JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee held their first meeting with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. That followed 24 hours of speculation about Mueller’s future.
Last night, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters: “While the president has the right to fire Mueller, he has no intention of doing so.”
The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump began contemplating his dismissal shortly after he was appointed.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia today over its election hacking. The penalties target those involving human rights abuses and cyber-crime. The bill also blocks the president from removing sanctions without congressional approval.
Ahead of the vote, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned a House panel against limiting the president’s options.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation. Essentially, we would ask for the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The amendment is part of a broader bill dealing with sanctions on Iran. If it clears the Senate, the measure still needs House approval.
President Trump has now handed off authority over troop levels in Afghanistan to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Mattis confirmed it today, but said it doesn’t mean an immediate increase in U.S. deployments.
Meanwhile, the U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, visited Kabul today. He said there was — quote — “no military solution” for that country’s long-running war.
Back in this country, a gunman in San Francisco shot three people to death at a UPS warehouse, before turning the gun on himself. Police say the man was a UPS employee armed with an assault pistol. Heavily armed officers searched the sprawling complex after the shooting started, as dozens of employees poured out of the building.
Five people were charged with involuntary manslaughter today in connection with the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The case involves the death of an elderly man from Legionnaires’ disease allegedly brought on by the tainted water. Those charged today include Nick Lyon, a Michigan state health and human services director. He could get up to 15 years in prison if he’s convicted.
The Federal Reserve Board has raised a key short-term interest rate again, meaning that rates for credit cards and similar debt are going up. The quarter-point hike is the third in six months.
In Washington today, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested it’s a vote of confidence.
JANET YELLEN, Federal Reserve Chair: The economy is doing well, is showing resilience. We have a very strong labor market, an unemployment rate that’s declined to levels we have not seen since 2001.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Fed also announced plans to gradually start scaling back its bond holdings. That could cause long-term interest rates to rise.
Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers are suing President Trump over foreign money ties to his business empire. They say that he never divested from his far-flung interests, so he is violating, they say, the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. It restricts gifts and benefits from foreign leaders. The attorneys general from Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a similar suit this week.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 21374. The Nasdaq fell 25 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
And a French pilot successfully crossed the English Channel in a flying car today. The machine was part dune buggy and part paraglider. It took off from an abandoned runway near Calais, France, and took just under an hour to make the crossing. The pilot and car landed safely near Dover, a journey of about 36 miles.