Monday morning news: October 15, 2018

President Trump to tour Hurricane Michael damage today » President Trump is expected to tour storm ravaged areas of Florida and Georgia today, as both states are still coming to grips with devastation from Hurricane Michael.  

FEMA administrator Brock Long said among the top objectives now:

LONG: Getting thousands of people out of shelters into more suitable living conditions. But ultimately there’s going to be a tough long-term housing mission that lies ahead. It’s gonna take many months. 

The official death toll from the storm now stands at 17, but authorities say they still don’t know how many people failed to evacuate along the coast of the Florida panhandle. Many homes and businesses now lay in crumbled piles of timber, while the storm swept other buildings out to sea.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said many coastal communities now lay in ruins.

RUBIO: And it basically is a total wipeout, and it’s hard to imagine it ever being able to recapture the identity it once had. It’ll be rebuilt. It’ll all be rebuilt at some point, but it’s going to take a long time. And in terms of electricity in Panama City, that whole grid has to be rebuilt. It’s not restoration.

As of Sunday, more than 190,000 homes and businesses in Florida were still without power, along with about 120,000 in Georgia.

Hurricane Michael slammed the panhandle Wednesday with 155 mile-per-hour winds and a 9-foot storm surge. Michael was still at hurricane strength as it crossed into southern Georgia, destroying farms and wiping out crops.

Pastor Andrew Brunson welcomed home at White House » Pastor Andrew Brunson is a free man. He arrived back on U.S. soil over the weekend. President Trump welcomed him and his wife in the Oval Office on Saturday, just one day after a court in Turkey released him from detention.

Pastor Brunson thanked the Trump administration for securing his freedom and he took a few minutes to pray for the president.

BRUNSON: Lord God I ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit on President Trump, that you give him supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him. 

President Trump said the U.S. did not pay a ransom for Brunson, and called the pastor’s release the result of a tough diplomatic process.

TRUMP: It’s not an easy situation for Turkey either. They had a lot of difficult situations going on, and I do want to thank President Erdogan for making this possible. 

Trump said he believes the U.S. will now re-establish “a terrific relationship with Turkey.”

Relations between the NATO allies took a dramatic hit during Brunson’s imprisonment on terror and espionage charges. That U.S. government called those charges a farce.  

Saudis threaten to retaliate if punished over missing journalist » Saudi Arabia warned on Sunday it will respond to threats and political pressure with tough measures of its own. That after President Trump said the kingdom deserves “severe punishment” if found responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

The president said Saturday that he does not favor halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia as punishment, saying American workers will suffer if the Saudis spend their money elsewhere.  

TRUMP: They’ll go to China, they’ll to to Russia, they’ll order equipment. We’re just hurting ourselves, so we would do something that doesn’t have to do with that in my opinion. 

But lawmakers on Capitol Hill aren’t ruling out with Republicans and Democrats alike pledging a tough response if the allegations are proven true.

The Saudi stock market took a big hit after its government issued what many interpreted as a threat of economic retaliation on Sunday if the U.S. moves to punish the government or certain officials.

As the White House demands answers, Germany, France, and Britain jointly called on Sunday for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Khashoggi, a frequent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago.

Republicans want Rosenstein to testify about New York Times report » Republicans lawmakers want Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify about a recent New York Times report that accused him of trying to subvert President Trump. 

Congressman Jim Jordan, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, told Fox News…

JORDAN: We need him to answer questions about all kinds of issues associated with the Trump-Russia investigation. But specifically the statement that’s alleged that he said, where he talked about actually recording the commander-in-chief of our great country, and talked about the 25th Amendment. 

The 25th Amendment allows for removal of a president unfit to serve.

Rosenstein denied The New York Times report, and after a meeting aboard Air Force One last week, President Trump said he had no plans to fire Rosenstein. But many Republicans aren’t convinced.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said his panel also wants answers about the FISA warrant used to spy on a former Trump campaign aide.

GOODLATTE: Carter Paige was under surveillance for a solid year. He signed the last of those warrants. We have questions for him about that. Did he read it? What did he know before he signed it? 

The House Oversight Committee also wants to question Rosenstein.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Mary Reichard takes us to the Supreme Court on Legal Docket. And Andrée Seu Peterson on believing God’s promises. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File) In this Oct. 12, 2018, file photo, damaged homes are seen along the water’s edge in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. 

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