National News at a Glance
Posted December 22, 2017 9:53 p.m. EST
President Signs Bill Into Law and Seems to Ask for a Pat on the Back
President Donald Trump signed the most consequential tax legislation in three decades Friday, even as he complained that he had not been given credit for his administration’s accomplishments during a turbulent first year. Trump decided against doing a formal signing ceremony early next year because television news networks questioned whether he would keep his promise to sign the legislation before Christmas. Trump said he saw the coverage Friday morning and hastily called his staff to say the legislation needed to be signed “now,” prompting a last-minute Oval Office ceremony for the president’s greatest achievement in his first year in office.
Hurdle Facing FBI Chief? The President
When President Donald Trump tapped Christopher A. Wray to be his next FBI director, it signaled a clear break from the tenure of James Comey, whom Trump had grown to distrust and eventually fired. But nearly five months since Wray started the job, Trump has not made Wray’s life easier as he seeks to restore the public’s confidence in the country’s premier law enforcement agency — one that the president says is in “tatters.” Current and former FBI officials say Trump’s criticisms, and those of normally supportive Republican members of Congress, have damaged morale in some quarters of the bureau.
EPA Officials, Disheartened by Agency’s Direction, Leave in Droves
More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration. Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists. Nine department directors have departed as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.
McConnell Wryly Calls Bannon a ‘Genius’
Sen. Mitch McConnell took a sarcastic shot Friday at Steve Bannon, telling reporters at an end-of-the-year news conference that Bannon’s “political genius” had cost the party a Senate seat in Alabama. On the heels of this week’s passage of a tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law Friday, McConnell, R-Ky., used most of the news conference to revisit what he called the year's “extraordinary” accomplishments and to sketch the outlines of his legislative agenda for early 2018. He said he hoped Democrats and Republicans would unite around an immigration bill that would protect young unauthorized immigrants from deportation.
Marijuana for Christmas? Elderly Couple Arrested With 60 Pounds for Gifts
A couple in their 80s were arrested in Nebraska on Tuesday for allegedly transporting 60 pounds of marijuana, worth several hundred thousand dollars, which they told police they intended to give away as Christmas presents. Patrick Jiron, 83, and his wife, Barbara Jiron, 80, were pulled over in their pickup truck by deputies from the York County Sheriff’s Department when they failed to signal a turn. Deputies searched the vehicle after smelling the strong odor of raw marijuana and found roughly 60 pounds of it, with an estimated street value of more than $300,000, the department said in a statement.
Convicted Bomber Tried to Radicalize Fellow Inmates, Officials Say
Federal prosecutors said Friday that the New Jersey man convicted of detonating explosives in the Chelsea section of New York in September 2016 that injured more than 30 people has been “attempting to radicalize fellow inmates” at the New York jail where he is being held pending sentencing. Ahmad Khan Rahimi gave the other inmates access to speeches and lectures by Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, books on jihad, bomb-making instructions and issues of Inspire, the online magazine published by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the government said. The writings were part of discovery materials provided to him.
Hunters With a Perch Are Becoming Casualties Themselves
There is now a more deadly category of hunting mishaps: falls from tree stands used by gun and bow hunters. Tree stand mishaps are not a new phenomenon but have become chronic enough that, this year for the first time, New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has begun collecting information about such accidents from local authorities to better monitor and study the problem, said the agency’s commissioner, Basil Seggos. New York state officials report only one gun-related fatality among hunters this year, while at least five people have died statewide while hunting from tree stands.
Dick Enberg, Veteran Sportscaster, Is Dead at 82
Dick Enberg, the sportscaster known for his warm voice and signature expression, “Oh, my!” when beholding a game-winning home run or a brilliant volley at Wimbledon, died Thursday at his home in the San Diego enclave of La Jolla. Few sportscasters were as versatile or as educated as Enberg, who earned a doctorate in health science at Indiana University. Working, in succession, for NBC, CBS and ESPN, he called Super Bowls, baseball and basketball games, Olympic events, golf and tennis tournaments, and boxing matches. He also hosted game shows and delivered heartfelt essays about athletes overcoming physical and emotional challenges.