Wall Street lower as industrials, tech fall on trade woes

Wall Street falls as U.S.-China tariffs kick in


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s three main indexes were lower on Monday after a new round of U.S.-China trade tariffs kicked in and investors expected an interest rate hike a day ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Investors’ nerves were also rattled by reports about whether U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would quit. But indexes steadied after the White House announced a Thursday meeting between President Donald Trump and Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s probe into Russia’s role in Trump’s 2016 election.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower after U.S. tariffs on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods took effect, along with Beijing’s retaliatory duties.

“Investors are resigned to the fact this is going to be an ongoing situation for a while,” said Brad McMillan, Chief Investment Officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, in Waltham, Mass., referring to the U.S.-China trade spat. “There’s still some feeling this is a slow-moving train. It’s not too late to stop the train or bring it back to the station, but the fact is that the train has left the station.”

At 2:56 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 164.33 points, or 0.61 percent, to 26,579.17, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 10.43 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,919.24 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 1.07 points, or 0.01 percent, to 7,985.89.

The industrial sector .SPLRCI, which has borne the brunt of the protracted trade war, was the biggest drag on the S&P with a 1.2-percent drop. Interest rate sensitive sectors such as Consumer Staples .SPLRCS, down 1.5 percent, and Real Estate .SPLRCREC, off 1.9 percent, were under pressure ahead of the Fed meeting.

The biggest percentage gainer among the S&P sectors was energy .SPNY as oil prices rose. Other gainers included the re-branded and expanded “communications services” index .SPLRCL and the technology sector .SPLRCT.

The White House announced a meeting between Trump and Rosenstein after a flurry of conflicting reports about whether Rosenstein, a frequent target of Trump’s anger, would be leaving.

“Markets have gotten accustomed to a pretty high level of political noise from Washington,” said Commonwealth’s McMillan. “With the fundamentals solid, we’ve seen that noise can shake confidence but hasn’t really brought it down.”

The technology sector .SPLRCT cut earlier losses and was flat, lifted by Apple (AAPL.O), whose products have been spared from new tariffs. Apple climbed 1.2 percent.

The communications services index, which now houses media stocks besides telecom companies, opened lower in its debut. But it showed a 0.2-percent gain by late afternoon as new member Netflix (NFLX.O) climbed 2 percent.

Other members Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) and Walt Disney (DIS.N) rose 1.5 percent and 2 percent, respectively, after losing an auction for Sky Plc (SKYB.L) to Comcast (CMCSA.O), which slid 6 percent.

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (KORS.N) tumbled 7.6 percent after reports citing unnamed sources said the fashion group has agreed to take control of Italy’s Versace in a deal that could value the company at $2 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.98-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 38 new highs and 44 new lows.

Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Nick Zieminski



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Factbox: Who would oversee the Mueller investigation after Rosenstein?

Factbox: Who would oversee the Mueller investigation after Rosenstein?


(Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, is set to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss his future.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein departs the West Wing of the White House after a meeting on FBI investigations into the 2016 Trump presidential campaign with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

The following explains what happens to oversight of the Mueller probe if Rosenstein is no longer in charge.

WHAT IS ROSENSTEIN’S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE MUELLER PROBE?

The deputy attorney general took charge of the investigation into Russian interference in the election because U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had some contact with Russian officials while working on the Trump campaign, recused himself.

After Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Mueller to the role of special counsel and tasked him with investigating Russian interference in the election.

Rosenstein supervises Mueller and has signed off on his decisions to bring criminal charges against individuals associated with Trump’s presidential campaign. The probe has so far resulted in more than 30 indictments and six guilty pleas.

WHO WOULD SUCCEED ROSENSTEIN IN OVERSEEING THE MUELLER PROBE?

If Rosenstein left his job, the task of overseeing Mueller’s investigation would typically fall to the associate attorney general, the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice behind Sessions and Rosenstein.

The current holder of that position, Jesse Panuccio, does so in an acting capacity and has not been confirmed by the Senate. That means under Justice Department rules he would not be able to succeed Rosenstein in taking charge of the special counsel probe.

Instead, it would fall to U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, according to an internal Justice Department memo on succession from November 2016 that is still in effect.

Some legal experts have said Francisco would have to recuse himself because his former law firm, Jones Day, represented the Trump campaign. If that were to happen, the next in line to oversee the special counsel would be Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

COULD TRUMP PICK A REPLACEMENT FOR ROSENSTEIN?

