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'I feel like my life is starting over,' Alice Johnson says after Trump commutes life sentence

Alice Johnson, the 63-year-old woman released from prison Wednesday after President Donald Trump commuted her life sentence, said that she feels like her life is starting over after she spent more than two decades jailed for nonviolent drug offenses.

>> Read more trending news

“I’m just so thankful,” Johnson told reporters gathered Wednesday outside the Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville in Alabama. “This is a miracle day.”

>> Trump commutes Alice Johnson's sentence after meeting with Kim Kardashian West

Johnson was reunited with her family 22 years after she was convicted of charges connected to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation.

In an appearance Thursday morning on the “Today” show, Johnson said her heart leaped when she saw her family gathered outside the prison.

“We are going to appreciate every single moment we have,” she said. “Sometimes we take family and life for granted. I’ll never do that again.”

>> Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West meets with Trump over prison reform

She added that she hopes to use her newfound freedom to help people still in the prison system.

“I can’t just walk away and forget about those who have been left behind,” she said. “I want to take this chance to try to magnify what has happened with me, so that people will remember there are people just like me who are first-time nonviolent offenders who pose no safety risk to their communities.”

She told CNN on Thursday that even though it had only been one day since her release, she already had a job lined up.

“My plan is to start work,” she said. “And my plan is also to work hard on helping to change some of these laws. Something has to happen, and I believe what has already begun is a good first step with prison reform.”

Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence Wednesday, one week after celebrity socialite Kim Kardashian West pleaded her case in a meeting with the president. Johnson thanked both Trump and Kardashian West in several interviews Wednesday and Thursday.

“Only God could have touched Kim K’s heart like that,” Johnson told CNN. "She said she felt a connection when she saw and heard my story."

The president shared well-wishes for Johnson in a tweet Thursday morning.

The president has issued several pardons since his January 2017 inauguration. Last week he pardoned conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws.

Melania Trump makes first official appearance in 24 days

She's back.

According to CNN, first lady Melania Trump, who hadn't made any official appearances since May 10, attended a private White House event for Gold Star families Monday afternoon. 

>> Read more trending news 

Although the reception was closed to the media, a video from the event quickly circulated on Twitter.

>> See the video here

Trump also tweeted photos from the event.

"Tonight @POTUS & I were honored to pay tribute to our fallen heroes," she wrote. "Thank you to the Gold Star families that joined us in celebration & remembrance." 

>> See her tweet here

The news followed weeks of rumors and speculation about the first lady, who last appeared publicly when she and her husband, President Donald Trump, welcomed three American detainees released from North Korea. Soon afterward, she had surgery "for a benign kidney condition," CNN reported.

Read more here.

Trump says he has 'absolute right' to pardon himself

President Donald Trump said he has “the absolute right to PARDON” himself in a tweet Monday morning but added that he has “done nothing wrong” as the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election continues.

>> Read more trending news

The president also claimed that the appointment last year of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia probe “is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”

The tweets were posted after Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested during interviews on a pair of Sunday TV shows that as president, Trump has the authority to pardon himself.

“He probably does,” have the authority, Giuliani said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably – not to say he can’t.”

However, Giuliani told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump pardoning himself “would be unthinkable and probably lead to immediate impeachment.”

Giuliani's comments came as the White House sharpened its legal and political defenses against the special counsel Russia probe, which Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.”

Mueller’s investigation, launched in May 2017, has led to charges against several people connected to the Trump presidential campaign and its officials.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation

The president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has pleaded not guilty to a variety of money laundering and other criminal charges stemming from the probe. Five people -- including former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos -- have pleaded guilty to charges in the probe and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Trump says North Korea summit will go on after meeting with top Kim Jong Un aide

President Donald Trump said Friday that the scrapped June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back on again after a week of uncertainty.

>> Read more trending news

Trump met Friday with North Korea’s former military intelligence chief at the White House, making him the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit in 18 years. The meeting between Trump and Kim Yong Chol, described by NPR as Kim Jong Un’s “right-hand man,” lasted for more than an hour.

>> N. Korea says it’s still willing to meet with Trump after sudden cancellation of summit

Update 2:45 p.m. EDT June 1: Trump said he hopes that the June 12 meeting will be the first of many between U.S. and North Korean officials.

"I think it will be a process,” Trump told reporters after Friday’s meeting. “I never said it will go in one meeting but the relationships are building, and that's a big positive.”

The president confirmed he was given a letter from Kim Jong Un, though he declined to discuss details. It was not immediately clear whether he had read the note.

