JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.
GWEN IFILL: And I’m Gwen Ifill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I said I would take process seriously, and I did. I chose a serious man and an exemplary judge.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama appoints federal Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and Republicans double down on their pledge to block the nominee.
GWEN IFILL: Also ahead this Wednesday: As the GOP field narrows, Ted Cruz and John Kasich brand themselves as the alternative to Donald Trump. But is it too late?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And an exclusive report on the details surrounding why Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
EUGENE FIDELL, Attorney for Bowe Bergdahl: Feeling that there was no alternative way to get his concerns about circumstances in the unit and the lack of leadership in the unit, Sergeant Bergdahl concluded that he had to get to a higher echelon.
GWEN IFILL: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Republican Donald Trump warned against trying to deny him the party’s presidential nomination if it comes down to a contested convention. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton padded their delegate leads in Tuesday’s primaries, and their rivals became even longer shots. We will have a full report later in the program.
GWEN IFILL: The Federal Reserve decided to keep short-term interest rates unchanged today. Policy-makers at the Central Bank said the economy is growing, but still faces risks from abroad.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen underscored that two rate hikes are still possible this year, depending on economic growth.
JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve: If events continue to unfold in that way, we are likely to gradually raise rates over time. Again, that’s not fixed in stone. We will watch how the economy behaves. We’re prepared to respond if things transpire differently.
GWEN IFILL: The fed raised it’s key rate in December after years at a record low.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street had been lower before the Fed’s announcement, but stocks rose on the news. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 74 points to close at 17325. The Nasdaq rose 35, and the S&P 500 added 11.
GWEN IFILL: The state Supreme Court in Ohio gave the green light today for officials to execute a convicted killer again. They tried and failed in 2009 to put Romell Broom to death by lethal injection. After two hours and 18 attempts, the executioners could not find a vein. The court today rejected Broom’s argument that, under double jeopardy, the state gets only one try.
JUDY WOODRUFF: An American tourist arrested in North Korea was sentenced today to 15 years of hard labor. Otto Warmbier is a 21-year-old student at the University of Virginia. He was charged with subversion after confessing he tried to steal a propaganda banner. The verdict came down after just an hour in court, where Warmbier offered a tearful plea to be forgiven and sent home.
OTTO WARMBIER, American Student: My brother and my sister need me. I beg that you see that I am only human, how I have made the worse mistake of my life.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. State Department called the sentence unduly harsh. And in a separate development, President Obama ordered new sanctions against the North over its recent nuclear and missile tests.
GWEN IFILL: In Nigeria, two women blew themselves up at a mosque, killing at least 24 people and wounding 18. It happened in Maiduguri during dawn prayers. One attacker struck inside the mosque. The second targeted worshipers trying to escape. Officials suspect Boko Haram, the militants trying to carve out their own Islamic State.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A manhunt is under way in Brussels for two suspects with possible ties to last year’s Paris attacks. They fled last night after a police raid turned into a shoot-out. An Algerian man was killed, and investigators uncovered a trove of weapons and ammunition.
They also found an Islamic State flag. The November shootings in Paris left 130 dead. And, today, French police arrested four people suspected of planning a new attack.
GWEN IFILL: Brazil’s president and her predecessor moved today to stay ahead of a growing corruption scandal. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was named chief of staff, with legal protections that could keep him out of jail. He’s also expected to help President Dilma Rousseff fight to fend off impeachment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And with apologies to Disneyland, Denmark is now officially the happiest place on earth. The United Nations says so in a new survey of countries based on health data, job security rates and other social and political factors. The United States ranked 13th. Burundi came in last.
GWEN IFILL: I’m happy enough.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I guess 13th is OK.
GWEN IFILL: Still to come on the “NewsHour” senators weigh in on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee; Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s improved path to the White House; an exclusive report on Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; and much more.