Due to an unspecified terrorism threat, passengers on some flights bound for the United States will not be allowed to carry electronic devices larger than a cellphone inside the airplane's cabin, U.S. officials told Reuters Monday.
The rule has been under consideration since the government became aware of the threat several weeks ago, the official said, and could be announced by the Department of Homeland Security Monday night. The ban covers a dozen foreign airlines flying from a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. While passengers won't be able to carry the larger devices into the cabin, they will be able to have such items in their checked bags. Catherine Garcia
The "first elements" of a controversial anti-missile system sent to South Korea by the United States arrived on Monday, U.S. officials told NBC News.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is "strictly defensive," the officials said, meant to protect South Korea against missiles fired by North Korea. North Korea launched four medium-range missiles on Monday, with three traveling 620 miles and landing in the water near Japan, and South Korea's acting president and prime minister said the consequences of Pyongyang having nuclear weapons would be "horrible and beyond imagination." Last year, Beijing spoke out against THAAD being deployed to South Korea, calling it a "clear, present, and substantive threat to China's security interests." There are already THAAD systems active in Guam and Hawaii to defend against North Korea. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, House Republicans unveiled the American Health Care Act, their long-awaited bill to repeal and replace the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act.
The proposal calls for freezing enrollment in the ACA's expanded Medicaid program on Jan. 1, 2020, and moving forward, capping federal funding for Medicaid. Until the end of 2019, states would be able to sign individuals up for expanded Medicaid. The proposal includes refundable tax credits, based on age and capped at a specific income threshold, for people who want to purchase health insurance, and repeals most taxes that were used to fund ObamaCare and the penalty for individual and employer mandates to buy insurance.
House committees want to start voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday. The plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under the ACA, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia
After President Trump used Twitter to accuse former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, FBI Director James Comey told the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump's claims, senior U.S. officials told The New York Times on Sunday.
Comey made the request on Saturday, saying the allegation is baseless and must be shot down because it insinuates that the FBI broke the law, but the Justice Department has yet to release any statement refuting Trump's claim. As the most senior law enforcement official who also worked under Obama, the Times says, it is unclear why Comey did not release a statement on his own.
On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump is requesting that Congress look into "whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016." Obama's spokesman has called Trump's accusation "simply false." Catherine Garcia
During Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a Republican senator from Alabama, spoke twice with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials told The Washington Post.
The Justice Department told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Sessions had a conversation with Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and also met with him and other ambassadors after a speech at the Heritage Foundation. When asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during his confirmation hearing Jan. 10 what he would do if he discovered evidence anyone tied to Trump's campaign communicated with the Russian government before the 2016 presidential election, Sessions said, "I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
Here’s the money shot of Sessions lying to Franken (if you believe the WaPo report). pic.twitter.com/0vK12oMed1
— Jamie O'Grady (@JamieOGrady) March 2, 2017
A spokeswoman for Sessions, who served as one of Trump's top foreign policy advisers during the campaign, told the Post there was "absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," because he was "asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee." The Post contacted the 26 members of the 2016 Armed Services Committee and asked if they met with Kislyak last year; 19 responded, with all of them, including chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), saying no. One staffer said "members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak's door," given the strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.
As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, and both are investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible links between Russia and Trump associates. Franken told the Post that if it's "true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading. It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russian connection, and he must recuse himself immediately." Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
Authorities in Northern California, worried that damage to the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam might lead to the flooding of communities downstream, ordered the evacuation on Sunday of 188,000 people from several counties downstream.
The dam on Lake Oroville is 7,000 feet across and 770 feet high, making it the tallest dam in the United States. It has been a wet winter, and after days of heavy rain, the lake is full. The main spillway that gets water out of the lake is damaged, and on Sunday, authorities found that the emergency spillway also has a hole in it; they became concerned that if the erosion continues, it could result in "large, uncontrolled releases of water from Lake Oroville." Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the evacuations were ordered because he would rather "be safe than sorry."
Officials say the dam itself, 75 miles north of Sacramento, is still intact, and helicopters are dropping rocks to try to plug the hole in the emergency spillway. More rain is expected in the area on Wednesday. Catherine Garcia
On Monday evening, the Department of Justice filed a 15-page brief defending President Trump's executive order on immigration, and moments later, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it will hear a challenge to his travel ban Tuesday evening.
Last week, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily suspended two key parts of the ban against all refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, and on Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit court will listen to oral arguments during a hearing conducted by telephone at 6 p.m. ET to decide the fate of the restraining order. The attorneys general of Washington and Minnesota have both challenged Trump's executive order, arguing that if the temporary suspension is lifted, "chaos" will ensue once more. The case is widely expected to end up before the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia
Six people were killed and eight injured Sunday night when gunmen opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City during evening prayers, police said.
— WTOC Walter Ambrose (@ambrose03) January 30, 2017
Police also told reporters there are two suspects in custody. A witness told Reuters there were about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center when up to three gunmen came in and started to shoot. The mosque's president, Mohamed Yangui, who was not at the mosque when the shooting took place, called the attack "barbaric." There has been an uptick in incidents of Islamophobia in recent years, Reuters reports, and last year, a pig's head was left on the cultural center's doorstep.
In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he condemned "this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge," adding it is "heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear." Catherine Garcia