AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT
Trump rips searing Times op-ed from unnamed senior official
WASHINGTON -- In a striking anonymous broadside, a senior Trump administration official wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday claiming to be part of a group of people "working diligently from within" to impede President Donald Trump's "worst inclinations" and ill-conceived parts of his agenda.
Trump said it was a "gutless editorial" and "really a disgrace," and his press secretary called on the official to resign.
Trump later tweeted, "TREASON?" and in an extraordinary move demanded that if "the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"
The writer, claiming to be part of the "resistance" to Trump but not from the left, said, "Many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office." The newspaper described the author of the column only as a senior official in the Trump administration.
"It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room," the author continued. "We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what's right even when Donald Trump won't."
Times grants anonymity to administration official for essay
NEW YORK -- It was an extraordinary decision at a tense time for editors at The New York Times: a senior official at the Trump administration wanted to tell the world that some who work for the president try to blunt his worst instincts, but wanted the cover of anonymity to avoid being fired.
The Times agreed and posted the column titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" on Wednesday, provoking fury from the man who frequently revs up supporters by railing against "fake news" and the "failing New York Times." Trump called the move gutless and demanded the Times reveal the author's identity "for national security purposes."
The internet was abuzz with speculation on who wrote the column, which veered in tone between a hostage note and a reassurance to Americans that, as the writer put it, "there are adults in the room."
The decision was in the purview of James Bennet, editorial page editor, and James Dao, op-ed editor, with publisher A.G. Sulzberger weighing in, a Times spokeswoman said. The newspaper's executive editor, Dean Baquet, was not involved because the news pages are his responsibility, and the column appeared in the Times' opinion section.
That led to a Times reporter, Jodi Kantor, tweeting that "Times reporters must now try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity?"
Kavanaugh's lips sealed on White House subpoenas, pardons
WASHINGTON -- Pressured by Democrats with Donald Trump on their minds, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh rejected repeated requests at Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing to reveal his views about a president pardoning himself or being forced to testify in a criminal case.
For a second day, the judge nominated by Trump insisted he fully embraced the importance of judicial independence. But he refused to provide direct answers to Democrats who wanted him to say whether there are limits on a president's power to issue pardons, including to himself or in exchange for a bribe. He also would not say whether he believes the president can be subpoenaed to testify.
"I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions of that sort," Kavanaugh said in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont about pardons. Still, he began his long day in the witness chair by declaring that "no one is above the law."
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing has strong political overtones ahead of the November congressional elections, but as a practical matter Democrats lack the votes to block Kavanaugh's confirmation.
They are concerned that Kavanaugh will push the court to the right on abortion, guns and other issues, and that he will side with President Trump in cases stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. The 53-year-old appellate judge answered cautiously when asked about most of those matters, refusing an invitation from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to pledge to step aside from any Supreme Court cases dealing with Trump and Mueller's investigation.
Kim Jong Un demands "goodwill measures" as Koreas set summit
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and to the suspension of all future long-range missile tests, while also expressing faith in an increasingly embattled President Donald Trump's efforts to settle a nuclear impasse, South Korean officials and the North's official media said Thursday.
Kim also reportedly expressed frustration with outside skepticism about his nuclear disarmament intentions and demanded that his "goodwill measures" be met in kind.
The trove of comments from Kim was filtered through his propaganda specialists in Pyongyang and the South Korean government, which is keen on keeping engagement alive. They come amid a growing standoff with the United States on how to proceed with diplomacy meant to settle a nuclear dispute that had many fearing war last year.
Only hours earlier, a South Korean delegation returned from talks with Kim where they set up a summit for Sept. 18-20 in Pyongyang between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, their third meeting since April.
Each statement reportedly made by Kim will be parsed for clues about the future of the nuclear diplomacy. His reported commitment to a nuclear-free Korea, for instance, wasn't new information - Kim has repeatedly declared similar intentions before - but it allows hopes to rise that negotiators can get back on track after the recriminations that followed Kim's meeting in June with Trump in Singapore.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey keeps his cool before Congress
A chill, bearded and nose-ringed Jack Dorsey appeared unflappable as he faced hours of questioning from members of Congress Wednesday on issues as wide-ranging as political bias, hate speech, school safety and election manipulation.
At 9:30 a.m., he began at the Senate intelligence committee, alongside Facebook's practiced and polished chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and an empty chair in place of the absent Google co-founder Larry Page. In the afternoon, a 1:30 hearing featured a solo Dorsey before the 54-member House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Dorsey, who meditates regularly, live-tweeted his opening statement and answered questions in a low, measured tone. He repeatedly declined to rise to the bait offered by sometimes scathing legislators, instead holding forth as the nerdy and earnest CEO who just wants to improve his company and its role in the world.
When Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton pressed Dorsey on Twitter's allegiance to the U.S., Dorsey steered a serene middle course. Asked if he saw a difference between cooperating with the U.S. government and the Russian or Chinese governments, Dorsey demurred. "Not sure what you mean," he said.
