hello. this is bbc news. my name is ben bland. our top stories: "a nutjob" — how donald trump is reported to have described his sacked fbi chief to russian officials. he also reportedly said firing him "took the pressure off". the revelations comes as mr trump embarks on his first foreign trip as us president. counting is under way in iran's presidential election after a high turnout forced polling to be extended for several hours. the wiki leaks founder, chilli massage, claims a personal victory to me as sweden drops a long—running rape investigation against him. that is not something that i can forgive. this is not something i can forget. —— julian assange. also in the programme: the disgraced former us congressman anthony weiner pleads guilty to sending obscene material to a 15—year—old girl. hello and welcome to bbc news.
donald trump's presidency has run into further controversy, after two separate american newspapers made two new allegations about possible links between the white house and russia. the first relates to a meeting the president had with russian officials with the new york times claiming donald trump told them "i just fired the head of the fbi. he was crazy, a real nut job," "i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off". and then this from the washington post: "the law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between russia and the trump campaign has identified a current white house official as a significant person of interest... ..the senior white house adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president"
the reports came as trump makes his first overseas visit as president. and in a further development this evening, we've just heard that james comey will testify in an open session before the senate intelligence committee. our washington correspondent laura bicker been following the story from washington. what a way to end a week. james comey will testify in an open hearing. we heard that this was something he wanted to do, he wanted to get the story out. the reason for this is where we started the week. we started the week hearing that james comey allegedly kept a memo written just after a private james comey allegedly kept a memo writtenjust after a private meeting with the president. the president allegedly to james comey, i hope you see a way to let invesco, letting flynn go, seemingly referring to the former national security adviser's
alleged links to russia. that was how we started the week. —— to let this go. it will be next week, the week after that. the us has a horrid bell holiday called memorial day. so it is that for the 29. and eagerly watched by all. —— has a holiday. it is that for the 29. and eagerly watched by all. -- has a holiday. we have seen subseries allegations levelled against the president. how do these latest allegations compare in terms of severity in terms of what we have had already?m in terms of severity in terms of what we have had already? it seems that the new york times and the washington post are having the competition to see who can have the bigger scoop of the week. —— serious allegations. both have come out with different stories related to russia. the first is that they have an account coming from white house officials said the donald trump described james comey as a nutjob,
and perhaps more damagingly, he said that the dismissal of james comey would relieve the pressure he was under because of the fbi investigation into russia. why is that important? because many people will look at that and interpret it as almost an instruction ofjustice, trying to remove the man who was investigating alleged links between the campaign and russia. and that can lead to impeachment proceedings. the white house has issued its own statement, saying that the grandstanding and politicising of the investigation into russia by james comey crated unnecessary pressure in terms of negotiations with russia. what they are saying is that this was not an obstruction of justice. this was a decision taken in the nation's interest, not in those of donald trump. let'sjust look at the washington post and
theirclaim, look at the washington post and their claim, the allegation that they are making that the investigation into lea ks they are making that the investigation into leaks between the campaign and russia, they said that suddenly close to the president is a significant person of interest. do we know who they are talking about? we don't have a clue who they are talking about. even the washington post in print that. the speculation is bound on social media. we know that former aides of donald trump are part of the investigation. michael flynn, he is said to have had meetings with the foreign ambassadorfor had meetings with the foreign ambassador for russia here had meetings with the foreign ambassadorfor russia here in washington. and of course, paul manafort, the donald trump's former campaign manager. those are two names that we have associated with the investigation so far. however, a senior white house person, associated, with closely so the resident, that is through the washington post is referring to. and all eyes are on the white house,
