Professor: Altercation with reporter could make Greg Gianforte more appealing to some Montana voters
As "nuts" as it was, it's anyone's guess how the altercation between Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs will affect Thursday's special election in Montana, University of Montana political science professor Robert Saldin said Wednesday night.
Several voters have already cast their ballots, Saldin told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and some anti-media Republicans might be sympathetic to Gianforte, who has used strong rhetoric against journalists in previous campaign speeches. Jacobs tweeted Wednesday evening that Gianforte body slammed him when he was asking a question during a campaign event, an account supported by a team from Fox News. The Guardian has released audio of the incident, and Gianforte's campaign released a statement at odds with what's heard on the recording and reported by Fox News. Jacobs walked into a room without permission and "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face," the Gianforte campaign said, insisting that the candidate merely "attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground."
In a news conference Wednesday night, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said because authorities are investigating the altercation, he couldn't provide much information beyond that Gianforte and Jacobs will both be interviewed. Tina Olechowski, a spokeswoman for Democratic candidate Rob Quist, declined to comment about the incident when asked by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and said Quist was on his way to Missoula when he heard about what happened. Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law said the Republican Party should publicly speak out against what Gianforte allegedly did. Catherine Garcia
Since 2010, the Justice Department has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks, which came to prominence after posting files stolen by former Army soldier Chelsea Manning. During the Obama administration, former attorney general Eric Holder thought it would be too hard to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn't the only site to publish the documents; The New York Times and other newspapers did as well. The investigation wasn't closed, though, and the Justice Department is once again open to looking at the case, the Post says, with prosecutors drafting a memo mulling charges against WikiLeaks employees, including conspiracy, theft of government property, and violation of the Espionage Act.
Assange is now living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, avoiding arrest stemming from rape allegations made against him in Sweden. His attorney, Barry J. Pollack, told the Post there is "no legitimate basis for the Department of Justice to treat WikiLeaks differently than it treats other journalists," and WikiLeaks is "publishing truthful information that is in the public's interest." It is not clear if the Justice Department is also looking into WikiLeaks publishing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee during the presidential election. Catherine Garcia
An 8-year-old student and his teacher were shot and killed when the teacher's estranged husband entered her classroom at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California, Monday morning and opened fire.
San Bernardino Police say Cedric Anderson, 53, checked in with school authorities under the guise of having to drop something off for Karen Smith, 53. He entered her special needs classroom with a large-caliber revolver and opened fire without saying a word, police said, before he turned the gun on himself.
Two students were standing behind Smith when she was shot and were hit by gunfire; both students were rushed to local hospitals, and police say Jonathan Martinez, 8, died before he was able to undergo surgery. A 9-year-old student remains hospitalized. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said there were 15 students from the first through fourth grades in the classroom, as well as two adult aides. He also said Anderson and Smith had been married for just a few months. Catherine Garcia
The United States launched more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, Syria, on Thursday night, in response to Tuesday's chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Idlib, including several children.
There is no word on any casualties, the targets included runways and aircraft, and this appears to be a one-off strike, NBC News reports. Trump was briefed on his military options by Defense Secretary James Mattis before he had dinner Thursday night with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.
The U.S. has blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for Tuesday's attack, and believes the al-Shayrat airfield is where the planes used to drop the chemicals took off from; the Syrian government denies responsibility. On Wednesday, Trump said the chemical attack "crossed a lot of lines for me" and his "attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much." Catherine Garcia
North Korea launched a ballistic missile Wednesday morning from the east coast city of Sinpo that was able to fly about 40 miles, the South Korean military said.
U.S. Pacific Command said it detected and tracked "what we assess was a North Korean missile launch," and kept watch on the medium-range ballistic missile until it landed about 9 minutes later in the Sea of Japan. Sinpo is the site of a submarine base. In March, North Korea fired four missiles toward Japan, experts say the country is working on creating a ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. Later this week, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in the United States, and Trump is expected to nudge Xi into pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear arms development. Catherine Garcia
Report: Blackwater founder secretly met with Putin associate to establish Trump-Moscow backchannel link
Nine days before President Trump's inauguration, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi helped arrange a clandestine meeting in the Seychelles islands between Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater and a major Trump supporter, and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin, in an apparent attempt to establish a backchannel conduit between Putin and Trump, several U.S., European, and Arab officials told The Washington Post.
The Abu Dhabi prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, agreed to broker the meeting because the United Arab Emirates, like the U.S., wants Russia to cool its relationship with Iran, officials said. Prince, who did not have a formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, approached al-Nahyan about setting up the meeting, saying he was an unofficial Trump envoy, The Post reports. The crown prince suggested holding it in the Seychelles for privacy. While the meeting was considered positive by the UAE and Russia, they opted not to arrange any other summits between Putin's friend, who has not been identified, and Prince because of the political risk, officials said.
Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, and he regularly appeared on a radio program hosted by Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief strategist. He gave $250,000 to Trump's campaign. Blackwater became famous during the Iraq War, when guards from the firm were convicted of killing Iraqis in a public square in 2007, and Prince later sold the company. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is "not aware of any meetings and Erik Prince had no role in the transition," while a testy spokesman for Prince told The Post the meeting "had nothing to do with President Trump. Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?" Catherine Garcia
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that "after much consideration," he believes Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee's chairman, should recuse himself from further involvement in the Russia investigation.
Schiff said he came to this conclusion after Nunes admitted he went to the White House grounds to meet with a source who showed him evidence about the incidental collection of communications from members of President Trump's transition team. Nunes, who was also a member of the transition team, filled Trump in on what he learned the next day. Schiff, who has worked with Nunes for several years, said this recommendation is not one he makes lightly. "But in the same way that the attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to inform the Senate of his meetings with Russian officials, I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president's campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman," he said in a statement.
None of the committee's members on either side of the aisle have seen the documents Nunes claimed to have seen, Schiff said. "Whether the documents support the argument that names were improperly unmasked or distributed, it is impossible to judge, but one thing is very clear: There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee," he added. "That it was also obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning. In the interests of a fair and impartial investigation whose results will be respected by the public, the chairman's recusal is more than warranted." Catherine Garcia
Around 70 people, including children and teachers from multiple schools, are believed to have been climbing in an area of the Nasu Osen Family Ski Resort hit by an avalanche Monday morning. Rescue efforts are underway, the Kyodo news agency said, with six people showing no vital signs and three missing. The resort is in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Catherine Garcia