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Live Updates: U.S. launches military strike on Syria in response to chemical attack

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 18:55

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S.-led missile strikes on Syria (all times local):

11 p.m.

Congressional leaders are supporting President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack against civilians — although there are some reservations.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is praising Trump's "decisive action in coordination with our allies," adding, "We are united in our resolve."

Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain is applauding the airstrikes but says "they alone will not achieve U.S. objectives in the Middle East."

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer is calling the airstrikes "appropriate," but says "the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria."

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says, "One night of airstrikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy."

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10:50 p.m.

Syrian TV is reporting that the attack on Syria targeted a scientific research center in Barzeh, near Damascus.

The report says Syria's air defenses confronted the missiles near Homs, and says the airstrikes also targeted an army depot there.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the airstrikes in retaliation for Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons.

Syrian air defenses responded to the joint strikes by the United States, France and Britain

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10:35 p.m.

A highly placed Russian politician is likening President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler after the launch of airstrikes against Syria, and says he regards the action as a move against Russia.

Alexander Sherin, deputy head of the State Duma's defense committee, says Trump "can be called Adolf Hitler No. 2 of our time — because, you see, he even chose the time that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union."

That's according to state news agency RIA-Novosti. The Nazi forces' opening attack against the USSR in 1941 was launched around 4 a.m.

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10:20 p.m.

The British defense ministry says "initial indications" show that the airstrikes against Syria produced a "successful attack" on a Syrian military facility.

The U.K., U.S. and France launched the attacks near Damascus early Saturday. The U.K. ministry says in a statement that while the effectiveness of the strike is still being analyzed, "initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack."

British Prime Minister Theresa May is describing the attack as neither "about intervening in a civil war" nor "about regime change," but a limited and targeted strike that "does not further escalate tensions in the region" and does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.

May says, "We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none."

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10:17 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he is "absolutely confident" that Syrian President Bashar Assad is behind the alleged chemical attack on his people that the U.S. and allies retaliated against Friday night.

Mattis tells reporters he is certain Assad conducted a chemical attack on innocent people.

He says the U.S. is "very much aware of one of the chemical agents used." And he says there may have been a second.

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the U.S., France and Britain had launched military strikes against Syria to punish Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons and to deter him from doing it again.

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10:10 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says military strikes in Syria are "directed at the Syrian regime" and they have "gone to great lengths to avoid civilians and foreign casualties."

Mattis spoke Friday night after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.

Mattis is asking that "responsible nations" join in condemning the Assad regime.

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10 p.m.

Defense Secretary James Mattis says the U.S. and its allies have taken "decisive action" against Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.

Mattis briefed reporters at the Pentagon Friday an hour after President Donald Trump announced the strike.

Mattis says the United States, along with France and the United Kingdom, struck because Syrian President Bashar Assad "did not get the message" when the U.S. launched airstrikes after a chemical attack in 2017.

The defense secretary says Friday's strikes have "sent a clear message" to Assad and his "murderous lieutenants."

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9:50 p.m.

Explosions are being heard to the east, west and south of Damascus as the U.S., U.K. and France conduct airstrikes in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on its own people.

Witnesses saw blasts surrounding much of the Syrian capital and a huge fire could be seen from a distance to the east. An AP reporter in Damascus says the attacks turned the sky orange. Syrian television reported that a scientific research center had been hit.

Syrian media reported that Syrian defenses hit 13 rockets south of Damascus. After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.

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9:40 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says his nation, the United States and Britain have launched a military operation against the Syrian government's "clandestine chemical arsenal."

Macron says in a statement Saturday that France's "red line has been crossed" after a suspected chemical attack last week in the Syrian town of Douma.

He says there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government is responsible. President Bashar Assad's government denies responsibility.

Macron says the operation is limited to Syria's abilities to produce chemical weapons. He is not giving details about what equipment is involved in the operation or what sites it is targeting.

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9:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is reiterating his call to have other nations take on more of the burden in Syria.

Trump says he has asked U.S. partners "to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment and all of the anti-ISIS effort."

He says increased engagement from countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt can ensure that Iran does not profit from the defeat of the Islamic State group.

He adds that, "America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria — under no circumstances" and says that, "As other nations step up our contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home."

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9:20 p.m.

Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons.

Associated Press reporters in Damascus saw smoke rising from east Damascus early Saturday morning local time. Syrian state TV says the attack has begun on the capital, though it wasn't immediately clear what was targeted.

Trump announced Friday night that the U.S., France and Britain have launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.

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9:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is warning Russia and Iran about their association with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad's government, as he announces the launch of retaliatory strikes after an apparent chemical weapons attack last week.

Speaking from the White House, Trump says, "To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?"

Trump calls the two countries those "most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime."

Trump says, "The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep."

He adds ominously, "Hopefully someday we'll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran, but maybe not."

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9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is asking for a "prayer for our noble warriors" as he concludes his remarks announcing strikes on targets associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Trump announced the strikes, in coordination with France and Britain, from the White House Friday night. He said the three nations have "marshaled their righteous power."

Trump is also offering prayers for the Middle East and for the United States.

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9:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he is "prepared to sustain" strikes against Syria until the use of chemical agents stops.

The United States, along with assurance from France and the United Kingdom, launched a response Friday against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad days after his government allegedly used chemical weapons on its citizens.

But Trump says America does not seek "an indefinite presence" in Syria and will look to pull out its troops once the Islamic State is totally defeated.

