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AP Top News at 5:24 p.m. EDT

Lawyer says Trump administration moved to squelch testimony
WASHINGTON (AP) - A lawyer for former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in letters last week that the Trump administration was trying to limit her testimony at congressional hearings focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing was later canceled by the House intelligence committee chairman. In the letters, attorney David O'Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking "further constraints" on testimony Yates could provide at a committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. He said the department's position was that all actions she took as deputy attorney general were "client confidences" that could not be disclosed without written approval.


Russian Manafort client: Willing to speak to Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Russian billionaire close to President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he is willing to take part in U.S. congressional hearings to discuss his past business relationship with President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Last week, The Associated Press reported that Manafort had written aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska in 2005, proposing to do work for Deripaska that would "benefit the Putin Government." The story was based on interviews with people familiar with Deripaska's business dealings with Manafort and documents obtained by the AP, including strategy memoranda, contracts and records showing international wire transfers for millions of dollars.


Trump tosses Obama's 'clean' energy plan, embraces coal
WASHINGTON (AP) - Declaring "the start of a new era" in energy production, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would revive the coal industry and create jobs. The move makes good on his campaign pledge to unravel former President Barack Obama's plan to curb global warming. The order seeks to suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels. Environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore, denounced the plan. But Trump said the effort would allow workers to "succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time." "That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again," Trump said, during a ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, attended by a number of coal miners.


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A look at how Trump's moves on coal will affect the industry
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - President Donald Trump's move to roll back Obama-era regulations aimed at curbing climate change comes as the coal industry is reeling from job losses, bankruptcies, pollution restrictions and growing competition from natural gas, wind and solar. Trump on Tuesday ordered a review of the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce emissions from coal power plants, and the lifting of a moratorium on the sale of coal mining leases on federal lands. Here's a look at how the moves will affect the coal industry: AN INDUSTRY IN DECLINE Trump's move to support coal mining is unlikely to spur a quick turnaround in the industry.


Amnesty: US-led coalition not protecting Mosul civilians
BAGHDAD (AP) - A recent spike in civilian casualties in Mosul suggests the U.S.-led coalition is not taking adequate precautions as it helps Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State group, Amnesty International said Tuesday. The rights group's allegations came after the U.S. military acknowledged carrying out a March 17 airstrike in an area of western Mosul where residents say an explosion killed more than 100 civilians. U.S. officials did not confirm there were civilian casualties, but said a probe is underway. Amnesty's report also cites a second strike on Saturday that it said killed up to 150 people. The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement that it was investigating multiple strikes in western Mosul that allegedly resulted in civilian deaths.


White House calls for domestic cuts to finance border wall
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump is proposing immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community grants so U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, can cover the down payment on the border wall. The White House documents were submitted to Congress amid negotiations over a catchall spending bill that would avert a partial government shutdown at the end of next month. The package would wrap up $1.1 trillion in unfinished spending bills and address the Trump administration's request for an immediate $30 billion in additional Pentagon spending. The latest Trump proposal, disclosed Tuesday, would eliminate $1.2 billion in National Institutes of Health research grants, a favorite of both parties.


Oakland found building lacked sprinklers before deadly blaze
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Inspectors discovered that a California building in a rundown neighborhood lacked fire extinguishers, smoke detectors in every apartment and a working sprinkler system just three days before a blaze erupted and killed four low-income residents. Officials uncovered multiple fire code violations during an inspection Friday and ordered the owner of the Oakland building to immediately fix the fire alarm and sprinkler systems, according to documents released by the city. Residents complained they didn't hear alarms, feel sprinklers or see fire extinguishers early Monday as they fled flames tearing through the three-story building that housed some 80 recovering drug addicts and former homeless people.


Advocates of homeless vets fear Trump budget could hurt them
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The push to end homelessness among veterans would suffer without the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is up for elimination under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, nonprofits and local officials say. The council coordinates the efforts of 19 federal agencies that play a role in preventing and ending homelessness among all Americans. But the strides made with veterans - for whom homelessness has been effectively ended in three states and dozens of communities amid a concerted effort - make the proposed cuts particularly upsetting to advocates. Homeless advocates in any given state consult the council, whose annual budget is about $3.5 million, on which strategies are working elsewhere as they seek to house veterans.


In Trump's White House drama, Priebus is favorite target
WASHINGTON (AP) - In the behind-the-scenes drama of who's up and who's down in Donald Trump's White House, chief of staff Reince Priebus is playing a starring role. Priebus, a genial Midwesterner with deep ties to the Republican establishment that Trump toppled, has faced questions about his future since the day he set foot in the White House. And the focus on him is intensifying following Trump's failure to get enough GOP lawmakers to support a White House-backed health care bill, an embarrassing blow for the new president. There's blame to spare for the health care debacle at both the White House and on Capitol Hill.


Club operator denies security bypass allowed before shooting
CINCINNATI (AP) - A Cincinnati nightclub operator denies that some patrons were allowed to bypass security checks that included metal-detection wands before a gunbattle erupted, killing one man and injuring 16 other people. Julian "Jay" Rodgers rejected claims that people could pay to avoid the long line to get into the club without being checked. Police estimate 200 people were inside early Sunday when a dispute escalated into a gunfight in which more than 20 shots were fired by an unknown number of shooters in the popular club near the Ohio River east of downtown Cincinnati. "There have been untrue reports that certain patrons were allowed to enter the club without passing through security," Rodgers, a veteran operator of Cincinnati-area entertainment venues, said in a statement late Monday.

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