In our News Wrap Wednesday, President Donald Trump fires back at Steve Bannon, saying he “lost his mind” after Bannon called the meeting between the Trump campaign and Russians “treasonous.” Also: Iran deploys its elite Revolutionary Guards to three provinces to quash the protests, and North Korea reopens cross-border communication with South Korea for the first time in nearly two years.
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There's a new storm at the Trump White House tonight, and Steve Bannon is at its center.
A new book quotes him saying President Trump never expected to win the election, and that it was — quote — "treasonous" for Donald Trump Jr. to meet with a Russian lawyer in 2016.
The president shot back at his former chief strategist in a statement, saying- "When he was fired, he not only lost his job. He lost his mind."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the allegations, and said Mr. Trump is justifiably angry.
I think furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit, when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family.
We will delve into this more deeply after the news summary.
In the day's other news- Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sued the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, who's leading the Russia investigation. Manafort has been charged with failing to register as a foreign agent, working for Ukraine. He argues investigators overstepped their bounds by indicting him for conduct unrelated to Russian interference in the election.
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards has now deployed to three provinces to put down protests that began a week ago. At least 21 people have died so far, and the unrest kept spreading today, even as officials organized rallies to support the government. We will have a full report later in the program.
North Korea reopened a cross-border communications channel with South Korea today, for the first time in nearly two years. At the same time, new taunts flew between Washington and Pyongyang. On Monday, Kim Jong-un had warned that he had a nuclear button and his weapons could reach all of the U.S. mainland.
President Trump responded last night, saying- "I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works."
Palestinian officials are condemning what they say is blackmail by President Trump. He charged yesterday the Palestinians are not doing enough to make peace with Israel, and he suggested cutting U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority.
Today, Palestinian leaders said it's Mr. Trump who sabotaged the peace process by recently recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
I would say that Palestinian rights are not for sale and we will not succumb to blackmail. There are imperatives and requirements for peace, and, unilaterally, President Trump has destroyed them. He has even sabotaged our efforts at achieving a just peace and getting freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people.
Congress estimates the U.S. provides an average of $400 million a year in economic aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Ethiopia has announced it's closing a notorious prison compound where people have been tortured and it's releasing many political prisoners. The prime minister's surprise decision came today after months of anti-government protests. It also marked the first time that officials had admitted to holding political prisoners.
A violent storm swept across Western Europe today, knocking out power, disrupting transportation and killing one person. Wind gusts up to 100 miles an hour battered towns across France, Britain, Ireland and Switzerland, uprooting trees and flooding coastlines. Several hundred thousand homes have lost power. The storm also derailed trains, halted highway traffic in places and grounded thousands of flights.
The U.S. Deep South is still reeling from a rare winter storm that dumped snow and freezing rain along the coast today. It shut down interstates and airports, and dropped the first snow in Tallahassee, Florida, in decades. As much as three inches of snow fell in Charleston, South Carolina, and parts of coastal Georgia.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned of treacherous conditions.
Gov. Roy Cooper:
We expect that travel will be difficult and dangerous, with power outages that are possible. The good news is that the storm is moving quickly, and should be gone by Thursday evening. The bad news is that we will have unusually cold temperatures sticking around for several days.
The worst could come tomorrow as the storm moves north. Hurricane-force winds are forecast, with blizzard conditions in New England.
A dry winter in California is raising the prospect of a new drought. Water managers today measured as little as 3 percent of the normal snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Still, officials note that it is still early in the season, and record rain and snow left last year's reservoirs with plenty of water.
And the U.S. Senate now has two new Democratic members. Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota were sworn in today at the Capitol, as the Senate formally began its 2018 session. Jones is the first Democrat in a quarter-century to win a Senate seat in Alabama. His election narrows the Republican majority to 51-49. Smith was appointed to fill Al Franken's seat, after he stepped down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
On Wall Street today, health care and tech stocks pushed the overall market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 98 points to close at 24922. The Nasdaq rose 58 points, and the S&P 500 added 17, to top 27,00 for the first time.
And the president of the Mormon Church, Thomas Monson, passed away last night. Monson served in top leadership councils for the church for more than 50 years, and became president in 2008. He was known for emphasizing humanitarian work and for leading the church's opposition to same-sex marriage. Thomas Monson was 90 years old.