Washington, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — The New York Times reports that law enforcement officials became so concerned by President Donald Trump's behavior in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey that they began investigating whether he had been working for Russia against U.S. interests.
The report, published late Friday, cites unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed soon after Comey's firing. The Times says it's unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing it.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing."
Washington, Jan 11 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is edging closer to declaring a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, as pressure mounts to find an escape hatch from the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.
Some 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, were to miss their first paycheck on Friday under the stoppage, and Washington was close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in the nation's history. Those markers — along with growing effects to national parks, food inspections and the economy overall — left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with Trump's demands.
Asked about the plight of those going without pay, the president shifted the focus, saying he felt badly "for people that have family members that have been killed" by criminals who came over the border.
Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thursday to highlight what he calls a crisis of drugs and crime. He said that "if for any reason we don't get this going" — an agreement with House Democrats who have refused to approve the $5.7 billion he demands for the wall — "I will declare a national emergency."
Trump was consulting with White House attorneys and allies about using presidential emergency powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He claimed his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny "100 percent."
Such a move to bypass Congress' constitutional control of the nation's purse strings would spark certain legal challenges and bipartisan cries of executive overreach.
A congressional official said the White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to look for billions of dollars earmarked last year for disaster response for Puerto Rico and other areas that could be diverted to a border wall as part of the emergency declaration. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
"We're either going to have a win, make a compromise — because I think a compromise is a win for everybody — or I will declare a national emergency," Trump said before departing the White House for his politically flavored visit to the border. He wore his campaign-slogan "Make America Great Again" cap throughout.
It was not clear what a compromise might entail, and there were no indications that one was in the offing. Trump says he won't reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said at one point that he didn't "see a path in Congress" to end the shutdown, then stated later that enough was enough: "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier."
Visiting a border patrol station in McAllen, Trump viewed tables piled with weapons and narcotics. Like nearly all drugs trafficked across the border, they were intercepted by agents at official ports of entry, he was told, and not in the remote areas where he wants to extend tall barriers.
Still, he declared: "A wall works. ... Nothing like a wall."
He argued that the U.S. can't solve the problem without a "very substantial barrier" along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.
Sitting among border patrol officers, state and local officials and military representatives, Trump insisted he was "winning" the shutdown fight and criticized Democrats for asserting he was manufacturing a sense of crisis in order to declare an emergency. "What is manufactured is the use of the word 'manufactured,'" Trump said.
As he arrived in Texas, several hundred protesters near the airport in McAllen chanted and waved signs opposing a wall. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: "Build that wall!"
In Washington, federal workers denounced Trump at a rally with congressional Democrats, demanding he reopen the government so they can get back to work.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of engaging in political games to fire up his most loyal supporters, suggesting that a heated meeting Wednesday with legislators at the White House had been "a setup" so that Trump could walk out of it.
In an ominous sign for those seeking a swift end to the showdown, Trump announced he was canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for later this month, citing Democrats' "intransigence" on border security. He was to leave Jan. 21 to attend the World Economic Forum.
The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton's administration.
Madison, Jan 11(AP/UNB) — A 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed has been found alive in a rural town about an hour from her home, authorities said Thursday.
The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that Jayme Closs has been located and that a suspect was taken into custody. Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Jayme was expected to be reunited with her family Thursday night.
Fitzgerald said authorities in Douglas County, about 70 miles north of Barron County, located the girl. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office confirmed on its website that Jayme was found in the Town of Gordon at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and that a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later.
Neither statement gave any further information about the suspect. Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Jayme was being treated at a hospital.
Sue Allard, Jayme's aunt, told the Star Tribune that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.
"Praise the Lord," Allard said between sobs. "It's the news we've been waiting on for three months. I can't wait to get my arms around her. I just can't wait."
The Barron County sheriff's office plans to hold a news conference Friday morning to discuss the case. Gillian Drummond, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and Leonard Peace, a spokesman for the FBI in Wisconsin, declined comment Thursday evening. Both agencies have been involved in the search for Jayme.
Jayme Closs has been missing since her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot to death Oct. 15 in the family's home near Barron. Investigators said Jayme was quickly ruled out as a suspect.
Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23 but it yielded no clues.
Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old. She was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors from an "America's Most Wanted" episode.
"I have a gut feeling she's (Jayme's) still alive. I've always been a glass half-full kind of guy," Fitzgerald said at the time.
The Town of Gordon lies about 40 miles south of the Lake Superior shoreline and 65 miles north of Barron, where the Closs family lived. Gordon is home to about 645 people.
Town Chairman Denny Kline said Jayme was found about six miles east of town. He described the area as a small-town development with single-family, cabin-like homes.
He said he first learned Jayme had been found while listening to a police scanner, adding that he heard Jayme was walking down the road and someone stopped near her.
Kline said he heard over the scanner that Jayme told them who she was and they brought her to their home."A lot of people were very concerned, did a lot of praying and all that," he said. "Prayers were answered, for finding her, anyway."
The Associated Press was not able to verify Kline's account with authorities late Thursday. The non-emergency line at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office rang unanswered and Sheriff Thomas Dalbec didn't respond to an email.
Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said Thursday night he hadn't heard any details about Jayme's discovery yet but was overjoyed at learning she is alive.
"There was a lot of discouragement because this took quite a while to play out," Fladten said. "A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It's just a great result we got tonight. It's unbelievable. It's like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again."
He acknowledged that Jayme may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.
"I hope that she's in good shape," the mayor said. "She's no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future."
The notification that Jayme had been found came just four hours after Fitzgerald had taken to Twitter to debunk a report that she had been found alive near Walworth County. Douglas County, where Jayme was found, is hundreds of miles northwest of Walworth County.
Washington, Jan 11 (Xinhua/UNB) -Some US military ground equipment has been withdrawn from Syria in recent days, US media reported on Thursday.
"Some cargo has already moved," CNN quoted an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation as saying.
The official did not reveal detailed information as to what the cargo was or whether it had been moved out by aircraft or ground vehicles.
The recent cargo withdrawal is reportedly intended to show the progress of the Syria withdrawal plan to U.S. President Donald Trump by the Pentagon.
Trump said earlier this week that US troops would be withdrawn from Syria "at a proper pace," while at the same time continuing the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Currently, there are about 2,000 US troops deployed in Syria.
On Dec. 19, the White House said it would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria after claiming victory in the fight there against the IS. Former US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who clashed with Trump over the withdrawal issue, signed the withdrawal order days later before leaving office.
Seattle, Jan 11(AP/UNB) — A Seattle TV station has fired an editor after airing video footage of President Donald Trump's Oval Office address on immigration that appears to be altered.
FOX affiliate Q13 broadcast video from the Tuesday night speech that showed a more orange-toned Trump with his tongue hanging out languidly from his mouth after making a statement.
The video's filtered colors look more saturated and the tongue appears doctored. Mynorthwest.com posted side-by-side videos showing the discrepancies.
Q13 news director Erica Hill said: "This does not meet our editorial standards and we regret if it is seen as portraying the president in a negative light."
Hill also confirmed on Thursday that the station investigated the incident and fired the editor involved.
Trump in his televised address had urged for border wall funding amid the federal government shutdown that's lasted nearly three weeks.