News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
This is an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
President Donald Trump and his allies are debating the value of political loyalty versus legal credentials in their search for a new White House counsel, a crucial decision ahead of a potential onslaught of congressional scrutiny following the midterm elections.
Trump is “counting down the days” until the departure of his current lead White House lawyer, Don McGahn, with whom he has clashed, according to a former White House official. The longtime Trump legal adviser is set to leave upon the expected Senate confirmation later this month of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
But Trump has not settled on a successor. The obvious candidate is Emmet Flood, an elite Washington lawyer respected by members of both parties for his expertise in handling Capitol Hill scrutiny and someone who could help stock the depleted ranks of the counsel’s office with top legal talent.Politico
The stockpile of bottled water stretches down an unused runway in Ceiba. Case after case, pallet piled upon pallet, blue tarps and plastic glinting in the sun.
The emergency supplies were brought in by FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which smashed the island and left its residents without power, without roofs and without running water.
Federal officials commandeered the area in the far east of the island last fall as a staging ground, collecting the water and containers full of tarps to patch damaged and destroyed roofs in surrounding neighborhoods.
And there the supplies sat. And sat. Storm survivors were collecting spring water from the mountains for cooking and bathing, even with the threat of disease that brought.CNN
Some 8,000 people in Boston’s suburbs had little hope of returning home soon as investigators scrambled on Friday to find out the cause of dozens of gas explosions that destroyed scores of homes in the biggest such accident in nearly a decade.
The blasts on Thursday killed on person and left more than a dozen injured in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence – North of Boston – and left more than 18,000 homes and businesses without power, according to emergency officials.
Massachusetts State Police said around 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odor had been reported Thursday, though by Friday afternoon officials said that all had been extinguished. It was unclear how many of the fires and explosions were in homes or other locations.Reuters
In July 2015, a young Russian gun rights activist now alleged to be a Kremlin covert agent was trying to meet Donald Trump, nearly a year earlier than prosecutors have publicly claimed.
The suspected spy, Mariia Butina, routed the previously undisclosed request through her friend and longtime Republican political operative, Paul Erickson, who reached out to Trump campaign official Sam Nunberg, Nunberg told POLITICO. Erickson described Butina as a Russian involved with the National Rifle Association, according to Nunberg, who was one of a handful of people tapped by Trump to start up his campaign at the time. When Butina wasn’t able to meet with Trump, she showed up at a campaign event several days later to ask Trump a question about Russian sanctions during the Q&A session.Politico
The Pentagon is monitoring and questioning the presence of over a dozen Russian Navy warships that are currently deployed in the Eastern
Mediterranean, within striking distance of Syria.
The presence of the Russian warships comes as US officials tell CNN that US intelligence assesses that Moscow’s Syrian allies have carried out airstrikes against medical facilities in Idlib, one of the few remaining rebel held areas in the country.
The Russian Navy “has been steadily building a large contingent of naval assets close to Syria with more than a dozen ships, many of those KALIBR-missile-equipped,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN referring to the Russian-made cruise missile.CNN
Donald Trump Jr. accused Vanity Fair on Friday of purchasing some of the site’s more than 4 million Twitter followers after the magazine reported that Trump Jr. was worried his father, President Trump, has trouble sleeping.
In a tweet, the president’s eldest son attacked the news magazine as “sad” and “irrelevant,” while urging Vanity Fair reporters to “keep making crap up” about him and his father’s administration.
“What a joke, you think I worry my father isn’t sleeping? I have never and will never worry about that. Keep making crap up,” Trump Jr. tweeted.
He went on to accuse the magazine of purchasing Twitter followers, arguing that low engagement numbers on recent posts suggested that some of Vanity Fair’s followers are fake.The Hill
A North Carolina TV station had to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage as floodwaters surrounded the building.
Employees at New Bern’s WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio for the “first time in history,” the station posted Thursday night on Facebook. A spokesperson for the ABC affiliate said roads around the building were flooding.AP