News Wrap: Former Clinton staffer to plead the 5th before House

In our news wrap Thursday, a former State Department staffer who helped set up Hillary Clinton's private email server plans to cite his right against self-incrimination before a House committee investigating the Benghazi attack. Also, presidential candidate Donald Trump ruled out a third party candidacy if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The desperation only deepened today for thousands of people trying to make the journey from the Middle East across Eastern Europe to Germany. Crowds fought with police in Hungary as charges and countercharges flew between European leaders in Brussels. We will have a full report after the news summary.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Donald Trump today ruled out a third-party or independent bid for the White House if he doesn't win the Republican presidential nomination. The billionaire businessman had refused to make that promise during the opening debate of the 2016 campaign.

    But he met today with the Republican Party's national chairman, then emerged at his Manhattan skyscraper to show his signed loyalty oath.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Candidate: I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stand, and we will go out and we will fight hard and we will win. We will win. And, most importantly, we will make our country great again.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The pledge is not legally binding, but Trump said he sees — quote — "no circumstances" under which he'd tear it up.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    A former State Department staffer who helped set up Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server is refusing to testify before a House committee. Instead, attorneys now say Bryan Pagliano will cite his right against self-incrimination. The committee is investigating the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, when Clinton was secretary of state.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Prosecutors in Charleston, South Carolina, served notice today they will seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the man accused of shooting nine black churchgoers to death in June. Roof allegedly opened fire during Bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church.

    Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson says she's met with all of the victims' families since then.

    SCARLETT WILSON, Solicitor, Ninth Judicial Circuit of South Carolina: All understand my responsibility and have shown great respect, even deference, for my decision to seek the death penalty for the killings at Mother Emanuel Church. For that, I am truly, truly grateful. This was the ultimate crime, and justice from our state calls for the ultimate punishment.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Some of the relatives have publicly forgiven Roof, and the prosecutor acknowledged some of them oppose the death penalty.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The Justice Department is out with its final report on how police handled the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and it warns other towns to take heed.

    The trouble in Ferguson erupted after a white officer killed Michael Brown, a black teenager, in August last year. The report says, in part: "The absence of trust between the police and many in the community negatively impacted the response of all agencies involved." It also blames military-style tactics that antagonized demonstrators.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    New federal regulations will ban health care discrimination against transgender people. The Department of Health and Human Services issued the proposal today under the Affordable Care Act. For the first time, it bars bias based on gender identity. The result will likely be expanded insurance coverage for gender transition.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    China staged a show of military power today to mark 70 years since Japan's defeat in World War II. At the same time, President Xi Jinping is cutting its force, and pledged his country will never seek to dominate others.

    Lucy Watson of Independent Television News reports from Beijing.

  • LUCY WATSON:

    It started with a flourish, China's biggest ever display of power, a dizzying spectacle showing the intimidating advancement of its weapons.

    This parade was to commemorate victory over Japan and the end of World War II. But it was also a vehicle for China's leader to rally his troops and his nation. This is a spectacular display of military force. It's very much President Xi Jinping's show, his way of stoking patriotism and trying to command respect from the rest of the world.

    And he chose this global platform to announce that he was cutting troop numbers by 300,000, but they will still be more than two million strong, though it's a gesture that will do little to reduce regional worries of those wary of China's real ambitions, when the country's made huge strides in the past decade to build a world-class army.

    President Xi wants to be one of China's strongest leaders who steers it away from economic turmoil. And this is a man who can grind a city to a halt, change the weather if he wants to. The infamous Beijing smog was cleared for this occasion. So little stands in his way.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Also today, The Financial Times reported the U.S. plans to sanction Chinese companies for using hackers to steal intellectual property.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    French investigators have confirmed that debris found in the Western Indian Ocean belongs to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The jetliner disappeared more than a year ago with 239 people on board. The debris, part of a wing, washed up on Reunion Island 2,600 miles west of where a search for the plane is continuing.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Back in this country, scores on the SAT college entrance exams have dropped to the lowest in nearly a decade. The College Board administers the test. A report today finds that only 42 percent of students who took the test in the class of 2015 are prepared for college-level work or career training. Overall, average SAT scores have been falling steadily since 2006.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    There's also word today of a spike in the number of students asking the federal government to forgive their college loan debt. Nearly 12,000 people have filed claims, saying their school shut down before they graduated or lied to them about their job prospects. The surge follows the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And Wall Street calmed considerably after the swings of recent days. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 23 points to close above 16370. The Nasdaq fell 16 points, and the S&P 500 rose two.

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