Trump has signaled in recent weeks that, despite advice from his national security team, he wanted to accelerate the timetable of the withdrawal of American forces.

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9 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States has "launched precision strikes" on targets associated with Syrian chemical weapons program.

Trump spoke from the White House Friday night. He says a "combined operation" with France and the United Kingdom is underway.

Trump says that last Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad deployed chemical weapons in what was a "significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime."

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8:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is set to address the nation Friday night amid anticipation of a retaliatory strike for an apparent Syrian chemical weapon attack last week.

That's according to a source familiar with the president's plans, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump has said he will hold the Syrian government, as well as its Russian and Iranian allies, accountable for the suspected attack.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Friday afternoon that Trump "is going to hold the Syrian government accountable. He's also going to hold the Russians and the Iranians who are propping up this regime responsible."

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5 p.m.

The U.S. Navy was moving an additional Tomahawk missile-armed ship within striking range of Syria as President Donald Trump and his national security aides mulled the scope and timing of an expected military assault in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack.

Trump's U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, said the president had not yet made a final decision, two days after he tweeted that Russia should "get ready" because a missile attack "will be coming" at Moscow's chief Middle East ally.

The presence of Russian troops and air defenses in Syria were among numerous complications weighing on Trump, who must also consider the dangers to roughly 2,000 American troops in the country if Russia were to retaliate for U.S. strikes.

Categories: Ohio News

FBI probing Cohen's "personal business dealings"

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 17:21

Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that their probe of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, involved suspected fraud and the attorney's personal business dealings, and was going on long enough that investigators had already covertly obtained his emails.

The details in court papers came as lawyers for Cohen and Trump sought to block the Justice Department from examining records and electronic devices, including two cell phones, seized by the FBI on Monday from Cohen's residences, office and safety deposit box.

The raids enraged Trump, who called them an "attack on the country." He sent his own lawyer to a hastily arranged hearing before a federal judge in Manhattan to argue that some of the records and communications seized were confidential attorney-client communications and off-limits to investigators.

Prosecutors blacked out sections of their legal memo in which they described what laws they believe Cohen has broken, but the document provided new clues about an investigation that the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan had previously declined to confirm existed.

"Although Cohen is an attorney, he also has several other business interests and sources of income. The searches are the result of a months-long investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen's own business dealings," said the filing, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay.

Prosecutors said they took the unusual step of raiding Cohen's residence and home, rather than requesting records by subpoena, because what they had learned so far led them to distrust he'd turn over what they had asked for.

"Absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record, and without recourse," prosecutors wrote.

The document was filed publicly after lawyers for Cohen appeared before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood to ask that they — not Justice Department lawyers — be given the first crack at reviewing the seized evidence to see whether it was relevant to the investigation or could be forwarded to criminal investigators without jeopardizing attorney-client privilege.

Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the judge that the president has "an acute interest in these proceedings and the manner in which these materials are reviewed."

"He is the president of the United States," she said. "This is of most concern to him. I think the public is a close second. And anyone who has ever hired a lawyer a close third."

McKay told the judge that he believed the proceedings were an attempt to delay the processing of seized material.

"His attorney-client privilege is no greater than any other person who seeks legal advice," he told Wood.

Cohen's lawyer, Todd Harrison, told the judge: "We think we deserve to know some more of the facts about the underlying investigation in order to rebut their arguments. That's only fair."

Cohen wasn't present for the hearing. Wood, who didn't immediately rule, ordered him to appear in person at another court hearing Monday on the issue to help answer questions about his law practice.

In forceful language, prosecutors struck back at claims by Trump and others that the Monday raids violated the attorney-client privilege between Trump and Cohen, or amounted to an improper extension of the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As part of the grand jury probe, they wrote, investigators had already searched multiple email accounts maintained by Cohen. Those emails, they said, indicated that Cohen was "performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump."

"This court should not accept Cohen's invitation to make new law and convert a duly authorized search warrant into a subpoena," prosecutors said, calling it a "dangerous precedent" to let defense lawyers delay a probe "in a case of national interest."

In a footnote, prosecutors wrote that although the investigation was referred to prosecutors by Mueller, it was proceeding independently.

People familiar with the investigation have told The Associated Press the searches carried out Monday sought bank records, records on Cohen's dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen's communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments made in 2016 to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, and a porn actress, Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. Both women say they had affairs with Trump.

Clifford's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, spoke briefly in court. Outside court, he said: "We have every reason to believe that some of the documents seized relate to my client."

Avenatti said it's "very possible" that the porn actress would show up at Monday's hearing. He then followed with a suggestive tweet that "the weather forecast for Mon looks very Stormy."

Public corruption prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan are trying to determine, according to one person familiar with the investigation, if there was any fraud related to payments to McDougal and Clifford.

Cohen has denied wrongdoing.

McDougal was paid $150,000 in the summer of 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer under an agreement that gave it the exclusive rights to her story, which it never published. Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump.

The White House has consistently said Trump denies either affair.

Categories: Ohio News

Trump vows to back law to protect marijuana industry

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 15:10

President Donald Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug, a move that could lift a threat to the industry made by the U.S. attorney general just three months ago.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said Friday that Trump made the pledge to him in a Wednesday night conversation.

Gardner has been pushing to reverse a decision made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January that removed prohibitions that kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against people who were following pot laws in states such as Colorado that have legalized the drug.

Marijuana has been fully legalized in eight states, and 24 states allow some form of marijuana use.

"President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all," Gardner said in a statement.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner's account was accurate and the president supported states' rights in the matter.