wondering who it could be. laura bicker, there. the polls in iran's presidential election have now closed after a high turnout forced officials to extend voting by six hours. the votes are being counted, although there have been no exit polls or preliminary results released so far. the incumbent president hassan rouhani is facing strong competition from hardliner ebrahim raisi — who is proposing a tougher stance on the west. the bbc has not been given permission to cover the election from within iran but our middle east editorjeremy bowen has this report and we should tell you that it contains flash photography. people are encouraged to vote in iran because it gives the system legitimacy, but the election, as ever, isn't free, because the candidates have to be approved by the unelected guardian council. it's looking like a close race between the main candidates. at this polling station they were supporting hassan rouhani, the current president. translation: we will stand in these queues for as long as it's needed in order not to go backwards,
for the shadow of the war not to hang over people's heads. translation: i want socialjustice, social freedoms and political development, and good relations with all countries in the world. iranian elections, with all their flaws, produce vigorous campaigns and moments of political openness. candidates have traded accusations of corruption and criticised iran's security policies. remarks that at other times could land iranians injail. iranians don't seem particularly enthused by the candidates. for many, it's a choice between bad and worse. the main challenger is ebrahim raisi. he is a veteran conservative hardliner. he is deeply suspicious of the west, and if he wins, there could be crises ahead. president hassan rouhani wants to have another term. he's a moderate who would like more openness in politics and society. rouhani was elected last time
because he promised better relations with the outside world and the relaxation of economic sanctions through making a deal about iran's nuclear plans. president rouhani is running on the success of the deal in which iran accepted restrictions on its nuclear industry. if he loses, it's because voters think he's handling the economy badly. raisi opposed the nuclear deal when it was being negotiated, but now says he'd keep it, though he insists his toughness will make sure iran stays strong. whoever‘s going to be the next iranian president, whether it be hassan rouhani or ebrahim raisi, it's going to change the tenor of iranian politics, its ability to dialogue with the international community and the west, particularly the united states, and also its relationship with its neighbours in the region. whoever wins will have to work with the supreme leader,
ayatollah khomeini. in iran, he has the power and the last word. viewed from tehran, the country's a regional power with legitimate security interests and the right to help allies like the syrian regime. but that alarms its adversaries, especially the us, the saudis and israel, and that won't change. jeremy bowen, bbc news. well, the results of the iranian presidential election are expected at some point on saturday afternoon, local time. of course, we'll bring you the outcome as it happens, and in the meantime you find much more on our website, including profiles of the candidates. just log on to bbc.com/news. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news this hour: france's president emmanuel macron says french troops will remain in mali "until there is no more islamist terrorism" there.
speaking during a visit to the west african country, he warned that militant organisations there were regrouping and uniting. yemen could have as many as 300,000 cases of cholera within six months and an "extremely high" number of deaths, according to the world health organization. nearly 250 people have died in the past three weeks alone. a judge in the us state of minnesota has ruled that the six brothers and sisters of the pop star prince are the heirs to his estate. the six, including tyka, seen here shortly after his death last year, will take shares of the singer's $300 million fortune. the wikilea ks founder, julian assange, is claiming a "victory" after swedish prosecutors decided to drop their investigation into claims he carried out a sexual assault. but he remains in the ecuadorean embassy in london, where he took refuge five years ago. british police say if he left they would still arrest him for failing to attend court. caroline hawley reports. 0ut into the fresh air. cheering.
