Beyond the county: Dems may quit Benghazi panel, FBI investigates police shooting of Florida man
Abortion proponents complain after new videos posted online
WASHINGTON — A trade group for abortion providers is asking a top House Republican to investigate after secretly recorded videos were posted online by a conservative blogger who wrote that he got the footage from a congressional source.
The National Abortion Federation said Friday that the videos were recorded at recent meetings by the Center for Medical Progress, a small group of anti-abortion activists. The center’s furtive recordings of Planned Parenthood officials discussing their retrieval of fetal tissue have sparked an uproar by conservatives and unsuccessful efforts by congressional Republicans to cut Planned Parenthood’s federal funds.
The federation obtained a court order in San Francisco against public release of the footage. But in recent days, videos have been posted online at GotNews.com, a conservative website.
That website’s founder, Charles C. Johnson, wrote on his site that he has obtained “all of the Planned Parenthood tapes” and got the recordings “from a source on Capitol Hill.”
David Daleiden, the abortion foe who leads the center, recently gave his footage to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after it was subpoenaed by that panel’s chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Vicki Saporta, National Abortion Federation president, said in a written statement that her organization did not know if Johnson got the footage from Congress. She said she wants Chaffetz to investigate if it did and to take steps to make sure the videos are secure, citing increased danger to abortion clinic workers.
“The release of more videos will likely lead to more threats, intimidation and possibly violence against abortion providers,” Saporta said.
MJ Henshaw, a Chaffetz spokeswoman, declined to comment when asked about the abortion federation’s request.
In a statement Friday, Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said that with anti-abortion Republicans investigating them, the group was not surprised by a “politically motivated leak.” Planned Parenthood has said the tapes released so far have been deceptively edited and says it has broken no laws.
Johnson wrote on his website that he did not obtain the footage from Daleiden, who he wrote has been a friend.
Attorneys for the abortion federation sent Johnson a copy of the court restraining order, which they say applies to him. Johnson wrote that he believes the order does not apply to him.
“We are moving from the Planned Parenthood tapes being about the sale of organs to the unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
No injuries after 2 aircraft collide near Calif./Nevada line
LAS VEGAS — Authorities say no injuries have been reported after two aircraft that departed from an airport in Henderson apparently collided mid-air near the California/Nevada state line.
Clark County firefighters say they received reports of the incident at about 10:20 a.m. on Friday.
Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan says one plane with two people on board returned to the Henderson Executive Airport. He said the other had one person aboard and was forced to land in a dry lake bed in California’s San Bernardino County.
Buchanan said there was no fire, but the plane that landed in California was leaking fuel and both had “significant” damage. It wasn’t immediately known where the two planes were headed.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t respond to requests for comment on Friday.
— Associated Press
Pelosi: Democrats may quit Benghazi panel with Clinton done
WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Benghazi committee may quit the panel after Hillary Rodham Clinton endured a grueling interrogation by Republican lawmakers at a marathon congressional hearing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday.
Democrats “may decide that now, defending the truth, their job is done, they’re going to move on,” Pelosi told reporters. “I have to talk to them and see what risk they see if we would walk away because we see the distortion, just the really disconnect with reality that exists on that committee.”
Pelosi said she is “taking my lead” from the five Democrats on the GOP-led panel investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said he and others on the Benghazi panel “learned absolutely nothing” during Thursday’s contentious 11-hour hearing or the 17-month investigation that preceded it.
Other Democrats, who had labeled the probe a partisan effort to undermine Clinton’s presidential campaign, echoed Smith’s complaint after the former secretary of state finished her testimony.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, said no decision has been made on whether Democrats boycott the investigation.
Clinton had confrontational exchanges with several GOP lawmakers, but also heard supportive statements from Democrats. The questioning was, by turns, harsh and sympathetic, depending on who was asking.
Clinton firmly defended her record while steadfastly dodging any misstatement or display of anger that might damage her White House prospects. The most combative moments zeroed in on the Obama administration’s shifting initial accounts of the September 2012 attack that cost the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But there were few specific questions about what transpired on Sept. 11-12, 2012, events that Clinton said causes her to lose sleep to this day.
“I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together,” she told the committee. “I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together.”
The panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said the committee was focused on facts, not politics, as he sought to deflect recent comments by fellow Republicans describing the investigation as an effort to lower Clinton’s poll standings.
Democrats noted that the probe has now cost taxpayers more than $4.5 million and has lasted longer than the 1970s Watergate era investigation.
“The reality is that after 17 months, we have nothing new to tell the families. We have nothing new to tell the American people,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has called for the committee to be disbanded. The American people are entitled to the truth about Benghazi, he said, but “they’re also entitled to the truth about our committee.”
Gowdy said important questions remain unanswered: Why was the U.S. in Libya? Why were security requests denied? Why was the military not ready to respond quickly on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks? And why did the administration change its story about the nature of the attacks in the weeks afterward?
“These questions linger,” he argued, “because previous investigations were not thorough.” He dismissed as ineffective the work of seven previous investigations, including several led by current and former Republican colleagues.
Gowdy called Thursday’s marathon session — with just a single witness, Clinton — “a constructive interaction.” But said he did not know whether the embattled panel gained credibility.
Cummings, who frequently guided Clinton though friendly questions, said he thought she “did an outstanding job.”
Clinton kept her cool throughout, but sparks flew briefly after Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, accused her of deliberately misleading the public by linking the Benghazi violence at first to an Internet video insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Clinton said that “some” people had wanted to use the video to justify the attack” and said she rejected that justification.
Speaking directly to Jordan, she said, “The insinuations that you are making do a great disservice” to the diplomats and others involved. “I’m sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative,” she added. “I can only tell you what the facts were.”
Feds: Californians in flood areas should buy insurance now
WASHINGTON — With a strong El Nino in place, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is urging Californians in flood prone places to buy insurance before it’s too late.
FEMA deputy associate administrator Roy Wright said Friday buying flood insurance is the most powerful action residents can take with the El Nino, which brings heavy winter rains to California. Between 50 to 70 percent of Californians who live in high risk flood areas don’t have federal flood insurance. People can check at http://www.floodsmart.gov . Wright said flood insurance has to be purchased 30 days before a flood hits.
— Associated Press
FBI to help investigate fatal police shooting of Florida man
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Federal authorities will help investigate the death of a black man fatally shot by a Florida police officer.
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said Friday that it had requested the assistance of the FBI, which agreed to help investigate the death of Corey Jones.
Jones was shot early Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens while waiting for a tow truck in his broken-down vehicle. Police say an undercover officer was checking on what he thought was an abandoned vehicle when he was confronted by an “armed subject.”
Jones’ family says he was legally in possession of a gun and was likely unaware that the plainclothes officer in an unmarked car was a law enforcement official. Authorities have not released the officer’s race.
San Francisco Bay Area man stabs 3 store workers after theft
PITTSBURG, Calif. — Authorities say a man is suspected of stabbing three grocery store employees with a knife after he attempted to steal shaving razors.
The Oakland Tribune reports (http://bayareane.ws/1RsfeXv ) Friday that police Capt. Ron Raman says the three employees were transported to the hospital Thursday night. One employee was stabbed in the back and two were stabbed in the forearm. All are expected to survive.
Authorities say the man took shaving razors from the shelf and was confronted by five employees as he attempted to leave the store. Raman says the man fought with the employees and three of the five workers were stabbed with a medium-sized knife.
Police, search dogs and a police helicopter were in the area searching for the man late Thursday. He remained at large Friday.
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