President Trump could potentially bypass the Justice Department’s succession order by invoking the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (VRA), which lays out general rules for temporarily filling vacant executive branch positions when the prior holder “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform” their duties.

If Rosenstein resigned, the VRA would allow the president to replace him on an interim basis with another official who has already been confirmed by the Senate. That person could be from any part of the executive branch, not necessarily the Justice Department.

Some legal experts argue that such a replacement would not be able to oversee the Mueller probe because Rosenstein is doing so as acting attorney general. A Justice Department guideline holds that an official cannot be both acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general but experts differ on whether that rule would have to be followed.

It is also not clear whether the law, intended to address vacancies created by deaths or resignations, would apply if such a vacancy were created by an official being fired by the president. Such an appointment could be challenged in court on that ground.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Anthony Lin and Bill Rigby



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Stock markets fall on trade war pessimism, oil rallies

Global stock markets fall on trade war pessimism; oil rallies


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock markets around the world retreated on Monday amid concerns over the potential wider impact of a trade spat between China and the United States, while oil prices rallied to a four-year high after OPEC ignored U.S. calls to raise supply.

Wall Street equities stumbled on a wave of uncertainty over the future of U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

The White House said President Donald Trump and Rosenstein are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss Rosenstein’s future.

The White House announced the meeting after a flurry of conflicting media reports on whether Rosenstein had resigned.

The New York Times last week reported that Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording Trump in 2017 and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from office.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 157.92 points, or 0.59 percent, to 26,585.58, the S&P 500 lost 9.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,920.01, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.10 points, or 0 percent, to 7,986.85.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.46 percent.

U.S. Treasury yields across maturities briefly fell by around two basis points after an initial report that Rosenstein had resigned before ticking back up. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 3.0796 percent, from 3.068 percent late on Friday.

In European equities markets, the benchmark index for euro zone blue chip stocks retreated 0.6 percent, while the pan-European STOXX 600, which also includes stocks in Britain and outside the European Union, was down 0.56 percent.

Europe had followed Asia lower, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closing 1.17 percent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.82 percent.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies, implemented with fresh tariffs on each other’s goods on Monday, showing no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute that is expected to knock back global economic growth.

“This is here to stay,” said Adrien Dumas, a manager at Mandarine Gestion in Paris, arguing that because trade is at the core of the Trump administration’s agenda, investors should accept that the issue is unlikely to recede any time soon.

“It’s a negative and it adds to other issues,” he said, pointing to stress in emerging markets or political risk in Italy and Britain.

A worsening trade environment is likely to exacerbate diverging economic performance and policy rates between different regions, Citi analysts said in a note on Monday.

“The U.S. economy is moving full steam ahead, bolstered by pro-cyclical policies, while others are lagging,” they said.

Brexit, as Britain’s planned exit from the European Union is known, weighed on sentiment. On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said talks with the EU had hit an impasse.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would support a second Brexit referendum if his Labour Party backs the move, heaping more pressure on May, amid speculation that she could opt to call a snap parliamentary election.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said he expected a vigorous pickup in euro zone inflation, backing moves toward unwinding an ECB asset purchase program meant to stimulate the economy. That drove the euro to a more than three-month high against the dollar.

The dollar index fell 0.02 percent.

Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent to a four-year high after Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any immediate increase in production despite calls by Trump for action to raise global supply.

U.S. crude oil futures settled at &72.08 per barrel, up $1.30, or 1.84 percent. Brent crude was last at $81.36, up 3.24 percent, or $2.55.

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Reporting by Hilary Russ; Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in London, Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler



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Trump says he will meet with Rosenstein, wants transparency

Trump says he will meet with Rosenstein, wants transparency


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Donald Trump said he spoke with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday and would be meeting with him on Thursday when he gets back from the U.N. General Assembly.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

“We’ll be meeting at the White House and we’ll be determining what’s going on,” Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering. “We want to have transparency, we want to have openness, and I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time.”

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Peter Cooney



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Trump court nominee says he won't be 'intimidated' into withdrawing

Trump court nominee says he won’t be ‘intimidated’ into withdrawing


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said on Monday he would not step aside after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct decades ago, with President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans showing no sign of relenting in their push for his Senate confirmation.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Trump in July for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court, wrote in a letter to the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing the confirmation process.

The allegations, dating to the 1980s, have put in jeopardy Kavanaugh’s chances of winning confirmation in a Senate narrowly controlled by Trump’s party, with high-stakes congressional elections just weeks away.

The committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to hear from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor who last week accused him of sexual assault in 1982. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, accused him in an article published in the New Yorker magazine on Sunday of sexual misconduct during the 1983-84 academic year when both attended Yale University.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations by Ford and Ramirez.

Trump, himself accused during the 2016 presidential race of sexual misconduct with numerous women, remained steadfast in his support for Kavanaugh.

“Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person. I am with him all the way,” Trump said as he arrived in New York to attend the U.N. General assembly, calling the allegations politically motivated.

Protesters opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation held a series of rallies in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere. The Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has called on the panel’s Republican chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, to postpone Thursday’s hearing in order to investigate Ramirez’s accusations.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican member of the committee, blamed Democrats for the new allegation.

“No innuendo has been too low, no insinuation too dirty,” Hatch said in a statement, adding that the committee should proceed with its Thursday hearing.

“Then we should vote,” Hatch said, a view also expressed by fellow committee Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

“What we are witnessing is the total collapse of the traditional confirmation process for a Supreme Court nominee,” Graham said. “It is being replaced by a game of delay, deception and wholesale character assassination.”

The controversy over Kavanaugh is unfolding just weeks before Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are trying to take control of Congress from Trump’s fellow Republicans, against a backdrop of the #MeToo movement fighting sexual harassment and assault.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Republicans, with a 51-49 Senate majority, can confirm Kavanaugh if they stay united. So far, no Republican senators have said they would vote against Kavanaugh.

Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, has said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland. She accused him of attacking her and trying to remove her clothing while he was drunk at a party when he was 17 years old and she was 15.

Ramirez is cited by the New Yorker as saying Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken dormitory party.

‘THESE ARE SMEARS’

In his letter on Monday, Kavanaugh said of the allegations against him: “These are smears, pure and simple.”

“The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last minute character assassination will not succeed,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Dozens of people were arrested in Senate office buildings adjacent to the U.S. Capitol. About 200 people gathered in front of the Supreme Court building, chanting, “I believe Christine Ford.”

“I don’t believe Brett Kavanaugh should serve on the Supreme Court. At a minimum, we need a hearing and investigations on all of the charges against him,” said protester Sarah Newman, a 44-year-old Washington resident.

Women’s March, a group that grew out of a January 2017 demonstration against Trump, was one of the organizers of the protests.

Trump made clear he considered the allegations politically motivated.

“For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago, and 30 years ago and never mention it – all of a sudden it happens,” Trump said. “In my opinion, it’s totally political.”

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the White House took the new allegations seriously and that Ramirez should contact the committee if she also wants to testify.

But speaking on “CBS This Morning,” Conway added, “This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation would cement conservative control of the Supreme Court and advance Trump’s goal of moving the high court and the broader federal judiciary to the right.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks with his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh at his nomination announcement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Reporting by Richard Cowan, Lawrence Hurley, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Andrew Chung and Gabriella Borter; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham



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Dallas police sack officer who fatally shot man in his home

Dallas police dismiss officer who fatally shot man in his home


AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The Dallas Police Department on Monday fired a police officer who is facing a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting a man in his apartment that the officer said she mistook for her own home.

FILE PHOTO: Officer Amber Guyger appears in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office, September 10, 2018. Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Officer Amber Guyger had been dismissed after nearly five years on the job for her actions on the night of the shooting earlier in September, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said in a statement. Hall also said Guyger had engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was arrested for manslaughter, without elaborating.

Guyger, 30, had been on administrative leave since she fatally shot Botham Jean, 26. The killing of an unarmed black man by a white officer sparked protests in the Texas city, with many calling for the officer to be fired and charged with murder.

The decision to fire Guyger came after an internal review. Guyger can appeal the decision, police said. An attorney for the officer was not immediately available for comment.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he heard the calls to take action and supported the decision.

“The swift termination of any officer who engages in misconduct that leads to the loss of innocent life is essential if the Dallas Police Department is to gain and maintain the public trust,” he said in a statement.

A funeral for Jean was planned for Monday in his native Saint Lucia, Dallas media reported.

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, said the police chief informed the family of the department’s decision on Sunday night and they supported the move.

“The Jean family said that this was an initial victory but are still focused on the proper indictment by the grand jury of murder, a successful prosecution and an appropriate sentence,” he said in an interview. The family is also considering suing the department and the city, he said.

The case is before a grand jury. District Attorney Faith Johnson said the panel may decide to uphold the manslaughter charge on which Guyger was arrested, or it could consider a more serious charge of murder.

Police said Guyger has told investigators she mistook Jean’s residence for her own and shot him, believing he was an intruder.

