DC Daily: VP Pence begins trip to Asia, Biden condemns LGBTQ persecution

Posted at 10:46 AM, Apr 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 10:55:02-04

Here's what's going on in the world of politics today:

Vice President Pence reassuring allies amid N. Korea tension

-- Vice President Mike Pence made his way to Asia Saturday to begin visits to allies in South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia, and reaffirm the U.S.'s commitment to its allies in the region.

Stress has continued to build in the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea vowing to further its nuclear program and weapons testing.

“The most important message from the vice president on behalf of the president is that we have an ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the region, in their defense,” Pence Press Secretary Marc Lotter said in an interview on ABC’s "Powerhouse Politics." 

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Former Vice President Biden urges action on reported LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya

-- Former Vice President Joe Biden urged President Donald Trump to condemn reports of persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya.

Biden said he was "disgusted and appalled" by reports that the Russian republic has detained over 100 men suspected of being gay, and hopes President Trump brings up the issue with Russian officials.

The former Vice President said in a statement: "Every man or woman on this earth is entitled to be treated with dignity—to live without fear and to love freely. ... The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights."

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Afghan official: 'MOAB' killed at least 94 ISIS fighters

-- At least 94 ISIS fighters were killed when a large, non-nuclear bomb was dropped in Afghanistan earlier this week, according to a local official.

"The number of Daesh fighters killed in the US bomb in Achin district jumped to 94, including four commanders," Nangarhar provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogiani told CNN.

Another spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Defense said that number may change, "as they find more bodies" during the investigation of the area.

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North Korea rolls out weaponry in parade

-- North Korea rolled out military machinery and ballistic missiles in a parade Saturday, in celebration of the country's late founder Kim Il Sung, current leader Kim Jong Un's grandfather.

The presentation of arms comes amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea. North Korean Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae said the country would, "respond to an all-out war with an all-out war" if conditions worsened between the two countries.

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Oklahoma congressman: "Bull crap" that constituents pay for salary

-- Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin is facing scrutiny after telling constituents early this week that they don't pay for his salary.

"You say you pay for me to do this? That's bull crap. I pay for myself," Rep. Markwayne Mullin said at a town hall. "I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go."

A spokesperson for Rep. Mullin said the congressman was referring to federal taxes he pays for his privately owned companies.

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Trump Administration pulls 180 on visitor log release

-- The Trump Administration confirmed Friday that the White House visitor logs would not be made public, a departure from an Obama-era decision. 

White House Communications Director Michael Dubke said the move was made in light of "grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually."

The administration plans to follow a legal precedent set by a 2013 case in which visitor logs were deemed presidential records and not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

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