In our news wrap Friday, The New York Times reports that President Trump spoke to several Republican senators over the past summer to urge them to end an investigation of Russia's meddling in last year's election. Sen. Richard Burr confirmed the report. Also, Politico reported that Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, settled a sexual harassment claim for $84,000 in government funds in 2014.
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In the day’s other news, there is word that President Trump urged top Senate Republicans to end an investigation of Russia’s meddling in last year’s election. The New York Times reports that the president spoke to several Republican senators over this past summer. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirms that Mr. Trump asked for a quick end to the probe. The White House says the president did nothing improper.
The U.S. Senate plowed ahead today on a Republican tax bill, with key senators voicing support. Leaders spent last night and part of today rewriting key sections to deal with deficit worries, among other issues. We will have a full report on all that later in the program.
It is reported that Texas Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold settled a sexual harassment claim for $84,000 in government funds in 2014. Politico says the money went to Farenthold’s former communications director. The congressman would neither confirm nor deny the report. Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee formally asked for records of all taxpayer-funded payments for sexual harassment claims.
In Bangladesh, Pope Francis met with Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar today, and apologized for their persecution. He greeted and blessed the refugees, and used the term Rohingya, something he had not done while he was in Myanmar.
Pope Francis (through interpreter):
In the name of all of those who have persecuted you, hurt you, especially the indifference in the world, I ask for forgiveness, forgiveness. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August, but Myanmar’s government has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing.
President Trump today rejected news accounts that he is planning to remove Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In an afternoon tweet, the president said the reports are fake news. He acknowledged that he and Tillerson sometimes disagree, but he said, “I call the final shots.”
Tillerson himself was asked about the reports as he met with Libya’s visiting prime minister. He replied, “It’s laughable.”
An independent review finds multiple failings by police in that violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. The review, released today, points to a breakdown in planning and coordination and a failure to maintain order. The clashes flared in August during protests against removing a Confederate statue. In the midst of it all, a car plowed into counterdemonstrators, killing a woman.
And Wall Street gave some ground after yesterday’s big rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 40 points to close at 24,231. The Nasdaq fell 26 points, and the S&P 500 slipped five. For the week, the Dow gained almost 3 percent, and the S&P 500 rose 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq fell half-a-percent.