Guyger said she had mistakenly gone to Jean’s apartment one floor above her own and managed to enter because the door was slightly ajar, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O’Brien



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Thousands urged to flee ahead of post-Florence flooding in South Carolina

South Carolinians brace for post-Florence flooding


CHARLESTON, S.C./RALEIGH, N.C. (Reuters) – Thousands of people in and around the city of Georgetown, South Carolina, were bracing on Monday for severe flooding from two rain-gorged rivers as a result of the long-departed Hurricane Florence, and officials were urging residents to evacuate.

Floodwaters of 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 m) are expected to inundate Georgetown and surrounding communities this week as the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers overrun their banks along the low-lying tidal flats where they converge at Winyah Bay, which flows into the Atlantic.

Emergency management officials began sending recorded telephone messages to residents in harm’s way over the weekend, and will probably start going door-to-door in the next few days, Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.

County officials on Monday said they planned to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) to update residents on the status of the rivers and possible evacuation plans.

The potential flood zone encompasses some 3,500 homes in Georgetown and the coastal resort community of Pawleys Island, Broach-Akers told Reuters.

She said the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people who live in the area are being “strongly urged” to leave on their own, although no mandatory evacuation has been ordered.

The county opened emergency shelters at 7 a.m. on Monday, and hotels outside the flood zone in nearby Myrtle Beach are offering discounts for evacuees. Public schools will be closed until further notice, Broach-Akers said.

Flooding is seen in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 19, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media on September 21, 2018. ALAN CRADICK, CAPE FEAR RIVER WATCH/via REUTERS

First responders from around the state were assisting in relief efforts. State transportation crews were working to erect temporary dams on either side of U.S. Highway 17, the main coastal route through the area, and National Guard engineers were installing a floating bridge at Georgetown in case the highway is washed out at the river.

“The water is still rising there,” said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

STRANDED DEAD FISH

Nine days after Florence came ashore, the National Weather Service said flooding would likely persist in coastal parts of the Carolinas for days as the high-water crest of numerous rivers keeps moving downstream toward the ocean.

“All that water is going to take a good while to recede,” Oravec said. “Damage can still be done.”

The storm dumped 30 to 40 inches (75 to 100 cm) of rain on Wilmington, North Carolina, alone after making landfall nearby on Sept. 14. Heavy flooding left a commercial section of downtown Wilmington under at least a foot of water on Sunday.

Flooding in Wilmington was expected to peak on Monday along the city’s Water Street riverfront, where many businesses had stacked sandbags in advance, city spokesman Dylan Lee said.

Receding flood waters left hundreds of dead fish stranded on a highway near Wallace, about 35 miles from the nearest beach, according to the Penderlea Fire Department, which posted video of firefighters hosing the fish off Interstate 40.

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About 5,000 people across North Carolina were rescued by boat or helicopter after the storm made landfall, twice as many as in Hurricane Matthew two years ago, according to state officials.

Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, S.Carolina and Gene Cherry in Raleigh, N.Carolina; additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Gina Cherelus in New York; editing by Alison Williams and Leslie Adler



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Dallas police sack officer who fatally shot man in his home

Dallas police sack officer who fatally shot man in his home


AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The Dallas Police Department on Monday fired a police officer who is facing a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting a man in his apartment that the officer said she mistook for her own home.

FILE PHOTO: Officer Amber Guyger appears in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office, September 10, 2018. Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Officer Amber Guyger had been dismissed after nearly five years on the job for her actions on the night of the shooting earlier in September, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said in a statement. Hall also said Guyger had engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was arrested for manslaughter, without elaborating.

Guyger, 30, had been on administrative leave since she fatally shot Botham Jean, 26. The killing of an unarmed black man by a white officer sparked protests in the Texas city, with many calling for the officer to be fired and charged with murder.

The decision to fire Guyger came after an internal review. Guyger can appeal the decision, police said. An attorney for the officer was not immediately available for comment.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he heard the calls to take action and supported the decision.

“The swift termination of any officer who engages in misconduct that leads to the loss of innocent life is essential if the Dallas Police Department is to gain and maintain the public trust,” he said in a statement.

A funeral for Jean was planned for Monday in his native Saint Lucia, Dallas media reported.

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, said the police chief informed the family of the department’s decision on Sunday night and they supported the move.

“The Jean family said that this was an initial victory but are still focused on the proper indictment by the grand jury of murder, a successful prosecution and an appropriate sentence,” he said in an interview. The family is also considering suing the department and the city, he said.

