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Photos: Trump welcomes 3 Americans detained in North Korea back to U.S.

Staging a flag-waving, still-of-the-night arrival ceremony, President Donald Trump early Thursday welcomed home three Americans freed by North Korea and declared their release a sign of promise toward his goal of de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Trump: 3 Americans released by North Korea

Three Americans were headed home Wednesday after each spending more than a year detained by officials in North Korea, President Donald Trump confirmed in a tweet.

>> Read more trending news

“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting,” Trump wrote Wednesday morning. “They seem to be in good health.”

Trump said Pompeo and the Americans, previously identified as Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul, will land at Andrews Air Force Base around 2 a.m. Thursday.

>> Related: North Korea releasing 3 American prisoners, Giuliani says

"I will be there to greet them," Trump wrote. "Very exciting!"

The men appeared to be in good condition Wednesday and did not need help to get onto a plane bound for the U.S., White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday in a statement.

>> Related: South Korean president says Trump should win Nobel Peace Prize

“President Trump appreciates leaders Kim Jong Un's action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill,” she said. “All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones.”

The president hinted last week that work was being done to secure the Americans’ release and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News the release was imminent. However, White House officials declined to elaborate on or confirm the statements.

>> Related: North Korea: What you should know about the country and its people

“This is a proud and memorable moment for America,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

CNN reported that Kim Dong-chul was detained in 2015 in North Korea on suspicion of spying for South Korea. Tony Kim was detained in April 2017 and Kim Hak-song was detained in May 2017, CNN reported. Both men, who worked at the privately run Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, were accused of committing "hostile acts" against Kim Jong Un's regime.

>> Related: Trump: US, North Korea agree to date, place for summit

In a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the family of Tony Kim said they were “very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees.”

“We want to thank all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home,” the statement said. We also want to thank the President for engaging directly with North Korea. Mostly, we want to thank God for Tony's safe return. We appreciate all of the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year. You are dear to our hearts. We ask that you continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held.”

>> Related: President Trump confirms via Tweet summit with North Korea

Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month before he was sworn in on April 26 to serve as secretary of state, Trump confirmed last month on Twitter. Pompeo's meeting was the first high-level meeting with Pyongyang since 2000 when then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright met with Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, The Washington Post reported.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Trump's NRA speech criticized by French officials

Government officials in France and Britain criticized a portion of President Donald Trump’s speech to the National Rifle Association that suggested more lenient gun laws could have prevented deadly attacks in Paris in 2015, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

During his speech to the NRA on Friday, Trump said that if civilians had been armed in Paris, “it would have been a whole different story.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM television Sunday that he hoped Trump “would express regret,” Reuters reported.

“His comments are shocking and not worthy of the president of the world’s greatest superpower,” Le Maire told the station.

In a statement, the French foreign office expressed its “firm disapproval” of Trump’s comments.

“(We demand) that the memory of the victims be respected,” the foreign office said. “France is proud to be a country where acquiring and carrying firearms is strictly regulated.”

During his speech, Trump acted out the scene of the Nov. 13, 2015, attack, when 90 of the 130 victims died.

“They took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!,” Trump said, using his hands in a gun gesture.

Francois Hollande, who was president of France in 2015, said on Twitter that Trump’s remarks were “shameful” and “obscene.”

John McCain's confidantes say Trump won't be invited to his funeral, reports say

Confidantes of Republican Sen. John McCain, whose health has been waning since his brain cancer diagnosis last year, say President Donald Trump will not be invited to his funeral, multiple news outlets are reporting.

>> Sen. John McCain in stable condition after surgery for intestinal infection

The New York Times reported Saturday that McCain's "intimates have informed the White House that their current plan for his funeral is for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the service to be held in Washington’s National Cathedral but not President Trump, with whom Mr. McCain has had a rocky relationship."

>> Read more trending news 

Later Saturday, NBC News published a similar report, claiming that McCain, 81, "does not want" Trump at the service. 

>> Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer, statement says

Two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, are planning to speak at the memorial, NBC News reported.

Read more here or here.

WATCH: Stormy Daniels makes surprise appearance in 'SNL' cold open

Adult film star Stormy Daniels made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in the show's latest jab at President Donald Trump.

