The Daily Beast has confirmed that John Dowd, President Trump’s lead lawyer in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, resigned Thursday. The New York Times reported Dowd had considered “leaving several times in recent months and ultimately concluded that Mr. Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.” Trump has stated he’d be willing to sit down with Mueller, which Dowd reportedly thought was a “a bad idea.” The resignation comes days after the president called for an end to Mueller’s probe publicly, and Dowd told The Daily Beast that he would like to see “an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation.”
Previously unseen CCTV footage from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Stephen Paddock shot 58 people dead last October, shows the murderer methodically planning his attack and duping staff into carrying his stash of deadly weapons to his room in more than 20 suitcases. The footage, obtained by The New York Times, also shows Paddock eating and gambling alone in the hotel in the days leading up to the attack. Over the course of seven days, Paddock tricked staff into bringing 21 bags to his suite on the 32nd floor, which contained 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The shooter asked to stay with his luggage each time it was brought up to his room and the footage shows staff taking him and his bags to the 32nd floor via a service elevator. Paddock is also shown frequently driving to and from his hotel, returning with bags picked up from his home in Mesquite—an hour north of the hotel. The last sighting of Paddock is of him arriving at the 32nd floor in an elevator around nine hours before he began the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The toxic impact of Hurricane Harvey was far more widespread than authorities admitted at the time. That’s according to documents pieced together by the Associated Press, which found more than 100 cases of chemical spills reported in the storm’s aftermath. The hurricane that slammed into the Texas coast in late August last year caused widespread damage to numerous chemical plants and refineries, including one incident in which half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with storm water, and leaked out of a chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston. The AP reports cancer-causing pollutants such as benzene, vinyl chloride, and butadiene were found in neighborhoods and waterways after the storm dissipated. Most of the incidents were never publicized and the potential toxicity of some of the biggest leaks were initially understated—and only a handful appear to have been investigated by Texas authorities. Samuel Coleman, the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting regional administrator during Harvey, said the priority in the immediate aftermath was “addressing any environmental harms as quickly as possible as opposed to making announcements about what the problem was.”
The president of the United States has challenged former Vice President Joe Biden to a fist fight, and he thinks he’s going to win. Perhaps it was an inevitable response to Biden’s comments on Tuesday, when he said: “If [he and Trump] were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Just after 6 a.m. ET, Trump mocked the “mentally and physically weak” Biden and insisted that he would leave him in tears if the two men were to actually have a fight. Trump tweeted: “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to formally end its Russia probe on Thursday in a party-line vote, Politico reports. Republicans on the committee recently produced a report claiming they “found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and the Kremlin” in the 2016 election. On Thursday, the committee also voted to release the GOP-authored report, which must first be sent to the intelligence community to have any classified information redacted. According to the site, the report “is expected to be made public within weeks.” Democrats on the committee reportedly have vowed to “continue investigating” despite the vote.
A ProPublica investigation found that tech giant IBM has been flouting federal rules about targeting older employees while conducting mass layoffs in order to hire younger, cheaper workers and to send jobs overseas. Citing internal documents, court records, and interviews with more than 1,000 former employees, the report finds that IBM did not inform older workers of their rights as stipulated under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, hired back older workers after terminating them as contract employees with less pay and fewer benefits, and made laid-off older workers train their replacements. As older employees got laid off, the company also reportedly declined to provide a reason for termination in many instances. The company responded to ProPublica’s request for comment, saying, “We are proud of our company and our employees’ ability to reinvent themselves era after era, while always complying with the law. Our ability to do this is why we are the only tech company that has not only survived but thrived for more than 100 years.”
Congress unveiled its $1.3 trillion budget bill agreement Wednesday night, which dealt a blow to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ push toward school choice. The Washington Post reports the bill rejects DeVos’ “attempt to spend more than $1 billion promoting choice-friendly policies and private-school vouchers.” DeVos had aimed to cut funding for after-school programs and “a grant program that helps low-income students go to college,” to use the money to fund school-choice initiatives. She also wanted to ax grants for mental-health programs. The bill provides no funding for school-choice projects, and instead boosts mental-health programs by $700 million, puts $22 million toward handling school violence, and increases funding for tuition-aid programs and after-school programs. DeVos’ other budget proposals, including cutting early-childhood education and capping Pell Grants—were rebuffed in the omnibus bill as well. This is the second year that Congress has rejected the secretary’s proposals.
The family and friends of the 23-year-old man suspected of carrying out the Austin bombings have spoken of their shock, saying Mark Anthony Conditt was a smart and kind “computer geek.” Conditt is suspected of carrying out the bombings that killed two people and wounded four others—he blew himself up Wednesday after being hunted down by the FBI and local SWAT teams. Conditt’s uncle told the Associated Press: “I mean, this is coming from nowhere. We just don’t know what. I don’t know how many ways to say it but everyone is caught off guard by this.” The suspect’s neighbor described him as “smart” and “polite,” while his grandmother Mary Conditt said: “We don’t have any answers. We are just shocked. This is not the Mark I knew.” Other local residents said the Conditt family was very religious and hosted large religious gatherings every Sunday. “I know that they were church-going people,” said one neighbor, with another woman who home-schooled with the suspect saying of him: “He seemed like a normal boy.”
Only 7 percent of the nation’s teachers want to carry guns to school, according to the results of a new Gallup poll released Thursday. More than a third of teachers surveyed said they want tougher gun-control legislation; 20 percent favor an assault-weapons ban, while 10 percent want background checks for potential gun owners. Preventative measures against school shootings regained national attention following the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre that left 17 people dead. Last month, President Trump suggested training and arming teachers as a way to prevent new school shootings; the National Rifle Association has doubled down on its effort to arm school staff, a talking point the group has held since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, several teachers told The Daily Beast that arming teachers is “irresponsible” and they would “resign immediately” if ordered to carry a weapon in class.