The case is before a grand jury. District Attorney Faith Johnson said the panel may decide to uphold the manslaughter charge on which Guyger was arrested, or it could consider a more serious charge of murder.

Police said Guyger has told investigators she mistook Jean’s residence for her own and shot him, believing he was an intruder.

Guyger said she had mistakenly gone to Jean’s apartment one floor above her own and managed to enter because the door was slightly ajar, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O’Brien



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More than 150 people stranded in Lahaul, Spiti as heavy rainfall disrupts life in Himachal

More than 150 people stranded in Lahaul, Spiti as heavy rainfall disrupts life in Himachal


Torrential rains wreaked havoc in Himachal Pradesh over the past three days. Four people were killed and several others were reported missing.

While two young men who were riding a two-wheeler drowned in the Manikaran area, a 13-year-old girl was swept away by a rivulet at Jhidi near Bajaura Pul area in Mandi district. The girl belonged to the nomadic Gujjar tribe.

There are also reports that two people were swept away with a truck on Sunday in Manali. The truck hasn’t been traced so far.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, one person was killed in Gagret, Una after the wall of a factory collapsed.

Six people have also been rescued in Kullu. Two state Forest Department employees, who were trapped in Sorav Van Vihar area since the past 10 hours were rescued on Monday.

Kullu is the worst hit with nearly a thousand people being moved to safer places.

TOURISTS STRANDED AT LAHAUL AND SPITI

Hundreds of people are stranded at various places following the suspension of bus services. More than 150 people are stranded at Lahaul and Spiti. Out of the 150 people, 40 are in Darcha, 50 in Sarchu and 60 in Chandertal. Five of the 60 people struck in Chandertal are students from IIT Mandi. Sources said nine researchers from West Bengal have also gone missing in Lahaul and Spiti. They had left for the Gangstand glacier, but are missing since.

Telephone lines are also not working due to heavy snowfall. District administration sources, however, said that all stranded people were safe.

ROADS BLOCKED

Road traffic has also been hit in many areas due to flash floods.

Power outages have been reported in many towns including Mandi, Solan and Chamba. Sirmour district was rattled by a minor earthquake (3.7 magnitude) on Monday. However, no loss of life has been reported in the district so far.

Himachal Pradesh’s rivers are in spate and have damaged over 100 roads including some highways. NH 21 was submerged resulting in traffic snarls. The Chamba-Tissa Highway has also been submerged in flood water.

READ | Punjab issues red alert as heavy rain blocks highways, throws life out of gear in North India

Dozens of bridges have been washed away in Chamba, Kullu and Kangra. The situation was further aggravated after water was released from the hydel power project dams including Larji, Pandoh, Sanan in Mandi and Chamera in Chamba district. Traffic on National Highway 21 still remains suspended at Aut, where a road is completely submerged in water.

The closing of NH 21 has also cut off Manali from district headquarters Kullu.

FLOOD THREAT IN CHANDIGARH

After the hills, heavy rainfall is also affecting the plains. Chandigarh’s famous Sukhna lake is flowing above its danger mark and a warning has been sounded. The administration opened two spill gates of the lake.

Last time flood gates of the Sukhna Lake were opened was in 2008.

The Sukreti bridge connecting Chandigarh and Panchkula has been closed for traffic.

READ | Swollen Beas river sweeps away bus in Manali, flash floods in Himachal



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The Mueller investigation just got turned on its head by Rod Rosenstein’s removal


Rosenstein’s expected departure comes just 72 hours after The New York Times reported that the deputy attorney general — and the man overseeing the special counsel probe of Robert Mueller due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — had suggested wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump and even contemplated organizing an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein denied the story — and said, via a statement, that he did not currently think the 25th Amendment applied to Trump. Under pressure from the White House, Rosenstein issued a more fulsome statement of denial Friday night.

Rosenstein was at the White House Monday and sources say he expected to be fired. He met with chief of staff John Kelly and spoke with Trump, who is in New York. He will meet with the President on Thursday, according to the White House.

While Trump was counseled by the likes of conservative talk show host Sean Hannity to keep Rosenstein in the job, his comments in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera over the weekend made clear that he didn’t totally believe Rosenstein. “I think it’s a very sad story,” Trump said. “We’re looking into it. It’s a very sad state of affairs when something like that can happen.” Asked directly whether he would fire Rosenstein, Trump responded: “I don’t want to comment on it until I’ve got all the facts. Certainly its being looked at in terms of what took place, if anything took place.”

