are Russia and the United States, still to be equally seized with the situation of the Syrian civilians."
Egeland says the U.N. has sought permission to provide humanitarian aid for one million people in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in April and May. He notes that only one-third of that request, however, has been approved in full by the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.
Democrats have voted against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The Senate vote was 55 for and 45 against but five short of the 60 votes needed to confirm the Colorado Appeals Court judge.
The Republicans then invoked the so-called "nuclear option" on the Gorsuch confirmation, meaning the party in control can pass their nominees with a simple majority.
Last night, Democratic senators did not miss the chance of vote, voiced their opinions of Gorsuch.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken says Gorsuch ruled too many times with corporations.
"I've come to a conclusion that elevating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court's bench will merely guarantee more the same from the Roberts court, a sharply divided already activist court, that routinely sides with powerful corporate interests over the rights of average Americans."
Then there was Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who echoed the same concerns as Senator Franken.
I am Jee Abbey Lee in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.