0n the balcony of the ecuadorian embassy, julian assange emerged this afternoon to have his say on the end of the swedish investigation against him. today is an important victory, for me and for the un human rights system. seven years without charge, why my children grew up without me. that is not something that i can forgive. it is not something that i can forget. but the prosecutor in sweden hasn't cleared julian assange. she said that, in his absence, she simply couldn't pursue the case any further. translation: the decision to discontinue the investigation is not based on an assessment of the evidence but because we don't see possibilities to advance the investigation further, so we do not make any statement on the issue of guilt. this complex international drama
began in 2010 when two women alleged thatjulian assange had sexually assaulted them on a visit to sweden, accusations he's always denied. he was detained in britain under a european arrest warrant. in may 2012, the supreme court upheld a decision to extradite him to sweden for questioning. and injune, mrassange walked into the ecuadorian embassy in london asking for political asylum. the metropolitan police mounted a 24—hour guard at the embassy. by october 2015, it had cost over £13 million. and it's not over yet. julian assange is no longer wanted on an international arrest warrant, but the police say that if he stepped out of the embassy, they're still obliged to arrest him for failing to surrender to a london court back in 2012. at the embassy this evening, his supporters were jubilant. but in sweden, the woman
who accused him of rape issued a statement saying he was evading justice and expressing her shock at the investigation was being shelved. julian assange was not held without charge for seven years, he was subject to extradition proceedings within the eu, under the european arrest warrant scheme. he would have received a fair trial in sweden, had he chosen to go back, and the fact that proceedings lasted seven years was entirely down to him seeking refuge in the ecuadorian embassy rather than going to face trial in a country that is governed by the rule of law. light ‘em all up. come on, fire! it was this footage of an american helicopter shooting civilians in iraq that first brought wikileaks to international attention. a flood of other state secrets followed. julian assange has always said it was his fear of extradition to the us that drove him through the doors of the ecuadorian embassy. thanks, guys. free assange! so, despite today's dramatic twist in this long—running diplomatic and legal saga, tonight, he's back inside, not, for the moment, going anywhere.
you are watching bbc news. stay with us. you are watching bbc news. stay with us. still to come: sold, thank you sir, phone $98 million. congratulations! —— sold, thank you sir, for $98 million. congratulations! this morning, an indian air force plane carrying mr gandhi's body landed in delhi. the president of india walked to the plane to solemnly witness mr gandhi's final return from the political battlefield. the polling stations are all prepared for what will be the first truly free elections in romania's history. it was a remarkable climax to what was surely the most extraordinary funeral ever given to a pop singer. it's been a peacefulfuneral demonstration so far, but suddenly these police are teargassing the crowd, we don't yet know why.
the pre—launch ritual is well established here, helen was said to be in good spirits butjust a little apprehensive. in the last hour, east timor has become the world's newest nation. it was a bloody birth for a poor country, and the challenges ahead are daunting. but for now, at least, it is time to celebrate. this is bbc news. i'm ben bland. the latest headlines: donald trump departs on his first foreign trip, leaving in his wake fresh turmoil in washington. he's reported to have told russian officials that firing his fbi chief eased "great pressure" on him. counting is under way in iran's president election after polling was
suspended for several hours. donald trump is on his first foreign trip since becoming president. the white house says the nine—day tour is a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions, while meeting arab, israeli and european leaders face—to—face. but could political turmoil in washington have the potential to overshadow his trip? 0ur chief international correspondent lyse doucet is in the saudi capital, riyadh, where donald trump will arrive on saturday. the very fact that this first stop of president trump on his first foreign visit is notjust a meeting with the rulers of the saudi kingdom, as significant as that is, there's not one but three summit is taking place. the second is with gulf arab leaders and then with saudi arabia's neighbours and leaders from across the arab and islamic world. saudi arabians are hailing this as the first visit of its kind in history. this is a land of superlatives now, that there will be some 55 kings, presidents, prime minister is and world leaders be some 55 kings, presidents, prime ministers and world leaders
who will be coming here to riyadh. they are already in the city under tight security to meet the american president and if that isn't the welcome of all welcomes, it tells you exactly what they're hoping to achieve. there will be a lot of talk about new alliances to fight against extremist groups, including so—called islamic state, and of course the saudi kingdom's main ambition is to get stronger action from its allies, most of all the us, to exert greater pressure on iran. they are extremely satisfied that they are claiming this honour, being the first stop. so i put it to the foreign minister that this was a bit of a diplomatic coup. we believe it's a coup for the world and a coup for peace and coexistence. this is a very powerful message to the islamic world, that america and the west is not your enemy. this is a very powerful message to the west, that islam is not your enemy. this visit will change
the discourse and dialogue between the islamic world and the west in general and the us in particular. it will isolate the extremists, whether they be iran or isis or al-qaeda, who say that the west is our enemy. it will also push back against those in the west who say islam is the enemy, so this is a truly historic occasion. do you think they can overcome the suspicions over the travel ban, which was widely described as a muslim ban? i don't... i think the stories about the anger and so forth are exaggerated. but many were angry. the countries on that travel ban were angry, that it was a muslim ban. we can't force anybody on who they will allow to be let in.
