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News Wrap: White House says Powell, Mnuchin jobs are safe

In our Wednesday news wrap, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the jobs of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are safe. President Trump has repeatedly criticized Powell, while Mnuchin has taken fire for comments that unsettled the stock market. Also, in Afghanistan, the presidential election scheduled for April has been postponed indefinitely.

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  • William Brangham:

    In the day's other news: President Trump warned that the partial government shutdown that began Saturday may not end anytime soon. While in Iraq, he said he would do — quote — "whatever it takes" to secure funding for a border wall.

    More than 800,000 federal workers are affected by the shutdown. And more than half of those are working without pay for now.

    At the White House, economic adviser Kevin Hassett said most are likely to receive back pay later, and he played down the overall effects.

  • Kevin Hassett:

    In the end, it's not — it's really just a short-term problem, not a long-term problem for government workers. About two-thirds of the national parks are still open, and so the kinds of things, the services that people get out the government aren't really affected very much.

  • William Brangham:

    Hassett also said the jobs of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are safe. The president has repeatedly criticized Powell, and Mnuchin has taken fire for his comments this weekend that unsettled the stock market.

    In Afghanistan, the election commission has postponed the presidential election that was set for April. Officials gave no new date. They said they need to fix technical problems that marred voting for parliament last October. The delay also comes as attacks from militant groups continue.

    Also today, Congo delayed elections in three cities, where a deadly Ebola outbreak is centered. The cities are considered opposition strongholds, and the delay will affect someone one million voters. They will now wait until March to cast ballots. The rest of the country votes on Sunday.

    Indonesia today raised the confirmed death toll from Saturday night's tsunami to 430. And the government urged people to stay away from the coastline that's near an erupting volcano. That volcano is believed to have triggered the tsunami.

    Meanwhile, survivors worked to clean up, while keeping a wary eye on the sea.

  • Saminah:

    I'm really afraid that a tsunami will happen again, so I decided to take refuge in a safer district. I always feel afraid every time water rises, and if it rains, it will flood too. That is why we are going to be in shelters with all of our neighbors.

  • William Brangham:

    Today also marks the 14-year anniversary of the catastrophic tsunami that struck Indonesia's Sumatra Island. It killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, more than half of them in Indonesia.

    Japan says it will quit the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whale hunting for the first time in 30 years. Japanese officials say whale stocks have recovered sufficiently, something wildlife groups dispute. The new hunts will be limited to Japan's territorial waters, and will not extend to the Antarctic.

    And back in this country, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been released from a New York hospital after cancer surgery last Friday. Doctors removed two malignant growths from her left lung on Friday. A court statement today said the 85-year-old justice was discharged on Christmas Day and is now recuperating at home.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": more on the president's unannounced visit to Iraq; the first full business day in the government shutdown; another migrant child dies while in U.S. custody; and much more.

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