>> Watch the clip here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Daniels – who claims she had sex with Trump in 2006 and received $130,000 from his attorney, Michael Cohen, as part of a nondisclosure agreement – played herself in the show's cold open, which also featured guest stars Ben Stiller as Cohen, Martin Short as former Trump physician Harold Bornstein, Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump and Jimmy Fallon as Jared Kushner.

>> Giuliani: Trump reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for $130K Stormy Daniels payment

In the sketch, Alec Baldwin's Trump and Stiller's Cohen chatted on the phone with several administration officials and associates – notably, Kate McKinnon as Rudy Giuliani – before calling Daniels.

"C'mon, Stormy, quit making such a big deal about this," Baldwin, as Trump, said. "Everyone knows it's just an act."

>> Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

"I work in adult films. We're not really known for our acting," Daniels quipped.

"Just tell me, what do you need for this to all go away," Baldwin's Trump asked.

"A resignation," Daniels said.

Later, Baldwin's Trump wondered out loud: "I solved North and South Korea, but can I solve us?"

>> Read more trending news 

Daniels' reply?

"Sorry, Donald, it's too late for that," she said. "I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm's a-coming, baby."

Trump on Giuliani: 'He'll get his facts straight'

President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that his attorney Rudy Giuliani will “get his facts straight” amid dueling narratives surrounding a $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election.

>> Read more trending news

Giuliani, who joined Trump's legal team last month, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday night that the president repaid his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the payment made to Daniels. In exchange, Daniels agreed not to talk about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.

>> Related: Giuliani: President reimbursed Cohen for $130K Stormy Daniels payment

Trump has previously denied knowing about the payment made by Cohen.

>> Related: Trump says he didn't know about Stormy Daniels payment

“When Rudy made the statements – Rudy is great, but Rudy had just started, and he wasn’t totally familiar with everything,” Trump told reporters Friday morning. “He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.”

Giuliani joined the president’s legal team last month.

Giuliani told Hannity the president repaid Cohen but that he “didn’t know the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”

>> Related: Rudy Giuliani to join Trump legal team in wake of Michael Cohen criminal investigation

Cohen negotiated a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016 in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

>> Related: Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford, is suing to break the non-disclosure agreement, claiming the document is invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

Giuliani: President reimbursed Cohen for $130K Stormy Daniels payment

President Donald Trump repaid personal attorney Michael Cohen for an October 2016 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News' Sean Hannity in a televised interview late Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT May 3: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she didn’t learn that President Donald Trump reimbursed his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for a payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels until Wednesday.

“As Mayor Giuliani stated, and I’ll refer you back to his comments, this was information that the president didn’t know at the time but eventually learned,” she said Thursday at a news briefing.

The press secretary had previously said that officials were unaware of payments made by Cohen to Daniels.

“The first awareness I had was during the interview last night,” Huckabee Sanders said. “The president has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim.”

Daniels has said that she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, after she met him at a celebrity golf tournament. Cohen paid her $130,000 days before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence on the alleged affair. Trump previously denied any knowledge of the payment. 

Daniels has sued to break the non-disclosure agreement, claiming it wasn’t valid because it wasn’t signed by Trump.

Update, 6:48 a.m. EDT Thursday: President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Thursday to weigh in on the latest revelations in the Stormy Daniels scandal after Rudy Giuliani, now a member of his legal team, spoke to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday. 

Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a nondisclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction.”

ORIGINAL STORY: President Donald Trump repaid personal attorney Michael Cohen for an October 2016 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News' Sean Hannity in a televised interview late Wednesday.

>> Watch the segment here

Giuliani, who recently joined Trump's legal team, told Hannity that the $130,000 payment to Daniels, who signed the agreement to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump, "is going to turn out to be perfectly legal."

>> Jamie Dupree: Giuliani admits Trump repaid Cohen for $130,000 Stormy Daniels payment

"That money was not campaign money," Giuliani said. "Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know: It's not campaign money, no campaign finance violation."

"They funneled it through a law firm," Hannity said.

"Funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it," Giuliani replied.

"Oh, I didn't know he did," Hannity said.

>> Trump attorney Ty Cobb resigns; replaced by Emmet Flood

Giuliani added that Trump "didn't know about the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this." 

