As investigations swirl, Trump team prepares to fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has beefed up its legal team. Its political team is ready to distract and disparage. And President Donald Trump is irate.
Trump’s response plan to the ever-expanding congressional probes into his campaign, White House and personal affairs is coming into focus as newly empowered Democrats intensify their efforts.
Deploying a mix of legal legwork and political posturing, the administration is trying to minimize its exposure while claiming the president is the victim of overzealous partisan investigations.
Trump says Democrats have fired the starting gun on the 2020 presidential campaign in an effort he’s dubbed “presidential harassment.”
Aiming to appeal to the public’s sympathies, Trump adds that instead of working together on legislation on issues like health care and infrastructure, Democrats “want to play games.”
BORDER PROTECTION-THE LATEST
The Latest: New facility to be built in El Paso for migrants
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection is building a new facility in El Paso, Texas, to help manage the ever-growing number of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Commissioner Kevin McAleenan says the facility will be a centralized location where migrants can get proper medical screenings and care. But he says it is a temporary measure and the system can’t support the increase in families, because they require specialized care and cannot be easily returned over the border.
Since January, nearly 100,000 families have been apprehended between ports of entry. From October through September 2018, about the same number of families was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. There were about 400,000 arrests overall in the 2018 budget year.
McAleenan says families are crossing the border in dangerously rural locations at great risk to their health. Two children died in Border Patrol custody in the past few months.
China says new law will bar demands for technology handover
BEIJING (AP) — China says it will bar government authorities from demanding overseas companies hand over technology secrets in exchange for market share.
Vice Chairman of the Cabinet’s economic planning agency Ning Jizhe told reporters on Wednesday that the provision will be contained in a foreign investment law.
Accusations that China demands the disclosure of technology secrets are a key stumbling point in the U.S.-China trade dispute that has seen a major disruption in commerce between the world’s two largest economies.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday set this year’s growth target for the country at 6 to 6.5 percent. Such a growth rate, if achieved, would be among the world’s strongest. Yet it would be slightly below last year’s 6.6 percent growth in China and would mark a new three-decade low.
Teen tells Senate why he defied his mom to get vaccinated
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Ohio teen defied his mother’s anti-vaccine beliefs and sought his shots when he turned 18. Now he’s telling Congress it’s crucial to counter fraudulent claims on social media that scare parents.
Ethan Lindenberger of Norwalk, Ohio, says his mother loves her family but was manipulated by online conspiracies that left him vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. The teen drew national attention recently after going online himself to ask how he could get his shots.
Tuesday’s hearing, before a Senate health committee, comes as the U.S. is facing a large measles outbreak. While most children are immunized, health officials say pockets of unvaccinated families are vulnerable — and can spread infection to people who can’t be vaccinated, such as newborns and those with weak immune systems.
DEEP SOUTH-SEVERE WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Trump OKs disaster aid for Alabama
BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — President Donald Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in Alabama and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Lee County, where a tornado swept through and killed at least 23 people.
In a news release Tuesday, the Trump Administration said assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the disaster.
Damage assessments are continuing and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after those surveys are completed.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for help by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
R KELLY INVESTIGATIONS-INTERVIEW
R. Kelly tells CBS ‘I didn’t do this stuff’ in interview
CHICAGO (AP) — In his first interview since being charged with sexually abusing four people, including three underage girls, R. Kelly says he “didn’t do this stuff” and he’s fighting for his life.
Kelly gave the interview to Gayle King of “CBS This Morning,” with excerpts airing Tuesday night and the full interview airing Wednesday and Thursday morning.
The R&B singer, who is out on bail after his Feb. 22 arrest in Chicago, appears heated and animated as he asks King, “how stupid would it be” for him to hold women and girls captives as he’s accused of doing. Kelly says, “forget how you feel about me” and use “common sense.”
King also interviews two women who are currently living with Kelly, including one whose parents say she is being held against her will.
Guaido returns to Venezuela and a new phase in campaign
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido shrouded the route and timing of his return in secrecy amid concerns he might be detained. Yet he breezed through airport immigration checks and brazenly called for the downfall of President Nicolas Maduro at a rally where the presence of security forces was minimal.
Guaido’s homecoming Monday was the latest chapter in his struggle with Maduro, who has been warned by the U.S. and others not to move against his adversary and possibly realized arresting his foe could generate more street protests.
And, while Guaido’s presence is likely to add at least short-term momentum to his campaign for political change, Maduro has proven resilient and still commands the critical loyalty of top military officers.
Some analysts speculate the two sides may be considering negotiations.
CLUB DRUG-DEPRESSION MEDICINE
Trippy ketamine-like drug approved for severe depression
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials have approved a medication related to the mind-altering drug ketamine as a new option for patients with severe depression.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday cleared the inhalable drug for patients who have failed to find relief with older antidepressants.
The new drug from Johnson & Johnson acts on different brain chemicals than decades-old antidepressants like Prozac. When it works, the new drug takes effect almost instantly.
The FDA will require J&J to track patients to better understand the drug’s safety and effectiveness.
The medication is a chemical cousin of ketamine, a drug long used in surgery that was adopted as an illegal party drug in the 1990s. It’s one of several psychedelic drugs that are being reconsidered for depression.
Sanders vs. Clinton: 2016 rivalry proves hard to overcome
NEW YORK (AP) — The 2020 Democratic primary may be in full swing, but the bruising 2016 contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton never ended for some.
In the early days of his candidacy, Sanders and some of his supporters have dismissed Clinton, most notably when the Vermont senator himself openly shrugged at the idea that he would consult Clinton for advice. The exchange came days before the two had their first interaction since the 2016 primary.
Clinton supporters have responded to the apparent dismissals by the Vermont senator and his backers with a barrage of tweets and threats to reveal unsavory details about Sanders. In the process, the entire Democratic field risks getting bogged down in the last campaign instead of positioning themselves to beat President Donald Trump.
MARDI GRAS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Revelry reflects infamous Saints-Rams ‘no call’
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If you thought Saints fans were over the NFC Championship game and the “no-call,” think again.
Blind referee costumes and yellow penalty flag costumes were all the rage in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday as the city marks the last day of Carnival.
A Rams defensive back leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in the final minutes of regulation. The Rams went on to win the game and then lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
NFL officials acknowledged after the game that flags should have been thrown. But that has done little to assuage Saints fans.
Nancy Halbert of Baton Rouge dressed up as a blind referee for Mardi Gras. She was joined by similarly dressed friends who walked through the French Quarter with canes.
She says they’ll probably never be over the game but they have been having a “ball” walking through the Quarter.
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