National News at a Glance
Posted January 31, 2018 10:04 p.m. EST
FBI Condemns Push to Release Secret Republican Memo
The FBI clashed publicly with President Donald Trump for the first time on Wednesday, condemning a push by House Republicans to release a secret memo that purports to show how the bureau and the Justice Department abused their authority to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser. The high-profile comment by the FBI thrust Christopher Wray, the bureau’s director, into a confrontation with the president, who wants to see the memo released. Wray had pleaded in recent days at the White House to keep the document private.
Train Carrying Republican Lawmakers to Retreat Crashes Into Truck
An Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to their annual policy retreat crashed into a large truck in rural Virginia on Wednesday, killing one of the truck’s passengers. Two other passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and taken to a hospital. Two members of the train’s crew and three passengers, including Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn., were also taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The crash occurred around 11:20 a.m. Eastern time about 10 miles northwest of Charlottesville. By early afternoon, the train was on its way back to Charlottesville. The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.
FEMA Says It Never Meant to Cut Aid to Puerto Rico
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has no intention of suddenly cutting of aid to Puerto Rico, despite reports to the contrary. The agency will continue providing aid to the storm-ravaged island for as long as it is needed, said William Booher, an agency spokesman. The uproar began when agency officials mistakenly told NPR in an interview published Monday that FEMA planned to cut off food and water assistance on Jan. 31. The prospect of assistance coming to an end for Hurricane Maria survivors blindsided the island’s government, prompting angry reactions from local leaders and alarming lawmakers in Washington.
CDC Director Resigns Over Tobacco and Other Investments
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned Wednesday, in the middle of the nation’s worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade, because of her troubling financial investments in tobacco and health care companies that posed potential conflicts of interest. Alex Azar, the newly appointed secretary of Health and Human Services, announced the resignation of the director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. An agency statement cited her “complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all her duties as the CDC director.”
United States Will Hit Debt Limit Sooner Than Expected Because of Tax Cuts
The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the United States is expected to bump up against its borrowing limit a month earlier than previously expected, a function of last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which is resulting in less revenue for the Treasury Department. According to the budget office, the borrowing limit will most likely need to be raised in early March after the “extraordinary measures” to extend borrowing are exhausted. The budget office previously projected that the debt limit would need to be raised beyond its current level of $20.5 trillion in late March or early April.
No New Trial For Menendez in Graft Case
The Department of Justice on Wednesday dismissed all remaining charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, a decision that underscores how a 2016 Supreme Court ruling has significantly raised the bar for prosecutors who try to pursue corruption cases against elected officials. The motion to dismiss comes less than two weeks after prosecutors said they were intent on retrying Menendez, D-N.J., and it allows him to run for re-election without having to face a second trial. The Justice Department on Wednesday cited last week’s decision by Judge William H. Walls to throw out several charges the senator had faced.
In San Francisco, Thousands with Pot Convictions Will Find Their Records Cleared
Thousands of people with misdemeanor pot possession convictions dating back 40 years will have their criminal records cleared, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said Wednesday. Recreational marijuana became legal in California this year, and the law allowed those with prior low-level offenses to petition for expungement, a process that can be costly. But in San Francisco, people need not ask. George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney, said his office would automatically erase those convictions, which total about 3,000. An additional 4,900 felony marijuana charges will be examined by prosecutors to determine if they should be retroactively reduced to misdemeanors.