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News Wrap: Trump’s attacks on the media recall Stalin era, says Sen. Flake

In our news wrap Wednesday, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake slammed President Trump for his attacks on the news media, saying the president’s use of terms like “fake news” and “enemy of the people” were a repeat of attacks made by Joseph Stalin. Also, the Associated Press reported that the White House directed former chief strategist Steve Bannon not to answer various questions before the House.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news- Wall Street stormed past another milestone, led by tech and health care stocks. The Dow industrials soared 322 points to close well over 26000. That's just eight days after it first passed 25000. The Nasdaq rose 74 points, and the S&P 500 added 26.

    Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona denounced President Trump today for his attacks on the news media. On the Senate floor, Flake said using terms like fake news and enemy of the people recalls the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union.

  • Sen. Jeff Flake:

    It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies. This alone should be the source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president's party, for they are shameful, repulsive statements.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The White House dismissed Flake's criticism, and said that he is just — quote — "looking for some attention."

    It turns out the White House directed its former chief strategist Steve Bannon not to answer various questions yesterday before the House Intelligence Committee. The focus was possible collaboration between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

    The Associated Press reports that Bannon's attorney relayed the questions on his phone in real time to the White House Counsel's Office. Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said today that it is all part of exercising executive privilege.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    This time, it was something that was relayed via phone, and, again, was following standard procedure for an instance like this, and something that will likely happen again on any other number of occasions, not just within this administrations, but future administrations.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The House Intelligence Committee is now moving to subpoena Bannon and compel his testimony. It is also reported that Bannon has now agreed to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, without a subpoena.

    President Trump charged today that Russia is helping North Korea obtain crucial supplies and evade sanctions. In an interview with Reuters, he said — quote — "What China is helping us with, Russia is denting."

    The president also warned that the North is — quote — "closer every day to being able to fire a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the U.S."

    North and South Korea have agreed to form a unified team for next month's Winter Olympics, hosted by the South. Their athletes will march together during the opening ceremony, and form a joint women's ice hockey team. The two nations have been holding high-level talks to ease tensions.

    Today, the president of South Korea hailed the developments.

  • Moon Jae-in (through interpreter):

    If the South and North form a unitary team and participate in the Olympic Games, I think it will become an historic moment. Not only Koreans, but people from all over the world, will be moved to see such an historic moment. It will be a great start to resolve inter-Korean issues.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Korean agreement must still be approved by the International Olympic Committee.

    A former CIA officer is being linked to a major loss of U.S. informants inside China. Jerry Chun Shing Lee was arrested Monday night in New York. He is officially charged with having names and phone numbers of CIA informants and other secrets. The New York Times reports that China began hunting down U.S. informants in 2010.

    In Syria, the leading Kurdish party appealed to the U.N. Security Council today to prevent an attack by Turkey. That came as Turkish tanks deployed along the Syrian border. The Turks insist that a Syrian-Kurdish militia, backed by the U.S., is linked to Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.

    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the U.S. military will remain in Syria for some time to come.

    Back in this country, the aftermath of a winter storm paralyzed parts of the Deep South again today. A thin layer of snow and ice wreaked havoc on the region's roads, and Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina all declared emergencies. Western North Carolina got eight inches of snow.

  • Gov. Roy Cooper:

    The snow's pretty, but don't be fooled. You don't have to brave the roads if you don't have to. And we don't want people to get in trouble. We know from our state troopers that accidents can happen when we have snow and ice on the road.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In Louisiana, New Orleans had a record low of 21 degrees. Hattiesburg, Mississippi also broke a record, with 13 degrees. At least 10 deaths are being blamed on the storm.

    The state of Michigan has awarded $1 million to a Detroit man wrongfully convicted of murder. Desmond Ricks spent 25 years in prison. He was released last May after new tests showed that the bullets from the victim's body didn't come from Ricks' gun. He accused Detroit police of switching the bullets.

    Democrats have scored another election upset in a Republican stronghold. It happened Tuesday in Wisconsin. Patty Schachtner beat out Republican Adam Jarchow in a special election for a state Senate seat. President Trump won the district by 17 points in 2016.

    Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole accepted the Congressional Gold Medal today, Congress' highest honor. House and Senate leaders presented the medal at the Capitol to the longtime member of Congress and Republican presidential candidate.

    Dole, in turn, gave the credit to those who worked for him.

  • Bob Dole:

    I have always said that you're no better than your staff, and I thank them for all they have done for me over the years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Dole is 94. He represented Kansas for 35 years, first in the House and then in the Senate.

    And one of the world's leading AIDS researchers, Mathilde Krim, died on Monday at her home in New York state. Krim was a geneticist who led the drive against AIDS when it surfaced in the 1980s. She warned against hysteria over how the AIDS virus spreads, as in this "NewsHour" interview from 1985.

  • Mathilde Krim:

    It is not contagious at all through casual interaction with people in normal social conditions, such as living in a household with a patient, or meeting patients on the bus or on the working place or in school.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mathilde Krim was 91 years old.

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