ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
81°
Mostly Cloudy
H 83° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    81°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 83° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    65°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 83° L 63°
  • clear-day
    79°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 84° L 63°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

The Latest News about Government and Politics

    Cue the accountants — and the IRS rule-writers — the massive Republican tax package is nearly a done deal, soon to become law.After weeks of drafting, fierce lobbying, horse-trading and cliffhangers from some holdout GOP senators, all that's left is the voting and President Donald Trump's signature. This week Republicans in the House and Senate will whisk through the sweeping $1.5 trillion GOP legislation on party-line votes. Trump signs it with what's likely to be an elaborate White House ceremony.The legislation permanently slashes the tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent and reduces levies on the wealthiest Americans, while making more modest tax reductions for most others. The tax cuts for individuals are temporary, expiring in 2026. It doubles the standard deduction used by most Americans, to $24,000 for married couples, also ending in eight years.The new law kicks in Jan. 1. It will bring the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades, reaching into every corner of American society and the economy. It will give Trump and the Republicans their first major legislative achievement and political insurance, as they see it, to hold on to their majorities in next year's elections.A look at how this unfolds and when taxpayers will be affected:__WHEN ARE THEY VOTING?Now that concerns of holdout Republican senators such as Marco Rubio of Florida and Susan Collins of Maine have been met, Senate approval of the package is buttoned up. The Republicans' razor-thin margin in the 52-48 Senate left them only two votes to spare, setting off frantic last-minute negotiations behind closed doors last week. Now, even with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recuperating from cancer treatment in Arizona and unable to vote, the Republicans still can muster a simple majority of the 99 senators present. And in their back pocket, they've got Vice President Mike Pence ready to break a tie if needed.Still taking no chances, Republican leaders are using strategic maneuvers. They've set the vote in the House first, expected Tuesday afternoon, followed by technical termination of the joint House-Senate conference committee that blended the separate bills into a compromise package. That means when the Senate votes — likely Tuesday evening — Democrats will be unable to force a series of votes on a so-called 'motion to recommit' the bill to the conference committee. The committee won't exist, so no delay.No Democrats are expected to vote for the legislation in the Senate. Thirteen House Republicans voted against the House bill last month, all but one from high-tax California, New York and New Jersey in protest of reduced deductions for state and local taxes. But the math clearly will carry the package through Congress.__A HUGE WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATION IS LIKELY:After final passage, the legislation goes to an eagerly awaiting president. Trump made boosting economic growth — with a shot of adrenaline to come from cutting corporate taxes — a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He predicted this weekend that with the tax overhaul, growth could jump from the current 3 percent to '4, 5 and maybe even 6 percent ultimately.'Many economists doubt that even a sustained 4 percent rate is achievable. And they've mostly thrown cold water on Trump's prediction that the tax changes will put an additional $6,000 a year into the pockets of an average family of four.Trump continues to push back against criticism that the legislation will benefit corporations and wealthy Americans — including the president, his family and big GOP donors — more than the middle class.__SOME PROMPT CHANGES, OTHERS NOT 'TIL 2019:Once Trump signs the tax plan into law, it takes effect Jan. 1. Employees could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks — hopefully mostly reductions — as early as February. The IRS says it's taking initial steps to prepare withholding guidance for employers, which it expects to issue next month.But taxpayers won't file their 2018 returns until the following year, in accordance with normal procedure. That's too late for taxpayers to have refunds in hand, or checks paid to the IRS, under the new law before they vote in the midterm elections next year. The Democrats' continuous objections this year — that the tax legislation is tilted toward corporations and the wealthy — will morph into campaign ads in 2018.For corporations, the tax cuts take effect in January, allowing companies to immediately write off the full cost of capital investments.