"Are you an American company?" Cotton asked.
Quake in northern Japan kills 2, causes landslides, blackout
TOKYO -- A powerful earthquake rocked Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido early Thursday, triggering landslides that crushed homes, knocking out power and forcing a nuclear power plant to switch to a backup generator.
The magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck southern Hokkaido at 3:08 a.m. at the depth of 40 kilometers (24 miles), Japan's Meteorological Agency said. The epicenter was east of the city of Tomakomai but the shaking buckled roads and damaged homes in Hokkaido's prefectural capital of Sapporo, with a population of 1.9 million.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that two people had been confirmed dead. He did not give details.
The Japanese national broadcaster NHK, citing its own tally, reported that 125 people were injured and nearly 40 are feared missing. Hokkaido's local disaster agency put the number of injured at 48.
Several people were reported missing in the nearby town of Atsuma, where a massive landslide engulfed homes in an avalanche of soil, rocks and timber.
Inside the makeover of the Democratic Party
WASHINGTON -- The Democratic makeover is in full swing.
With just a few primaries remaining before the decisive midterm elections in November, voters have dramatically reshaped the Democratic Party to become younger, more diverse and unquestionably liberal.
The latest turn came Tuesday in Massachusetts, where Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, 44, trounced 10-term congressman Mike Capuano, 66, in a Democratic primary. It reprised a June primary upset in which self-proclaimed democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, toppled New York congressman Joe Crowley, one of the House Democrats' top leaders. They join minority candidates like Democratic gubernatorial nominees Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Andrew Gillum of Florida and a host of younger white candidates - including dozens of women and a gaggle of veterans - who are offering voters an antidote to President Donald Trump.
"We are at a crossroads," Pressley declared during a party unity rally Wednesday. "This can be our darkest hour or it can be our finest."
Outsider candidates are taking on establishment-aligned Democratic incumbents in the final primaries of the season over the coming week in states such as Delaware and Rhode Island.
Lawmakers seek answers for why Native American women vanish
VALIER, Mont. -- The searchers rummage through the abandoned trailer, flipping over a battered couch, unfurling a stained sheet, looking for clues. It's blistering hot and a grizzly bear lurking in the brush unleashes a menacing growl. But they can't stop.
Not when a loved one is still missing.
The group moves outside into knee-deep weeds, checking out a rusted garbage can, an old washing machine - and a surprise: bones.
Ashley HeavyRunner Loring, a 20-year-old member of the Blackfeet Nation, was last heard from around June 8, 2017. Since then her older sister, Kimberly, has been looking for her.
She has logged about 40 searches, with family from afar sometimes using Google Earth to guide her around closed roads. She's hiked in mountains, shouting her sister's name. She's trekked through fields, gingerly stepping around snakes. She's trudged through snow, rain and mud, but she can't cover the entire 1.5 million-acre reservation, an expanse larger than Delaware.
Blamed in baby's death, weakening Gordon spreads rain inland
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. -- Blamed for the death of a Florida baby and intense wind and rain that pummeled parts of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, Tropical Depression Gordon weakened Wednesday but still spread bands of heavy rains across a swath of the South as it swirled over central Mississippi.
It promised more of the same on a forecast track expected to take it northeast into Arkansas, which was forecast to get heavy rain from the system by Wednesday night. By Saturday, what's left of the storm was forecast to hook to the north, then northeast on a path toward the Great Lakes. National Weather Service offices in Missouri and Oklahoma said Gordon's remnants could add to the rain caused by a frontal boundary already causing heavy rains in parts of the Midwest. Flash flood watches stretched from the Florida panhandle, through parts of southwest Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.
Gordon never reached hurricane strength by the time it came ashore Tuesday night just west of the Mississippi-Alabama line. Its maximum sustained winds reached 70 mph (112 kph). It knocked out power to at least 27,000 utility customers in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. By Wednesday afternoon the numbers were down to about 5,800 in Alabama, 3,000 in Mississippi and a little more than 2,000 in Florida.
Pictures on social media showed damaged roofs and debris-strewn beaches and roads. However, no major damage or serious injuries were reported, other than the one fatality - a baby in a mobile home, struck by a large tree limb in Pensacola late Tuesday.
Neighbors told the newspaper the victim was about 10 months old, but the Escambia County Sheriff's Office confirmed the child was 2 years old.
Keys to face Osaka in US Open semis; Nishikori beats Cilic
NEW YORK -- Madison Keys was one of four American women in the U.S. Open semifinals a year ago, when she was the runner-up.
She's the only member of that quartet who made it back to that round.
Still in search of her first Grand Slam title, the 14th-seeded Keys reached her third semifinal in the past five majors by using her big-strike game built on serves and forehands to overpower No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday night.
Keys, who is 23, thinks she is more equipped than ever to deal with important moments on important stages.
"I've gotten a lot better managing my emotions once it gets to this part and knowing that everything is going to be probably more amped up," she said. "And not shying away from those, but just really being honest about it and talking about it."