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AP-US-TRUMP-THE-LATEST

The Latest: Trump tells supporters ‘Russia hoax is dead’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has deemed the Russia investigation “the greatest hoax in the history of our country.”

He is also warning that those behind the probe will “be held accountable,” calling it an attempt “to tear up the fabric of our great democracy.”

Trump addressed a boisterous crowd at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Thursday night.

He said: “After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is dead. This was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to sabotage the will of the American people.”

It was Trump’s first political event since Attorney General William Barr released a summary that said special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that his campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

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CONGRESS-RUSSIA PROBE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Democrats intensify demands for Mueller report

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are intensifying their demands for Robert Mueller’s full report after learning the special counsel’s Trump-Russia findings run to more than 300 pages.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is boasting of total exoneration based on a four-page summary by his attorney general.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says Attorney General William Barr told him he has no intention of giving the confidential report to Congress immediately as he redacts grand jury testimony and other elements.

Democrats say they may subpoena the report if it’s not forthcoming by their Tuesday deadline, which Barr has said will not be met.

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DEVOS-SPECIAL OLYMPICS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Trump backs off Special Olympics funding cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is reversing itself on a budget request to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics.

President Donald Trump says he has authorized funding for the organization, adding: “I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people.”

Trump’s announcement comes after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent days defending the proposal, which drew widespread condemnation from lawmakers, as well as advocates and celebrities.

DeVos has since issued a statement saying she is “pleased and grateful the President and I see eye to eye on this issue and that he has decided to fund our Special Olympics grant.”

She adds that it “is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.”

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BORDER SECURITY

Officials say flood of immigrants prompting quick release

PHOENIX (AP) — The Border Patrol says the number of immigrant families traveling to the U.S. is now so high that the agency is immediately letting some go instead of transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for release.

The situation has forced local governments to help coordinate housing, meals and travel for the immigrants.

The direct release of border crossers by the Border Patrol also means fewer people will have ankle monitors to help ensure they show up to court hearings.

Yuma, Arizona Mayor Douglas Nicholls said the city is working with various non-governmental organizations to make sure the families have temporary housing, food, medical care and help with travel to their intended destinations.

The Border Patrol says it’s on track to make 100,000 arrests at the southern border this month, over half of which are families with children.

BC-KOREAS-US-DIPLOMACY

S. Korean leader to meet with Trump in US on nuke diplomacy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says its president will travel to the United States to meet with President Donald Trump for a summit on North Korean nuclear diplomacy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said Friday that Moon will visit the United States on April 10-11 and meet with Trump.

It says the two leaders will discuss how to achieve North Korea’s complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

U.S.-led diplomacy on ridding North Korea of its nuclear program remain stalled since Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam last month ended without any deal.

North Korea later threatened to quit the nuclear diplomacy, citing a lack of U.S. steps to match disarmament measures it took last year.

ICELAND-WOW AIR

Icelandic budget airline WOW Air ceases operations

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Icelandic budget airline WOW Air says it has ceased operations, stranding passengers across two continents

Passengers are being advised to check flights with other airlines Thursday.

The airline, founded by entrepreneur Skuli Mogensen, began operations in 2012 and expanded quickly.

It specialized in ultra-cheap flights between North America and Europe, with flights from 27 airports, including Washington, D.C, New York, Paris, London and its Reykjavik hub.

AP-US-EMPIRE-CAST-MEMBER-ATTACK

Trump says FBI, DOJ to review Jussie Smollett case

CHICAGO (AP) — President Donald Trump says the FBI and Department of Justice will review the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago.

Prosecutors offered little explanation and infuriated Chicago’s police chief and mayor this week when they dropped charges against Smollett related to making a false police report. Yet prosecutors still insist the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January.

Trump tweeted early Thursday: “FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”

Smollett’s attorney says two brothers who claim they worked with the actor to stage the attack are lying. Investigators alleged Smollett staged the attack with the hopes of gaining attention and advancing his career.

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Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case

TEXAS EXECUTION-THE LATEST

The Latest: Supreme Court blocks execution of Texas inmate

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A member of the notorious “Texas 7” gang of escaped prisoners has won a reprieve from execution for the fatal shooting of a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery more than 18 years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the lethal injection of Patrick Murphy after attorneys for the prisoner argued a Buddhist priest was not allowed to be with Murphy in the death chamber as he was being put to death.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in an opinion Thursday night, said inmates of other religious denominations who want their religious adviser to be present can have the adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself for their executions.

Kavanaugh said that, in his view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.

Murphy was convicted in the December 2000 death of Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

The 57-year-old Murphy was part of a group of inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison in December 2000 and committed numerous robberies before being captured, including the one during which they killed Hawkins.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR-EL SALVADOR

California governor bound for El Salvador to discuss issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom will travel to El Salvador to discuss the violence and poverty that’s driving migrants to seek asylum in the United States.

The Democratic governor announced Thursday he’ll make the three-day trip in April.

It’s his first international trip as governor and his latest effort to position California, not the White House, as the leader on the nation’s toughest issues.

California is home to the nation’s busiest border crossing at San Ysidro in San Diego and the state has more than 400,000 Salvadoran immigrants.

Newsom’s announcement came days after Central American nations and the United States signed a new border security compact.

But President Donald Trump is still accusing Central American leaders of “doing nothing” to stop the flow of migrants. The United States in December committed $5.8 billion in aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

OPIOID LAWSUIT-NEW YORK-THE LATEST

The Latest: OxyContin maker says lawsuit aims to ‘vilify’

NEW YORK (AP) — New York is suing the billionaire family behind OxyContin, alleging the drugmaker fueled the opioid crisis by putting hunger for profits over patient safety.

The state on Thursday amended a pending lawsuit against Purdue Pharma to add members of its controlling Sackler family as defendants.

Attorney General Letitia James also expanded the lawsuit to include five other companies that produce opioid painkillers and four distributors.

New York’s announcement comes two days after Purdue and the Sacklers agreed to pay $270 million to Oklahoma, the first settlement stemming from a wave of nearly 2,000 lawsuits that the company says could push it into bankruptcy.

New York seeks penalties and damages that could total tens of millions of dollars. It wants the defendants to endow a fund to curb the epidemic.

Purdue has denied any wrongdoing.

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