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News Wrap: Trump nominee for USDA chief scientist withdraws

In our news wrap Thursday, former Trump campaign official Sam Clovis has withdrawn as the nominee for chief scientist at the Agriculture Department. Clovis faced criticism for a lack of science credentials and for ties to another campaign adviser who admitted to lying about Russian contacts. Also, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort attacked the evidence against him in the Russia probe.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day’s other news, President Trump nominated Jerome Powell to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve. He’s a Republican, and a member of the Fed’s board for the past five years. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Janet Yellen, a Democrat who served one term as chair.

    Later in the program, we’ll look at what this change means.

    Former Trump campaign official Sam Clovis has withdrawn as the nominee for chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He wrote to the president today, saying the political climate, quote, has made it impossible to receive balanced and fair consideration.

    Clovis faced criticism for a lack of science credentials, and for ties to George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty this week to lying about contacts with Russian intermediaries last year.

    The president’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, attacked the evidence against him today in a probe of Russian campaign meddling. His lawyers said the case is, quote, embellished. Manafort appeared in federal court in Washington along with his associate Rick Gates. They face a 12-count indictment including conspiracy and money laundering charges.

    The president is pressing for the death penalty for the man behind Tuesday’s truck rampage in New York. Overnight, and again today, Mr. Trump tweeted that Sayfullo Saipov should get the death penalty for killing eight people.

    But in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does not believe the attacker should be executed. He spoke near the scene of the crime.

  • Mayor Bill De Blasio:

    I’m not clear on all the legalities and I’m not a lawyer. I’m not someone who believes in the death penalty in general. I just don’t. I believe this is an individual who should rot in prison for the rest of his life.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, now faces federal terrorism charges.

    President Trump initially said he should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. But today, he reversed himself and said there is, quote, something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed.

    A jury in Newark, New Jersey, heard closing arguments today in the federal bribery case against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. Prosecutors called Menendez a, quote, “personal senator” for a wealthy eye doctor, accepting cash and lavish gifts in exchange for favors. Defense attorneys have denied the allegations.

    In Myanmar, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited the scene of a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. The Nobel Peace Prize winner had been criticized for not doing anything to stop the violence by Myanmar’s army and Buddhist militants.

    Today, she met with local officials amid tight security. Rohingya activists say she urged them to, quote, live peacefully and not quarrel.

    Scientists now say they’ve discovered a hidden space deep inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza. The royal burial monument is 4,500 years old. This would be the first new discovery inside the pyramid since the 19th century. The journal “Nature” reports that researchers found the empty space by using cosmic-ray imaging. Its purpose remains unclear.

    Back in this country, they broke ground today for a memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower in Washington. It followed years of disputes over the design. Final plans call for columns and statues near the National Mall in Washington. They depict Eisenhower as World War II commander in Europe, and later, as the 34th president, in the 1950s. The monument is set to be finished in 2020.

    On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 81 points to close at 23516. The Nasdaq fell one point, and the S&P 500 added a fraction.

    And, the Houston Astros are baseball’s world champions, for the first time since their founding in 1962. They scored a game seven victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, 5-1. It was a boost for the city of Houston, still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

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