Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee to be labor secretary, has reportedly withdrawn his nomination. The CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Hardee’s and Carl's Jr. fast-food chains, faced questions over his past statements on workers, as well as his onetime employment at home of a worker who was in the country illegally. Puzder’s nomination was opposed by both Republicans and Democrats. He is the first Trump nominee to withdraw his name from consideration. Read his statement here. More on this story here
—Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee to be labor secretary, has withdrawn his nomination. More here
—Malaysian authorities arrested two women in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur airport. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Andrew Puzder Withdraws His Nomination as Trump's Labor Secretary
Suspects Arrested in the Assassination of Kim Jong Un's Half-Brother
Updated at 9:35 p.m.
Malaysian authorities arrested two women in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur airport. The first woman, arrested Wednesday, was carrying a Vietnamese passport with the name Doan Thi Huong. She was identified using the airport’s video surveillance footage, Malaysian police said. Local newspaper Malay Mail published a photo from the airport’s CCTV footage of a woman said to be a suspect, though it is unclear if it is the same woman who was arrested by Malaysian police. Authorities said they are still pursuing five other suspects—including one woman and four men—who may have been involved. It is still unclear what role the second woman arrested played. As I previously reported, Kim Jong Nam, 45, died Monday after allegedly being poisoned at the airport by two unidentified women. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined, but South Korean lawmakers have already pointed to North Korea as likely behind the attack. Though once regarded as the likely successor to his father and late North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor after an incident in 2001 in which he attempted to use a forged passport to travel to Tokyo. Believed to have lived in exile ever since, Kim Jong Nam has held no formal title and has been a vocal critic of his younger half brother’s regime. If Pyongyang is proven to be behind the assassination, it would mark the most high-profile death under Kim Jong Un’s regime since the execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in 2013.
UPDATE: Trump Says He Won't Insist on Two-State Solution
President Trump appeared to break Wednesday with decades of bipartisan U.S. policy on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying: “I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was at Trump's side during the remarks, reaffirmed the need for Israeli security and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, adding he would rather not “deal with labels” on a solution to decades-old conflict. Netanyahu endorsed the two-state solution in 2009, but has maintained noncommittal support for it since. When asked about Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories, Trump turned to Netanyahu and said: “I’d like you to hold back on settlements a little bit.” He said he would love to see the U.S. Embassy moved to Jerusalem, adding he would address the issue with “great care.” Palestinians regards east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state; Israel claims all of the ancient city as its undivided capital; the international community does not recognize this claim. Netanyahu's meeting with the president was his first since Trump's election last November. Trump's remarks come amid questions over how his administration would work to resolve the conflict, which has been at the core of U.S. diplomatic efforts for decades. The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is moribund.
Mattis Warns U.S. May 'Moderate Its Commitment' to NATO
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. would “moderate its commitment to” NATO unless all its members meet their financial commitments to the military alliance. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense,” Mattis told NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Defense spending by NATO other members has long been a concern for the U.S. Of the alliance’s 28 members, only five—the U.S, the U.K., Estonia, Poland, and Greece—contribute 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending, in line with their NATO commitments. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump appeared to suggest that U.S. commitment to NATO was predicated upon members’ defense spending. He has since moderated that stance, but described the Atlantic alliance as “obsolete.” Since the end of World War II, NATO has provided security to Western nations. It assures its members of collective action in the event of an attack. But defense spending by NATO members since the end of the Cold War has fallen sharply, a fact that has been criticized by both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
Trump and the Leaks
White House spokesman Sean Spicer is likely to spend another day explaining leaks from the intelligence community about investigations into President Trump’s associates. Michael Flynn, the president’s national-security adviser, resigned Monday after reports said he’d misled Vice President Mike Pence and others over the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. On Tuesday, news organizations reported that other Trump associates were being investigated for their contacts with Russian intelligence before the election—a claim that contradicts the White House’s claim that no Trump aide was in contact with Moscow before the election.