In our news wrap Friday, the Winter Olympics have officially begun in South Korea, kicked off with pomp and circumstance at the opening ceremony. Meanwhile, a last ditch effort to include 45 banned Russian athletes was rejected just hours before. Also, a winter storm in the Midwest promised treacherous road conditions and more than a foot of snow in some areas.
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Wall Street’s worst week in two years is finally over.
Stocks endured another day of sharp swings, but rallied in the end. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 330 points to close at 24190. The headquarters rose 97 points, and the S&P 500 was up 38. All three indexes were down 5 percent for the week. That’s the most since early 2016.
The federal government opened for business today after a budget deal ended a brief overnight shutdown, the second in three weeks. It happened when Republican Senator Rand Paul stalled a vote on a $400 billion spending bill to protest spending hikes. The Senate and House finally approved the deal early this morning, even as supporters and opponents argued over the effects.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas:
This two-year budget agreement begins to repair our military, and frees our armed services from the harmful spending caps and the devastating practice of funding our troops in stopgap spending bills.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.:
This body is descending down a fiscally irresponsible path, a path to trillion-dollar deficits, a path to mortgaging the future for my children and yours.
President Trump signed the bill into law this morning, but he put the blame for ballooning deficits on the opposition. In a tweet, the president said — quote — “This bill is a big victory for our military, but much waste in order to get Democratic votes.”
We will examine the deal’s effects on the deficit after the news summary.
The president today praised former aide Rob Porter, who resigned over domestic abuse allegations. His two ex-wives say he physically and verbally assaulted them. Today, at a meeting with campaign supporters, the president called it very sad and said he hopes Porter has a great career.
President Donald Trump:
President Donald Trump: We wish him well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it.
He says he’s innocent. And I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent. So, you will have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well. Did a very good job while he was at the White House.
Meanwhile, top White House staffers faced more questions about their handling of the Porter case. The Washington Post and others reported that White House counsel Donald McGahn was told some of the accusations in January of last year. Other reports say Chief of Staff John Kelly learned last fall that the allegations were delaying Porter’s security clearances.
This evening, Kelly denied that he has told officials he’s willing to resign from his post.
Separate, there is word that the Justice Department’s critical number three official, Rachel Brand, is resigning, after nine months on the job. It is widely reported that she is leaving for the private sector. Brand is next in line behind Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. She would be overseeing the special counsel’s Russia probe if President Trump were to fire Rosenstein.
The Winter Olympics have officially begun, with opening ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea. Pomp and pageantry was on full display this evening, with more than 2,900 athletes from 92 countries taking part.
Hours earlier, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected a last-ditch appeal for 45 Russian athletes to take part. They have been banned for doping.
Two people have been killed in a winter storm that moved across the American Upper Midwest today. Total snowfall is expected to measure a foot in some areas by tonight. Treacherous conditions hit roads from Minnesota to Indiana overnight. By this morning, seven inches of snow covered parts of Chicago, closing schools and canceling 1,000 flights.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city is bracing for more.
We have always done this as a city. I want us to continue today, tomorrow, Sunday, throughout, responding, taking care of not only yourself and your family members, but checking on your neighbors.
The storm is expected to weaken as it moves eastward over the weekend.
Back in this country, or in this country, public defenders in New York are protesting against immigration agents arresting their clients at routine court appearances. Dozens of the attorneys protested outside a Bronx courthouse yesterday. They were joined by civil rights and immigration advocates.