Later Wednesday, Giuliani told The Washington Post that he didn't know when Trump found out about the payment, adding that Trump only recently became aware of some details.

>> Stormy Daniels on '60 Minutes': 5 revelations from the interview

"I don't know if he distinguished it from other things Cohen might have done for him during the campaign," Giuliani told the Post.

According to Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree, Trump previously told reporters that he didn't know about Cohen's payment to Daniels, who now claims that the agreement is invalid and also is suing Trump for defamation.

On April 5, aboard Air Force One, Trump was asked directly by reporters about the matter.

“Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?” one reporter asked.

"No," Trump replied.

According to The Associated Press, “the payment to Daniels has raised numerous legal questions, including whether it was an illegal campaign contribution and, now, loan.”

Read more here.

– Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Texas sues to end Obama-era DACA program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the federal government Tuesday to force the cancellation of an Obama administration program that offers deportation protection to unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

>> Read more trending news

The federal lawsuit, filed in Brownsville, was joined by six other states and seeks to bolster President Donald Trump’s efforts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that has shielded about 700,000 young adults from deportation.

To date, however, federal courts have blocked Trump’s attempts to phase out the program, prompting Paxton to try a different tactic -- a lawsuit that names administration officials as defendants but seeks to accomplish the administration’s goal of ending DACA.

President Barack Obama announced the program in 2012, saying he wanted to protect people who were “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

But Paxton and other opponents insist that Obama exceeded his authority, usurping law-making power that the Constitution designated for Congress.

>> Related: Trump tweets 'No more DACA deal'

“Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences,” Paxton told reporters Tuesday.

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said Paxton’s “cruel anti-immigration agenda will rip over 124,000 Texans away from their families and jeopardize our economy.”

“The average age of DACA participants at the time they arrived in the U.S. is 6½ years old. They should feel safe and accepted in the only country they know to be their home,” Hinojosa said.

>> Related: Sen. Tim Kaine says Trump is either 'lying or completely delusional' about DACA

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, called the lawsuit unnecessary and cruel. “These are young people who were brought here when they were young. They’ve done nothing wrong on their own,” said Rodriguez, policy chairman for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

But Paxton said the lawsuit was necessary to preserve the rule of law and the power of Congress to set immigration policies.

And while he praised Trump’s efforts to end DACA, Paxton sharply criticized “three activist judges” who, reacting to lawsuits filed by DACA recipients and their supporters, in recent months ordered federal officials to keep the program operating.

>> Related: What does the Supreme Court ruling mean for DACA recipients?

Trump’s latest setback came last week, when U.S. District Judge John Bates of the Federal Court for the District of Columbia ordered deportation protections to remain in place and told the Department of Homeland Security to resume accepting new and renewed DACA applications.

Bates said administration officials had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by phasing out the program without explaining why they believed it was illegal. The judge also delayed his order for 90 days to give officials time to provide that explanation.

Federal judges in New York and San Francisco have also blocked efforts to cancel the program.

>> Related: Deportations of traffic offenders skyrocketed under Trump, study says

“Our frustration is not with this administration, it’s with three federal judges in various places of the country,” Paxton said. “Unelected federal judges are forcing the Trump administration to leave an unlawful program in place indefinitely as legal challenges drag on.”

The Obama-era policy offers deportation protection and renewable, two-year work permits to about 700,000 people who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday, have lived in the country continuously since mid-2007, are in school or graduated, or were honorably discharged from the military, and have no felonies or significant misdemeanors.

The lawsuit seeks a federal court order declaring DACA unconstitutional and stopping the federal government from issuing or renewing DACA permits. It does not seek to remove deportation protections from current DACA recipients or to rescind already issued permits, Paxton said.

>> Related: Immigrant protected under Obama program detained near Seattle, faces deportation

A Republican, Paxton has taken a national lead in efforts to upend immigration policies advanced by Obama, a Democrat.

In 2015, Paxton led a coalition of 26 states that successfully challenged an Obama order to expand DACA and add similar deportation protection for unauthorized immigrants who were parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. Known as DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, the policy could have protected up to 5 million immigrants from deportation but was blocked by the courts before being formally rescinded by the Trump administration in June.

