Reuters US Domestic News Summary

17 Sep 2020 / 07:55 H.

    Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

    Republican-led U.S. Senate panel approves subpoenas for Obama-era officials and politicos

    A Republican-led Senate committee on Wednesday voted to move forward with subpoenas and depositions of dozens of Obama-era officials over the objections of Democrats who say the panel's inquiry is intended to boost President Donald Trump's re-election campaign. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved moves to subpoena and take depositions from witnesses who the Republican majority say are relevant to its investigation into "Crossfire Hurricane," a code name the FBI used for an investigation it opened during the 2016 election campaign into allegations that Trump's campaign colluded with Russia.

    Hurricane Sally swamps U.S. Gulf Coast with massive floods, 'unreal' rain

    Hurricane Sally uprooted trees, flooded streets and cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses on Wednesday as it brought what the U.S. National Hurricane Center called "historic and catastrophic" flooding to the Alabama-Florida coast. Sally, which made landfall early Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm, was donwgraded in the afternoon to a tropical storm as maximum sustained winds dropped to 70 miles per hour (113 kph).

    New York judge blasts U.S. prosecutors' conduct in Iran sanctions case

    A U.S. judge on Wednesday forcefully rebuked federal prosecutors for a series of failures, including withholding exculpatory evidence, that led to the dismissal of an indictment against a banker who had been convicted of Iran sanctions violations. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan repeatedly violated their disclosure obligations and made misleading statements in their case against Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad.

    U.S. health agency spokesman Caputo takes leave after Facebook rant

    Michael Caputo, the top spokesman at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will take a two-month leave of absence, the agency said on Wednesday, after a social media tirade drew widespread attention. The move came two days after the New York Times reported that Caputo, a former adviser to President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, said on Facebook that government scientists were engaging in "sedition" in their handling of the pandemic.

    Trump says staffer tested positive for COVID-19 but was 'not near' him

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said a White House staffer tested positive for COVID-19 but the individual was not "near" him or "associated with" him. "It was not anybody that was near me," Trump said at a press conference.

    Crews fight to save Mount Wilson Observatory as smoke spreads as far as Europe

    Fire crews have fended off a blaze threatening the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, as wildfires of unprecedented scope in the U.S. West spread smoke across the nation and even into Europe on Wednesday. Dozens of fires have burned some 4.5 million acres (1.8 million hectares) in Oregon, California, and Washington state since August, ravaging several small towns, destroying thousands of homes, and killing at least 34 people.

    Broad U.S. rollout of coronavirus vaccine could happen mid-2021: CDC

    A COVID-19 vaccine could be broadly rolled out in the United states by the middle of next year or a little later, the head of the federal government's disease control agency said on Wednesday. General availability of a vaccine could come by "late second quarter, third quarter 2021," Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a U.S. Congress panel.

    Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccines: 'he was confused'

    U.S. President Donald Trump predicted on Wednesday at least 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be distributed in by the end of 2020, contradicting a top government health official Trump dismissed as confused. Hours earlier, Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a COVID-19 vaccine could be broadly rolled out by the middle of next year or a little later.

    U.S. intelligence officials to do in-person election security briefings for lawmakers after all

    Top U.S. intelligence officials will provide in-person briefings to congressional intelligence committees on foreign efforts to meddle in the 2020 election after all, having previously said they would communicate mainly in writing, senators said on Wednesday. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committees said in a statement that John Ratcliffe, the former Republican Congressman who is President Donald Trump's new Director of National Intelligence (DNI), had confirmed that their committee would continue receiving in-person briefings.

    Slow-moving hurricanes that deluge coasts may be latest hazard of climate change

    For Grant Saltz, who runs a barbecue restaurant in Mobile, Alabama, what struck him about Hurricane Sally was its steady, deliberate pace, after the storm rumbled into the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a powerful Category 2 hurricane. "It's so slow, this one," said Saltz, 38, while clearing away tree branches during a pause in the rains. "We had strong winds for a long period of time. Instead of a few hours, we got it for 12 hours."

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