In our news wrap Tuesday, the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for President Trump's pick to be the next director of national intelligence. Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, an ardent Trump defender, pledged to steer clear of political bias. Also, the nominee to oversee federal pandemic recovery spending, Brian Miller, said he would deliver impartial audits as special inspector general.
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In the day's other news: Wall Street managed another modest rally, as more businesses began reopening.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 133 points to close at 23883. The Nasdaq rose 98 points, and the S&P 500 added 25. The rally came despite news that the pandemic caused the service sector in the economy to contract last month for the first time in 10 years.
The nominee to oversee federal pandemic recovery spending promised fair, impartial audits today. Brian Miller works in the White House Counsel's Office. As a special inspector general, he would watch over $500 billion in economic rescue funds. President Trump has said that he would resist outside oversight of pandemic spending.
The president's pick to be director of national intelligence pledged today to steer clear of political bias. Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is an ardent defender of Mr. Trump. At his confirmation hearing, senators, including some Republicans, openly questioned whether he would guard the intelligence community against political pressures.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine:
There are some very experienced analysts within the I.C. that are concerned that you might attempt to shade the conclusions in order to avoid alienating the president in presenting his daily brief.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas:
I won't shade intelligence for anyone, whether we're talking about the president, members of Congress, any policy-makers.
Ratcliffe's initial nomination was pulled last year after bipartisan criticism of his closeness to the president and lack of experience in intelligence. He was renominated in February.
In Syria, there are reports of Israeli airstrikes in two different regions of the country. State media reports that Israeli planes hit military targets at Al-Safirah, near Aleppo. And a war monitoring group says that separate strikes killed 14 Iranian and Iraqi fighters in Eastern Syria. The Israelis had no immediate comment.
The president of Venezuela says two Americans took part in a failed raid aimed at toppling his government. They were arrested Monday, a day after mercenaries attacked a coastal outpost.
President Nicolas Maduro says their papers show that they were former Green Berets.
President Nicolas Maduro (through translator):
We were able to uncover this terrorist incursion of which we have been victims. The government of the United States of America is fully and completely involved in this raid, defeated by the solid civic military police union of Venezuela.
Both President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today the U.S. government had nothing to do with the alleged raid.
And the Philippines government ordered the country's top television network to shut down after its franchise expired. President Rodrigo Duterte had targeted the network's news coverage of his administration. A handful of protesters lit candles and held signs outside the network's offices, denouncing the government's move as a crackdown on free speech.