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News Wrap: Barr breaks with Trump on claims of election fraud, U.S. hacking

In our news wrap Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr broke with President Trump over election fraud claims and assertions that China may have hacked U.S. agencies, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has a confession that state agents poisoned him, Virginia removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from U.S. Capitol, and a planetary spectacle highlights tonight’s sky.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: U.S. Attorney General William Barr has for a second time dismissed President Trump's claims of election fraud. Barr spoke two days before leaving office. He said there was — quote — "no basis" to seize voting machines, as the president reportedly has suggested.

    He also rejected naming a special counsel to investigate the election.

  • Attorney General William Barr:

    If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would do — I would name one. But I haven't and I'm not going to.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In addition, Barr declined to name a special counsel to investigate the financial dealings of Hunter Biden, who is the president-elect's son. He said an existing federal probe is entirely adequate.

    The attorney general also broke today with the president's weekend claims that China might be behind the hacking of U.S. government agencies. Instead, he said he agrees with other top U.S. officials that — quote — "It certainly appears to be the Russians."

    Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny says that a government security officer has now confessed to poisoning him last August. Navalny posted a video today showing himself posing as a security chief, and getting an operative to explain that a nerve agent was planted in his underwear.

    The dissident then addressed his followers.

  • Alexei Navalny (through translator):

    We have pressed them to the wall. There is more than enough evidence, but I will not present them to a court. I can only present them to the Russian people.

    Putin uses all the papers and TV channels to spread his lies. Our only response can be in telling the truth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement. Navalny is now recuperating in Germany.

    In Germany, a court today sentenced a white supremacist gunman to life in prison for attacking a synagogue on Yom Kippur in 2019. Judges convicted Stephan Balliet of murder and attempted murder for killing two people and wounding others on Judaism's holiest day. He admitted he had wanted to kill many more.

    Back in this country, the U.S. Justice Department filed new charges in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. At least 259 people were killed, including 190 Americans, when the plane was destroyed over Lockerbie, Scotland. That was 32 years ago today. The charges name a Libyan intelligence officer who allegedly admitted building the bomb.

    Victims' families welcomed the news.

  • Kara Weipz:

    We will continue to pursue justice for all who are responsible for this bombing, but today is a small victory in that conquest. We are grateful the Department of Justice and the FBI continue to fight for justice for all Americans.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two other Libyans were ultimately tried before Scottish judges years ago. One was convicted, the other acquitted.

    The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee has been removed from the U.S. Capitol. Workers hauled it off its pedestal early today, after 111 years. Virginia's governor called it a racist symbol unfit to represent the state today. A statue of civil rights figure Barbara Johns is expected to be the replacement.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 37 points to close at 30216. But the Nasdaq fell 13 points and the S&P 500 slipped 14.

    And a planetary spectacle will highlight tonight's sky, if you can see it. Jupiter and Saturn will appear to merge shortly after sunset in a so-called great conjunction. The two giant planets have not appeared this close, from Earth's perspective, since 1623.

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