Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment:

March 20, 2017 - 1:38 pm


Comey knocks down Trump's wiretap claim

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director James Comey says the FBI and Justice Department have no information to substantiate President Donald Trump's claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him before the election.

Comey says no individual can order surveillance of an American. He says courts grant this permission after a rigorous application process.

Comey was testifying before the House intelligence committee. Comey said the Justice Department also asked him to share with the committee that the answer also applies to the Justice Department and its various components. The Justice Department oversees the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.


NSA knocks down WH claim of British spying

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, is denying that the British intelligence community was ever asked to conduct electronic surveillance on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred to unsubstantiated allegations made by a Fox News analyst that GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, had helped Obama wiretap Trump. The British intelligence agency flatly denied it happened.

The ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, asked Rogers if he thought it was "utterly ridiculous" that anyone in the U.S. would ask British spies to do surveillance on a presidential candidate. Rogers said it was and added that he had seen nothing at the NSA that would indicate that happened.


Schumer says Trump damaged his credibility

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's top Democrat says that President Donald Trump "severely damaged his credibility" with Twitter postings claiming that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps of him.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer issued the statement after FBI Director James Comey told a House panel that there was no information that supports Trump's allegation.

Schumer said Trump "needs to retract his claim immediately."

He added that Trump "should admit he was wrong, stop the outlandish tweets."


NSA chief stands behind assessment on Russian interference

WASHINGTON (AP) — National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers says the intelligence community stands behind its January assessment that it is highly confident Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of electing Donald Trump.

In a Monday morning tweet, Trump blamed Democrats for the investigation into his contacts and said the House intelligence committee should be focus on investigating leaks.

Rogers said that his agency is working to provide Congress the material it needs to investigate the intelligence agencies' findings.

Rogers was testifying before the House intelligence committee alongside FBI Director James Comey.

They said they have no evidence or intelligence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in key states during last year's presidential election. Both said they had no evidence that any vote tallies were changed in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina or Ohio.


UPDATE: Trump tweets video clip of Comey testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is highlighting FBI Director James' Comey's refusal to say whether he briefed President Barack Obama on a Trump adviser's contacts with Russia.

Trump tweeted a video clip of Comey being asked if he informed Obama about calls made by Michael Flynn, who was fired as White House national security adviser. Comey says he won't discuss that case or any other discussions he had with Obama.

The tweet appears to suggest that the Obama administration was behind leaks about Flynn's contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Flynn was fired after news reports revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his discussions with the envoy.


Supreme Court nominee's Senate hearing begins

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has opened confirmation hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

The panel's chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, opened the first day of hearings on Monday. Colorado's two senators — Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner — are introducing Gorsuch, a highly credentialed and conservative member of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gorsuch's nomination has been cheered by Republicans and praised by some left-leaning legal scholars. Democrats headed into the committee hearings divided over how hard to fight him.

The first day of the hearings will feature opening statements from senators and Gorsuch himself. Questioning will begin on Tuesday.


NEW: Leahy criticizes court nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy is criticizing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because of his support from conservative interest groups that the Vermont lawmaker called "anti-choice, anti-environment and pro-corporate."

Gorsuch was recommended for the nomination by the conservative Federalist Society and others during last year's presidential campaign after Senate Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 and the seat has remained vacant.

President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch in February.

At the start of confirmation hearings on Monday, Leahy complained that Republicans had "made a big show last year about respecting the voice of the American people in this process."

Leahy said Republicans are now pressing to "rubber stamp a nominee selected by extreme interest groups." The Democrat also noted Gorsuch was nominated by Trump, who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.


NEW: Graham bemoans partisanship over judicial picks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is criticizing the increasing partisanship in Senate consideration of judicial nominations.

Speaking at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Graham said he voted for both of Democratic President Barack Obama's choices.

He said he thought they "lived exemplary lives, quite frankly."

As Democrats have criticized Gorsuch's rulings, Graham said "now the shoe is on the other foot." He challenged Democrats to say Gorsuch isn't qualified.

He noted that in the past, justices were confirmed unanimously or with little dissent.

The current partisan climate "is going to destroy the judiciary over time," Graham said.


NEW: Supreme Court seems divided in property rights dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court appears deeply divided in a property rights dispute that could make it tougher for state and local governments to limit development in coastal areas.

The justices heard arguments Monday in the case that involves a family's effort to sell part of its riverfront land in Wisconsin. The family says conservation rules forbidding the sale stripped the land of its value, and the government owes them compensation.

County officials nixed the sale because regulations treat the family's two lots as a single property that can't be split up.

The court's four liberal justices seemed to side with state and local officials, while conservative justices were more skeptical.

The case has drawn interest from property rights and business groups that say such rules let the government avoid paying landowners for restricting land use.


Ahead of Trump visit, Paul hopes health proposal will fail

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says he hopes the Republican health care proposal will fail so that "true negotiations" can begin.

Paul spoke to a group of Louisville business leaders on Monday, hours before President Donald Trump planned a campaign-style rally in the same city to advocate for the plan that would repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law.

