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

March 20, 2017 - 4:44 pm

TRUMP-RUSSIA-FBI

FBI chief confirms probe of Russia contacts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI director confirms that the agency is looking into possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of Donald Trump.

It's part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

James Comey spoke at the start of a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers told the panel that the intelligence community stands behind its January assessment that it is highly confident Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of electing 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.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

White House downplays role of two former aides

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is distancing itself from two former senior members of Donald Trump's team, amid an FBI investigation into possible connections between Trump "associates" and Russia.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday referred to Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as a "volunteer of the campaign." And he said Paul Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign leading up to the Republican National Convention, "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time."

Flynn resigned from the White House last month after he was found to have misled senior members of the administration about his contacts with Russia's top diplomat to the U.S.

Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign last summer following allegations of contacts with Russian intelligence officials.

TRUMP-WIRETAP-FBI

Comey knocks down Trump's wiretap claim

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director James Comey is the latest government official to reject President Donald Trump's claims that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama.

Testifying to a House panel today, Comey said, "I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI."

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

He testified along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, who also disputed allegations that surfaced last year that British intelligence services were involved in wiretapping of Trump.

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.

TRUMP-BUDGET

Spicer defends proposed cuts, Trump's trips

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is defending proposed cuts to popular federal programs like Meals on Wheels amid President Donald Trump's taxpayer-funded trips to his Florida beach resort.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said that "where ever the president goes, (he) carries the apparatus of the White House."

Meals on Wheels, the popular service that provides food to the elderly, faces a sharp funding cut under Trump's budget proposal, drawing bipartisan criticism.

The exact amount of the cut is unknown, but budget director Mick Mulvaney says the government "can't spend money on programs just because they sound good."

Spicer says that there are "false narratives" being reported about the nature of budget cuts to the Meals on Wheels program.

He adds, "only in Washington" do people judge success "by how much money you throw at the problem."

UNITED STATES-IRAQ

Iraqi prime minister joins Trump for meeting focusing on IS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is welcoming Iraq's prime minister to the White House for their first meeting since Trump assumed office.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi posed for photos in the White House driveway and the Oval Office before the pair commenced bilateral meetings.

Al-Abadi's visit comes as Trump prepares to host a 68-nation meeting geared toward advancing the fight against the Islamic State group.

Trump campaigned on a promise to dramatically ramp up the assault on IS and has vowed to eradicate "radical Islamic terrorism."

But the extent of Trump's commitment to helping war-torn Iraq remains to be seen amid significant proposed budget cuts for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

IMMIGRATION-JAIL-RELEASES

DHS releases names local jails that won't hold immigrants

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is naming some names in its efforts to shame local jails that don't cooperate with immigration authorities.

For now it's putting the spotlight on Travis County, Texas, home of liberal Austin.

The administration has released a list of 206 cases of immigrants released from custody before federal agents could intervene. Roughly two-thirds were from Travis County.

The 206 figure is somewhat murky. It doesn't represent all the cases in which immigration authorities sought custody of people facing criminal charges, with major cities like New York and Los Angeles underrepresented on the list.

The cases were identified by the administration between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, but most of the detention requests had been made before then, as far back as early 2014.

OKLAHOMA-SENATOR-INVESTIGATION

FBI confirms investigation into Oklahoma state senator

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The FBI in Oklahoma City has confirmed it is investigating a Republican state senator who is facing felony child prostitution charges after police say he solicited sex from a 17-year-old boy.

FBI spokeswoman Jessica Rice confirmed Monday that her agency served a search warrant Friday at the Oklahoma City home of Sen. Ralph Shortey. Rice said she could not provide any more details because of a "sensitive ongoing investigation."

No federal charges have been filed against Shortey.

State prosecutors charged Shortey last week with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. He was released on a $100,000 bond.

Court records don't show whether Shortey has retained an attorney, and he hasn't responded to texts and voicemails seeking comment.

AIRPLANE SECURITY-LAPTOPS

NEW: Some electronics to be banned on some US-bound flights

WASHINGTON (AP) — Royal Jordanian Airlines is advising passengers that laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics won't be allowed in carry-on luggage for U.S.-bound flights starting Tuesday.

The airline says in a tweet that cellphones and medical devices are excluded from the ban. Everything else, the airline says, will need to be packed in checked luggage.

The U.S. Homeland Security Department is declining to comment.

It was unclear Monday how long the ban will be in place or what prompted it.

OBIT-DAVID ROCKEFELLER

Clintons say Rockefeller used fortune for good

NEW YORK (AP) — Bill and Hillary Clinton say David Rockefeller was a "kind, good man" who used his fame and fortune to do good in the United States and abroad.

In a statement, the former president and first lady described Rockefeller as a consummate businessman, great humanitarian and serious scholar.

They say his tremendous support of arts and humanities in America gave millions the opportunity to experience the country's great heritage of painting, dance, music and more.

A spokesman says Rockefeller died in his sleep Monday morning at his home in Pocantico (poh-KAN'-tih-koh) Hills, New York. He was 101.

He was the grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller and the youngest of six children born to John D. Rockefeller Jr. He is the last of his generation in his famous family.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

UPDATE: US indexes end slightly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are ending mostly lower on Wall Street, led by declines in banks.

Bond yields fell Monday, which can hurt profits at banks by pushing interest rates on loans lower.

Wells Fargo lost 1.8 percent Monday and Bank of America dropped 1.7 percent.

Other sectors ended mixed. Makers of basic materials and consumer goods rose, but health care and phone companies fell.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to end at 2,373.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 8 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 20,905. The Nasdaq composite edged up a fraction to 5,901.

Trading was relatively light.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.47 percent.

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