US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. official said…
US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. official said Friday. The Saudi government has denied the claim.
The conclusion will bolster efforts in Congress to further punish the close U.S. ally for the killing. The Trump administration this week sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but lawmakers have called on the administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take other harsher punitive measures.
The U.S. official familiar with the intelligence agencies’ conclusion was unauthorized to speak publicly about it and spoke on condition of anonymity. It was first reported by The Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat has said the crown prince had “absolutely” nothing to do with the killing.
Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, was a columnist for the Post and often criticized the royal family. He was killed Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish and Saudi authorities say he was killed inside the consulate by a team from the kingdom after he went there to get marriage documents.
Fire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trump’s California visit
CHICO, Calif. (AP) — With the confirmed death toll at 71 and the list of unaccounted for people more than 1,000, authorities in Northern California on Friday searched for those who perished and those who survived the fiercest of wildfires ahead of a planned visit by President Donald Trump.
The president on Saturday is expected to get a look at the grief and damage caused by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, and he could face resentment from locals for blaming the inferno on poor forest management in California.
In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”
Deputies found eight more bodies Friday, bringing the death toll to 71.
The number of people unaccounted for grew from 631 on Thursday night to more than 1,000 on Friday, but Sheriff Kory Honea said the list was dynamic and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.
ATLANTA (AP) — Democrat Stacey Abrams ended 10 days of post-election drama in Georgia’s closely watched and even more closely contested race for governor Friday, acknowledging Republican Brian Kemp as the victor while defiantly refusing to concede to the man she blamed for “gross mismanagement” of a bitterly fought election.
The speech Abrams delivered at her campaign headquarters Friday evening marked the close of the 44-year-old attorney and former lawmaker’s unsuccessful attempt to make history as America’s first black woman governor. Since Election Day her campaign fought on, insisting efforts to suppress turnout had left thousands of ballots uncounted that otherwise could erode Kemp’s lead and force a runoff election.
Kemp, the 55-year-old businessman who oversaw the election as Georgia’s secretary of state, will keep the governor’s office in GOP hands as the state’s third Republican governor since Reconstruction. He responded to Abrams ending her campaign by calling for unity and praising his opponent’s “passion, hard work, and commitment to public service.”
The kind words came just days after Kemp’s campaign spokesman derided Abrams’ efforts to have contested ballots counted as a “disgrace to democracy.”
Abrams made no such retreat from her criticisms of Kemp, saying she refused “to say nice things and accept my fate.” Instead, she announced plans to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the way Georgia’s elections are run. She accused Kemp of using the secretary of state’s office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an “exact match” policy for checking voters’ identities that left thousands of registrations in limbo and other measures to tile the outcome in his favor.
WASHINGTON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not willingly travel to the United States to face charges filed under seal against him, one of his lawyers said Friday, foreshadowing a possible fight over extradition for a central figure in the U.S. special counsel’s Russia-Trump investigation.
Assange, who has taken cover in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum, has speculated publicly for years that the Justice Department had brought secret criminal charges against him for revealing highly sensitive government information on his website.
That hypothesis appeared closer to reality after prosecutors, in an errant court filing in an unrelated case, inadvertently revealed the existence of sealed charges. The filing, discovered Thursday night, said the charges and arrest warrant “would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”
A person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case had not been made public, confirmed that charges had been filed under seal. The exact charges Assange faces and when they might be unsealed remained uncertain Friday.
Any charges against him could help illuminate whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. They also would suggest that, after years of internal Justice Department wrangling, prosecutors have decided to take a more aggressive tack against WikiLeaks.
Trump says he ‘very easily’ answered Mueller questions
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday he had “very easily” answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller, though he speculated that the questions had been “tricked up” to try to catch him in a lie. He said he hadn’t submitted his answers to investigators yet.
“You have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions,” Trump told reporters in his latest swipe at the probe into 2016 election interference and possible ties between Moscow and the president’s campaign.
The president did not say when he would turn over the answers to Mueller, but his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, indicated it could happen next week. The special counsel has signaled a willingness to accept written answers on matters related to collusion with Russia. But Giuliani has said repeatedly the president would not answer Mueller’s questions on possible obstruction of justice.