We know, of course, that Trump had contemplated firing Rosenstein before. In the wake of the FBI raid on Trump’s one-time lawyer Michael Cohen back in April, CNN reported that Trump was weighing getting rid of Rosenstein as a way to curtail the Mueller investigation. And, we also know that Trump ordered the firing of Mueller last summer but was thwarted when White House counsel Don McGahn refused to carry it out, citing the blowback and damage he believed it would cause the White House. And Trump has been unrelenting in his criticism of Sessions himself, a dislike that those familiar with Trump’s thinking trace to the former Alabama senator’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation due to his close ties to Trump during the campaign. In Trump’s mind, Sessions’ recusal spurred the decision by Rosenstein to appoint Mueller, a former FBI director, as special counsel.
So, here’s what we know: The President of the United States has railed against the attorney general, might lose the deputy attorney general and wanted to fire the special counsel. And, of course, he fired James Comey as FBI director last year — a move the White House initially attributed to a memo written by Rosenstein that laid out Comey’s protocol breaches during the 2016 campaign but that Trump admitted in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt was really about “this Russia thing.”

And here’s what else we know: That same president would be able to control the line of succession at the Justice Department, which determines who steps up to oversee the Mueller probe because of Sessions’ recusal. While that person needs to be someone who has already been confirmed by the Senate, as of now it’d be Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who may or may not be amenable to Trump’s view of the special counsel probe as a “witch hunt” and a “total hoax.” Later, if Trump appointed and the Senate confirmed a Justice Department official to a position above Francisco’s, that Trump-backed person would take over directing Mueller.

It could be a sea change from Rosenstein who, despite being chosen by Sessions and serving as the No. 2 in Trump’s Justice Department, had repeatedly signaled that he would have no interest in removing Mueller based on the information publicly available about the investigation. In December 2017, Rosenstein, in testimony on Capitol Hill, insisted he would not fire Mueller unless there was clear evidence that the special counsel was acting appropriately. “I would follow the regulation,” said Rosenstein. “If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not.”

Such a move would create the possibility that Mueller’s probe, which remains largely a black box, could be curtailed or forced to a premature end. It remains to be seen how that news would be treated by congressional Republicans who have previously urged Trump to allow Mueller to finish his work without impediment but have also grown increasingly vocal about their desire to see the probe end sometime soon.

Even before we know a) who replaces Rosenstein b) how that person will approach to Mueller probe and c) how Congress will react to whatever the person decides to do about Mueller, we do know a few things as a result of Rosenstein’s expected departure.

First, this throws the Justice Department into even more chaos as it seems to land the probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, potential collusion between Russia and elements of the Trump campaign and the obstruction of justice and the possibility that Trump obstructed the probe by firing Comey. The Justice Department would be without its two top officials on a probe of a foreign country actively interfering in our elections. The Justice Department line of succession would mean that Francisco would be placed in charge of the Mueller investigation, but there is a debate as to whether presidential preference could override Justice’s succession plan.

Second, it almost certainly makes the ongoing Russia probe an even more present issue in the 2018 midterm campaign. Republican strategists had openly fretted about what Trump firing Rosenstein could mean to the party’s chances at the ballot box this fall, concerned that it would create not only the appearance of chaos within the White House but also that it could make the President and his inner circle look like they were desperately trying to cover something up in regards the Russia probe.

Republicans, who are hugely supportive of Trump, are unlikely to be deeply affected by such a move. But Democratic base voters, who are already hugely fired up to vote in 43 days, will likely be even more incentivized to do so — believing that the stakes have been raised by the removal of Rosenstein. Independents and unaffiliated voters may well be turned off by the perception that Trump is meddling in an active investigation.

Third, the already-troubled confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh likely become even more so in the wake of the Rosenstein removal. Why? Because the Rosenstein news amounts to taking a boulder and throwing it into already-churning waters. Republicans are already worried about the fallout at the ballot box of continuing to push for the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee who now faces public accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual behavior as a young man. Take those extant worries and pile on the agita created by the deputy attorney general (and the guy in charge of the Mueller probe) being replaced and you have a very skittish group of Republican elected officials. And did I mention that the election is only 43 days away? The interest in defending Trump and Kavanaugh even while also answering questions about the Rosenstein’s departure and next steps for the Mueller probe will be somewhere close to zero for lots of endangered Republicans who want to just get out on the campaign trial and try to keep their jobs.

The initial shock of Rosenstein is still being felt in Washington. The aftershocks the move sets off will be shaking our political system for the next days, weeks and months.



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