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News Wrap: Justice Department nominee faces questions over Russia investigation

March 7, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In our news wrap Tuesday, Rod Rosenstein, nominee for the number two position at the Justice Department, faced questioning at his confirmation hearing over investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein would oversee the probe if he's confirmed. Also, claims of bombs and even a sniper were called in to Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League in several cities.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The nominee for the number two position at the Justice Department faced close questioning about investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Rod Rosenstein would oversee the probe if he is confirmed. That is because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last week.

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Rosenstein fended off Democrats urging that he recuse himself, too, and appoint a special outside counselor.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, Deputy Attorney General Nominee: I know this is the issue du jour on Capitol Hill. But I anticipate that, if I were the deputy attorney general, we’d have a lot of matters coming before the department over time, and I would approach them all the same way.

I would evaluate the facts and the law, consider the applicable regulations, consult with career professionals in the department, and then exercise my best judgment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At least one Democrat, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, said that he will try to block the Rosenstein nomination unless he does commit to a special counsel.

New threats at Jewish Community Centers and the Anti-Defamation League today. Phoned-in claims of bombs and even a sniper came in at least eight cities. In response, all 100 U.S. senators wrote to the FBI and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. They said — quote — “Failure to address these and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk.”

A federal judge has refused to stop completion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, as American Indian tribes wanted. Today’s ruling coincided with the start of a four-day protest on the National Mall. It will culminate in a march on the White House. The court fight will continue, but the pipeline builders say the oil could begin flowing next week.

Emergency crews struggled today to contain fast-moving wildfires that have killed six people in four states. The fires are sweeping across hundreds of square miles in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. They have already forced more than 10,000 people to flee.

Elsewhere, hundreds of homes were damaged overnight by severe storms across the Midwest. More than 30 twisters were reported in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.

DUANE COFFEY, Storm Victim: We’re lucky. Small children and two adults, they were scared. Everybody was scared, but we stuck together and made it through it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This afternoon, the governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storms.

U.S.-backed forces scored gains against Islamic State fighters on two fronts today. In Syria, militia groups cut a main road out of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital. And, in Iraq, army units pushed deeper into Western Mosul after a late-night commando raid. The troops battled into a complex of government buildings. That sets up an assault on Mosul’s Old City, where militants are dug in with thousands of civilians.

The European Union’s top court ruled today that member states do not have to grant humanitarian visas to asylum seekers. Belgium and other countries had warned that it would mean another flood of migrants. Meanwhile, Hungary’s Parliament voted to confine migrants at border camps built from shipping containers, pending action on their asylum requests.

A Chinese telecom firm has agreed to pay nearly $900 million for violating U.S. sanctions. The Justice Department says ZTE Corporation illegally shipped American-made equipment to Iran and North Korea.

On Wall Street, stocks slipped for the third time in four days. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 29 points to close at 20924. The Nasdaq fell 15 points, and the S&P 500 gave up nearly seven.

And the White House is receiving visitors again. Tours resumed today for the first time since the inauguration, and the first group got a presidential welcome. Mr. Trump greeted a crowd that included Alabama fifth graders on a school trip. Prominent in the background, a portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton, his election rival.

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