During months of back-and-forth negotiations with the special counsel office, Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly counseled the president against sitting down for an in-person interview.
Trump’s written response, though not yet delivered, signals a new phase in the Mueller probe, the year-and-a-half-long investigation that has produced guilty pleas and convictions from several top Trump aides even as the special counsel and the White House have engaged in lengthy negotiations about how — or if — the president would testify.
CNN’s Acosta back at White House after judge’s ruling
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge ordered the Trump administration on Friday to immediately return the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, though a lawsuit over the credentials’ revocation is continuing.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, an appointee of President Donald Trump, announced his decision at a hearing Friday morning. The judge said Acosta’s credentials must be reactivated to allow him access to the White House complex for press briefings and other events.
Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, was back in the afternoon. The White House said it would be developing new rules for orderly press conferences.
The White House revoked Acosta’s credentials last week after he and Trump tangled verbally during a press conference following the midterm elections. CNN sued and asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order forcing the White House to give back Acosta’s credentials. The judge agreed.
CNN alleged that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the White House revoked his “hard pass.”
Finger pointing, frustration in eastern US storm’s aftermath
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Exhausted commuters pointed fingers and demanded answers Friday, a day after a modest snowstorm stranded motorists on slippery roads for hours, paralyzed the public transit network serving New York City and its suburbs and even forced some New Jersey children to stay overnight in their schools.
How, they asked, could a few inches of snow in a region used to this sort of weather lead to such chaos?
“Clearly we could have done better and we will do better,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a “full review.”
“We’re all unhappy with what happened,” he said.
Migrants won’t see armed US soldiers on border
SAN DIEGO (AP) — As thousands of migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers converge on the doorstep of the United States, what they won’t find are armed American soldiers standing guard.
Instead they will see cranes installing towering panels of metal bars and troops wrapping concertina wire around barriers while military helicopters fly overhead, carrying border patrol agents to and from locations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
That’s because U.S. military troops are prohibited from carrying out law enforcement duties.
What’s more, the bulk of the troops are in Texas — hundreds of miles away from the caravan that started arriving this week in Tijuana on Mexico’s border with California after walking and hitching rides for the past month.
Still, for many migrants the barriers and barbed wire were an imposing show of force.
Judge: John Hinckley can move out of his mother’s house
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan can move out of his mother’s house in Virginia and live on his own, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman granted John Hinckley Jr. the largest measure of freedom he’s had since shooting and wounding Reagan and three others outside a Washington hotel in 1981.
Hinckley was confined for decades to St. Elizabeths Hospital in the nation’s capital. Starting in 2006, he began to make trips to visit his mother, who is now in her 90s and lives in a gated community in Williamsburg. He moved in with her in 2016.
The judge wrote Friday that the 63-year-old Hinckley can now live within 75 miles of that city as long as Hinckley’s doctors give their approval on the location.
Hinckley still must live under a long list of conditions. They include meeting at least twice a month with a social worker, a psychiatrist and a therapist. He can’t own a gun or consume alcohol or drugs.
Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace’ film finally in theaters
NEW YORK (AP) — Three years ago, Alan Elliott was at the Telluride Film Festival, prepared to unveil the holy grail of musical works: A documentary on the making of Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace,” which had been lost to the archives until Elliott spent decades restoring it so it could finally be seen.
But then, through lawyers, he got word that the Queen of Soul herself was trying to prevent the film from being shown. Elliott’s business partner, Tirrell Whittley, recalls the moment as “deflating.”
“It was disappointing. … You try to figure out what is it that happened,” Whittley said.
But as determined as Elliott and Whittley were to get the documentary to the world, they decided not to fight Franklin.
“It would just be the wrong and the wrong spirit,” Whittley said, adding later: “In talking to Alan, it was really around patience and saying, ‘You know what? God may not have meant it right now. And that’s OK. Let’s just be patient. When God says it’s the right time it will be the right time, not just for us but for her, for her family, for her legacy.'”