The administration, however, left DACA in place, and Paxton responded last year by threatening to sue federal officials if Trump did not cancel the program.

On Sept. 5 — Paxton’s deadline for action — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be phased out and that no new applications would be accepted, prompting multiple lawsuits by those hoping to save the program.

Although Sessions’ action kept Texas from filing suit last year, Paxton said the administration’s inability to follow through on ending DACA prompted Tuesday’s federal court action, which was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Holding your phone while driving will soon be illegal in Georgia

Georgia's governor is expected to sign a new distracted driving bill Wednesday.

>> Watch the news report here

The law will make it illegal to hold your phone while you're driving.

Gov. Nathan Deal won't be signing that bill at the Capitol. Deal will do it in Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University. That's where five nursing students killed in a highway crash went to school.

“Don’t view this as a hostile act by the state government,” Deal said. “It is an act to protect the safety of anyone.”

WSB-TV’s Aaron Diamant spoke exclusively with the parents of one of those women. They fought for the law they say will save lives.

Craig and Kathy Clark of Cobb County will be in Statesboro to mark the milestone.

“This is something that's coming out of a horrific situation,” Craig Clark said.


>> Georgia governor says he plans to sign hands-free bill

>> Georgia lawmakers pushing new ‘hands-free driving' bill

>> Put your phone down: Georgia could soon be a hands-free state

>> Another Cobb County city looks to ban hand-held cellphone use while driving

>> City votes to ban cellphones while driving

>> Lawmaker pre-files bill banning drivers from talking on cell phones without hands-free device

Emily Clark was one of the nursing students who died in the 2015 wreck after a tractor-trailer hit the girl’s SUV while it was stopped in traffic on I-16 eastbound. 

“To take a life, I don’t know how someone could live with themselves just because they were looking at a text message or talking on the phone and was distracted,” Kathy Clark said.

The new law will make it illegal for drivers to hold a phone while driving.

“Taking your eyes off the roads for those few seconds mean the difference between life and death,” Craig Clark said.

>> Read more trending news 

Truck driver John Wayne Johnson is serving a five-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide, and the trucking company paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements to the families of those who died. The two survivors, including Megan Richards of Loganville, were awarded $15 million after a 2017 trial. 

“If you can say that that this saves one life, then everything that we went through and hoped for could be well worth it,” Kathy Clark said.

The law will go into effect July 1, 2018, and will impose stiff fines for offenders.

Reviews mixed after Michelle Wolf's roast at White House correspondents dinner

Was she funny, or did she cross the line? Opinions vary in the wake of comedian Michelle Wolf’s monologue at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner.

>> Read more trending news

Margaret Talev, who is the White House Correspondents Association president, told CNN that her only regret “is that, to some extent, those 15 minutes are now defining four hours of what was a really wonderful, unifying night."

"Comedy is meant to be provocative," she told CNN. “But my interest overwhelmingly was in unifying the country, and I understand that we may have fallen a little bit short on that goal."

>> 9 shocking jokes from Michelle Wolf’s speech

President Donald Trump, who skipped the dinner for the second consecutive year, tweeted that Wolf “bombed.” Former press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that the dinner “was a disgrace.”

The biggest flash point came when Wolf made uncomplimentary comments about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, particularly about her physical appearance. She also made profane references to counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and others in attendance.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called Wolf's performance an "atrocity."

"I think the hostilities need to be de-escalated on both sides. It's not just the White House," Scaramucci told CNN. "It doesn't help what you're trying to achieve and what, I think, all of us are trying to achieve."

“Congratulations, Michelle Wolf. You’re now more unpopular than Hillary Clinton (and that’s pretty hard to do),” Scott Presler tweeted

Wolf wrote on Twitter that “All these jokes were about (Sanders’) despicable behavior," and not her looks.

Still, several journalists were uncomfortable with Wolf’s off-color jokes.

Ed Henry of Fox News, a past president of the association, called for the association to apologize to Sanders.

Peter Baker of The New York Times tweeted,. “Unfortunately, I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight."

Others defended Wolf for lambasting the administration and the press.

"Good lord people, it was a stand-up act. Get over yourselves. Or stop inviting comics and then acting shocked that they said something edgy," MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller tweeted.

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