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In our news wrap Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered his diplomats to leave the U.S. and accused Washington of trying to put a puppet in his place after the Trump administration backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president. Also, the Democratic Republic of the Congo inaugurated a new president in its first peaceful transfer of power in nearly 60 years.
In the day's other news: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ordered his diplomats to leave the United States, and he accused Washington of trying to put a puppet in his place. The main opposition leader, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday, and the U.S. recognized him.
Maduro fired back in a speech today in Caracas.
He assumes, in the most informal, vulgar way, that he is the president of a country. Is that constitutional? In Venezuela from now on, the president is elected in Washington, and whomever wants to swears in on the street to be president.
On state TV, the Venezuelan defense minister and top generals insisted that Maduro has the full support of the armed forces.
But in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the regime against harming Guaido or his supporters.
The regime of former President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt. It's economically incompetent and it's profoundly corrupt. We therefore consider of all its declarations and actions illegitimate and invalid.
This evening, the State Department ordered some U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela for security reasons.
Meanwhile, Russia's President Vladimir Putin expressed support for Maduro in a phone call today. China, Iran and Turkey also voiced backing for his government.
Congo inaugurated a new president today in its first peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence nearly 60 years ago. Felix Tshisekedi, an opposition leader, was the surprise winner of December's election. At the swearing-in today, he shook hands with outgoing President Joseph Kabila. And he pledged to free all political prisoners.
There've been claims that Kabila rigged the election in a secret deal to avoid corruption probes.
Thousands of students skipped school in Belgium today to demand more action on climate change. It's the third straight week that young people have taken to the streets of Brussels. Police say today's crowd, at 35,000, was the largest so far. Another climate march is planned in Brussels on Sunday.
An American-born anchor for Iranian state television has been released from jail in Washington. Marzieh Hashemi was let go last night, after 10 days in custody. She had testified before a federal grand jury as a material witness in an undisclosed criminal case. Hashemi holds dual American and Iranian citizenship.
Police in Sebring, Florida now say the victims in a mass shooting at a bank were killed execution-style. Five women were found lying face down, shot in the back of the head, after Wednesday's assault. Today, police said 21-year old Zephen Xaver walked in, and set about lining up victims.
He immediately contacted bank employees and a bank customer and overtook the bank by force. He then shot everyone in the bank. After shooting them, he called 911. This occurred at approximately 12:36. He told dispatchers that he had killed five people in the bank.
A SWAT team finally burst into the bank and captured Xaver. Investigators say there's no indication that he knew the victims and no clear motive yet.
President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been subpoenaed to appear before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. His attorney announced it today and said that Cohen will comply. Yesterday, he postponed appearing before a House panel.
There is where that access to the Microsoft search engine Bing has been at least partially restored in China. It had been cut off yesterday in an ongoing crackdown on online speech by the ruling Communist Party. Bing is now the only major foreign search engine available in China.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 24553. The Nasdaq rose 47 points, and the S&P 500 added three.
And a New York penthouse still under construction is now the most expensive home ever in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports billionaire Ken Griffin paid $238 million for the property. Griffin founded the Citadel hedge fund.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": turbulence ahead, a dire warning from airline workers on security risks of the shutdown; an American health care worker is held prisoner in Syria for two years; film director Bryan Singer facing multiple allegations of rape and abuse; plus, much more.
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