“It was a very interesting letter,” he said a few minutes before telling reporters he had yet to open Kim Jong Un’s letter.

Trump said Thursday that Kim Yong Chol planned to deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un as the two countries continued work to salvage the canceled planned for June 12 in Singapore.

Original report: American and North Korean officials held a trio of meetings around the globe Thursday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had a “substantive” discussion in New York with Kim Yong Chol and others. Meanwhile, a U.S. delegation met with North Korean officials in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. In Singapore, officials from both countries met to discuss logistics.

>> Pompeo: 'Good progress' made toward historic summit with North Korean, US officials

"I think it will be very positive,” Trump said of Thursday’s discussions. “We will see what happens. It is all a process."

If the summit takes place, it will be a historic meeting between the two nations.

Trump on May 24 abruptly canceled the planned meeting in a letter addressed to Kim Jong Un, citing the country’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.” However, he didn’t dismiss the possibility that the meeting could be rescheduled. North Korean officials also said they'd still be willing to meet face-to-face, despite the tension.

Pompeo: 'Good progress' made toward historic summit with North Korean, US officials

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Thursday with North Korea's former military intelligence chief to continue discussions aimed at salvaging a scrapped meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

>> Read more trending news

Pompeo met with Kim Yong Chol, described by NPR as “Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man,” Thursday morning in New York City after the pair started discussions over dinner one night earlier.

Pompeo said after the meeting that Thursday’s discussion was “substantive” and that “good progress” had been made toward re-establishing the planned June 12 meeting in Singapore.

“We discussed our priorities for the potential summit between our leaders,” he wrote. “#NorthKorea and the world would benefit greatly from the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump said Thursday morning that officials were having “very good meetings with North Korea.”

“I believe they will be coming down to Washington on Friday (with) a letter being delivered to me from Kim Jong Un,” he told reporters gathered at Join Base Andrews. “It is very important to them.”

He said he still hopes that North Korean and U.S. officials can meet next month despite his decision last week to cancel the summit amid tension with North Korea.

>> N. Korea says it’s still willing to meet with Trump after sudden cancellation of summit

"I think it will be very positive,” Trump said of Thursday’s discussions. “We will see what happens. It is all a process."

Two other meetings related to the planned summit also took place Thursday, according to The Washington Post. A U.S. delegation was meeting Thursday with North Korean officials in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. In Singapore, officials from both countries met to discuss logistics.

If the summit takes place, it will be a historic meeting between the two nations.

Trump on May 24 abruptly canceled the summit in a letter addressed to Kim Jong Un, citing the country’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.” However, he didn’t dismiss the possibility that the meeting could be rescheduled. North Korean officials also said they'd still be willing to meet face-to-face, despite the tension.

Trump denies he fired Comey over Russia investigation

President Donald Trump denied on Thursday that he fired former FBI director James Comey in May 2017 because of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, despite previously saying that he had the investigation in mind while considering whether to fire Comey.

>> Read more trending news

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Trump wrote Thursday morning in a tweet. “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!”

The president has denied multiple times that he fired Comey over the Russia investigation, however, he told NBC News in 2017 that he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he came to his decision.

>> Comey first heard he was fired from television reports; thought it was a prank

“When I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” he said. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

>> Who is James Comey? Things to know about the former FBI director

Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, four years into his role as FBI director. President Barack Obama had appointed him in September 2013 to serve as the nation’s top cop.

White House officials have said the termination was prompted by Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office.

Bernie Sanders considers another run for president

Sen. Bernie Sanders is considering running for president in 2020, according to his former campaign manager.

>> Read more trending news

“He is considering another run for the presidency,” Jeff Weaver, who served as the Vermont senator’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential election, told C-Span’s “Washington Journal” on Tuesday. “When the time comes I think we’ll have an answer to that, but right now he’s still considering it."

Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, surprising pollsters with his popularity among young voters. However, he ultimately lost the nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sanders, I-Vermont, announced on Twitter last week that he plans to run for re-election to the Senate in 2018.

"These are frightening and unprecedented times,” Sanders wrote last week. “If reelected, you can be sure that I will continue to be the fiercest opponent in the Senate to the rightwing extremism of (President Donald) Trump and the Republican leadership. But being anti-Trump and anti-Republican is not enough. We need to continue our fight for a progressive agenda which will take on oligarchy, and improve the lives of working people throughout our country. “

Sanders, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 and to the Senate in 2006, is expected to win his re-election bid, according to The Hill.