Gardner hopes to introduce bipartisan legislation keeping the federal government from interfering in state marijuana markets.

Marijuana legalization advocates were ebullient.

"We may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," said Mason Tvert, who spearheaded a 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado. "This is one more step toward ending the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition, not only in Colorado but throughout the country."

During the campaign, Trump said states should be able to chart their own course on marijuana. But Trump has also railed at the dangers of drug-related crime and suggested recreational marijuana should not be permitted.

When he selected Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. senator from Alabama, as his attorney general, marijuana supporters girded themselves for a crackdown. But Gardner said Sessions had promised him he'd do nothing to interfere with Colorado's robust marijuana market.

Gardner said he was blindsided when Sessions made his announcement in January regarding pot prosecutions.

In retaliation, Gardner used his power as a senator to prevent consideration of any nominees for the Department of Justice — an extraordinary step for a senator to use against an administration run by another member of his party.

Some of Gardner's fellow GOP senators groused at the impact of the hold, and Gardner allowed some nominees to proceed in a "good-faith" gesture last month. On Friday, he said he was fully releasing his holds on Department of Justice nominations.

The action came amid widespread speculation that Trump will remove Justice officials overseeing the Russia investigation. Replacements of any of those officials would require new nominations.

Gardner and the Department of Justice have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted. Gardner has met with Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing the Russia probe who has been the target of Trump's ire.

Categories: Ohio News

Police: Woman who drove SUV with family off cliff was drunk

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 14:49

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman who drove off a Northern California cliff last month in an SUV carrying her wife and children was drunk, authorities said Friday.

Toxicology tests found Jennifer Hart had an alcohol level of 0.102, said California Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter. California drivers are considered drunk with a level of 0.08 or higher.

Toxicology tests also found that her wife Sarah Hart and two of their children had "a significant amount" of an ingredient commonly found in the allergy drug Benadryl, which can make people sleepy. Toxicology results for a third child killed are still pending, Carpenter said.

Carpenter said none of the car's occupants were wearing seatbelts.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the family's SUV when it plunged off a cliff in Mendocino County, more than 160 miles north of San Francisco.

The pullout where the SUV of Jennifer and Sarah Hart was recovered off the off Pacific Coast Highway 1, near Westport, Calif. (Kale Williams/The Oregonian via AP)

Authorities have said that data from the vehicle's software suggested the crash was deliberate, though the California Highway Patrol has not concluded why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook on a rugged part of coastline. A specialized team of accident investigators is trying to figure that out with help from the FBI, Carpenter said.

Five bodies were found March 26 near the small city of Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene.

Two more are missing and another body has been found but not identified.

The 100-foot (31-meter) drop killed the women, both 39, and their children Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14. Hannah Hart, 16; Devonte Hart, 15; and Sierra Hart, 12, have not been found.

Categories: Ohio News

1 person killed in motorcycle crash on Alum Creek Drive in Obetz

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 14:25

OBETZ, Ohio - Obetz police officers and deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office are on the scene of a serious crash involving a motorcycle and another vehicle Friday afternoon.

Investigators have closed the southbound lanes of Alum Creek Drive near Rathmell Road.

Sgt. Jay Eden with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said one person was killed in the crash.

No other information has been released.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus 12-year-old meets Pope Francis in Vatican City

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 13:53

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways.

12-year-old Peter Lombardi, a fifth-grade student at Saint Andrew School, doesn't believe that. He knows it.

So does his mother.

"What I did is I put my head in my lap and just started crying," Brenda Lombardi said.

Brenda says the trip to Rome was a "gratitude pilgrimage." The devout Catholic family wanted to give thanks for saving Peter's life.

Peter was diagnosed in April of 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For children with Down syndrome, it's a two-year treatment. The first six months, Brenda says, were filled with intense, high doses of chemo.

Then, in June of 2017, Peter was in remission.

During his treatment, Peter was asked if he had one wish, what would it be? All he had to do was look at the TV to see a man in white who was visiting Philadelphia.

"And he just was saying 'Yeah, my wish is to get a kiss from that man in white who's kissing all those kids'," Brenda said. "And that even surprised me. And I was like your wish is to have Pope Francis kiss you? And he said 'Yeah'."

Unfortunately, time-wise it didn't work out.

But, then came that pilgrimage to give thanks. Brenda was going to buy papal audience tickets, but her tour guide said not to.

"He said 'Brenda, I think we might be able to get him that kiss'," she said.

He managed to get Brenda and Peter to the front of the line.

"They basically said try to get Pope Francis's attention," she said.

A slim chance. An even slimmer chance for what happened next.

"And then [Pope Francis] just stopped and he motioned," she said.

Peter was lifted by security to see Pope Francis. He was given a kiss and a blessing, both placed on the top of his head.

"It's pretty awesome," Peter said.

Then, another blessing.

Peter was motioned back by Pope Francis to sit beside him in the popemobile (Peter says it goes really fast, by the way).

For 20 minutes, Peter rode shotgun with that "man in white."

Since meeting the Pope wasn't Peter's wish, he got to pick again with Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

"And, that's when he came up with 'I want to fight Darth Vader'," Brenda said.

Peter says he's a big Star Wars fan and his favorite character is Luke Skywalker. He says the reason he wants to battle Darth Vader is because Vader is "a bad guy" and he wants to fight evil.

Battling the most powerful man in the galaxy will be a tall task, no doubt. But, then again, mysterious things happen all the time.

Brenda says Make-A-Wish has granted the Disneyland trip to California. They are working now to determine the best dates for the trip.

