HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Congressional Republicans and the Trump White House celebrated their latest win in a special election. Republican Karen Handel held a GOP House seat in the Atlanta suburbs, beating Democrat Jon Ossoff in Tuesday’s vote. It was the most expensive U.S. House race ever, and both candidates called for unity last night.
KAREN HANDEL (R), Georgia Congresswoman-Elect: To the Jon Ossoff supporters, know that my commitments, they extend to every one of you as well. We may have some different beliefs, but we are part of one community, the community of the Sixth District.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JON OSSOFF (D), Georgia Congressional Candidate: We showed the world that in places where no one thought it was even possible to fight, we could fight.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JON OSSOFF: We showed them that we can still build coalitions of people who may not see eye to eye on everything, but rather than demonizing each other, we find common ground to move forward.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Another special House election in South Carolina was closer than expected, but Republicans won that one as well. President Trump tweeted that Democrats are losing because they’re obstructing action on health care and tax cuts. He’s in Iowa this evening for a campaign-style rally.
Meanwhile, Montana Republican Greg Gianforte formally joined the U.S. House today. He won a special election last month, despite body-slamming a reporter. He’s since been convicted of misdemeanor assault. Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan presided as Gianforte took the oath of office. He replaces Ryan Zinke, who became interior secretary.
The FBI confirms the gunman who opened fire on House Republicans last week acted alone. Investigators said today that James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, had no ties to any terror group. He attacked lawmakers at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was gravely wounded, and the hospital upgraded his condition to fair today.
A police officer was stabbed at an airport in Flint, Michigan, today, and the FBI is looking at it as an act of terrorism. Officials charged a Canadian man who came to the U.S. last week. The man yelled “God is great” in Arabic and made comments about Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The officer was stabbed in the neck, and officials later said he was at a hospital and his condition was satisfactory.
In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s ailing 81-year-old monarch elevated his much younger son to the role of successor today. The decision comes at a moment of economic challenges and high tensions with regional rival Iran.
MAN (through interpreter): The custodian of the two holy mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has issued royal decrees.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The announcement was read on state television. King Salman named his son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince, next in line to the throne. He also became interior minister, in charge of security.
The king’s nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, lost both titles. But he appeared with the new crown prince, and pledged loyalty.
MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF, Nephew of King (through interpreter): I am content. I am going to rest now, and may God be with you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The announcement capped Prince Mohammed’s meteoric rise to power since his father assumed the throne in 2015.
Peter Waldman, a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, profiled the young prince last year.
PETER WALDMAN, Bloomberg Businessweek: He wants to bring entrepreneurship and initiative and kind of a high-tech sensibility to Saudi Arabia. On social issues, he is relatively progressive, meaning that he clearly can see a point in time when women will be driving and can essentially travel and take jobs without their husband’s or male guardian’s permission.
HARI SREENIVASAN: He was already defense minister, and firmly opposes dialogue with Shiite Iran, fierce rival to the Saudis and their Sunni allies.
Prince Mohammed has also overseen the Saudi military campaign against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels in a proxy war with the Iranians.
PETER WALDMAN: His confrontation with Iran across the Persian Gulf is a bit dangerous. He has said and is willing to do military interventions in Yemen, most notably, where lots of civilians have died in this ongoing war. People worry that he doesn’t necessarily have the wisdom of age and experience.
HARI SREENIVASAN: On the domestic side, the prince has championed economic reforms. He wants to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, and allow an initial public offering of stock in the state-owned oil giant, Saudi Aramco.
The elevation of Mohammed bin Salman came after he met with President Trump during the president’s visit last month. The White House said President Trump called Prince Mohammed today to offer his congratulations.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, spent today in the region, pushing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Kushner met first with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Later, he met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.
In Iraq, the Islamic State group has destroyed a historic mosque in Mosul. The centuries-old site is where the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014, shortly after ISIS captured the city. It comes as Iraqi forces are pushing into the Old City, the group’s last stronghold in Mosul.
There’s been a new confrontation in the skies over the Baltic Sea for the second day in a row. Russia released footage today that shows a NATO fighter jet near a plane carrying the Russian defense minister. Then, a Russian fighter moves in, before the NATO plane pulls away. NATO says it was following standard procedure.
Back in this country, Tropical Storm Cindy crawled toward the Gulf Coast, drenching a stretch from Eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle. Both Louisiana and Alabama declared emergencies over fears of flooding. The storm is expected to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border overnight, and could dump a foot of rain.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards:
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS, Louisiana: This will be a severe weather event that will primarily consist of threats of rain and flooding, but there also is a potential for wind damage as well. No one should be under the belief that this storm is only going to affect coastal Louisiana or Southeastern Louisiana. This storm is going to affect the entire state.
HARI SREENIVASAN: A 10-year-old died on the Alabama coast after being struck by a log washed in on a storm surge from Cindy.
A jury in Milwaukee has acquitted a former police officer in the shooting of a black man last August. Dominique Heaggan-Brown had been charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. It happened after a traffic stop and a brief foot chase. Smith had a gun, but appeared to be throwing it over a fence. The shooting sparked two nights of riots.
The CEO and co-founder of Uber has resigned. Travis Kalanick stepped down overnight amid turmoil at the ride-hailing company. Uber faces allegations of sexual harassment and theft of trade secrets, plus a federal investigation into whether it misled local regulators.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 57 points to close at 21410. The Nasdaq rose 46 points, and the S&P 500 dropped a point.