White House: Pompeo to meet with North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in New York

President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday to confirm reports that a senior North Korean official was headed to the United States.

>> Trump cancels summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, cites 'open hostility'

Update 11:35 a.m. EDT May 29: White House officials confirmed in a statement later Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with North Korea’s vice chairman of the Central Committee, Kim Yong Chol, in New York.

Sanders said a U.S. delegation is meeting with the North Korean delegation at the DMZ.

“The U.S. continues to actively prepare for @POTUS expected summit w/leader Kim in Singapore,” Sanders said.

Trump said last week that he remains open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hours after he canceled their planned summit in a letter released by White House officials. The meeting was scheduled to take place June 12 in Singapore. 

Original report: “We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more,” Trump wrote at 6:30 a.m. EDT. “Kim Young [sic] Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”

CNBCCNN and other news outlets described Kim Yong Chol as North Korea’s former spy chief. The Associated Press, citing South Korean news reports, said he was traveling to the U.S. “possibly for talks on planning the summit on the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”

>> Read more trending news 

He is “the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years,” the AP reported.

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Memphis to hike minimum wage over $15 an hour

What was once an idea on paper will be official as early as next month.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WHBQ, 420 employees of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are about to get a raise to an hourly rate that is more than twice the state and federal minimum wage average. 

>> University of Memphis to offer free tuition to fallen service members' children, spouses

“I think it's real nice, real good,” said taxpayer Clifford Joseph

The raise comes thanks to a resolution that passed the budget committee to give every city employee a base minimum wage of $15.50 an hour. 

Council found the $1 million needed to fund the extra salaries by making small cuts to other departments.

>> Read more trending news 

No tax increase is necessary either, even though Joseph said he would be OK with one if needed. 

“It would be worth it to me; I think they deserve it. They're out there working hard in this hot sun, rain, sleet, snow,” he said.

Mayor Jim Strickland’s budget proposal allocated $1.4 million to bring some employee salaries up to industry standards. 

The rest of that money will go to the minimum wage increase, which is an idea first thought up by Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. who said, “If we want to talk about living wage we have to do more than talk we have to actually do something.” 

>> On SCS to raise minimum wage to $15

The money will also cover something called compression. 

That will ensure supervisors make more than the employees they oversee. 

“Let’s say that I’m your boss, you're the subordinate. I'm making $15 now, you're making $12 now. Well, according to this resolution, if I just did a flat $15.50, you and I would be making the same salaries,” Ford added. 

>> On How many employees make $15 or more an hour at Memphis' 25 largest employers?

The budget is expected to be voted on and passed next week

The raises would go into effect on July 1, 2018. 

Ford will make a resolution next week to get all part-time workers to $15.50 an hour. 

He said that would cost about $6 million but says the time to start that debate should start now for possibly a year or two down the road. 

Border Patrol checkpoint in New Hampshire nets 9 arrests on Memorial Day weekend

Nine people were arrested during a Memorial Day weekend Border Patrol checkpoint on I-93 in Woodstock, New Hampshire.

>> Watch the news report here

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told WFXT that those arrested were charged with violations of immigration law.

>> Reports: 1,500 immigrant children missing; feds say they’re not responsible

Ginna Schonwald was on her way home with a friend on Sunday when they came across the checkpoint. 

"We were kind of, like, scrambling to get out documents, but they didn't ask for them," Schonwald told WFXT

Schonwald said the Border Patrol agent looked in their car and asked if they were U.S. citizens. When they replied that they were, he said "OK" and let them continue on their way.

>> Oregon teen sues school district after suspension over pro-border wall T-shirt

Schonwald said she found the checkpoint disturbing. 

"I hate to think of the way our country has been demonizing immigrants lately. We're all immigrants. My family was from Ireland and they got treated just the same way, but I like to think we're better than that now," Schonwald said.

Here is the full statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

>> Read more trending news 

"Border Patrol immigration checkpoints are a critical tool for the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws and are part of our defense-in-depth strategy to accomplish the border security mission. Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, Section 1357 of Title 8 of the United States Code, along with several sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, give Border Patrol agents broad law enforcement authorities, including the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.

"At a Border Patrol checkpoint, an agent may question a vehicle’s occupants about their citizenship, place of birth, and request document proof of immigration status, how legal status was obtained and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle. 

"During the course of the immigration inspection, if an occupant refuses to answer an agent’s questions, the agent may detain the driver for a reasonable amount of time until he or she can make a determination regarding the occupant’s immigration status. CBP is committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the trade and traveling public, and policy prohibits the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances.”

Read more here.

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