Brenda says Peter just had a doctor's checkup and all was "normal." He'll celebrate one year in remission in June.

Categories: Ohio News

Mom, boyfriend plead not guilty in death of Ohio 4-year-old girl

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 13:47

A northeast Ohio woman and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the death of the woman's 4-year-old daughter.

A medical examiner says Aniya Day-Garrett died last month in Euclid from a stroke caused by blunt impacts to her head. She was also malnourished.

Her mother, Sierra Day, and Day's boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, pleaded not guilty Thursday and remained jailed on bonds of $1 million.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday for their attorneys.

The girl's father has said he suspected she was being abused. He has called for an investigation into the county's child welfare agency.

The agency has said investigators never found enough evidence to remove the girl from her home.

Police said paramedics found Aniya unresponsive with burn marks on March 11 in Euclid.

Categories: Ohio News

"Something has gone terribly wrong": New details on trapped teen's death

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 13:20

Authorities pledged on Thursday to find out what went wrong in the death of a 16-year-old boy they say became trapped by a minivan bench seat in a school parking lot and whose body was found about six hours after he first called 911.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac said something went "terribly wrong" in Kyle Plush's death. He said a dispatcher was put on administrative leave and the actions of all personnel involved will be reviewed.

Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said his office is trying to identify experts to help its own probe with the coroner's office. The coroner ruled the teenager died of asphyxia, from his chest being compressed.

A telephone message was left for the boy's parents on Thursday.

Isaac called the boy's death "a horrific tragedy."

"We share in their heartbreak," he said.

Plush first called 911 at about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, saying he was stuck inside a van in "desperate need of help." But he was unable to hear the dispatcher's questions, police said, and a callback to his cellphone after it disconnected went to voicemail. Responding police drove through the area looking for signs of anyone in distress but saw nothing out of the ordinary in the school complex, which has several parking areas.

A county sheriff's deputy on traffic duty at the school also checked around, police said.

Plush called 911 again at around 3:35 p.m. Police said this time he provided a description of the vehicle as he desperately pleaded for help but couldn't hear the dispatcher. Isaac said the information didn't get relayed to officers at the scene.

"This is not a joke," the teen said over 911. "I'm almost dead."

He asked the dispatcher to "tell my mom I love her if I die."

Police were unable to locate the boy on any of several parking lots of the Seven Hills School complex.

Police said a friend called the boy's parents that evening saying he hadn't shown up as planned for a tennis match. His mother used an app to locate his phone at Seven Hills. They called the county dispatch center, and police said family members then arrived at the unlocked vehicle with the unresponsive teen inside. Police and fire responders getting there just before 9 p.m. were unable to revive him.

The Seven Hills School , a private academy in Cincinnati for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, sent out a message saying Plush had been a student there since sixth grade.

"He was a young man of keen intelligence, good humor and great courage, and this whole community feels this loss very deeply," the school said.

Classmate Preston Luniewski told WLWT-TV that Plush "was truly a spectacular person."

"He just lit up the classroom," Luniewski said.

Authorities indicated Plush was in the rear of the minivan when he became trapped by a seat.

A Honda spokesman identified the vehicle as a 2004 Honda Odyssey and said there had been no seat-related recalls for that model.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family during this difficult time," spokesman Chris Martin said. "Honda does not have any specific information from which to definitively determine what occurred in this incident."

Isaac said police will study possible police equipment malfunctions.

Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat, urged prayers for the Plush family, saying, "our hearts are heavy."

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus Zoo to host job fairs for summer positions

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 12:17

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is hosting several job fairs this spring for positions at the zoo, Zoombezi Bay and Safari Golf Club.

The zoo will be hiring for positions in areas including food and beverage, facilities, guest relations, security, membership processing, rides, lifeguards and retail.

Applicants can attend open interviews for food and beverage and retail positions on April 14 or open interviews for rides and attractions positions on April 14 or April 20.

Zoombezi Bay will hold an open interview, called a “swimmerview,” for seasonal lifeguards on April 13, 19 or May 11 at the Worthington Natatorium, or on April 27 at the Delaware YMCA.

Applicants must be 16 years of age or older.

For more details on the hiring process, click here.

Seasonal Job Fairs

  • Saturday, April 21 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Building Classroom A (Lifeguard Job Fair)
  • Saturday, April 28 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. in the Zoo’s Lakeside Pavilion

Swimmerviews (Lifeguard Interviews)

  • Friday, April 13 from 5 p.m.– 7:30 p.m. at the Worthington Natatorium
  • Thursday, April 19 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Worthington Natatorium
  • Friday, April 27 from 5 p.m.– 7:30 p.m. at the Delaware YMCA
  • Friday, May 11 from 4 p.m.– 7 p.m. at the Worthington Natatorium

Food and Beverage and Retail Open Interviews

  • Saturday, April 14 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. in the Zoo’s Lakeside Pavilion

Rides and Attractions Interviews

  • Saturday, April 14 from 12 p.m.– 2 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Building
  • Friday, April 20 from 4 p.m.– 6 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Building
ZOOMBEZI BAY 2018 SEASON HOURS

May 19 - 20 Opening weekend - 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
May 24 - 25 Special hours for Zoombezi Bay Education Day - 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
May 26 - June 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 8 - August 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
August 13 - 17 Back to School Week - 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 18 - 19, 25-26 WEEKENDS ONLY through Labor Day - 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
September 1 - 3 WEEKENDS ONLY through Labor Day - 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Categories: Ohio News

Trump pardons former Cheney aide Scooter Libby

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:37

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump issued a full pardon Friday to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Trump said he does not know Libby, but "for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life," according to a statement issued by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announcing the pardon.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. President George W. Bush later commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence but didn't issue a pardon despite intense pressure from Cheney. No one was ever charged for the leak.

