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News Wrap: Former deputy AG denies Obama influenced Russia probe

In our news wrap Wednesday, a former U.S. deputy attorney general denied that former President Obama and Vice President Biden tried to influence a probe of the 2016 Trump campaign. At a Senate hearing, Sally Yates said former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn aimed to neutralize sanctions against Russia. Also, reports from South Korea say deadly explosions occurred in North Korea on Monday.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Reports from South Korea say deadly explosions in North Korea killed or injured dozens of people on Monday near the Chinese border. Video obtained by the Associated Press shows flames and black smoke firing into the sky amid loud bangs. The reports say that propane gas cylinders may have exploded in a residential area.

    In U.S. election news, progressive Democrats scored some key wins in Tuesday's primaries. In Detroit, first-term Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib won renomination over City Council President Brenda Jones. And in Missouri, Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush beat longtime Congressman William Clacy Lay — or Lacy Clay, that is.

    We will talk with two political observers about what is on the mind of American voters after the news summary.

    A former U.S. deputy attorney general denied today that President Obama and Vice President Biden tried to influence a probe of the Trump 2016 campaign. It involved Michael Flynn, who became national security adviser, and his contacts with Russia during the Trump transition.

    At a Senate hearing, Sally Yates said that Flynn was trying to neutralize sanctions against Russia. She rejected claims that President Obama wanted to sabotage Mr. Trump.

  • Sally Yates:

    Something like that would have set alarms from me. And it would have stuck out both at the time and in my memory. No such thing happened.

    The president was focused entirely on the national security implications of sharing sensitive intelligence information with General Flynn during the transition, a process that was obviously already under way.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Flynn probe later morphed into a full-blown investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    The U.S. State Department's acting inspector general, Stephen Akard, has resigned. Today's announcement gave no reason. Akard's predecessor, Steven Linick, was fired less than three months ago. Congressional Democrats allege that it's because Linick was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over claims that he had staffers perform personal errands. Pompeo has denied it.

    In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke ground today for a Hindu temple, where a 16th century mosque once stood. Hindu extremists tore down the mosque in Ayodhya in 1992, and 2,000 people died in the ensuing violence. Today, worshipers danced in celebration, as Modi offered foundational stones for the temple. It will be dedicated to the Hindu God Ram.

    The remnants of Hurricane Isaias are now in Eastern Canada, after killing at least six people in the U.S. The storm raked much of the East Coast, spawning tornadoes, downing trees and triggering flooding from North Carolina to New England. More than three million homes and businesses lost power in the U.S. and Canada.

    Wall Street advanced again today, partly on hopes for a pandemic relief package in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 373 points to close at 27201. The Nasdaq rose 57 points, and the S&P 500 added 21.

    And legendary New York City columnist and author Pete Hamill died today at a Brooklyn hospital. He'd suffered heart and kidney failure. For decades, Hamill's storytelling captured the color and essence of the city, on everything from politics to civil rights to sports.

    Pete Hamill was 85 years old.

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