In our news wrap Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, collided with a garbage truck in Virginia, killing the driver. None of the lawmakers aboard were hurt. Also, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned over financial conflicts of interest.
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From the FBI today, a rare rebuke of the president.
The bureau strongly criticized a congressional Republican memo that President Trump wants made public. It is said to criticize FBI and Justice Department actions in the Russia investigation. We will have a full report right after the news summary.
In the day’s other news- an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress collided with a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person in the truck. There were no reports of serious injuries on the train. It happened just West of Charlottesville, as the Republicans headed to a retreat in West Virginia.
President Trump spoke later with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was aboard the train.
President Donald Trump:
The train accident was a tough one, a tremendous jolt. And they are proceeding to their conference.
We don’t have a full understanding yet as to what happened. But it was a train hitting a truck going at a pretty good speed.
Later, the University of Virginia Hospital reported one injured person was brought there in critical condition. The cause of the wreck is under investigation.
The president drew widely divergent reactions today to his first State of the Union address. In his 80-minute speech last night, he coupled optimism about the economy with warnings about undocumented immigrants and violence.
Today, Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida defended the president’s tone.
Sen. Marco Rubio:
There are divisive issues in America, and sometimes raising them are going to create divisions among us. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek to unify behind other things that should bring us together, and we should all be unified behind the common purpose of solving problems, even if we’re divided on the right way to solve them.
Democrats labeled the speech divisive. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was — quote — “devoid of serious policy ideas.”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi:
It was a very transformative speech for some of us last night, because while our expectations for greatness and vision of the president are not high, he stooped to a new low. Democrats believe that the American people deserve better than what president talked about last night.
Overseas, Japan’s government praised Mr. Trump’s vow to keep the pressure on North Korea. The president also branded Iran a corrupt dictatorship.
But, today, the country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted that President Trump — quote — “again confirms his ignorance of Iran.”
We will return to the speech, later in the program.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned today over ongoing financial conflicts of interest. Brenda Fitzgerald had pledged to resolve those conflicts during her confirmation hearing, but Politico reports that her financial representative bought tobacco and drug company stocks one month after she took the CDC job. The stocks were later sold.
USA Gymnastics announced today that its remaining directors have resigned. They had been accused of ignoring years of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. The former sports doctor was back in court in Lansing, Michigan, today. This time, he is being sentenced for molesting at least 60 gymnasts at a private sports club.
Meanwhile, John Engler took over as interim president at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked. He vowed to support the victims.
I have been amazed by your strength and your courage, and I pledge that I won’t let your efforts be in vain. Mark my words, change is coming.
In a separate development, former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton now says that she should have fired a senior adviser from her 2008 campaign. Burns Strider was accused of sexually harassing a young female staffer. He was demoted, but not fired.
On Facebook last night, Clinton lamented her decision to keep him on. She wrote, “If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.”
More questions today about adult film star Stormy Daniels and her alleged affair with then private citizen Donald Trump in 2006. The president’s lawyer has denied it, and Daniels’ lawyer released a signed statement this week also denying any affair.
But last night, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Daniels wouldn’t confirm or deny the reports.
In Hong Kong, lawmakers voted today to end the world’s largest ivory market by 2021. The vote in the local legislature came as protesters gathered outside, chanting “Stop Hong Kong ivory trade.”
A director for the World Wildlife Fund hailed the decision.
What is needed next is to step up the enforcement to make sure that there will no longer be any illegal trade into Hong Kong or through Hong Kong. And what we want to happen is that the commercial ban in the ivory trade will spread to other Asian countries.
Mainland China banned ivory sales as of January 1. An estimated 30,000 elephants are killed illegally for their tusks every year.
Back in this country, the Justice Department has dropped its corruption case against Senator Bob Menendez. Federal prosecutors had accused the New Jersey Democrat of trading political favors for gifts and cash. His first trial ended in a hung jury, and last week, a federal judge threw out several counts against him.
South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy says that he will not run for reelection, the ninth House Republican committee chairman to do so. Gowdy led the investigation of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and he now chairs the Oversight Committee. The former prosecutor said today that he will return to the courts, and added that he has come to believe that it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are the most rewarding.
The Federal Reserve today left its benchmark interest rate unchanged. It said it expects to resume raising rates later this year.
And Wall Street recovered a little of yesterday’s big losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 72 points to close at 26,149. The Nasdaq rose nine points, and the S&P 500 added one point.
And early risers in parts of the U.S. witnessed a rare lunar event this morning. The second full moon this month also appeared bigger than usual because it was closer to Earth. On top of that, a total lunar eclipse gave the moon a blood-red tinge. The overall combination had not happened since 1982.