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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Federal prosecutors subpoena Trump’s inaugural committee

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors in New York issued a subpoena Monday seeking documents from Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, furthering a federal inquiry into a fund that has faced mounting scrutiny into how it raised and spent its money.

Inaugural committee spokeswoman Kristin Celauro told The Associated Press that the committee had received the subpoena and was still reviewing it.

“It is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry,” she said.

A second spokesman, Owen Blicksilver, declined to answer questions about which documents prosecutors requested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which issued the subpoena, declined to comment.

The investigation is the latest in a series of criminal inquiries into Trump’s campaign and presidency. Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. In a separate case in New York, prosecutors say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.

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Political death watch: Virginia governor weighs his future

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A political death watch took shape at Virginia’s Capitol as Gov. Ralph Northam consulted with top administration officials Monday about whether to resign amid a furor over a racist photo in his 1984 yearbook.

Practically all of the state’s Democratic establishment — and Republican leaders, too — turned against the 59-year-old Democrat after the picture surfaced late last week of someone in blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. The photo was on Northam’s medical school yearbook page.

The sense of crisis deepened Monday as the politician next in line to be governor, Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, denied an uncorroborated allegation of sexual misconduct first reported by a conservative website. Fairfax told reporters that the 2004 encounter with a woman was consensual, and he called the accusation a political “smear.”

Protest chants, meanwhile, echoed around Capitol Square. Lobbyists complained they were unable to get legislators to focus on bills. Security guards joked about who was going to be the next governor. Cafeteria workers and members of the cleaning staff shook their heads in wonder. And banks of news cameras were set up outside the governor’s Executive Mansion.

Northam stayed out of sight as he met with his Cabinet and senior staff to hear their assessment of whether it was feasible for him to stay in office, according to a top administration official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The meetings included frank conversations about the difficulties of governing under such circumstances, the person said.

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Trump to call for unity, face skepticism in State of Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump will call for optimism and unity in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and deeply personal attacks.

But will anyone buy it?

Skepticism will emanate from both sides of the aisle when Trump enters the House chamber for the primetime address to lawmakers and the nation. Democrats, emboldened after the midterm elections and the recent shutdown fight, see little evidence of a president willing to compromise. And even the president’s staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers.

Still, the fact that Trump’s advisers feel a need to try a different approach is a tacit acknowledgement that the president’s standing is weakened as he begins his third year in office.

The shutdown left some Republicans frustrated over his insistence on a border wall, something they warned him the new Democratic House majority would not bend on. Trump’s approval rating during the shutdown dipped to 34 percent, down from 42 percent a month earlier, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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US prepares to start building portion of Texas border wall

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

Heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive starting Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. A photo posted by the nonprofit National Butterfly Center shows an excavator parked next to its property.

Congress last March approved more than $600 million for 33 miles (53 kilometers) of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley. While President Donald Trump and top Democrats remain in a standoff over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has pushed ahead with building what’s already funded.

That construction was often described as fencing, and the government funding bill that included construction was supported by some Democrats in the House and Senate. CBP refers to what it plans to build as a “border wall system.”

According to designs it released in September , CBP intends to build 25 miles (40 kilometers) of concrete walls to the height of the existing flood-control levee in Hidalgo County next to the Rio Grande, the river that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. On top of the concrete walls, CBP will install 18-foot (5.5-meter) steel posts and clear a 150-foot (45-meter) enforcement zone in front.

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Separating fact vs fiction in Trump’s State of the Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump likes to describe the state of the union as he wants it to be, not how it really is.

In day-to-day comments, he routinely inflates the magnitude of what he’s done, grandly claiming, for example, that he’s “created the greatest economic success in the history of our country.” Or he’ll rewrite a campaign promise on the spot — asserting he never meant Mexico will pay for his border wall directly; “obviously they’re not going to write a check.”

The State of the Union address, though, is a different species than most political rhetoric and a whole different animal than Trump’s visceral tweets. It’s carefully prepared, thematic in nature and light on raw, “lock-her-up” partisanship. Those touchstones are likely to be reflected in Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday night.

Still, Trump’s State of the Union speech a year ago wandered from reality.

He inaccurately described his tax cuts as the largest ever (they were perhaps the eighth largest) and hailed rising wages “finally” even though they rose more under President Barack Obama in 2016. He wrongly described the visa lottery program as one that “randomly hands out green cards without any regard to skill, merit or the safety of our people,” when it actually requires education or experience and extensive background checks.