Since then, the Libby case has been criticized by conservatives, who argue he was the victim of an overly zealous and politically motivated prosecution by a special counsel. Another twist is that the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed by James Comey, deputy attorney general at the time. Comey later became head of the FBI, but was fired by Trump, and has since written a book highly critical of the president.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, while declining at the time to confirm Trump's plans for a pardon, said earlier Friday that "many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok." Asked if a pardon would be about Comey, Conway said no.

Plame appeared on MSNBC Friday morning and said a pardon would send a message "that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned."

The pardon was the third for Trump. He granted one last year for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing for contempt of court. Trump also pardoned a U.S. Navy sailor, who was convicted after taking photos of classified portions of a submarine.

Conservative criticism of the special counsel in the Plame case echoes critiques of Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading an investigation into Russian election interference, possible coordination with Trump associates and potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump has called that probe a "witch hunt."

Categories: Ohio News

Face the State with Scott Light | April 15, 2018

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:15

This week on Face The State with Scott Light:

  • Medical marijuana in Ohio. Former Ohio representative John Boehner joins an advisory board to legalize marijuana, reversing his long-standing position on the controversial drug. Our panelists discuss the future of pot in Ohio.
  • Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger steps down. Who is the best choice to replace him in our state legislature?
  • Ohio Democratic candidates for governor debate gun laws in Ohio. An analysis on their chances of pushing through new laws, and getting elected to lead the state.

Guests this week:

  • Brad Sinnott- lawyer and chair of the central committee of the Franklin County Republican Party.
  • Jo Ingles- a veteran reporter and producer for the Ohio Statehouse News Bureau.
  • Sandy Theis - former journalist and Executive Director of Progress Ohio.
Categories: Ohio News

Franklin County Dog Shelter “Friday the 13th” Adoptions Special, waives adoption fees this weekend

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:51

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If you have been considering adopting a dog, this weekend is an opportunity to do so for free.

The Franklin County Dog Shelter has had an increase of lost dogs entering the shelter due to the warm weather.

Officials say they will be waiving the adoption fees this weekend as apart of their Friday the 13th Adoption Special.

The shelter hopes this special will land over 90 dogs into new permanent homes.

The adoption fee waiver does exclude deaf dogs.

For more information on the Franklin County, Dog Shelter click here.

Categories: Ohio News

Heinz asks if America is ready for Mayochup

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:38

PITTSBURGH — What do you get when you combine mayonnaise and ketchup?

A debate on Twitter after Heinz on Thursday launched a poll asking Americans if they'd like a pre-made combination of the condiments called Mayochup. Heinz will bring the product, which is currently available in parts of the Middle East, to the United States if the poll closes on Sunday with 500,000 votes in its favor.

Some respondents like the idea. But others say it's been around as Fry Sauce in Utah and Salsa Rosada in Latin America. Then there are those who say the combo is just short of relish from becoming a salad dressing or special sauce.

The debate also includes the name Mayochup. Heinz says it's committed to putting the final name up for a vote.

Categories: Ohio News

Fatou the gorilla celebrates 61st birthday at Berlin zoo

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:44

BERLIN — Fatou the gorilla, believed to be one of the world's oldest, is celebrating her 61st birthday at Berlin's zoo — nearly six decades after she found her way to Germany from a French bar.

Zookeepers on Friday presented Fatou a rice cake decorated with the number 61 in fruit.

The zoo says she shares the title of world's oldest female gorilla with Trudy, a gorilla at the zoo in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Still, it's not entirely clear how old she is. Fatou arrived in Berlin in 1959, finding her way there after a sailor used the young gorilla as payment at a bar in the French port city of Marseille.

She isn't the oldest inhabitant of the zoo, however. Ingo the flamingo, who arrived there in 1948, has that honor.

Categories: Ohio News

Battle to save Africa's elephants is gaining some ground

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 04:19

The elephant staggered and keeled over in the tall grass in southern Tanzania, where some of the world's worst poaching has happened.

It wasn't a killer who targeted her but a conservation official, immobilizing her with a dart containing drugs. Soon she was snoring loudly, and they propped open her trunk with a twig to help her breathe. They slid a 26-pound (12-kilogram) GPS tracking collar around the rough skin of her neck and injected an antidote, bringing her back to her feet. After inspecting the contraption with her trunk, she ambled back to her family herd.

The operation was part of a yearlong effort to collar and track 60 elephants in and around Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve, widely acknowledged as 'Ground Zero' in the poaching that has decimated Africa's elephants in recent years. The Associated Press traveled to the area to witness how the battle to save the continent's elephants is gaining some momentum, with killings declining and some herds showing signs of recovery. Legal ivory markets are shrinking worldwide, and law enforcement has broken up some key trafficking syndicates, say experts.

But it's far too early to declare a turnaround. Poachers are moving to new areas and traffickers are adapting, aided by entrenched corruption. The rate of annual elephant losses still exceeds the birth rate. And the encroachment of human settlements is reducing the animals' range.

"The trend in poaching is going in the right direction, but we have a long way to go before we can feel comfortable about the future for elephants," said Chris Thouless of Save the Elephants, a group based in Kenya, where elephant numbers are rising again.