Paul said he would not attend the rally because he planned to fly back to Washington to continue building a coalition to defeat the plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scheduled to attend the rally.

Trump's Kentucky visit is his latest attempt to pressure conservative lawmakers opposed to the health care proposal.

Kentucky voters chose both Trump and Paul in November by wide margins.


Orly video shows attacker rushing soldier

PARIS (AP) — Video of a suspected Islamic extremist at Paris' Orly airport shows a soldier caught by surprise when an attacker drops a shopping bag and grabs her from behind.

The Associated Press has obtained security footage of Saturday's attack, which caused panic and shut down the French capital's second-biggest airport. It shows the attacker grabbing the soldier around the shoulders as her companion patrols slightly ahead. The attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was shot dead within three minutes during a standoff with the companion and another soldier.

The footage shows him trying to wrestle away the first soldier's gun, but he was killed before he could fire the weapon.

Authorities say Belgacem, a 39-year-old Frenchman, had a long criminal record of drug and robbery offenses. No one was injured at the airport.


Billionaire Gates meets with Trump to talk foreign aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tech billionaire Bill Gates is meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss progress in programs for global health and development as well as domestic education.

Gates, who as the co-founder of Microsoft is the world's wealthiest man, will highlight the "indispensable role that the United States has played in achieving these gains," his foundation said in a statement.

Monday's meeting comes just days after the administration submitted a budget blueprint that cuts foreign aid.

The Trump administration's budget message said it was time "to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans" and "ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share."


NEW: Trump to meet Iraqi premier as anti-IS policy takes shape

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will hold his first meeting with Iraq's prime minister as he works to shape his policy for defeating the Islamic State group.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's first visit to Washington since Trump's inauguration comes as the new U.S. president gears up to host a 68-nation meeting focused on advancing the fight against the militant group.

But despite his promises of a no-holds-barred strategy and to eradicate "radical Islamic terrorism," Trump has not yet proposed a new approach or tactics in Afghanistan or Iraq.

It also remains to be seen to what extent Trump will commit to efforts to rebuild war-torn Iraq.

The administration has proposed deep cuts to international organizations and diplomatic missions.


Jury selection slow in Penn St ex-leader's trial

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Jury selection is off to a slow start in the trial of a former Penn State president as lawyers finalize questions the potential jurors will be asked about sexual abuse and other sensitive topics.

Graham Spanier (SPAN'-yur) is facing charges over his response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. He is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of children and a single conspiracy count.

The 68-year-old Spanier declined to comment as he entered the courthouse Monday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

Potential witnesses include two of his former top lieutenants who recently struck plea deals with prosecutors.

Spanier was forced out as university president shortly after Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was charged with child molestation in November 2011.


US indexes drift in midday trade

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are little changed as technology and basic materials companies rise but energy and bank stocks fall.

European markets fell Monday after the British government said it will begin the process of departing the European Union next week.

Energy companies fell along with the price of crude. Drilling rig operator Transocean slid 2.8 percent.

Watchmaker Movado Group fell 2.5 percent after its fourth-quarter results fell short of forecasts.


UPDATE: Colorado fire evacuees allowed back home

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Hundreds of residents have been allowed to return to their homes in the foothills near Boulder, Colorado, as firefighters make progress against a wildfire possibly sparked by transient campers in the area.

The fire was burning on about 70 acres just west of downtown and is about 50 percent contained. Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Wagner says investigators are working to pinpoint where the fire started.

It broke out Sunday in a wooded, mountainous place a couple of miles from Pearl Street, the shopping and dining hub in the heart of the university city. Officials ruled out any lightning strikes or downed power lines.

Another wildfire in the county was accidentally started last year by two men camping in the mountains who didn't fully put out their campfire. It destroyed eight homes.


NEW: Deputies felt something 'amiss' before shooting

TEMPLE CITY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a man who opened fire on Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in the parking lot of a sheriff's station had attempted to register as a sex offender minutes before the shooting.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell says deputies felt "something was amiss" when the 47-year-old walked into the sheriff's station in Temple City on Monday morning.

McDonnell says the deputies followed the man into the parking lot, and he opened fire on them. McDonnell says the man hopped into his SUV and engaged in a gunbattle with deputies from his car.

A SWAT team arrived about 20 minutes later and found the man dead inside the vehicle.

Authorities believe he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

His name wasn't immediately released.


NEW: Kuwait censors pull Disney's Beauty and the Beast for edits

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Disney's new Beauty and the Beast has been pulled from cinemas in Kuwait after censors raised concerns over the film's content.

The film, which has grossed more than $180 million overseas, has what has been called Disney's first "gay moment" for a character.

Beauty and the Beast had been showing in the predominantly Muslim country of Kuwait since Thursday, but those who'd purchased tickets to see the movie Monday received text messages from Kuwait's National Cinema Company informing them that screenings of the movie were cancelled due to "unforeseen difficulties."

Duaij Al-Khalifa Al-Sabah, a board member at the National Cinema Company, which operates 11 of Kuwait's 13 movie theaters, told The Associated Press a newly edited version of the movie may be back in theaters later this week.

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