National News

National News at a Glance

Posted November 30, 2018 9:45 p.m. EST

After Whitey Bulger Killing, Warden of ‘Misery Mountain’ Faces Removal

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is considering the ouster of the warden of the prison where James “Whitey” Bulger, the famous mobster and informant, was killed in October. Hugh Hurwitz, the bureau’s acting director, has told multiple people he plans to replace the warden, Joe Coakley, at the Hazelton prison complex in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, according to a high-ranking official at the agency. Coakley, the official said, presided over a troubled prison where there are indications that a top suspect in Bulger’s killing, a gangster named Fotios “Freddy” Geas, was a “shot caller” who wielded unusual influence with inmates and the staff.

Border Drug Cases Hit 20-Year Low as Prosecutors Focused on Migrants

Sometimes two campaign promises can conflict. This happened after the Trump administration poured more resources into prosecuting migrants for crossing the Southwest border earlier in the year. What followed was a significant slowdown in the pursuit of drug traffickers, another key administration priority. The decline turned around after Trump aides dispatched more lawyers to the border. But the drop in drug prosecutions was eye-popping. Such cases declined by 24 percent in the six months after the Justice Department imposed a “zero tolerance” policy on migrants in early April, compared with the same period last year.

Lasting Rancor Over Voting Issues Puts a Spotlight on a Georgia Runoff

Election Day was three weeks past, and Kenneth Royal, who supported Stacey Abrams for governor, could have spent the chilly Wednesday evening at home. Instead, Royal, stung by Abrams’ narrow defeat, was manning a phone bank, trying to persuade fellow Democrats that the runoff election next week for Georgia secretary of state was a crucial battle over minority voting rights. The issue of whether the state’s elections are managed fairly grabbed hold of Georgia in the midterms. Brian Kemp, the Republican who ran for governor while serving as secretary of state, oversaw voting roll purges, registration suspensions and an Election Day rife with problems, which, critics said, were meant to suppress minority voting.

Earthquake Shreds Highways and Sows Panic in Southern Alaska

It lasted just 30 seconds. But that was enough Friday morning for a magnitude-7.2 earthquake to rip open roads, send streetlights crashing to the ground and leave Alaska’s residents panicked. While there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, officials said the quake had crippled southern Alaska’s infrastructure and could take weeks or longer to repair. Highways were partly swallowed up. Around 40,000 people were left without power, and there were widespread reports of collapsed and damaged buildings and bridges, and broken water lines. Many people said Friday’s earthquake, centered about 9 miles north of Anchorage, felt more intense than anything in recent memory.

What’s Stronger Than a Blue Wave? Gerrymandered Districts

When the blue wave came to North Carolina, the red levees held. Democrats in North Carolina earned 48.3 percent of the total vote cast in House races but appeared to win only three seats; Republicans had 50.4 percent of the vote and won at least nine seats. The results were as much a triumph of mapmaking as campaigning. The election was held using gerrymandered district lines that federal judges had deemed unconstitutional. North Carolina is one conspicuous example of a critical story line in this year’s elections: the degree to which gerrymandering has created firewalls in key states that even a wave election may not be able to breach.

Interior Secretary Unleashes Extraordinary Attack on Democratic Lawmaker

In one corner was Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has faced at least a dozen ethics investigations. In the other was Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who has been accused of having ethical issues of his own — and who is itching to take on Zinke next year from his perch as the chairman of a committee on Capitol Hill. Their tensions exploded Friday into one of the more remarkable public feuds in recent Washington history — a brutal exchange that began with Grijalva calling on Zinke to resign, followed by Zinke calling Grijalva a drunkard who had used taxpayer “hush money” to cover up misbehavior, and Grijalva telling Zinke to, in effect, bring it on.

Whitaker’s Ascent at Justice Department Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud

As Federal Trade Commission lawyers investigated a Miami company accused of defrauding thousands of customers, they were stunned to learn about a new job for a figure in their inquiry, Matthew Whitaker: He had been named chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “You’re not going to believe this... Matt Whitaker is now chief of staff to the Attorney General. Of the United States,” James Evans, an FTC lawyer, wrote to colleagues in Oct. 24, 2017. The emails were part of a trove of files the trade commission made public Friday in response to Freedom of Information Act requests for documents about its investigation into the company, World Patent Marketing. Whitaker sat on its advisory board.