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In our news wrap Friday, following a meeting with the head of the NRA and a tweet from that official alleging the president did not want gun control, press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president's only promise to the NRA was that "he'll continue to support the Second Amendment." Also, Sanders pushed back against reports that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is on his way out.
In the day's other news: More questions arose about President Trump's calls for gun control measures. He met last night with the head of the NRA. Later, that official, Chris Cox, tweeted that the president and vice president "support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and do not want gun control."
Today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president's only promise to the NRA was that he will continue to support the Second Amendment.
Sanders also pushed back today against reports that national security adviser H.R. McMaster is on his way out. She said that President Trump is happy with the three-star general, despite news reports to the contrary.
Look, General McMaster is not going anywhere. As the president said yesterday in the Oval Office to a number of the people, he thinks he's doing a great job, and glad he's here.
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly public defended his handling of the ouster of a top aide. Rob Porter resigned nearly a month ago over allegations of domestic abuse. Today, Kelly conceded some mistakes, but contrary to widespread reports, denied that he had known about the abuse much earlier.
And he said — quote — "I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over."
A powerful late winter storm roared across the Northeastern U.S. today, with wind gusts almost 80 miles an hour. Near-record high tides and heavy rain triggered flooding, and the strong winds led to cancellations of more than 2,800 flights and halting of Amtrak train service.
In Washington, powerful gusts shut down federal offices, museums and other attractions.
It's just a really windy day. I didn't expect this. It's like 70-mile-per-hour winds, and I'm trying to see the monuments by foot, which is a little crazy.
Parts of New York and Ohio got a foot of snow out of the storm, and, all told, some 700,000 homes and businesses lost power.
Heavy rain also fell across Southern California, amid fears of new mudslides in areas burned bare by wildfires. People in Montecito had piled sandbags, fearing the kind of destruction that ravaged the town in January, but there was no major damage this time. Later, evacuation orders were lifted for some 30,000 people.
In West Africa, Islamist extremists struck today in the former French colony of Burkina Faso. The attackers targeted the French Embassy and army headquarters in the capital city, killing eight soldiers and police. Thick smoke billowed from the army building as gunfire and explosions filled the air for hours.
The French foreign minister praised the response.
Jean-Yves Le Drian:
The French Embassy was attacked by a group of terrorists, who were neutralized thanks to the actions of the police and the military personnel who protect our embassy. It shows we need to continue the fight against these groups with lots of strength and tenacity.
Eight of the militants were also killed, and more than 90 people were wounded. Later, the U.S. State Department advised Americans not to travel to Burkina Faso for now.
The United States will not restore its embassy staff in Cuba to full strength. It was cut by 60 percent after unexplained health attacks that caused hearing loss and ringing in the ears, among other symptoms. Today, the State Department said it is making the staff reduction permanent.
Back in this country, it appears the worst of the flu season has passed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that the number of cases peaked in early February, and is now declining. It is still unclear why this season's flu vaccine didn't work better than it did.
And the Reverend Billy Graham was laid to rest today, after a funeral at the Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Trump and Vice President Pence were among the 2,000 mourners who gathered under a large tent.
Graham's son, Franklin, was the main speaker.
Rev. Franklin Graham:
The Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home. There weren't two Billy Grahams. He loved his family. He stood by us, he comforted us, he left us an enduring legacy.
Billy Graham died last week at the age of 99. He was buried today next to his wife, Ruth, on their family property.
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