National News

National News at a Glance

Posted November 14, 2018 9:57 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2018 10:00 p.m. EST

Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Whitaker

The Justice Department pushed back Wednesday against accusations that President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was illegal, arguing that it complied with both federal statutes and the Constitution. The Trump administration made its case in a 20-page memorandum by Steven E. Engel, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It came after Maryland asked a U.S. District Court judge to issue an injunction declaring that when Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the role of acting head of the department passed instead to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein.

House Republicans Pick Kevin McCarthy as Their Next Leader

House Republicans elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to be their leader Wednesday, embracing continuity of leadership. McCarthy, the current majority leader and No. 2 Republican in the chamber, will replace Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who is retiring at the end of the year. He is tasked in the months ahead with charting the party’s path back to the majority in 2020. In remarks after the secret-ballot vote, McCarthy, 53, sought to project Republican unity, pledged to “win back the suburban areas” and said he would be willing to work with Democrats — up to a point.

Trump Endorses Easing Some Mandatory Sentencing Laws

President Donald Trump threw his support behind a substantial rewrite of the nation’s prison and sentencing laws Wednesday, opening a potential but narrow path to enacting the most significant criminal justice overhaul in a generation. Trump’s endorsement is considered critical to the success of the bipartisan compromise, which would invest heavily in anti-recidivism programs and lower some mandatory minimum sentences. He urged Congress to promptly send him a final bill to sign. His support could give political cover to Republicans wary of reducing some hard-line sentencing rules for drug and other offenses.

A Model T, Abandoned as Paradise Burned, Emerges With Barely a Scratch

Ron Westbrook’s house is gone. But at the end of his driveway, in the shade of charred pines, a 103-year-old Ford Model T somehow escaped with only minor paint damage, standing out in a vast landscape of destruction. The wooden steering wheel, the leather bench seat and the brassy grill were left untouched as the Camp Fire in Northern California tore an indiscriminate path through the town of Paradise. For Westbrook, 74, the car’s survival was only slight comfort following a fire that has scorched 135,000 acres, killed at least 56 people and left the quiet town of retirees uninhabitable.

A $343.8 Million Powerball Jackpot After 25 Years of Using the Same Numbers

Robert Bailey knows the numbers by heart, having recited them to bodega clerks in New York every week, every year, for a quarter of a century in hopeful futility. Call it luck or persistence, but eventually the combination of 8-12-13-19-27-4 hit. A retired postal worker who lives in Manhattan, Bailey, 67, won the largest jackpot in New York Lottery history, $343.8 million. On Wednesday, he accepted his lump-sum check for $125,396,690 — his cut after taxes — in a public ceremony in Queens. Bailey split the Powerball jackpot with Lerynne West, 51, a mother of three from Redfield, Iowa.

Parkland Shooting Suspect Is Charged With Assaulting Deputy in Jail

Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with killing 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February, faces three new charges of assaulting an officer in jail and grabbing his electroshock weapon, authorities said Wednesday. The new charges relate to a fight with a deputy Tuesday night at a jail in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The sheriff's office said in a statement that the deputy told Cruz to “not drag his sandals on the ground” in a day room. It said Cruz made an obscene gesture at the sergeant and “rushed” him and “struck him in the face.”

Michael Avenatti Arrested on Suspicion of Domestic Violence in Los Angeles

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to fame representing pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford and positioned himself as a crusading critic of President Donald Trump and fierce advocate of women’s rights, was arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence, a spokesman for the city’s Police Department said. No other details were available, and calls to Avenatti were not immediately returned. The spokesman for the Los Angeles police said Avenatti’s arrest had “stemmed from an incident on the Westside” of the city. Trump has called Avenatti a “third-rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations.”