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Neighbors: Plane ‘sounded like a missile’ as it broke apart

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — A small plane shook homes and “sounded like a missile” as it broke apart and rained chunks of metal into a Southern California neighborhood, igniting a house fire that killed four people, witnesses said Monday.

The pilot, a retired Chicago police officer living in Nevada, also died Sunday. Investigators were collecting pieces of the plane that fell into homes across about four blocks in Yorba Linda, a community southeast of Los Angeles.

“The witnesses I’ve spoken with say that they saw the airplane coming out of the clouds — it was still in one piece — and then they saw the tail breaking off and then the wing breaking off and then something like smoke before the airplane impacted the ground,” said Maja Smith, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Those witnesses did not report an explosion while the twin-engine propeller-driven Cessna 414A was in the air, she said.

Antonio Pastini, 75, of Gardnerville, Nevada, was the only person aboard, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Cory Martino said.

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Ginsburg makes 1st public appearance since cancer surgery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making her first public appearance since undergoing lung cancer surgery in December.

The 85-year-old Ginsburg is attending a concert at a museum a few blocks from the White House that is being given by her daughter-in-law and other musicians. Patrice Michaels is married to Ginsburg’s son, James. Michaels is a soprano and composer.

The concert is dedicated to Ginsburg’s life in the law.

Ginsburg had surgery in New York on Dec. 21. She missed arguments at the court in January, her first illness-related absence in more than 25 years as a justice.

She has been recuperating at her home in Washington since late December.

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Fate of Mexican drug lord El Chapo now rests with US jury

NEW YORK (AP) — After nearly three months of testimony about a vast drug-smuggling conspiracy steeped in violence, a jury began deliberations Monday at the U.S. trial of the infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The day ended without jurors reaching a verdict for Guzman, who faces life in prison if convicted. They were to resume deliberations Tuesday morning.

The jury has heard months of testimony about Guzman’s rise to power as the head of the Sinaloa cartel. Prosecutors say he is responsible for smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine into the United States and for a wave of killings in turf wars with other cartels.

Guzman, 61, is notorious for escaping from prison twice in Mexico. In closing arguments, prosecutor Andrea Goldbarg said he was plotting yet another breakout when was he was sent in 2017 to the U.S., where he has been in solitary confinement ever since.

The defendant wanted to escape “because he is guilty and he never wanted to be in a position where he would have to answer for his crimes,” Goldbarg told the jury. “He wanted to avoid sitting right there. In front of you.”

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Super Bowl reaches 100.7 million people, down from 2018

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The New England Patriots’ competitive but action-starved Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams was seen by 100.7 million people on television and streaming services, the smallest audience for football’s annual spectacle in a decade.

A boycott by disgruntled New Orleans Saints fans, a campaign by fans of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a game with only one touchdown combined to shrink the audience. On CBS alone, the game was seen by 98.2 million people, compared to 103.4 million who watched on NBC last year, according to the Nielsen company.

Since reaching a peak of 114.4 million viewers for the Patriots’ 2015 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Super Bowl audience has slipped each year since. The Super Bowl is traditionally the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S., and its audience hadn’t dipped below 100 million since the Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals game in 2009.

CBS dealt with a city that held a major grudge. Many fans in New Orleans, where the hometown Saints were victimized by a blown referee’s call toward the end of its loss to the Rams in the NFC championship, skipped the game entirely. Preliminary ratings from New Orleans showed that Super Bowl viewership this year was half what it was in 2018.

New Orleans’ Times Picayune newspaper printed a mostly blank front page on Monday with the words, “Super Bowl?” What Super Bowl?”

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AP Photos: Asia greets year of the pig, farewells the dog

The Lunar New Year is being celebrated around Asia with lanterns, performances, decorations and food. People are bidding farewell to the year of the dog in the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle and welcoming the year of the pig with hopes of happiness and fortune.

On the eve of the new year, people gathered for reunion dinners, gave red packets of pocket money to youngsters and lit firecrackers at midnight.

Early Tuesday, the first day of the year of the pig, hundreds lined up outside famous temples to burn the first joss sticks of the year, expecting it to bring them good luck.

Ornaments were readied, kiosks set up, and traditional dragon dancers leapt in the air. Everywhere, the color red dominated — on lanterns, clothes and signs. In homes and in shops, cute pig dolls were displayed for the festival, which is also celebrated in Vietnam and by ethnic Chinese communities across Asia.

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