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In our news wrap Friday, a federal judge in Washington ruled that the House impeachment inquiry is legal and ordered the Department of Justice to share secret grand jury testimony from the Mueller report with House investigators. Also, more children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border than previously known, according to data the Trump administration submitted to the ACLU.
Wildfires are burning out of control across Northern and Southern California today. The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, admitted that its electrical equipment could have sparked one of those fires in Sonoma County. But the official cause has yet to be determined.
William Brangham has the latest.
Once again, thousands of California firefighters are battling fast-moving blazes across the state. Driven by strong winds and dry conditions, the fires are forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.
Hundreds of schools were closed due to poor air quality and closed highways. The Kincade Fire, in Northern California's Sonoma County, doubled in size in less than 24 hours. It's already destroyed at least 49 structures and burned more than 21,000 acres. It's just 5 percent contained.
We absolutely are up against the clock. The winds that are predicted over the next couple days are currently expected to be worse than what we had just the other night.
Four hundred miles south, just north of Los Angeles, the Tick Fire has burned more than 4,000 acres and several subdivisions. Officials say another 10,000 structures are threatened. It too is just 5 percent contained.
Two weeks ago, the California utility Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to hundreds of thousands of residents, trying to prevent high winds from knocking over power lines and sparking fires. Investigators believe that's what caused last year's deadly Camp Fire that killed 85.
Yesterday, PG&E said a transmission tower malfunctioned near the site where the Kincade Fire began, a blaze which continues to roar across Northern California's wine country.
California's governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, blasted the utility company yesterday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom:
It's about decades of mismanagement. It's about focusing on shareholders and dividends over you and members of the public. It's a story about greed. And they need to be held accountable.
PG&E warns they will have to cut power to more homes throughout the weekend. And if high winds continue, it could turn into the largest blackout yet for Californians, yet another new normal for a state grappling with the growing impacts of climate change.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.
A federal judge Washington today ruled that the House impeachment inquiry is legal and ordered the Department of Justice to give House investigators secret grand jury testimony from the Mueller report.
House Democrats also issued three more subpoenas as part of that inquiry to two top White House budget officials and a State Department official.
Meanwhile, it was widely reported that the Justice Department's review of the Russia investigation's origins has now evolved into a criminal probe.
President Trump said he anticipates the findings will shed new light on the special counsel's investigation.
President Donald Trump:
I think you're going to see a lot of really bad things. And a lot of people think that — and they know they have problems because they were very dishonest.
And, again, I leave it all up to the attorney general, and I leave it all up to the people that are working with the attorney general, who I don't know. But I will say this. I think you will see things that nobody would've believed.
Prosecutors will now have greater authority to issue subpoenas and to file criminal charges.
The Trump corporate organization acknowledged today that it's looking into whether to sell its Washington hotel. That comes amid ethics complaints and lawsuits that accuse Mr. Trump of profiting off his presidency. The Trump Hotel, located just blocks from the White House, has a 100-year lease on the historic building. It took in $41 million in revenue last year.
A federal judge in California has held U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in contempt of court for violating an order related to student loans. The ruling said that DeVos continued to collect loans from students who attended Corinthian Colleges — that is a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges — despite being ordered to stop. The federal Education Department was also fined $100,000.
More children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border than previously known. That's according to a new count the Trump administration submitted to the American Civil Liberties Union. Immigration authorities separated more than 1,500 additional children from their parents between July 2017 and June 2018, when a federal judge ordered an end to the practice.
That brings the overall number of children separated since July 2017 to more than 5,400.
In Iraq, security forces clashed with anti-government protesters in Baghdad and across several southern provinces today, killing at least 30 people. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital city to protest the country's corruption and struggling economy. Police fired live rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas to try to disperse the crowd.
We will take a closer look at anti-government protests in two other countries, Lebanon and Chile, later in the program.
