WASHINGTON — Amid escalating tensions between some House Republicans and the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a private meeting with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Wray and Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department and the man overseeing the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russian agents, asked for the meeting in part to discuss the department’s responses to House subpoenas and requests for information, according to a person familiar with the request who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The meeting comes as President Donald Trump and allies in Congress have stepped up their attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and the probe run by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Critics have alleged the investigation is infected with partisan bias, pointing to texts last year between two FBI officials during the campaign that were highly critical of Trump.

Republicans also have been pushing the FBI and Justice Department to reveal more about what they know about a dossier containing allegations about Trump associates and Russia. The dossier, which was prepared by a private firm hired by Trump’s political opponents, was published by BuzzFeed early last year.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Fire breaks out at Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua property

NEW YORK — A fire broke out at Bill and Hillary Clinton’s remote Westchester County home on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

It was not immediately clear if the Clintons were at their longtime Chappaqua residence when the fire erupted just before 3 p.m. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, authorities said.

A spokesman for the New Castle Police Department confirmed to the New York Daily News that no injuries had been reported. He noted the fire was called in by someone who was at the home at 2:51 p.m.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, said the fire broke out in a Secret Service facility that is not connected to the main house.

“Fire was put out, local FD responded. The Clintons were not home. All is ok!” Merrill tweeted.

A Secret Service spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Footage from local outlets showed several emergency vehicles parked in front of the house, including at least three fire trucks and an ambulance.

The Clintons have been living at the five-bedroom home for nearly two decades. The political power couple bought it for $1.7 million in 1999.

—New York Daily News


Chicago Public Schools employees stole gift cards meant for students, watchdog says

CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools employees “stole or misappropriated” thousands of dollars’ worth of school-purchased gift cards that were intended to be used as incentives for students and families, according to an annual report from the district’s inspector general.

In one case, a principal of a school for vulnerable students stole presents of at least “$500 in gift cards that were donated to the students and were intended to help address their specialized needs,” Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office found. The same principal gave to an acquaintance 30 new backpacks filled with school supplies that had been donated, according to Schuler.

The misuse of gift cards was among a long list of alleged wrongdoing by teachers, principals and district families in the IG’s annual report, which was released Wednesday.

—Chicago Tribune


Ethiopia wants to turn a notorious prison into a museum. But some fear the abuses will continue

JOHANNESBURG — One cellblock in the Ma’ekelawi prison in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is known as the Dark House. Its chilly, dank cells are underground, including four pitch-black cells too narrow for inmates to sit or stretch their arms or legs.

It has a second nickname: Siberia.

Ma’ekelawi is one of Ethiopia’s most notorious prisons, where dissidents, journalists, bloggers and protesters have been held for speaking out. According to a 2013 Human Rights Watch report, political prisoners and others have been tortured in Ma’ekelawi through beatings, prolonged stress positions and exposure to severe cold.

The government has always denied the allegations. But on Wednesday, Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, stunned local activists and international human rights observers when he announced that the government would release all political prisoners and turn the Ma’ekelawi prison into a museum.

Desalegn’s announcement was momentous because it marked the first time the government has admitted to holding political prisoners, often referring to them as criminals or terrorists in the past.

—Los Angeles Times


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