Justice Dept. watchdog testifies about report on FBI handling of Russia probe » Senators on the Judiciary Committee grilled the Justice Department’s internal watchdog on Wednesday about his report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe.
Inspector general Michael Horowitz said his office found “significant concerns” with the bureau’s actions.
HOROWITZ: Particularly, the FBI’s failure to adhere to its own standards of accuracy and completeness when filing applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority, known as FISA.
That was the FISA warrant agents obtained to begin eavesdropping on the Trump campaign.
Republicans pressed the inspector general on the question of political bias. While his report found wrongdoing, it did not find evidence to conclude that political bias against Donald Trump was the cause. But Horowitz clarified that his report also did not absolve agents of acting politically.
HOROWITZ: It’s unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence. On the other hand, intentionality, and where in between, we weren’t in a position, with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion.
Horowitz did conclude, however, that the FBI had adequate cause to launch the Russia probe. Attorney General William Barr has publicly refuted that conclusion.
House defense bill authorizes Space Force, paid parental leave » Meantime, lawmakers in the House passed a big defense bill on Wednesday. That bill would establish a U.S. Space Force as the sixth armed service of the United States under the Department of the Air Force.
GOP Congressman Mike Rogers said that would make it the first new branch of the military since 1947.
ROGERS: It also recognizes space as a warfighting domain, and authorizes the transfer of Air Force personnel to the newly established Space Force. This is an important step for our National Security.
The bill also includes a military pay raise of just over 3 percent.
The annual bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act has a price tag of $738 billion. It passed easily on a vote of 377 to 48.
GOP members won over Democratic votes by agreeing to include something else in the bill—paid parental leave.
Democrat Carolyn Maloney of New York…
MALONEY: This provision will provide 12 weeks paid parental leave for all federal employees for the birth of a child or adoption of a child.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.
Pentagon halts operational training for Saudi students in wake of shooting » The Pentagon is taking action after a Saudi Arabian military student opened fire at a Naval Air Station in Florida last week. The U.S. military is halting its operational training for Saudi students and tightening its vetting process.
The suspension will only halt flying sessions. Classroom activities will continue. The decision grounded more than 300 Saudi aviation students.
Last Friday, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force killed three people at the naval base in Pensacola. President Trump has said his administration will review the program that provides training to members of foreign militaries.
Jersey City mayor: Gunmen targeted kosher market » Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Wednesday that video evidence is shedding new light on a furious gun battle that left six people dead one day earlier.
The three civilians who died inside a kosher market may not have been simply caught in the crossfire between criminals and police.
FULOP: We do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli across the street here.
He said video surveillance showed the gunmen drive up to the deli in a van, before calmly exiting the vehicle and opening fire.
Still, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal isn’t quite ready to label it an anti-Semitic attack.
GREWAL: Right now, we are working to learn more about the shooters’ motivations, and whether anyone besides the two gunmen may have been involved.
The gunmen also killed a police officer at a nearby cemetery. The killers then drove a stolen rental van about a mile to the kosher market. They then used at least one high-powered rifle in a drawn-out battle with police. Both men died in the shootout.
One official told the Associated Press that law enforcement is examining potential connections between the attackers and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The official said some of its members are known to rail against whites and Jews.
Judge blocks border wall funds » A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Trump administration cannot divert more than three-and-a-half billion dollars in Pentagon money for a border wall. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: U.S. District Judge David Briones said President Trump’s national emergency declaration in January does not justify using military construction funds for the wall.
He said the move violates a restriction authorized by Congress to limit border wall funding to $1.4 billion. The administration is likely to appeal the ruling.
The White House faced another challenge to wall funding earlier this year. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an injunction issued by a federal judge in California. That allowed the administration to use two-and-a-half billion dollars in Pentagon funds to upgrade fencing.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
UK voters head to polls » Voters in the UK are heading to the polls today for an early general election.
JOHNSON: I hope very much I can count on your support tomorrow. Definitely, yeah. Thank you very much.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson heard there on Wednesday, campaigning door to door ahead of today’s vote.
“Get Brexit done!” is the campaign slogan of his Conservative Party. Johnson pushed for the early election in hopes of breaking the gridlock in Parliament. If conservatives win a clear majority, he’ll finally have the backing he needs to deliver Brexit ahead of the January 31st deadline.
Polls suggest Conservatives have a lead over the main opposition Labour Party. That party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants a second referendum on Brexit.