In a move to crack down on demand, Britain this month announced a ban on ivory sales. In China, trade in ivory and ivory products is illegal as of 2018. And in the U.S., a ban on ivory apart from items older than 100 years went into place in 2016.

If poaching can be brought under control here in Tanzania, there is hope that the killing of elephants can be stemmed elsewhere on the continent.

Africa's elephant population has plummeted from millions around 1900 to at least 415,000 today. Intelligent and emotional, with highly developed social behavior, elephants have been hunted for their ivory for centuries. A ban on commercial trade in ivory across international borders went into effect in 1990, but many countries continued to allow the domestic buying and selling of ivory.

Increased demand from consumers in China fueled a new wave of killings.

In Tanzania alone, the elephant population declined by 60 percent to 43,000 between 2009 and 2014, according to the government. Much of the slaughter happened in an ecosystem comprising the Selous and the adjacent Mikumi National Park. A tourist guide told The Associated Press that several years ago, he and a client saw an elephant family at sunset in the Selous reserve. They returned the next day to the ghastly sight of carcasses of elephants slaughtered for their tusks.

The killings in Tanzania appear to have slowed down. A count in the Selous-Mikumi area last year added up 23 carcasses of poached elephants, just 20 percent of the number found four years earlier. And African elephant poaching has declined to pre-2008 levels after reaching a peak in 2011, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

It's a positive trend, but there is speculation there is a dearth of elephants to kill in many areas.

"All the 'easy' elephants are dead," said Drew McVey, East Africa manager for the WWF conservation group.

In Tanzania's Selous region, more newborn elephants are visible and confident elephants are moving more widely outside unfenced, officially protected areas, said Edward Kohi, principal research officer with the state Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and leader of the GPS collaring program funded by WWF. The collars are designed to allow rangers to track the movement of elephant herds, and then mobilize to protect them if they move into poaching hotspots. By receiving satellite-transmitted data on mobile phones, rangers could also intercept elephants that drift into a human settlement or fields of crops.

Adam Rajeta, a farmer and cattle herder living next to Mikumi park, said elephants sometimes cause havoc.

"During the harvesting season, they come close to our homes," Rajeta said. "When they do, we beat drums and make noise to scare them and thus protect ourselves. Only with God's mercy do they leave our neighborhood."

There has also been movement to crack down on trafficking. Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who took office in 2015, took a hard line and authorities have arrested key suspects linked to trafficking syndicates.

However, the fight against the illegal ivory trade is like squeezing a balloon — when gains are made in one area, such as Tanzania, the killings intensify in another spot, like Mozambique's Niassa reserve to the south, which is linked to the Selous by a wildlife corridor. And international seizures of smuggled ivory appear to be as large as ever, a possible sign of hurried efforts by traffickers to move stockpiles before business gets too difficult.

Some poaching gangs in Niassa are Tanzanian and "there is a lot of movement across the border" that includes other illicit trade, including in timber and minerals, said James Bampton, Mozambique director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society. The group co-manages Niassa with the government.

There are probably fewer than 2,000 elephants in Niassa, Bampton said. That's a small fraction of the estimated number a decade ago in Mozambique's main elephant refuge. Periodic thefts of confiscated ivory and rhino horn in Mozambique also raise concerns about official collusion with traffickers.

Another worrying development is evidence of increased processing of ivory tusks into jewelry and trinkets within Africa, instead of the old method of shipping raw ivory out of the continent. This allows traffickers to transport ivory in smaller quantities that are hard to detect and avoids increased scrutiny of ivory-carving operations in Asia.

The challenges of protecting wildlife were apparent to AP journalists who traveled with the collaring team in Mikumi park next to the Selous reserve, a U.N. world heritage site.

Plans to deploy a helicopter to help spot and herd the elephants fell through. Vehicles got stuck in mud. One morning, a startled wildlife official sprinted to his vehicle after briefly entering a toilet labeled "Gents" at a dirt airstrip. A female lion who had been reclining in a stall sauntered out.

The team sometimes tracked elephants on foot, studying big round footprints, broken branches and the freshness of elephant dung for clues to their whereabouts.

Just two out of a planned five elephants were collared over three days in the Mikumi park. The conservationists refrained from darting elephant matriarchs, instead choosing younger females that they know will follow the group. They also intend to collar often solitary bull elephants.

The elephants displayed their social bonds in one instance, retreating into a defensive circle after hearing the pop of the dart gun. When a female was hit, the others appeared to try to prop up their woozy companion before fleeing.

Suspected traffickers are a threat to more than elephants. In August 2017, conservationist Wayne Lotter, credited with helping Tanzanian authorities dismantle some ivory smuggling operations, was murdered in Dar es Salaam in an apparent hit. Eight people have been arrested for the murder, including two bank officials and several businessmen.

Tanzania's Selous-Mikumi region is known as one of the biggest killing fields for African elephants, but the vast wilderness of about 23,000 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) still offers hope for the world's biggest land animal.

In 50 to 100 years, said Kohi, the collaring team leader, "when the human population is skyrocketing, this will be one of the important areas for the conservation of elephants."

Categories: Ohio News

Trump plans to talk to allies before Syria strike decision

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 04:12

President Donald Trump has put off a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria after tweeting earlier that they could happen "very soon or not so soon at all." The White House said Thursday he would consult further with allies.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned such an attack carried the risk of spinning out of control, suggesting caution ahead of a decision on how to respond to an attack against civilians last weekend that U.S. officials are increasingly certain involved the use of banned chemical weapons. British officials said up to 75 people were killed.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a brief statement after Trump met with Mattis and other members of his National Security Council: "No final decision has been made. We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies."

