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News Wrap: Sessions defends FBI after Trump criticism

In our news wrap Friday, President Trump launched fresh criticism at the FBI, saying, "we're going to rebuild" the agency, before speaking to its training academy graduates and striking a different tone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he didn’t hold the president’s view. Also, a federal judge will release former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort from house arrest once he meets conditions.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

     And in the day’s other news, President Trump launched fresh criticism at the FBI.

    He has previously said that the bureau’s reputation is, quote, in tatters. Today, before leaving the White House to speak to its training academy graduates, the president reacted to reports that a handful of FBI officials investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian interference in the election were biased against him.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We’re going to rebuild the FBI.  It will be bigger and better than ever.  But it is very sad, when you look at those documents. And how they’ve done that is really, really disgraceful, and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     An hour later, in Quantico, Virginia, President Trump changed his tune.  He called graduates of an FBI program for law enforcement officers, incredible men and women.

    This afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the FBI against the President’s criticism.  Sessions said, quote- “I don’t share the view that the FBI is not functioning at a high level.”

    Separately, President Trump refused to say today if he will consider pardoning his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he did tell reporters that he is encouraging Republican Roy Moore to concede to Democrat Doug Jones in that special Senate election held last Tuesday in Alabama.

    A federal judge is releasing President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, from house arrest once he meets specific conditions. Manafort was charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the election. He agreed to forfeit $10 million if he ever failed to appear in court, and he will be subject to a curfew and GPS monitoring.

    At least four Palestinians were killed in new clashes today over President Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian demonstrators threw rocks at Israeli troops in the West Bank and along the Gaza border after Friday prayers. The soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire. More than 80 people were injured.

    The colossal wildfire in southern California continued to grow today, fanned by strong gusts of wind. Firefighters have managed to establish a containment line around 35 percent of the deadly Thomas Fire. But they are preparing for a grueling weekend of unpredictable Santa Ana winds, which could trigger more flare-ups.

    The U.S. Department of Interior says it is taking action, after a new survey found that one in three of its employees said that they had been harassed or discriminated against at work. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fired four senior officials over inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct.

    In a video message, Zinke said it’s time to acknowledge that his department has a problem.

  • Ryan Zinke:

    The survey shows that harassment, intimidation and discrimination have been a common practice at Interior. A culture that tolerates such behavior tarnishes our noble mission of stewardship and breaches public trust. I’m speaking today to make it clear that the culture of harassment and intimidation, which this administration inherited, has come to an end.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     The Interior Department employs nearly 70,000 people. Its Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service had the most reports of harassment or discrimination.

    Movie actor Dustin Hoffman is facing more allegations of sexual misconduct. Variety first reported that a playwright claimed that Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1980 when she was 16. Two other women allege that he sexually assaulted them during the filming of the movie “Ishtar.” His lawyer responded, calling the claims, quote, “defamatory falsehoods.” In all, six women have accused the actor of impropriety.

    Today marks the deadline for most Americans to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Midnight Pacific Time is the cutoff for the 39 states served by the healthcare.gov website. And in a separate development, a federal judge in Philadelphia temporarily halted a Trump administration policy limiting women’s access to birth control. It allowed employers to opt out of an Obama-era mandate that they provide free contraception for employees, citing religious or moral objections.

    And on Wall Street today, all three major stock indexes closed at record highs in anticipation of next week’s tax reform vote. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 143 points to close at 24,651, the Nasdaq rose 80 points and the S&P 500 added more than 23. For the week, both the Dow and the Nasdaq gained more than 1 percent, and the S&P 500 rose a fraction of a percent.

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