In our news wrap Thursday, nearly 3,900 people died from COVID-19 Wednesday -- the highest one-day total so far, President-elect Joe Biden introduced federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland as his pick for attorney general, fresh violence kills at least 23 civilians and security troops in Afghanistan, and the court system in Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for President Trump for murder.
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In the day's other news: The pandemic has set deadly new records across the country. The virus killed nearly 4,000 people nationwide on Wednesday, and California had more than 1,000 deaths over 48 hours.
Overall, December was the deadliest month yet, and health officials warn that January could be worse still.
President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his pick for attorney general today, federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland. The judge promised to restore integrity to the department after the turbulent Trump years.
Mr. Biden vowed that his attorney general would be an independent voice, not a mouthpiece for the White House.
President-Elect Joe Biden:
I want to be clear to those who lead this department who you will serve. You won't work for me. You are not the president or the vice president's lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It's to the law.
Merrick Garland was President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, but Republicans refused to give him a hearing.
The "NewsHour" has also confirmed that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is the choice for commerce secretary, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for the post of labor secretary.
Publisher Simon & Schuster has canceled a book deal with Republican Senator Josh Hawley. He faced criticism for challenging the 2020 election results last night in Congress over unproven allegations of voter fraud. The company called his actions a — quote — "dangerous threat to democracy." His book, "The Tyranny of Big Tech," was to be published in June.
In Afghanistan, fresh violence killed at least 23 civilians and security troops today, despite plans to resume peace talks. The attacks included a suicide car bomb in Uruzgan province, an apparent airstrike in Helmand Province, and, in Kunduz, an assault on an army checkpoint.
The court system in Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for President Trump for murder. It's for ordering the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia commander in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad last year. The warrant is considered largely a symbolic step.
Back in this country, Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle a federal criminal probe into its 737 MAX. The company was charged with defrauding safety regulators after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. The settlement includes money for the victims families. The 737 MAX resumed flights in the U.S. last month.
And on Wall Street, major indexes hit new highs on hopes for more stimulus from a Democratic Congress and White House. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 211 points to break the 31,000 barrier. The Nasdaq jumped 326 points, topping 13000, and the S&P 500 passed 3800.
And, finally, Neil Sheehan, The New York Times reporter who broke the Pentagon Papers story in 1971, has died. The sweeping expose detailed years of official deception about chances of winning the war in Vietnam. Sheehan also won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1988 book about the war. He was 84 years old.