__A BOON FOR TAX LAWYERS:The legislation was intended to simplify the tax process, and Republican leaders have waved a short, postcard-like form that they say most taxpayers will be able to use to file their returns. But instead of closing loopholes, the tax plan appears to create more of them. Tax lawyers and accountants are set to be besieged by clients looking for professional guidance in restructuring companies and incomes to avoid taxes.The legislation would 'allow new tax games and planning opportunities for well-advised taxpayers,' a group of tax experts and lawyers say.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's national security strategy (all times local):2:30 p.m.President Donald Trump says a new era of competition is underway and that the U.S. will follow his 2016 campaign doctrine of 'America First.'He said Monday that 'America is in the game, and America is going to win.'Trump's strategy focuses on protecting the homeland, including building a wall on the U.S. Southern border and taking other steps on immigration. He also called for promoting American prosperity, demonstrating peace through strength and advancing American influence.He said the U.S. will cooperate with other countries 'in a manner that always protects our national interests.'Trump also said that the United States 'will stand up for ourselves and our country like we have never stood up before.' He called for competing 'with every instrument of our national power.'___1:34 p.m.President Donald Trump says his new national security strategy puts 'America First.'In a forward accompanying the strategy — unveiled Monday — Trump says the United States faces 'an extraordinarily dangerous world.' He says he is prioritizing American citizens and that 'America is leading again on the world stage.'The strategy envisions nations in constant competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and affirms that the United States will unilaterally defend its sovereignty, even if that means risking existing agreements with other countries.Trump says in his opening comments that when he took office, threats included 'rogue regimes,' ''radical Islamist terror groups' and 'terrorists' in the Middle East. He adds that 'porous borders and unenforced immigration laws' left Americans vulnerable at home and that trade practices weakened the economy.__5 a.m.President Donald Trump is poised to outline a national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and de-emphasizes the multinational agreements that have dominated the United States' foreign policy since the Cold War.The Republican president will detail his plans Monday. They could sharply alter the United States' relationships with the rest of the world.The plan is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life, promoting American prosperity, demonstrating peace through strength and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.Trump's doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike.
  • The Senate Finance Committee chairman on Monday rejected as 'categorically false' a report that Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was responsible for a provision in the final tax bill that could help him financially.In a letter Monday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he was unaware of either Corker or his staff contacting negotiators of the final bill. Hatch also said the provision regarding a tax benefit for real estate had been unveiled by a House chairman Nov. 2 and included in the House version of the tax bill.'It takes a great deal of imagination — and likely no small amount of partisanship — to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month, debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, included in a House-passed bill, and identified by JCT (Joint Committee on Taxation) as an issue requiring a compromise between conferees is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report,' Hatch said in the letter to Corker.Hatch was reacting to an International Business Times story co-authored by David Sirota, a former Democratic political strategist who has worked for former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.House and Senate negotiators finalized the bill last week and included a version of the provision to benefit the real estate industry in the form of 'pass-through' companies, which are businesses where the profits double as the owners' personal income.These types of companies can reduce their taxable income by 20 percent, but the Senate bill had only permitted them to do so if they paid wages to workers. The final bill enables the deduction for owners of certain kinds of property as well, a tax break that would presumably help President Donald Trump, his son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner and other officials and policymakers with real estate holdings.Corker owns real estate and development companies. He opposed the original Senate bill, complaining about adding to the nation's debt, but last Friday announced he supported the final legislation.__Associated Press reporter Joshua Boak contributed to this report.
  • Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, who has been fighting President Donald Trump's travel ban and other policies over the past year, has announced he will run for U.S. Congress.Chin, a Democrat, seeks to replace Hawaii U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for governor. Hanabusa is also a Democrat.Chin made the announcement Monday saying that the last year of legal battles over White House actions sparked him to run for the U.S. House seat.Chin has been a vocal opponent to decisions by Trump's administration.Before Trump was sworn in, Chin and five other attorneys general asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The prosecutors said in a letter dated Jan. 17 that they had 'grave concern' that Session would 'diligently and fairly enforce all laws protective of civil rights, public safety, health and welfare.'Chin told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Sunday that he first considered running for office while listening to a Sessions speech.'He actually made some speech to all 50 state AGs where he announced falsely that crime was at an all-time high in the United States and that the reason why it was at an all-time high was due to illegal immigrants being in the country,' Chin said. 'I found that statement to be so troubling that it really woke me up in terms of the actions I think all of us need to take responsibility for in order to make a difference.'A week after taking office, Trump issued an executive order aimed at temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.On Feb. 3, the state of Hawaii sued to stop the ban.Trump's executive order keeps Hawaii families apart and keeps residents from traveling, Chin said.'I think we live in very extraordinary times, I think Hawaii's progressive values that it fought for for the past decades has been under attack in a lot of different ways, and I've experienced it first hand, starting with the travel ban and then extending to attacks on transgender people in the military or the children of immigrants,' Chin said.Chin has sued over every version of the travel ban, calling the measure discriminatory toward Muslims.'I've ended up being in court over and over again to stop some of the different actions that have been taken by the Trump administration,' he said. 'To me, going to Congress, it feels like the right next step.'Hawaii argued that the ban discriminates on the basis of nationality and would prevent Hawaii residents from receiving visits from relatives in the mostly Muslim countries covered by the ban.'It's the daily attacks on people's civil rights and the attacks on different protected classes that really motivates me,' he said.Chin said affordability in Hawaii and the state's strategic military importance would also be major issues if he were elected to Congress.'Words and tweets that have come from this administration have been exceptionally troublesome and has raised a lot of fear here in Hawaii,' Chin said of the tensions between North Korea and Washington. 'I think that's all the more reason to advocate for a strong military presence but also strong diplomatic relationships with all foreign countries. That seems to be absent right now.'Chin is the son of Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1905s. His father was an interpreter for the U.S. during the Korean War, he said. Chin is married with two children.He was appointed to be Hawaii's attorney general in 2015.Several Democratic lawmakers have also announced they would run for the seat, including state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. Kaniela Ing.
  • The Latest on the death of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson (all times local):8:30 a.m.The family of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson says they still have questions about the soldier's October ambush in Niger.A military investigation has concluded that Johnson was killed by enemy gunfire but that he wasn't captured alive or killed at close range.Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, tells CNN that she first learned of the latest investigation results on Facebook. She also says the military hasn't told her why her son's remains weren't found at the same time as the bodies of his comrades.She said: 'I want the truth ... but there's no closure.'___A military investigation has concluded that Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson died in a hail of gunfire, hit as many as 18 times as he took cover in thick brush during an October ambush in Niger. He fought to the end after fleeing militants who had just killed three comrades.The Associated Press has learned the investigation found that Johnson wasn't captured alive or killed at close range, dispelling a swirl of rumors about how he died.The report has determined that Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from members of an Islamic State offshoot. The ambush took place about 120 miles north of the African nation's capital.
  • President Donald Trump declared a new national security strategy on Monday, stressing the 'America first' message of his 2016 campaign and faulting previous U.S. leaders for failing to measure up to it and look out for the nation's citizens.'Our leaders engaged in nation building abroad while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home,' he said, pointing to the economy's strong performance and predicting even better under his policies.His security strategy envisions nations in constant competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and affirms that the United States will unilaterally defend its sovereignty, even if that means risking existing the agreements with other countries that have dominated the United States' foreign policy since the Cold War.The strategy from the Republican president could sharply alter U.S. international relationships if fully implemented. It focuses on four main themes: protecting the homeland, promoting American prosperity, demonstrating peace through strength and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.Trump's doctrine holds that nation-states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that 'America First' does not mean 'America Alone,' the national security strategy makes clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues such as trade, climate change and immigration.The last such strategy document, prepared by President Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an 'urgent and growing threat to our national security.' The Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration's threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord. The strategy sets a goal of being an 'energy-dominant nation' and says that the United States 'recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship.'Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump's strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The strategy emphasizes that U.S. economic security is national security. And it stresses that the U.S. is interested only in relationships with other countries, including in alliances such as NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.The strategy also details the threats of 'rogue regimes,' like North Korea. It says that China and Russia 'challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.'Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. 'Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,' it says. 'Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.'The strategy document asserts that 'for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region's problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.'The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the U.S. stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.The strategy document also notes that 'actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies.'___Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.___Follow Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Yen at http://twitter.com/@hopeyen1
  • Republican Sen. John McCain, who is battling brain cancer, is back home in Arizona after being treated for a viral infection and will miss the vote on the GOP tax bill.The 81-year-old senator was admitted last week to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was dealing with the side effects of his treatment for cancer. He returned to Arizona this past weekend where he will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic.McCain tweeted Monday that he's feeling well and looking forward to returning to work in Washington after the holidays. He also thanked his many well-wishers for their support and encouragement.His wife, Cindy, tweeted earlier Monday: 'Nothing beats the feeling of being home in Arizona for the Holidays!' with a photo of a Christmas tree.McCain's daughter, Meghan, tweeted on Sunday: 'My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona.'In a brief statement on Sunday, McCain's office provided an assessment from Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute.'Senator McCain has responded well to treatment he received at Walter Reed Medical Center for a viral infection and continues to improve,' Gilbert said. 'An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment.'McCain expressed appreciation for his care and the outpouring of support and, according to his office, 'looks forward to returning to Washington in January.'Now in his sixth Senate term, McCain underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch (51-millimeter) blood clot in his brain and was diagnosed with glioblastoma.President Donald Trump told reporters Sunday he had spoken to Cindy McCain.'They've headed back, but I understand he'll come if we ever needed his vote, which hopefully we won't,' Trump said after returning to the White House from Camp David. 'But the word is that John will come back if we need his vote. And it's too bad. He's going through a very tough time, there's no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote.'This week, the GOP will try to pass a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax package in the Senate with a razor-thin majority and all Democrats opposed to the legislation.Republicans hold a slim 52-48 advantage in the Senate, and McCain and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., missed votes last week. The 80-year-old Cochran had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. He is expected to vote on the tax bill.Republicans secured the support of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker last Friday for the tax measure, and they are poised to pass the bill by a narrow margin in the face of unified Democratic opposition. As a backstop, Vice President Mike Pence would be available to break a tie.A vote is expected in the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday. If approved, the measure would head to Trump for his signature on what will be his first major legislative accomplishment since taking office 11 months ago.After his summer surgery, McCain rebounded quickly, returning to Washington and entering the Senate on July 25 to a standing ovation from his colleagues.In a dramatic turn, he cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care bill — a move that drew the wrath of Trump and conservatives. McCain's vote scuttled the seven-year effort by the GOP to dismantle much of President Barack Obama's health care law.But McCain's condition has appeared to worsen in recent weeks. He suffered a minor tear in his right Achilles tendon, forcing him to wear a walking brace. McCain eventually began using a wheelchair, with members of his staff pushing him where he needed to go.___Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