Sanders said Trump would speak later with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Although Mattis noted that military action carried risks, he also emphasized that Syrian use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated. And he insisted it remains U.S. policy not to be involved directly in Syria's civil war.

"Our strategy remains the same as a year ago," he said. "It is to drive this to a U.N.-brokered peace but, at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it," referring to the Islamic State extremist group.

Mattis' remarks at a House Armed Services Committee hearing followed a series of Trump tweets this week that initially indicated he was committed to bombing Syria but later suggested he was awaiting further advice and assessment. Trump wrote in a Thursday morning tweet that an attack could happen "very soon or not so soon at all."

Later Thursday he was noncommittal. "We're looking very, very seriously, very closely at the whole situation," he told reporters.

Mattis said options would be discussed with Trump at a meeting of his National Security Council on Thursday afternoon. That meant airstrikes, possibly in tandem with France and other allies that have expressed outrage at the alleged Syrian chemical attack, could be launched within hours of a presidential decision.

The U.S., France and Britain have been in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week, U.S. officials have said. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S. in the lead, could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.

Macron said Thursday that France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and said France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted."

After May met with her Cabinet, a spokesperson issued a statement saying it is highly likely that Syria's President Bashar Assad was responsible for Saturday's attack that killed dozens outside Damascus. The Cabinet agreed on the need to "take action" to deter further chemical weapons use by Assad, but added that May would continue to consult with allies to coordinate an international response.

Mattis said that although the United States has no hard proof, he believes the Syrian government was responsible for Saturday's attack. Initial reports indicated the use of chlorine gas, possibly in addition to the nerve agent Sarin. Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told NBC News on Thursday the administration has "enough proof" of the chemical attack but was still considering its response.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in the Netherlands, announced it was sending a fact-finding team to the site of the attack outside Damascus, and it was due to arrive Saturday. It was not clear whether the presence of the investigators could affect the timing of any U.S. military action.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 U.S. ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing."

Mattis said he personally believes Syria is guilty of an "inexcusable" use of chemical weapons, while noting that the international fact-finding team would likely fall short of determining who was responsible.

Asked about the risks of U.S. military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties.

"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that," he said.

Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he sees no legal justification for a U.S. strike in Syria, absent explicit authorization by Congress. More broadly, he doubted the wisdom of bombing.

"Until we have a more long-term strategy, until we have some idea where we're going in Syria and the Middle East, it seems unwise, to me, to start launching missiles," said Smith, D-Wash. "We need to know where that's going, what the purpose of it is before we take that act."

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the U.S. and Russia, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Russian lawmakers have warned the United States that Moscow would view an airstrike on Syria as a war crime and that it could trigger a direct U.S-Russian military clash. Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted — a stark warning of a potential major confrontation.

At the House hearing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested a U.S. strike would lead to war with Russia.

"I'm not ready to speculate that that would happen," Mattis said.

Categories: Ohio News

Stoneman Douglas teacher arrested after leaving gun in public restroom, police say

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:31

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- A chemistry teacher at the Florida school where 17 people were shot to death has been arrested. Authorities say he left a loaded gun in a public restroom, where a drunk homeless man picked it up and fired it.

No one was injured, but the teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is now charged with failing to safely store his weapon.

A Broward Sheriff's report says 43-year-old Sean Simpson, who carries a concealed weapons permit, left his Glock 9 mm in a restroom at the Deerfield Beach Pier on Sunday. He told deputies he was returning to get it when he heard a gunshot, and found the man holding the pistol.

Simpson told a sheriff's deputy he wrestled the gun away from the man, CBS Miami station WFOR-TV reports.

According to the arrest report, Simpson said he forgot to pick the gun up after finishing in the restroom.

According to the Miami Herald, Simpson said after the Stoneman Douglas shooting that he would be willing to carry a gun on campus if it were allowed.

On Tuesday, the county school board voted against arming teachers.​

Records show Simpson posted a $250 bond. It's not known whether he has a lawyer.

Categories: Ohio News

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blue Jackets fight back to win in OT against Washington in first round

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:38

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Washington Capitals by a score of 4-3 in overtime in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Thursday night.

The winning goal was scored by Artemi Panarin.

It was a rough start for the Blue Jackets who allowed two goals by the Capitals’ Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first period.

Both goals came on a power play after Columbus forward Josh Anderson hit Washington defenseman Michal Kepmny from behind into the boards with 2:37 left in the first period.

Anderson was served a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct, meaning he was not allowed to play the rest of the game.

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The Blue Jackets were able to pull within one goal after a goal by Alexander Wennberg in the second period.

In the third period, Thomas Vanek scored for the Blue Jackets to tie the game at two.

Soon after, captain Nick Foligno was hit in the face with the puck and he was escorted off the ice.

A little while later, Foligno returned to the bench.

Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly scored in the third to take a 3-2 lead.

Seth Jones then tied it up at three late in the third period, forcing overtime.

Categories: Ohio News

Threat under investigation at Madison-Plains school

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:22

MADISON COUNTY, Ohio - A threat sprayed in a bathroom at the Madison-Plains Local Schools 7-12 facility is under investigation, according to a spokesperson for the district.

The spokesperson said school administration was notified by a student about the threat Thursday afternoon.

The threat said the incident would happen on Monday, according to the spokesperson.

Law enforcement was notified and superintendent Tim Dettwiller said there will be more support from the Sheriff’s Office at the school.

