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News Wrap: Trump under fire for latest demand to end Russia probe

In our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should put a stop to the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted the president did not actually direct Sessions to do anything. Also, the White House said the president never approved his Justice Department's policy toward 3D-printed guns.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump is being criticized tonight over his latest demand to end the special counsel's Russia investigation.

    In a tweet this morning, he said, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch-hunt right now."

    In fact, Sessions has recused himself from any role in the probe, and the tweet drew disapproval from both political parties, especially Democrats, including Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.:

    This tweet strikes me as very close to obstruction of justice. If it isn't a criminal act itself, it's certainly evidence of the intent to obstruct justice. The president has no legitimate power to stop a lawful investigation by a federal prosecutor, and especially when it's of himself.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and several other Republicans made the same point about the president's powers and said the Mueller investigation needs to run its course.

    Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted the president didn't actually direct Sessions to do anything.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    It's not an order. It's the president's opinion.

    And it's ridiculous that all of the corruption and dishonesty that's gone on with the launching of the witch-hunt, the president wants to — has watched this process play out, but he also wants to see it come to an end, as he has stated many times, and we look forward to that happening.

    Look, the president is not obstructing. He's fighting back.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating alleged obstruction by the president and whether his presidential campaign cooperated with the Russians.

    Meanwhile, it was day two in the criminal trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He's accused of tax and bank fraud in the years before his campaign role. Earlier, the president suggested that Manafort has been treated worse than Al Capone, the Chicago mobster who went to prison in the 1930s for income tax evasion.

    Mr. Trump is also unhappy with the Justice Department over 3-D-printed guns. Justice had dropped efforts to block online instructions for making the plastic weapons. The White House said today that the president never approved dropping the case, and that he's glad a federal judge has now barred release of the blueprints.

    Fire damages are still climbing in Northern California. Officials said today that the Carr Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 homes and 440 other buildings. It's been burning west of Redding for more than a week, and has killed at least six people. Thousands of firefighters have only been able to contain 35 percent of the fire so far.

    And Governor Jerry Brown said the state is being pushed to its financial limits.

  • Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif.:

    We have got the money now, but I would say that things will get much tighter in the next five years. Over a decade or so, we're going to have more fire, more destructive fire, more billions that will have to be spent on it, more adaptation, more prevention. So all that is the new normal that we have to face.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yet another fire ignited overnight, in Mendocino County south of — or, rather, north of San Francisco. It threatens another 60 homes.

    A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled today against President Trump's threat to withhold funding for sanctuary cities. The court said only Congress may stop funding for cities that refuse to enforce immigration laws. It also said a lower court must hold more hearings before it tries to ban the president's order nationwide.

    The presumed remains of dozens of dead American service members from the Korean War headed home today. A ceremony was held at South Korea's Osan Air Base, where 55 boxes arrived from North Korea last week. Then they were flown to Hawaii for DNA analysis. This follows the June summit between North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump. In all, some 7,700 Americans are still listed as missing from the Korean war.

    In Mexico, investigators began examining the wreckage of an Aeromexico passenger jetliner. It crashed Tuesday in the northern state of Durango. All 103 people on board survived, but dozens were injured. TV images showed the wreckage engulfed in fire.

    A witness reported hail, and Durango's governor said high wind slammed the plane as it was taking off.

  • Jose Rosas Aispuro (through translator):

    The plane hit the ground with the left wing, losing both engines on that wing. The aircraft overshot the runway and stopped approximately 300 meters from the runway in a horizontal position, which allowed the activation of the escape slides and a timely evacuation of the passengers before the aircraft caught fire.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The governor said that, in addition to the weather, mechanical failure or pilot error could also be factors in the crash.

    Back in this country, former President Obama has made his first foray into this fall's midterm elections. He formally endorsed 81 Democrats. They include candidates for Congress and for governor, but also for state legislative races. He said he's focused on young, diverse candidates in order to build the party's future.

    The Trump administration says that it may impose even larger tariffs on $200 billion worth of imported Chinese goods. Officials today said the levy may be 25 percent, instead of 10 percent, as originally planned. Beijing called it blackmail and insisted it won't work.

    Wells Fargo will pay $2.1 billion in fines for its role in the subprime mortgage meltdown a decade ago. The U.S. Justice Department announced it today. Wells Fargo is one of the last big banks to settle charges that it understated the risk of subprime mortgages.

    The Federal Reserve is keeping a key short-term interest rate unchanged for now. But it also indicated again today that more rate hikes are likely in the near future.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 81 points to close at 25333. The Nasdaq rose 35 points, and the S&P 500 slipped three.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour", violent protests in Zimbabwe as election results come in; the Trump agenda in inner cities in the U.S.; a conspiracy theory gains some traction; and much more.

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