Despite President Trump's recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, the U.S. will strengthen its military presence in one area in order to block Islamic State fighters from accessing oil fields.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed plans to deploy U.S. troops and armored vehicles, but he didn't offer specifics. Esper spoke to reporters after meeting with the Turkey's defense minister today in Brussels.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper: We are now taking some actions — I am not going to get into the details — to strengthen our position at Deir el-Zour to ensure that we can deny ISIS access to the oil fields, because we want to make sure that they don't have access to the resources that may allow them to strike within the region, to strike Europe, to strike the United States.
Meanwhile, Russia's Defense Ministry said that it sent about 300 additional military police to patrol the Turkey-Syria border. They will help oversee the pullout of Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The European Union agreed today to grant the U.K.'s request for another extension to the Brexit deadline. But it won't decide just how long that delay should be until next week. Britain was scheduled to leave the bloc next Thursday. The move gives a divided British Parliament time to decide on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for an early election to break the deadlock over Brexit.
Back in this country, the federal budget deficit for 2019 soared to over $984 billion. That is its highest level in seven years. And, also, that is a $205 billion or 25 percent increase over just last year. The Treasury Department reported the new figure included lost revenue from President Trump's tax cuts, as well as increased spending for the military and domestic programs.
Members of the united Auto Workers Union ratified a new contract with General Motors today, bringing an end to their 40-day strike. About 49,000 auto workers had walked off the job since mid-September. That halted production at more than 30 U.S. factories.
Stocks rallied on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 152 points to close at 26958. The Nasdaq rose 57 points, and the S&P 500 added 12.
And the late Maryland Congressman and civil rights leader Elijah Cummings was remembered today at a funeral in Baltimore. Thousands of mourners, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, came to pay their final respects to the Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 23 years.
The final send-off for Congressman Cummings began early today in his hometown of Baltimore, a wall of sound from organ and choir filling the 4,000-seat New Psalmist Baptist Church, where Cummings himself worshipped for 40 years.
Bishop Walter Thomas:
We prepare now for the requiem of a public servant, the Honorable Elijah Eugene Cummings.
A military honor guard covered the congressman's casket with an American flag.
A favorite of Cummings, singer BeBe Winans, remembered him with the song "Stand." And political leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, sat with members of the Baltimore community, whom Cummings served for more than two decades.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likened him to the biblical prophet whose name he bore.
Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
But he also prayed and worked for healing. He weathered storms and earthquakes, but never lost his faith.
She was followed by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who remembered Cummings as welcoming to everyone he encountered.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:
Our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others, for even new members of Congress, so that he could mentor them, for all who wanted to be part of the American dream.
Longtime friend and former U.S. Congressman Kweisi Mfume spoke of Cummings as a faith-filled man, as profound as he was funny.
I would go on later that year to get elected to the city council, winning by three votes. And Elijah, who had met my grandmother, thought it was funny.
They came to me and said: "Now, Kweisi, as long as you are black," which meant the rest of my life, "You just remember those three votes were the father, the son, and the holy ghost, and you can't go wrong."
Cummings' daughter, Jennifer, thanked him for life lessons and shared her memories of his famous voice.
Thank you for loving me unconditionally and teaching me what love and leadership are by your example.
I will miss your smile, your great big smile that could light up a room. I will miss your booming voice that would firmly sound, "Jennifer," when I knew I was in trouble.
And his wife, Maya, who chairs Maryland's Democratic Party, called her husband a public servant of integrity, and a walking miracle.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings:
He was given six months to live more than 25 years ago, and he kept going, he kept fighting, he kept standing, he kept working!
At the service were two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Both urged those gathered to remember lessons left by Cummings.
President Bill Clinton:
But we should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning, when we need courage. When we get discouraged, and we don't know if we can believe anymore, we should hear him.
President Barack Obama:
His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what's possible in this country, not guaranteed, but possible. We have the capacity, the chance, as individuals and as a nation, to root ourselves in good soil.
The eulogy summed up Cummings as a man of devout faith who did what he could to bring together a divided nation.
That portrait came from the longtime pastor of Cummings' church, Bishop Walter Thomas.
He never wanted to lose what was grounded in him. And I think he brought you to church because too many in our country are forgetting where they came from.
The organ sounded as the service closed, while pallbearers wheeled Cummings' casket out for final burial.
Elijah Cummings was 68 years old.
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