Here Are the Biggest Stories in American Politics This Week


From President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal to the release of three Americans from North Korea, here are six of the biggest stories driving American politics this week.

President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

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Despite the American withdrawal, key European allies and Iran said they would remain in the deal.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump announced Tuesday that he would withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, in what is likely the most consequential national security decision of his administration thus far.

The United States will reimpose the sanctions it imposed on Iran before the deal, and it is considering additional penalties. The move indicated that Mr. Trump, emboldened in his second year in office, is reshaping foreign policy to reflect the “America First” doctrine that he advocated during his 2016 presidential campaign, and it emphasized that trans-Atlantic relations are in trouble.

Iran’s hard-line authorities denounced the administration’s withdrawal with nationwide rallies at which American flags were burned.

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Three Americans who had been held in North Korea returned to the United States.

President Trump and his wife, Melania, were at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland early Thursday to welcome three American prisoners freed from North Korea, including Kim Dong-chul, center.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

North Korea released three detainees, all Americans of Korean descent, to the United States, with Mr. Trump heralding their return early Thursday at Joint Base Andrews near Washington.

The release followed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea. There, he extended an olive branch: “All the opportunities your people so richly deserve” in exchange for the end of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

After the detainees’ release, Mr. Trump confirmed the final details for his summit meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un: It will be held June 12 in Singapore.

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More was revealed about Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer, and his business dealings.

Michael D. Cohen leaving federal court last month in Manhattan.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, faced a series of revelations about his business dealings, which overlapped with the work he did for the president.

The shell company he used to pay hush money to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress widely known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, is said to have also received payments totaling more than $1 million from several corporations with business before the Trump administration and from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch.

The new reports detailed how Mr. Cohen, left out of the White House despite his aspirations to join the administration, became seen as someone who could help others gain access to the president. Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, came forward Friday to say that the company had made a “big mistake” in hiring Mr. Cohen to advise on the company’s deal to buy Time Warner.

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Gina Haspel, the president’s nominee to lead the C.I.A., faced lawmakers’ questions over her experience.

Gina Haspel’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday was laced with ambiguities about the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program and her understanding of limits on the agency’s powers.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

Senate Intelligence Committee members questioned Gina Haspel, the president’s nominee to be C.I.A. director, over her involvement in the brutal interrogation of a Qaeda suspect after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Before the hearing, Ms. Haspel told administration officials she would withdraw her nomination if there was concern that her involvement would draw the agency into renewed controversy over the program, but she ultimately decided to remain the nominee.

During the hearing, she told senators that she would not allow another program of that nature, and she pushed back against questions about her morals. Her evasions, however, raised more questions about the ambiguities of the program and her own involvement.

And while Senator John McCain, himself a survivor of torture during the Vietnam War, released an agonized statement detailing why he could not support Ms. Haspel’s nomination, other senators have announced their intent to do so.

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Mike Pence’s brother was among the winners in a series of primary elections.

Greg Pence ran for the congressional seat his brother, Vice President Mike Pence, once held.CreditMike Wolanin/The Republic, via Associated Press

Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia — all states that broadly supported Mr. Trump in the 2016 election — held highly contested primary elections on Tuesday. North Carolina also held a primary vote that day.

Greg Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s oldest brother, won the Republican primary in Indiana for his brother’s former House seat, though he declined to debate his opponents and refused most requests for interviews. Representative Robert Pittenger, Republican of North Carolina, became the first incumbent from either party to lose his seat this year because of a primary challenge. And a woman who accused Mr. Trump during his presidential campaign of forcibly kissing her in Trump Tower won an uncontested Democratic primary for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.

At the request of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, Mr. Trump personally intervened in the West Virginia primary race, pleading with voters to oppose the former mine operator Don Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship, who ultimately lost the primary, had targeted Mr. McConnell with personal attacks against his wife’s ethnicity.

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New York’s attorney general, an advocate of the #MeToo movement, resigned over accusations of sexual assault.

Eric T. Schneiderman in 2017. He resigned Monday as New York’s attorney general after claims that he had physically assaulted several women.CreditSasha Maslov for The New York Times

Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general who rose to national prominence because of his confrontations with the Trump administration, resigned Monday after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them.

The reports detailed Mr. Schneiderman’s alleged psychological and physical abuse of the women, crashing through his carefully cultivated reputation as a defiant opponent to Mr. Trump’s policies. He denied the charges, asserting that he engaged in “role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.”

After the accusations were reported, there was political sniping between the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York over who should investigate them. Mr. Vance was irate over Mr. Cuomo’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Schneiderman.

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