In our news wrap Tuesday, police in Puerto Rico fired tear gas as protesters set fires in the streets overnight, continuing to demand Gov. Ricardo Rossello resign. A judge issued search warrants for the cell phones of Rossello and members of his inner circle. Also, the Senate gave final approval to extending benefits for 9/11 first responders through 2092. Comedian Jon Stewart applauded the move.
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A changing of the guard at 10 Downing Street. Brexit hard-liner Boris Johnson has been chosen as the next prime minister of Britain. His fellow Conservative Party members overwhelmingly voted for him in a result announced today. Johnson has promised to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union with or without a deal by the end of October.
We will take a closer look at all of this later in the program.
In the day's other news: The head of the FBI declined to discuss the special counsel's Russia investigation on the eve of Robert Mueller's own testimony to Congress. Mueller is scheduled to appear tomorrow before two House committees.
Today, at a Senate hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray did offer general praise of Mueller under questioning by Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii:
Do you consider Mr. Mueller to be a person of integrity, objectivity and professionalism in your experience with him?
In all my experiences with him over the years, I have considered him to be the consummate professional and a straight shooter.
Wray has also said there is no doubt that Russia will try to interfere with the 2020 presidential election, that despite U.S. sanctions and election security efforts.
The Justice Department has opened an investigation of big technology companies and whether they illegally stifle competition. A department statement issued late today doesn't name names, but it does reference — quote — "search, social media and some retail services online." That could include Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others.
In Puerto Rico, trouble erupted overnight after Monday's march of half-a-million people in San Juan. Police fired tear gas as protesters set fires in the streets. The crowds vowed more demonstrations until Governor Ricardo Rossello steps down. Rossello lost virtually all support after leaked messages showed the governor and aides insulting women, gays, and hurricane victims.
Today, a judge issued search warrants for their cell phones.
Power has now been restored in much of Venezuela after a crippling blackout on Monday. Electricity returned to parts of Caracas in the early morning, and, today, traffic lights and subways were working for the morning commute. Government officials blamed an electromagnetic attack on the hydroelectric system. Opponents cited mismanagement and corruption. It was the second blackout since March.
China today accused the U.S. of stoking pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Millions of people have filled the city's streets in recent weeks, and, over the weekend, some of the protesters vandalized the local Chinese government office. Today, Beijing claimed, without evidence, that the U.S. is involved.
Hua Chunying (through translator):
There are very obvious signs that foreign forces are manipulating, plotting and even organizing relevant actions. China will not tolerate any foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs, nor will it allow any foreign forces to disrupt Hong Kong.
We advise the U.S. to take back the black hand that meddles in Hong Kong.
The U.S. has called on Hong Kong's governing body to respect freedom of speech and assembly.
Back in this country, meanwhile, the Trump administration is expanding fast-track deportations for migrants who entered the U.S. illegally within the past two years. Officials say the new rule could remove nearly 300,000 migrants without letting them go before an immigration judge first. The change took effect today, but civil liberty and immigration groups said they would sue to block it.
The U.S. Senate gave final approval today to extending benefits for 9/11 first-responders through 2092. It keeps alive a compensation fund for those made sick at ground zero in New York, the Pentagon in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Comedian Jon Stewart is a longtime advocate for the 9/11 responders and he spoke after the vote.
I will always be so proud to have been associated with it. And we can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them, and today is that day.
To date, more than 40,000 people have applied for payments from the fund. But it began running low on money, and administrators had sharply cut benefits.
For the first time in seven months, there is a permanent head at the Pentagon. The Senate today confirmed Mark Esper as secretary of defense by a vote of 90-8. Esper had been Army secretary and, before that, a defense industry lobbyist. General James Mattis resigned as defense secretary back in February. Esper's confirmation today ends the Pentagon's longest run ever without a confirmed secretary.
A federal judge in North Carolina today approved a settlement that lets transgender people use bathrooms matching their gender identity. The agreement ends a lawsuit that challenged North Carolina's so-called bathroom bill from 2016. That bill linked bathroom use to a person's sex at birth. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper approved the settlement over the objections of state's Republican leaders.
And on Wall Street, upbeat earnings reports helped push stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 177 points to close at 27349. The Nasdaq rose 47 points, and the S&P 500 added 20.