islam is part and parcel of the american social fabric. there are millions of muslims living in america. most of the islamic countries were not on that list. are you worried that for summits which will emphasise the battle against extremism, the visit could be overshadowed by the controversies back in washington over the alleged mishandling of intelligence? we deal with the administration, we deal with the president as our honoured guest, we deal with the 55 delegations that are coming from the arab and muslim world and that's what our focus will be. will you make it clear that you have troops ready to offer from your islamic coalition? president trump will want to know what you will do if he will become more engaged. we have made that clear for almost a year now, that there are troops available from the islamic coalition and that we are prepared to share the burden of going after the terrorists, was ultimately the terrorists
of going after the terrorists, because ultimately the terrorists are after saudi arabia. they want to take mecca and medina, so they have a platform to broadcast to other muslims and we will not allow that to happen. that was the saudi foreign minister speaking to our correspondent in riyadh. the former democrat us congressman, anthony weiner, has pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to a teenage girl in 2016. he's now likely to face a prison sentence, a harsh fall from grace for someone with links to hillary clinton's presidential campaign. 0ur north america reporter nada tawfik has more. anthony weiner hung his head as he exited federal court, trying to ignore the throngs of press gathered to cover the fall of a once rising star of the democratic party, now soon to be sex offender. in court, the ex—congressman broke into tears as he admitted sexting and sending lewd images to a teenager who he knew was a minor.
he apologised, saying he had a sickness, but not an excuse. mr weiner became infamous and a regular tabloid spread after similar scandals in the past. in 2011, after posting a graphic image publicly to his twitter account in error, he resigned from congress after serving for 12 years as new york was a representative. i make some big mistakes and i know i let a lot of people down. two years later he would try to make a political comeback, with a run for mayor of new york. but again his pension for exchanging lewd messages with women online would ruin him and make him a pariah of the democratic party. but no one anticipated that his actions would append the 2016 presidential race. after the daily mail exposed his illegal exchanges with a 15—year—old, the fbi seized a laptop used by both anthony weiner and his wife huma abedin, a top aide
to the democratic candidate hillary clinton. in it they found a new set of emails from hillary clinton's private server. that prompted the fbi director at the time, james comey, to announce he was reopening the investigation into the democratic candidate for president, days before the election. hillary clinton has partly blamed mr comey‘s announcement for her ultimate defeat. i was on the way to winning until a combination ofjames comey‘s letter on october 28 and russian wikilea ks, raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me, but got scared. anthony weiner‘s impact on the clinton campaign is likely to be analysed for years to come, as one of the key twists in a truly unique election. a new record has been set for the work of an american artist. a painting byjean—michel basquiat, who came to prominence as a graffiti artist in the 1970s and died
of a heroin overdose atjust 27—years—old, has sold for a whopping $110 million. 0ur arts editor will gompertz reports. $57 million. $58 million. the moment is about to arrive at sotheby‘s last night. 65 million on the telephone. when the american neo—expressionist painterjean—michel basquiat, who died nearly 30 years ago... is that a bid, sir? $69 million. ..hit the big—time. the hammer is up, sir. i'm selling it on this side of the room. it's yuki's bid. a fair warning, and selling, thank you, sir, for $98 million. thank you, yuki, congratulations. the sale price when commissions are included puts him in the exclusive auction house $100 million plus club. along with pablo picasso and francis bacon. we definitely had an idea that everybody felt that it was a masterpiece but the air gets pretty thin at those sort of levels financially.