  • Democratic Sen.-elect Doug Jones says he doesn't think President Donald Trump should resign over allegations of sexual misconduct, echoing the White House's position that voters have already spoken on the issue.'I don't think the president ought to resign at this point. We'll see how things go, but certainly those allegations are not new, and he was elected with those allegations at front center,' said Jones, whose upset win in last week's Alabama special election was due in large part to allegations that his Republican opponent, 70-year-old Roy Moore, had engaged in sexual misconduct with teenage girls as a deputy district attorney in his 30s.During the 2016 campaign, Trump himself faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment from women he branded as liars. In recent weeks, however, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has said the women deserve to be heard, and a group of Democratic senators including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have called on Trump to resign.But on Sunday, Jones noted that the accusations against Trump had surfaced before the 2016 presidential election.'I think we need to move on and not get distracted by those issues,' said Jones, a 63-year-old former prosecutor who became the first Democrat elected to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter-century. 'Let's get on with the real issues that are facing people of this country right now.'Making his first Sunday talk show appearances since his win, Jones said he looked forward to meeting with Trump. Jones said he believed his own mandate was to avoid rigid partisan positions in favor of compromise and 'getting things done,' even if it meant coming across as 'pure pie-in-the-sky' and sometimes disappointing some of his core constituents.He insisted that he'll leave 'all the options on the table' when it comes to his votes next year in a politically divided Washington on issues from immigration to infrastructure.'I'm going to consider anything,' said Jones, explaining that he doesn't plan on labeling himself a progressive or a conservative Democrat but rather as a 'Doug Jones Democrat.'Jones also made clear he's ready to move forward even though Moore has yet to concede the race.'Alabama has spoken,' Jones said. 'I will be ready to go regardless of whether he concedes or not.'Moore, who has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, has been discussing a possible recount even though he appears to have lost by 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percent. Trump, who supported Moore during the race, has also urged him to concede.Jones' election will cut the Republicans' Senate majority to 51-49, when he takes office in early January. He is filling the seat left vacant by Republican Jeff Sessions' nomination as U.S. attorney general.White House legislative director Marc Short said the administration was eager to see whether Jones will 'actually work to represent the people of Alabama' in a bipartisan way or side with liberal Democrats.'We hope that frankly Doug Jones will help us change the climate here in Washington,' Short said. During the campaign, Trump chastised Jones as a liberal who would be 'terrible' on crime and border security, and a 'puppet' for Senate congressional leaders.Jones said the president called to congratulate him after Tuesday's election. He described the call as 'very gracious.' On Sunday, Jones downplayed Trump's earlier criticism of him as statements made 'in the heat of a campaign.'Pledging to always consider both sides, Jones sided on Sunday with congressional Democrats in expressing a need for safeguards for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, but without funding for a border wall. The Obama administration program that provided those protections, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, is set to expire in March.'I have said before that I opposed the building of a wall. I think that's an expense that the taxpayers just don't have to incur because I do think you can increase border security without having to go to the incredible expense of building that wall,' Jones said.But he also pointed to fixing roads and bridges, a priority of Trump's, as a bipartisan issue that could benefit Alabama.Jones appeared on 'Fox News Sunday' and CNN's 'State of the Union.' Short was on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'___Follow Hope Yen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopeyen1
  • Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson died in a hail of gunfire, hit as many as 18 times as he took cover in thick brush, fighting to the end after fleeing militants who had just killed three comrades in an October ambush in Niger, The Associated Press has learned.A military investigation has concluded that Johnson wasn't captured alive or killed at close range, dispelling a swirl of rumors about how he died.The report has determined that Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from members of an Islamic State offshoot, according to U.S. officials familiar with the findings. The Oct. 4 ambush took place about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, the African nation's capital. Johnson's body was recovered two days later.U.S. officials familiar with the findings spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to describe details of an investigation that has not been finalized or publicly released.A 12-member Army special forces unit was accompanying 30 Nigerien forces when they were attacked in a densely wooded area by as many as 50 militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.Johnson was struck as many as 18 times from a distance by a volley of machine gun rounds, according to the U.S. officials, who said he was firing back as he and two Nigerien soldiers tried to escape.All told, four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were killed in the ambush. Two U.S. and eight Nigerien troops were wounded.The bodies of three U.S. soldiers were located on the day of the attack, but not Johnson's remains. The gap in time led to questions about whether Johnson was killed in the assault and not found, or if he was taken away by the enemy.According to the officials, a medical examination concluded that Johnson was hit by fire from M-4 rifles — probably stolen by the insurgents — and Soviet-made heavy machine guns. It is believed he died in the attack.The officials said Johnson was found under thick scrub brush where he tried to take cover. There were no indications he was shot at close range, or had been bound or taken prisoner, as several media reports have suggested.On Monday, members of Johnson's family said they still have many questions about the events.Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told CNN that she first learned of the latest investigation results on Facebook. She also says the military hasn't told her why her son's remains weren't found at the same time as the bodies of his comrades.'I want the truth ... but there's no closure,' she said.The U.S. Africa Command began its investigation with a team headed by Army Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, the command's chief of staff. The team visited locations in Niger to collect evidence and information about the attack, and will soon submit a draft of Cloutier's report to Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africa Command. Waldhauser could ask for additional information. The final report is expected to be released next month.The officials familiar with the report's conclusions said that during the attack, Johnson and two Nigerien soldiers tried to get to a vehicle to escape, but were unable to do so, became separated from the others and were shot as they were running for safety.The report concluded that Johnson, who was athletic and a runner, was in the lead and got the farthest away, seeking cover in the brush. Officials said there were a number of enemy shells around Johnson, and evidence that he appeared to fight to the end. His boots and other equipment were later stolen, but he was still wearing his uniform.As news of the ambush came out, the U.S. military sent in rescue teams to search for Johnson, not making his status public in the hope he might have gotten away and was still alive and hiding. The Pentagon only acknowledged that he was missing after his body was located two days later by local forces.The Pentagon has declined to release details about the exact mission of the commando team. U.S. officials have previously said that the joint U.S.-Niger patrol had been asked to assist a second American commando team hunting for a senior Islamic State member, who also had former ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The team had been asked to go to a location where the insurgent had last been seen, and collect intelligence.After completing that mission, the troops stopped in a village for a short time to get food and water, then left. The U.S. military believes someone in the village may have tipped off attackers to the presence of U.S. commandoes and Nigerien forces in the area, setting in motion the ambush.U.S. special operations forces have been routinely working with Niger's forces, helping them to improve their abilities to fight extremists in the region. That effort has increased in recent years, the Pentagon said.The three other Americans killed were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia. Black and Wright were Army Special Forces. Johnson and Johnson were not commandos.Johnson's combat death led to a political squabble between President Donald Trump and a Democratic congresswoman from Florida after Trump told Johnson's pregnant widow in a phone call that her husband 'knew what he signed up for.' Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., was riding with Johnson's family to meet the body and heard the call on speakerphone. The spat grew to include Trump's chief of staff, who called Wilson an 'empty barrel' making noise.___Online:Africa Command: http://www.africom.mil/
  • President Donald Trump says he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, but he's plenty upset about the way the Russia probe investigator obtained and is using thousands of emails sent and received by senior Trump transition officials.The president says of the emails, 'I can't imagine there's anything on 'em, frankly. Because, as we said, there's no collusion' with Russia during last year's campaign. But he said the way Mueller got them was 'not looking good; it's quite sad.'Trump was asked about the emails Sunday after the disclosure that Mueller's team had obtained them from the General Services Administration, a federal agency that stored the material, rather than requesting them from Trump's presidential transition organization.The GSA improperly provided the records, asserted Kory Langhofer, general counsel of Trump's still-existing transition group, Trump for America. Mueller's team has been 'actively using' the emails in its investigation, Langhofer said.Trump himself has been harshly critical of Mueller's probe of Russian activities during the 2016 campaign. But when asked if he was planning to fire the former FBI director, Trump said, 'I'm not.'The emails in question were provided to Mueller's team by the GSA in September in response to requests from the FBI, but the transition team didn't learn about it until last week, Langhofer said in a letter sent to the Republican heads of two congressional committees, the House Oversight and Senate Homeland Security panels. A copy of the letter was obtained by the AP.Langhofer said the transition organization considers the documents private and privileged — and not government property.The tens of thousands of emails pertain to 13 senior Trump transition officials. Some of the emails include national security discussions about possible administration international aims as well as candid assessments of candidates for top government posts, according to people familiar with the transition. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the records' sensitivity.Among the officials who used the accounts was former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents in January and is cooperating with Mueller's investigation. Trump fired Flynn in February. The White House says that was for misleading senior administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.Still, it's unclear how broadly revelatory the emails will be for Mueller. Several high-level Trump advisers sometimes used other email accounts, including their campaign accounts, to communicate about transition issues between Election Day and the inauguration.Flynn attorney Robert Kelner declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, an attorney on Trump's personal legal team, referred questions to the transition group. Spokespeople for GSA didn't respond to AP's emailed requests for comment.The special counsel's office also obtained at least one iPad as well as laptops and cellphones that were used by the transition, but prosecutors have assured the transition that investigators have not pulled emails or other data from those devices, Langhofer said.He said that a GSA official appointed by Trump in May had assured the transition in June that any request for records from Mueller's office would be referred to the transition's attorneys. According to Langhofer, the assurance was made by then-GSA General Counsel Richard Beckler, who was hospitalized in August and has since died.But another GSA official present for the conversation told BuzzFeed News that there was nothing improper about the disclosure of the emails to Mueller's team. The GSA has provided office space and other aid to presidential transitions in recent years and typically houses electronic transition records in its computer system.GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt, whom Langhofer blames along with other GSA career staff for providing the transition documents to the FBI, told BuzzFeed that Beckler didn't make a commitment that requests from law enforcement for materials would be routed through transition lawyers.Transition officials signed agreements that warn them that materials kept on the government servers are subject to monitoring and auditing, Loewentritt told BuzzFeed, and there's no expectation of privacy.Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, said the special counsel's office has followed the law when it has obtained documents during its investigation.'When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process,' Carr said.In a statement, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, dismissed the transition's arguments that GSA shouldn't have turned over the records.The media site Axios first reported on the transfer of the emails to Mueller's team.___Read the Langhofer letter: http://apne.ws/SKWSKsk

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • An Amtrak train derailed in Washington state Monday, killing at least six people and injuring  dozens of others, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  Amtrak Cascades Train 501, carrying 78 passengers and five crew members, jumped the track near Tacoma in Pierce County, Washington, plunging off an overpass onto the I-5 freeway below, according to Amtrak officials. Amtrak has provided a phone number for people to call with questions about family or friends who may have been on the train: 800-523-9101. At least 70 people were taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center and at least 20 were transported to the Madigan Army Medical Emergency Center. The main phone number for St. Joseph’s is 253-426-4101. You can inquire about a loved one at this number by providing the name of the person. >> Related:  LIVE UPDATES: At least 70 sent to hospital, 6 dead after train derails on I-5 Madigan has two numbers listed for patient admissions: 253-968-3827 and 253-968-3829.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice released its review of how officers with the Orlando Police Department responded to the Pulse nightclub mass shooting. More than 100 people were injured and 49 people died at the nightclub June 12, 2016 when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire as the club was closing. Photos: Victims of Pulse nightclub Orlando Police Chief John Mina requested the independent review by the DOJ and Police Foundation to identify best practices and areas in which to improve regarding planning, training, polices, procedures and practices, the report said. The report found: The tactical response by the OPD was consistent with the department’s policies, procedures, and training as well as recognized practices;  The OPD successfully leveraged existing relationships with federal, state and local public safety agencies in their response to the Pulse nightclub terrorist attack;  OPD leadership prioritized the mental health of all OPD personnel following the response to the Pulse attack;  Pre-existing Orlando police-community relationships, fostered and sustained over time, enhanced the resilience of the community in the aftermath of the Pulse terrorist shooting.   Read: Pulse nightclub victims' detail terrifying moments of Orlando mass shooting Dispatchers had to mute their phones to compose themselves when victims, survivors and others called 911 for help, the report said. The report said the Police Department had a “laser-like” focus to stop the killings and save lives. The SWAT team said in the report, however, that the response during the incident was disorganized and that more training is needed for future joint response. Read: Orlando firefighter remembers treating Pulse attack's patient No. 1 Read the full report here.  Channel 9's Shannon Butler is following this story. Follow her on Twitter and Eyewitness News at 4 p.m. for updates. Report: teams like swat said response during incident was disorganized. Need to train more together in joint response— Shannon Butler (@SButlerWFTV) December 18, 2017   The @COPSOffice has released its review of the Pulse nightclub attack - calls it 'a valuable guide to #LawEnforcement or #FirstResponders seeking to prepare for similar mass casualty incidents.' OPD release: https://t.co/8vJPia1O7O Full report: https://t.co/V73UMs75HF pic.twitter.com/GMJIXMztPa — Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) December 18, 2017  
  • The United States Department of Justice today has released the results of a 'critical incident review' requested by Orlando Police Chief John Mina in response to the attack on the Pulse nightclub.    Chief Mina says the goal of the review is that it 'allows for open feedback in a constructive way and enables law enforcement officials to speak with total candor in an open forum.'    The independent federal review contains information on decision making from leadership and relationships, an in depth description of the timeline starting before the attack as well as the aftermath, and even includes observations and lessons learned from things like tactical response, emergency medical care, and post event victim welfare.    The review concludes by saying it 'honors the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack and the bravery of the Orlando law enforcement community and serves as a call to action for our nation's elected officials and law enforcement and public safety leaders. You can check out an interactive version of the critical incident review here.