If anyone has any information, they are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 740-852-1332 or school officials at 740-852-0364.

Categories: Ohio News

In new book, Comey blasts untruthful, 'ego-driven' Trump

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:31

Former FBI Director James Comey blasts President Donald Trump as unethical and "untethered to truth" in a sharply critical new book that describes Trump as fixated in the early days of his administration on having the FBI debunk salacious rumors he insisted were untrue but could distress his wife.

In the forthcoming book, Comey compares Trump to a mafia don and calls his leadership of the country "ego driven and about personal loyalty."

He also reveals new details about his interactions with Trump and his own decision-making in handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation before the 2016 election. He casts Trump as a mobster-like figure who sought to blur the line between law enforcement and politics and tried to pressure him personally regarding his investigation into Russian election interference.

The book adheres closely to Comey's public testimony and written statements about his contacts with Trump and his growing concern about Trump's integrity. It also includes strikingly personal jabs at Trump that appear sure to irritate the president.

The 6-foot-8 Comey describes Trump as shorter than he expected with a "too long" tie and "bright white half-moons" under his eyes that he suggests came from tanning goggles. He also says he made a conscious effort to check the president's hand size, saying it was "smaller than mine but did not seem unusually so."

The book, "A Higher Loyalty," is to be released next week. The Associated Press purchased a copy this week.

"Donald Trump's presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation," Comey writes, calling the administration a "forest fire" that can't be contained by ethical leaders within the government.

On a more-personal level, Comey describes Trump repeatedly asking him to consider investigating an allegation involving Trump and Russian prostitutes urinating on a bed in a Moscow hotel, in order to prove it was a lie. Trump has strongly denied the allegation, and Comey says that it appeared the president wanted it investigated to reassure his wife, Melania Trump.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, setting off a scramble at the Justice Department that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. Mueller's probe has expanded to include whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, which the president denies.

Trump has assailed Comey as a "showboat" and a "liar."

Comey's account lands at a particularly sensitive moment for Trump and the White House. Officials there describe the president as enraged over a recent FBI raid of his personal lawyer's home and office, raising the prospect that he could fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, or try to shut down the probe on his own. The Republican National Committee is poised to lead the pushback effort against Comey by launching a website and supplying surrogates with talking points that question his credibility.

Trump has said he fired Comey because of his handling of the FBI's investigation into Clinton's email practices. Trump used the investigation as a cudgel in the campaign and repeatedly said Clinton should be jailed for using a personal email system while serving as secretary of state. Democrats, on the other hand, have accused Comey of politicizing the investigation, and Clinton herself has said it hurt her election prospects.

Comey writes that he regrets his approach and some of the wording he used in his July 2016 press conference in which he announced the decision not to prosecute Clinton. But he says he believes he did the right thing by going before the cameras and making his statement, noting that the Justice Department had done so in other high profile cases.

Every person on the investigative team, Comey writes, found that there was no prosecutable case against Clinton and that the FBI didn't find that she lied under its questioning.

He also reveals new details about how the government had unverified classified information that he believes could have been used to cast doubt on Attorney General Loretta Lynch's independence in the Clinton probe. While Comey does not outline the details of the information — and says he didn't see indications of Lynch inappropriately influencing the investigation — he says it worried him that the material could be used to attack the integrity of the probe and the FBI's independence.

Comey's book will be heavily scrutinized by the president's legal team looking for any inconsistencies between it and his public testimony, under oath, before Congress. They will be looking to impeach Comey's credibility as a key witness in Mueller's obstruction investigation, which the president has cast as a political motivated witch hunt.

The former FBI director provides new details of his firing. He writes that then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly — now Trump's chief of staff — offered to quit out of disgust at how Comey was dismissed. Kelly has been increasingly marginalized in the White House and the president has mused to confidants about firing him.

Comey also writes extensively about his first meeting with Trump after the election, a briefing in January 2017 at Trump Tower in New York City. Others in the meeting included Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn, who would become national security adviser, and incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer. Comey was also joined by NSA Director Mike Rogers, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

After Clapper briefed the team on the intelligence community's findings of Russian election interference, Comey said he was taken aback by what the Trump team didn't ask.

"They were about to lead a country that had been attacked by a foreign adversary, yet they had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be," Comey writes. Instead, they launched into a strategy session about how to "spin what we'd just told them" for the public.

Comey says he had flashbacks to his time investigating the Italian Mafia as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, thinking that Trump "was trying to make us all part of the same family."

"For my entire career, intelligence was a thing of mine and political spin a thing of yours. Team Trump wanted to change that," he writes.

Comey then describes talking to Trump one-on-one after the broader meeting.

He says he described the allegations about Russian prostitutes. He writes that he told Trump about the dossier because it was the FBI's responsibility to protect the presidency from coercion related to harmful allegations, whether supported or not. Comey said he left out one detail involving an allegation that the prostitutes had urinated on a bed once used by the Obamas.

Trump raised the subject again a week later, after the dossier had been made public. He then told Comey, the director writes, that he had not stayed in the hotel and that the most salacious charge could not have been true because, Trump said, "I'm a germaphobe. There's no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way."

Comey writes that Trump raised the issue again, unprompted, during their one-on-one dinner at the White House and it bothered the president that there might be even "a one percent chance" his wife might think it was true.

Comey then registers surprise, writing that he thought to himself "why his wife would think there was any chance, even a small one, that he had been with prostitutes urinating on each other in a Moscow hotel room."

Categories: Ohio News

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