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News Wrap: Trump says he doubts need for more U.S. troops in Middle East

In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump said he doubts there is a need to send more U.S. troops to the Middle East, despite heightened tensions with Iran. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan also disputed news reports that the U.S. would send 10,000 additional troops to the region. Meanwhile, the Justice Department filed a new 18-count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Parts of Missouri, including the capital city, are in disaster mode after a barrage of tornadoes. They struck during the night, and left death and heavy damage.

    Amna Nawaz has our report.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Twisters darkened the Missouri evening sky.

  • Man:

    There's a tornado right there, Janie.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And, after nightfall, lightning strikes and wailing sirens signaled the oncoming danger.

    Daylight revealed heavy damage in Jefferson City, where the Capitol Building was under renovation. A tornado had ripped apart homes and entire neighborhoods, leaving families to dig through the wreckage.

    At a car dealership, mangled vehicles lay flipped over and rows of new cars sat damaged or destroyed.

    Carrie Tergin is mayor of Jefferson City.

  • Carrie Tergin:

    There are many residents who lost their homes, who lost portions of their homes, who had significant damage to their homes. It's been a trying day. It's been hard, and we have had to look at each other and cry and hug each other and say, you know what, we're going to get through this together.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    No one was killed in Jefferson City, but 150 miles away, in Golden City, a tornado took three lives.

    Missouri Governor Mike Parson said it could have been even worse.

  • Gov. Mike Parson:

    We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. Plenty of people doing everything they could to warn people, the general public, to take to safety, and a lot of people did.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The severe weather moved in from Eastern Oklahoma, where surging floodwater tore loose two barges in the Arkansas River. They struck a dam just above the town of Webbers Falls, but the dam remained intact.

    Not far away, officials in Tulsa warned of more flooding along the river.

  • Joe Kralicek:

    You should anticipate, by the end of the day today, the water being in your area, if you're in Tulsa County.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Earlier this week, severe flooding sent homes collapsing into the Cimarron River, north of Oklahoma City. Others were left hanging by a thread, as the current carves deep into the shoreline.

    And dozens of tornadoes tore through swathes of the Southern Plains, from Oneida, Kansas to Des Moines, Iowa. All this damage comes after months of severe weather and flooding in the region. And the high waters may be a persistent reality. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center says above-average precipitation is likely in the coming weeks.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department filed a new 18-count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It accuses him of publishing thousands of secret documents and endangering people who help U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. is seeking to extradite Assange from Britain. Sweden also wants him on a rape charge.

    President Trump says he doubt there is a need to send more troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran. He spoke today before a meeting to discuss Pentagon plans on the issue.

    Earlier, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan disputed reports that it might involve 10,000 troops.

  • Patrick Shanahan:

    That is not the number. What we're focused on right now is, do we have the right force protection in the Middle East? As soon as that changes, I promise I will give you an update, but those numbers are not correct.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Shanahan said that any additional forces would focus on protecting U.S. troops who are already in the region.

    In India, the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, headed for a landslide election victory today. The world's largest democracy voted in phases over six weeks. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted supporters during a celebration in New Delhi. The BJP was projected to add to its majority in Parliament.

    Voting began today in elections for the European Parliament, with far-right parties looking to make gains. Polls opened first in the Netherlands and Britain. Originally, Britain planned to leave the European Union in March, but has so far failed to agree on the terms. Voting across Europe runs through Sunday.

    Back in this country, federal prosecutors charged Chicago banker Stephen Calk with bribery for allegedly trying to trade loans for a top job in the Trump administration. They said that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort pushed Calk for secretary of the Army after getting $16 million in loans. Calk didn't get the job.

    And on Wall Street, oil prices and tech stocks plunged again and triggered a new sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 286 points to close at 25490. The Nasdaq fell 122 points, and the S&P 500 slid 34. All three indexes were down 1 percent.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Trump administration announces billions of dollars for farmers to ease the pain of the trade war; a U.S. citizen who joined the Taliban is released from prison, raising questions of how to handle once-radicalized Americans; sitting down with Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand; and much more.

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