In our news wrap Wednesday, Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, is resigning after his two ex-wives accused him of domestic abuse, including punching and choking. Also, reports of sexual assault doubled at West Point last year. Officials cite increased efforts to encourage victims to come forward.
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In the day's other news- The tumult on Wall Street eased a bit, as the market spent the day trying to get its bearings. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 120 points at the opening bell, then rallied back, before finally settling lower. In the end, the Dow lost 19 points, to close at 24,893. The Nasdaq fell nearly 64 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 13.
A top White House aide is resigning after his two ex-wives accused him of domestic abuse, including punching and choking. Rob Porter is staff secretary. He oversees scheduling and document flow in the West Wing.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders praised his job performance.
I can tell you that Rob has been effective in his role as staff secretary. And the president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance.
Porter called the allegations against him outrageous and simply false. He said he will stay on long enough to ensure a smooth transition to his successor.
Reports of sexual assault doubled at West Point in the last school year. An Associated Press review of records found there were 50 cases at the U.S. military academy, nearly twice the number from the previous school year. Officials cited increased efforts to encourage victims to come forward. Assault reports increased only slightly at the Naval and Air Force academies.
Vice President Pence warned today that North Korea will soon face even more punishing economic sanctions, although he gave no details. The vice president spoke in Tokyo at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Vice Mike President Pence:
I'm announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever. And we will continue to isolate North Korea, until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.
Mr. Pence is in the region to lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. He has not ruled out meeting with North Korean officials at the Games, but he also said he will remind the world that North Korea is the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on Earth.
In South Korea, two days before the opening ceremonies, Olympic organizers are scrambling to contain an outbreak of the norovirus. So far, 32 security workers have been treated for the highly contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, and 1,200 guards have been quarantined as a precaution; 900 troops have been brought in to help secure the Olympic venues until the guards are cleared to return to work.
Germany's ruling Conservative Party clinched a deal today, ending a political deadlock. They reached an agreement with the center-left Social Democrats on a new coalition government more than four months after the election.
In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the new deal as a new awakening for Europe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (through interpreter):
The people had two justified demands for us, firstly, do finally form a government, and a stable government. Secondly, during the negotiations, do consider the needs and interests of the people.
I am convinced the coalition contract which we have agreed upon can be exactly that, the foundation of a good and stable government which our country needs, and which, by the way, many in the world expect from us, too.
The deal is subject to approval by the Social Democrats' party members. That process that could take several weeks.
The Los Angeles Times is getting a new owner. L.A. billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong will buy the paper from Chicago's Tronc, Incorporated. He's paying $500 million for The Times and several other California publications. The Times has been beset by budget and staffing cuts recently.
And it now appears the earliest known Britons looked very different from their modern-day descendants. Scientists examined DNA from a 10,000-year-old skeleton. A reconstruction based on that data indicates he had dark skin, curly hair and blue eyes. The finding underscores the growing evidence that the lighter skin tone of modern-day Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon.