JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. military has taken more casualties in Afghanistan as it battles fighters of the Islamic State. Two troops were killed overnight and a third was wounded. They’d gone with Afghan forces on a raid in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border.
A U.S. special forces soldier was killed there earlier this month, and, days later, the U.S. dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on caves in the region.
The Pentagon’s inspector general confirmed today that his office is investigating President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. It involves payments Flynn received from Russia’s state-supported TV network and from a Turkish businessman after he left the military in 2014.
The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Representative Elijah Cummings, said today that Pentagon documents made the rules clear.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-Md.: The Constitution prohibited him from accepting any foreign government payments without advance permission. The Pentagon’s warning to General Flynn was bold, italicized and could not have been clearer.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Flynn’s attorney insisted the Pentagon was given documents that implied he was being paid for a trip to Russia.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Sean Spicer disputed Cummings’ claim that the White House refused to turn over material the committee wanted.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: With all due respect, he got the documents that he requested. Our job — they sent a form letter to multiple agencies asking for a copy of this. What we did was properly refer him to the issuing agency and department and said, this is where you got it, and he got it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Spicer also charged that the Obama administration was responsible for Flynn’s security clearance. And he said President Trump — quote — “made the right call” when he fired Flynn in February over his contacts with the Russians.
China today welcomed a softening in the U.S. tone on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. On Wednesday, top Trump administration officials tamped down speculation that a military confrontation is brewing. They said the focus is on diplomacy. China’s Foreign Ministry called it a positive message.
Israel has struck across the border into Syria, blasting an arms depot of the militant group Hezbollah. The strike apparently targeted advanced weapons from Iran and earmarked for the militants. Video on social media showed early morning explosions at an airport outside Damascus. Later, the Israeli military said that it intercepted a projectile fired from Syria.
The U.S. Congress moved today to keep the government running for another week, past Friday’s midnight deadline. A one-week funding extension will prevent a shutdown, while talks continue on a long-term spending bill through September, the end of the federal fiscal year.
House leaders traded blame today for holding up the negotiations.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: Democrats are dragging their feet. Even if we get an agreement let’s just say in 10 minutes, we simply can’t process the paperwork that long, and we have a three-day rule. We people need to be able to read the bill.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: I assume that they have the votes to pass their extension. We are never going to shut the government down. In fact, we don’t even have the power to do so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump weighed in with a series of tweets accusing Democrats of trying to shut down national parks and harming the safety of troops overseas.
The Kentucky physician who was dragged from his seat on a United Airlines flight has reached a settlement with the carrier. Dr. David Dao’s attorney says that it’s for an undisclosed amount of money. Dao’s treatment at the hands of Chicago aviation police was captured on cell phone video and sparked widespread public outrage. United also announced today that it will start offering up to $10,000 to passengers who give up their seats.
Wall Street had a quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained six points to close at 20981. The Nasdaq rose 23, and the S&P 500 added one point.
And they’re cheering at NASA for the space probe Cassini. Overnight, the spacecraft passed through the gap between Saturn and its famous rings. On the way, it got the closest look ever at those rings and at the planet’s atmosphere. Images of a massive swirling storm are among the highlights. Cassini has been orbiting Saturn for 13 years and it will crash into the planet in September.