Lawmakers suggest former Trump aide Flynn broke US law
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight committee said Tuesday.
The congressmen also raised new questions about fees Flynn received as part of $530,000 in consulting work his company performed for a businessman tied to Turkey’s government.
The bipartisan accusations that Flynn may have broken the law come as his foreign contacts are being examined by other congressional committees as part of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Congress returned earlier this week from its spring recess, and Tuesday’s announcements reflected renewed interest on Capitol Hill.
Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said they saw no evidence that Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, properly disclosed foreign payments he received to military officials or on his security clearance paperwork. Flynn, who headed the military’s top intelligence agency, was Trump’s national security adviser until he was fired in February.
Among the payments in question was more than $33,000 that Flynn received in 2015 from the Russia Today television network, which has been described by U.S. intelligence officials as a propaganda front for Russia’s government.
No sign probes into Russia, Trump campaign will die down
WASHINGTON (AP) — An FBI investigation and congressional probes into the Trump campaign and contacts with Russia continue to shadow the administration, each new development a focus of White House press briefings and attention on Capitol Hill.
President Donald Trump has dismissed the story as “fake news” and raised allegations of politically inspired spying by the Obama administration, but the investigations show no sign of abating anytime soon.
Here are the latest developments and background on the scandal:
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. WHAT CONGRESSIONAL RUSSIA PROBE REVEALS
House oversight committee leaders say President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law over payments from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015.
2. WHY WASHINGTON HASN’T CHANGED MUCH
There’s an unconventional new president in the White House, but Washington is still up to its old tricks, engaged in familiar brinkmanship just days from a potential government shutdown.
GOP drops US-Mexico wall demands as spending talks advance
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional negotiators on Tuesday inched toward a potential agreement on a catchall spending bill that would deny President Donald Trump’s request for immediate funding to construct a wall along the Mexico border. The emerging measure would increase the defense budget and eliminate the threat of a government shutdown on Trump’s 100th day in office this Saturday.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Republican negotiators were following the lead of Trump, who signaled Monday evening that he would not insist on $1 billion worth of wall funding now as an addition to the $1 trillion-plus spending bill. Trump told a gathering of conservative media reporters that he might be willing to wait until September for the funding.
Other stumbling blocks remain, but the decision by Trump and his GOP allies to back down on the wall steered the talks on the spending measure in a positive direction.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was optimistic the talks would produce “an agreement in the next few days.”
An existing temporary funding bill expires Friday at midnight and all sides anticipated that another stopgap measure would be required to buy time for the House and Senate to process the massive spending bill, which would wrap together 11 unfinished agency spending bills through September.
Judge blocks Trump threat to withhold ‘sanctuary city’ funds
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump’s attempt to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits — one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County — against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation.
The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.
The judge rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.
Even if the president could do so, those conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive, as the executive order appeared to be, Orrick said.
US sets up missile defense in S. Korea as North shows power
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.
The South’s trumpeting of progress on setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered U.S. military assets converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.
North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its million-person strong Korean People’s Army. On the same day, a U.S. guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea, and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea.
The moves to set up THAAD within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China, the country that the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons. China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its ally Pyongyang, and Russia see the system’s powerful radars as a security threat.
South Korea said in a statement Wednesday that unspecified parts of THAAD were installed. The statement said that Seoul and Washington have been pushing to get THAAD quickly working to cope with North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. According to Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and at least one radar.
Documents: Teen abused by mom before kidnapping by teacher
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — A 15-year-old Tennessee girl who authorities say was kidnapped by her teacher had endured months of abuse at the hands of her mother, according to court documents, making her particularly vulnerable to an adult predator.
The mother is scheduled to appear in court next month and has pleaded not guilty to five counts of abuse and neglect involving several of her children. The girl’s father filed for divorce Monday, citing the alleged abuse. His daughter was found safe with her teacher last week at a cabin in a remote part of Northern California.
The girl’s father has said the 50-year-old teacher brainwashed his daughter. In divorce documents, he said the teacher used his position of authority to “prey upon her, groom her, and ultimately entice her into running away with him.”
The Associated Press is not naming the student or any family members because the teen is an alleged victim of a sex crime.
The teacher, Tad Cummins, faces federal charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex and state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Cummins’ attorney has said the girl went with her teacher willingly, and was not forced, threatened or coerced.
Milwaukee prosecutors: Video shows inmate’s water turned off
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee prosecutors weighing criminal charges for an inmate’s dehydration death said Tuesday that the jail’s commander failed to inform police about the existence of surveillance video showing a guard shutting off water to the cell and never turning it back on.
The assertion came during the second day of a weeklong inquest by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether jail staff should be charged in the April 24, 2016, death of 38-year-old Terrill Thomas. He was alone in his cell for seven days without water, prosecutors say, before dying of what the medical examiner termed “profound dehydration.”
A current and a former jail captain both testified Tuesday that the video showed a guard turning off water to the cell on April 17, shortly before Thomas was transferred there after he stuffed a mattress in a toilet to flood the cell he was previously in.
Capt. George Gold testified that his jail commander, Nancy Lee Evans, directed him to review the video the day after Thomas died and report to her what he saw. Gold said after the guard turned off the water he didn’t see anyone turn it back on.
“They lock him up and then they never let him out until they take him out dead, correct?” Assistant District Attorney Kurt Bentley asked Gold, who agreed.
France’s Le Pen says the people revolting against the elite
PARIS (AP) — Far-right presidential contender Marine Le Pen said Tuesday that people are revolting against the elite and predicted that could translate into a “very big surprise” when ballots are cast May 7 in France’s final round to choose a new leader — and it will be her.
Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist candidate who is her rival in the upcoming vote, sparred in successive television appearances, tossing insults as each launched a political offensive to win new voters before the balloting in less than two weeks.
Macron placed first in the first-round of the election, followed by Le Pen, and he is viewed as the favorite. Nine other candidates were eliminated.
“There is a revolt of the people against the elite” seen in Britain’s Brexit vote and “probably” in the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, Le Pen said in a TF-1 television show.
“The people will probably reserve a very big surprise for the oligarchy,” the anti-establishment candidate said, referring to elite decision-makers, including Macron, who is a former economy minister and investment banker.
Lawsuit filed against Fox alleges racial discrimination
NEW YORK (AP) — An expanded lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Fox News Channel of racial discrimination “that appears more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.”
The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court, adds eight former and current Fox employees to a case involving three former Fox workers and their accusations against a since-fired Fox financial executive. It also expands the case to include Dianne Brandi, Fox’s chief counsel.
Fox News said it vehemently denies the allegations, calling them “copycat complaints.” It said Brandi denies the claims against her.
The original lawsuit was filed in late March by two black women who worked in the network’s payroll department, and a third colleague later joined it. The expanded lawsuit, incorporating the other employees, seeks unspecified compensatory damages and an elimination of unlawful employment practices at Fox.
The workers allege that their complaints about the actions of Judith Slater, the fired former comptroller, went unanswered for years. They say Brandi told them it was because Slater “knew too much” about former Fox Chairman Roger Ailes and top-rated host Bill O’Reilly, who have been ousted over the past year because of sexual-harassment accusations.