so, of course, the previous record price was less than half what we've achieved this evening, so you're going into very new territory. the buyer, yusaku maezawa, a japanese online fashion retailer, was delighted, he said, at winning this past piece, was delighted, he said, at winning this masterpiece, which is great. but why might he have be willing to pay so much? it's the kind of rock and roll way he put images and text together, it's extremely influential. that mixed with a kind of expressionistic style of painting, added to the fact that he is, you know, a black american artist. it's a kind of explosive mix. that's andy warhol. to that you could now add the almost mythical nature of basquiat‘s short life, which was immortalised and romanticised in this biopic with his friend and mentor andy warhol, played by david bowie, who himself became a collector of the one—time street artist's work. whatever one thinks of the eye watering auction price paid for the work, there is no question that jean—michel basquiat fits into the story of modern art.
his paintings reference the so—called "low art" ofjean dubuffet. there's something ifind quite alarming about that picture. and the expressionism of vincent van gogh and the street art scene of 1970s new york. he is a significant figure in the canon. of course, nobody knows whether his paintings can sustain $100 million prices, but, given most are still held privately, the chances are we'll find out fairly soon. don't forget, you can get in touch with me and some of the team on twitter. you won't find any multimillion dollar paintings, but we have behind—the—scenes information. this is bbc news. thanks for watching. good morning. quite wet through the small hours
in the north and north—east of the uk. quite breezy, especially in the north—east. there are clear spells to be had, and a scattering of showers. with the clear skies it is turning fresh. 9—10 degrees for major towns and cities. rural spots could get a few degrees lower. a fresh start across the board and still went through the morning a fresh start across the board and still wet through the morning in a large chunk of scotland. some south—western parts will stay dry and largely bright through the morning. northern ireland has a couple of showers through the morning and sunshine. scattered showers in northern england, but a good deal of sunshine as well, especially in manchester and across whole. as well, especially in manchester and across hull. early showers across wales and the south—west of england. towards the midlands, east anglia and the south—east it's a dry start. a couple of early showers towards east anglia and they aren't far away from the south coast. as we get on through the day we will see showers developing widely across england and wales, northern ireland, scotland.
pretty wet into the afternoon. some of them could contain rumbles of thunder and maybe hail. still some spells of sunshine into the afternoon. 17—18 will be the top temperatures in the south—eastern corner. 1a or 15 in the north and west. there could be some wet weather in inverness, where it will be chilly. the chance of showers elsewhere. in the evening,a lot of the showers fade away from england and wales. maybe eventually they fade away from northern ireland as well, but we keep wet weather to the far north. even that moves away by sunday. again, a fresh start. a good deal of sunshine in the south—east. further north and west, more of a breeze and cloud and at least some rain in northern ireland and western scotland. 14— 15 for glasgow and belfast. 19— 20 in the south—east. dry and bright in arsenal and maybe more cloud towards liverpool and arsenal. also manchester.
a quick recap for the weekend. a day of heavy showers for saturday and spells of sunshine. sunday, a much better day. dry for the most part. way fewer showers and warmer as well. that warming trend continues for some into monday. equally, on monday, with the southerly breeze to the north—west we have this low pressure bringing cloud and some rain and a bit of a breeze. so we will have wetter and windy weather towards the north—west of the uk. to the south—east, very little rainfall and feeling warmer. us media are reporting that president donald trump told russian officials that firing fbi director james comey eased "great pressure" on him. he's also said to have described mr comey as a "nutjob". the revelations comes as mr trump heads to saudi arabia on his first foreign trip as us president. voting has ended in iran's presidential election after being extended for several hours beyond the time polling stations were meant to close. the interior ministry says that turnout was about 70%. results are expected to come in as early as saturday afternoon. the wikilea ks founder, julian assange, says it's a personal