House panel’s initial report says no collusion with Russia
WASHINGTON – Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have completed a draft report concluding there was no collusion or coordination between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, a finding that pleased the White House but enraged Democrats who had not yet seen the document.
After a yearlong investigation, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway announced Monday that the committee has finished interviewing witnesses and will share the report with Democrats for the first time Tuesday. Conaway is the Republican leading the House probe, one of several investigations on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway told reporters, suggesting that those who believe there was collusion are reading too many spy novels. “We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings. But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page-turner, spy thriller.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted his own headline of the report in excited capital letters: “THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”
Conaway previewed some of the conclusions, but said the public will not see the report until Democrats have reviewed it and the intelligence community has decided what information can become public, a process that could take weeks. Democrats are expected to issue a separate report with far different conclusions.
Protests to await Trump’s visit to California border
SAN DIEGO – Rallies for and against Donald Trump’s “big beautiful border wall” with Mexico are expected to mark his first visit to California as president amid growing tensions between his administration and the state over immigration enforcement.
Trump will visit eight towering prototypes of his planned wall Tuesday before addressing Marines in San Diego and attending a fund-raiser in Los Angeles.
A top federal immigration official lashed out at some of the state’s elected leaders ahead of the visit. Thomas Homan, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director, singled out Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday for recent criticism of a spate of immigration arrests in the state and a federal lawsuit challenging state laws that limit cooperation on immigration.
Homan said Pelosi’s comments about federal agents terrorizing immigrant communities were “beyond the pale” and challenged Feinstein to change laws if she disagreed with how they are enforced.
Protests are also being planned across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, when Trump will examine the 30-foot-tall prototypes built along the international border to fulfill his signature campaign promise. Trump has insisted Mexico pay for the wall but Mexico has adamantly refused to consider the idea.
10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. ‘WE FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION’
That’s what Texas Rep. Mike Conaway says as Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee also concluded there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. The top Democrat on the panel calls it a “tragic milestone.”
2. WHAT AWAITS TRUMP ON CALIFORNIA TRIP
Rallies for and against his “big beautiful border wall” with Mexico are expected to mark his first visit to the state as president as tensions grow over immigration policy.
AP Investigation: US military overlooks sex abuse among kids
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – A decade after the Pentagon began confronting rape in the ranks, the U.S. military frequently fails to protect or provide justice to the children of service members when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Reports of assaults and rapes among kids on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases don’t make it that far because criminal investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued.
The Pentagon does not know the scope of the problem and does little to track it. AP was able to document nearly 600 sex assault cases on base since 2007 through dozens of interviews and by piecing together records and data from the military’s four main branches and school system.
Sexual violence occurs anywhere children and teens gather on base – homes, schools, playgrounds, food courts, even a chapel bathroom. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.
“These are the children that we need to be protecting, the children of our heroes,” said Heather Ryan, a former military investigator.
Turkish troops and allies say they besieged Syria’s Afrin
BEIRUT – Turkish troops and allied opposition fighters have begun a siege of the Syrian Kurdish-held northern town of Afrin, the Turkish military said Tuesday.
The military said in a brief statement that the siege of Afrin, the main town in the enclave of the same name, had begun Monday. It said the military had taken control of “critical areas” of the town but did not provide details.
Thousands of people had started to flee Afrin on Monday as the Turkish troops got closer to the town, heading toward nearby government-controlled areas.
Turkey launched a military offensive into the border enclave on Jan. 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces that it considers to be “terrorists” and an extension of Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.
The violence in northern Syria came as the largest rebel group in the besieged suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus vowed not to leave the area and to continue fighting advancing government forces as opposition activists reported a new wave of bombardment Tuesday morning that inflicted casualties.
Explosion strikes Palestinian PM’s convoy in Gaza
JABALIYA, Gaza Strip – An explosion struck the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister Tuesday as he was making a rare visit to Gaza, in what his Fatah party called an assassination attempt it blamed on Gaza militants.
The explosion went off shortly after the convoy entered Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was unharmed and went on to inaugurate a long-awaited sewage plant project in the northern part of the strip. But Fatah quickly held Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers responsible for the “cowardly attack” on the convoy, further escalating tensions between the bitter rival factions.
Three of the vehicles in Hamdallah’s convoy were damaged, their windows blown out. One had signs of blood on the door.
Hamas confirmed an explosion struck the convoy but said no injuries were reported. It condemned the Gaza explosion, calling it a crime and an attempt to “hurt efforts to achieve unity and reconciliation.” It promised an “urgent” investigation.
While President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas for the blast, his security chief Majed Farraj, who was in the convoy, said it was “too early” to say who was responsible.
Under spotlight, special Pa. House race goes to voters
CARNEGIE, Pa. – Shadowed by the Trump presidency and the potential impact of a special election in a midterm year, voters in a western Pennsylvania congressional district find themselves on an unlikely national stage.
Ostensibly, they are choosing Tuesday between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb to replace Tim Murphy, who resigned last fall amid a sex scandal.
But the outcome promises to reverberate well beyond the suburbs, small towns and rural swaths that surround Pittsburgh in a region known for its once-dominant steel and coal concerns.
A Lamb victory would hearten Democrats as they look to reclaim a House majority in November, while shaking Republican self-assurance that their new tax law is an omnipotent defense of whatever weakness comes with defending an all-GOP government helmed by President Donald Trump.
Those possibilities are enough to leave national Republicans already offering explanations for what would be an embarrassing defeat.
Latest nor’easter starts to slam storm-battered Northeast
BOSTON – The third major nor’easter in two weeks started to slam the storm-battered Northeast Tuesday morning with blizzard conditions expected in some areas.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for much of the Massachusetts coast, a winter storm warning for most of New England and a winter weather advisory for portions of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“Three nor’easters in less than 2 weeks isn’t easy on anyone – and we are extremely grateful for the hard work of our first responders, utility and road crews, and municipal officials who have been working nonstop to clean up after these powerful storms,” Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker wrote on Twitter Monday night.
The storm is expected to last through most of the day Tuesday, disrupting road and air travel.
The flight-tracking site FlightAware already is reporting more than 1,300 canceled flights within, into or out of the U.S. on Tuesday. Amtrak suspended service from Boston to New York’s Penn Station until 11 a.m.
Nepal crash followed apparent confusion over plane’s path
KATHMANDU, Nepal – “I say again, turn!” the air traffic controller called over the radio, his voice rising, as the flight from Bangladesh swerved low over the runway at Kathmandu’s small airport.
Seconds later, the plane crashed into a field beside the runway, erupting in flames and leaving 50 of the 71 people on board dead.
That moment Monday appeared to result from minutes of confused chatter between the control tower and the pilot of the US-Bangla passenger plane, as they discussed which direction the pilot should use to land safely at the airport’s single runway.
A separate radio conversation between the tower and at least one Nepali pilot reflected the sense of miscommunication.
“They appear to be extremely disoriented,” a man said in Nepali, watching as Flight BS211 made its approach, though it was not clear if the voice belonged to a pilot or the tower. “Looks like they are really confused,” said another man.
Summit raises hope North Korea will release 3 US detainees
TOKYO – Hopes for the release of three American citizens imprisoned in North Korea got a big boost by the news of a possible summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Freeing the prisoners would be relatively low-hanging fruit and a sign of goodwill by Kim. It would also mark something of a personal success for Trump, who has highlighted the issue since last June, when University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier died days after North Korea turned him over to American authorities.
Trump banned Americans from traveling to the North in response and featured Warmbier’s father prominently in his State of the Union speech in January.
A look at who the current American prisoners are and what a prison sentence in North Korea can entail: