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News Wrap: Trump claims ‘great unity’ among Republicans

In our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump rejected talk of a Republican rift and dismissed criticism by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. Also, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced he will not run for re-election next year. He was a major moderate voice who helped block conservative initiatives such as the “bathroom bill” affecting transgender students.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump rejected talk of a rift today in the Republican Party today and instead said there is great unity. He dismissed harsh criticism of himself by Republican Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, and said they are not running for reelection because they couldn't win.

    Mr. Trump spoke as he left Washington for a GOP fund-raising event in Dallas. He complained that the news media makes him seem more uncivil than he is.

  • President Donald Trump:

    You know, people don't understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is, I think — I really believe — I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, Senator Flake had more to say about the president. He invoked the demagoguery of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, who infamously led a communist witch-hunt in the 1950s, and he warned, you can't continue to just remain silent.

  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz:

    I hope that we're reaching a tipping point where my colleagues and every elected official will say, we can't go on this way. These politics — you know, how can we explain to our kids that we're countenancing this kind of behavior?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Republican Senate leaders tried again today to put the public feuding aside, and focus instead on tax reform.

    We will return to the GOP dispute right after the news summary.

    And an influential moderate in Texas Republican ranks is stepping down as speaker of the state House of Representatives. Joe Straus announced today that he won't run for reelection next year, citing growing political divisions. He had helped to block conservative initiatives, such as the so-called bathroom bill aimed at transgender students.

    The president today also focused on a new revelation about a collection of research on his possible ties to Russia. The Washington Post and others reported that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped to fund the dossier. Mr. Trump called it a disgrace.

  • President Donald Trump:

    This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election. They lost it very badly and very easily. I mean, you look at the votes, it was 306 to, what, 223 or something. They lost it by a lot. They didn't know what to say, so they made up the whole Russia hoax.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Most political campaigns do opposition research. The Trump dossier alleges that the Russians had compromising and salacious information on the candidate. He has insisted that it is all false.

    A pregnant teenager who sparked new debate about undocumented immigrants has had an abortion in Texas. Her lawyers confirmed it today. She has been in custody since September, but federal officials had refused her requests for an abortion. A federal appeals court ruled in her favor yesterday.

    The sentencing hearing of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl opened today at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has pleaded guilty to leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009. The Taliban held him five years before agreeing to a prisoner swap. Bergdahl could get life in military prison for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The hearing could last several days.

    Fears of violence built in Kenya today ahead of tomorrow's repeat presidential election. The opposition says the vote is rigged and should be delayed. But Kenya's Supreme Court declined to hear appeals, amid talks of judges being intimidated. Protesters burned tires, blocked roads and clashed with police in several cities.

    In Nairobi, their leader, Raila Odinga, urged followers to become a resistance movement.

  • Raila Odinga:

    Do not participate in any way in the sham election. Convince your friends, neighbors and everyone else not to participate. Be aware that the bloodthirsty regime is planning to use every excuse to massacre our people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Uhuru Kenyatta won the initial vote in August, but election officials cited irregularities and nullified the result. Today, Kenyatta insisted that the re-run will go forward. The U.S. State Department has now warned that both sides may be undermining Kenya's election system.

    Back in this country, the Transportation Security Administration says that all passengers on flights to the U.S. will be subject to new security screenings. The new measures range from interviews to stricter searches of passengers and luggage. Those rules apply both to American citizens and to foreigners.

    A warning today about American Airlines. The NAACP cites what it calls — quote — "a pattern of disturbing incidents" of discrimination against black passengers, and they should be on alert. The company insists that it will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.

    And on Wall Street today, disappointing quarterly earnings triggered a sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 112 points to close at 23329. The Nasdaq fell 34, and the S&P 500 slipped 12.

    All three indexes were down half-a-percent.

    And rock 'n' roll pioneer Fats Domino has died. He passed away early Tuesday in New Orleans. He signed his first record contract in 1949, and had a string of hits during the '50s and early '60s, including "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't That a Shame." Ultimately, he sold more than 110 million records, and was one of the first 10 honorees inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fats Domino was 89 years old.

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