  • A church in Ocoee is ensuring that children with autism will still be able to celebrate the holidays in way that will be safe and not overstimulating.   Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church is partnering with Autism Law Enforcement Response Training(ALERT) to offer a traditional Christmas Eve candelight service, but with a slightly different approach to cater to the sensitivity of light and volume.    Rather than use candles, children will be offered glowsticks instead. In addition, 20 sensory kits donated by ALERT will be provided for use during the service.    The church says that space may be limited and they encourage anyone who wants to attend to register in advance for free tickets to the service.    You can register for the event here.
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs wants to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and NBA star Stephen Curry wants in on it, too, according to the New York Daily News. If Combs does buy the team, he said he’ll immediately sign Colin Kaepernick as quarterback. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has remained unsigned the entire season since opting out of his contract earlier this year. >> Read more trending news  Kaeprnick’s protests in the form of kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racism and social injustice in the United States has been suspected in a factor in his unsigned status. The legendary rapper and producer made his intentions known Sunday on social media shortly after Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced he plans to sell the team in the wake of a sexual harassment allegations against him. First came Combs’ tweet: “I would like to buy the @Panthers. Spread the word. Retweet!” Soon after, Curry, the Golden State Warriors All-Star and back-to-back NBA MVP, who grew up in North Carolina and played college basketball at Davidson College, tweeted, “I want in.” The hip-hop mogul Combs then posted a video to his Instagram account that was viewed more than 600,000 times in the first 11 hours it was posted. Judging by the comments on his post, Carolina fans seemed to be on board with Diddy becoming the NFL’s first African-American owner. “There are no majority African-American NFL owners. Let’s make history,” Diddy wrote. Some fans weren’t as keen on the idea of bringing in Kaepernick to compete for the starting job, as Combs said on his Instagram post. The Panthers already have Cam Newton as their starting quarterback. Carolina fans made it clear in the comments section that they’re good with Newton. Diddy’s plan to sign Kaepernick may not be needed. An hour after Curry’s tweet, Kaepernick himself said he wanted to be part of ownership plans, too.  “I want in on the ownership group! Let’s make it happen,” he tweeted. Combs has had his eye on buying an NFL team for a few years now. In 2013, he told Bloomberg, “I have aspirations to become — it will happen — to become the first African-American majority owner. Not having a small stake but actually owning an NFL team. I think it’s time for that. A majority of the players in the NFL are African-American, but there are no African-American owners. So that’s one of my dreams.” The Daily News reported that the Panthers are currently valued at $1 billion, while Diddy’s net worth sits at $820 million, according to Forbes. It’s also common for professional sports franchises to fetch notably higher prices than their listed values, meaning Diddy may need several investors to make his NFL ownership dream come true. Still, net worth is an estimate, and doesn’t mean Diddy has that amount or if he makes more or less. Curry, still in his prime as a player and having a net worth of $47.3 million, certainly makes a lot of sense as a partner in a potential deal.