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

March 02, 2017 - 1:00 am


UPDATE: Justice Dept: Sessions spoke with Russian ambassador in 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down and to step aside from the Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Sessions had two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign while he was serving as an adviser.

During confirmation hearings he said "no" when asked whether "anyone affiliated" with the campaign had contact with the Russians.

Sessions issued a statement Wednesday night saying he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign."


UPDATE: White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House attorneys have instructed the president's aides to preserve materials that could be connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election and other related investigations.

That's according to three administration officials.

The orders came after Senate Democrats last week asked the White House and law enforcement agencies to keep all materials involving contacts that Trump's administration, campaign and transition team — or anyone acting on their behalf — have had with Russian government officials or their associates.


Republicans in Pence's Indiana warn of health repeal fallout

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican legislative leaders in Indiana are warning that repealing the Affordable Care Act could unravel a program for poor residents that Vice President Mike Pence implemented as governor.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and GOP Senate leader David Long both say thousands of poor people could lose insurance. Pence touted the state's approach as a conservative blueprint for expanding Medicaid under the federal law.

Pence has been a persistent critic of the law since serving in Congress before he became Indiana governor. But one of his legacy achievements after becoming governor in 2013 was an expansion Medicaid in the state, which overwhelmingly relies on money made available under the Affordable Care Act.

Pence told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that "we don't want anyone to fall through the cracks."


Trump budget hits Coast Guard ship, project of GOP senator

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's budget would eliminate a $600 million-plus state-of-the-art Coast Guard cutter that's a pet priority of the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The proposal by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is included in draft documents of the White House budget request. It asks the Department of Homeland Security to cancel its contract with Ingalls Shipbuilding, which is to construct the national security cutter at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

The move is a direct slap at Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, who added $640 million to build the ship to a catchall spending bill that passed in December 2015. The ship was not requested by the Coast Guard.


WH says Conway promo of Ivanka line inadvertent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top White House ethics attorney says counselor Kellyanne Conway "acted inadvertently" and "without nefarious motive" when she promoted Ivanka Trump's fashion line during a television interview at the White House.

Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to the president on compliance and ethics, wrote in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics that he met with Conway and resolved the matter.

Administration employees are subject to rules that prohibit them from using their official position to endorse products or services. In the Feb. 9 interview, Conway said to "go buy Ivanka's stuff."

Conway was reacting to reports that Nordstrom had dropped the line, which the president believes was a political move. The store says it was a business decision. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have condemned Conway's behavior.


Orlando shooter's wife won't be freed for 2 days

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge in California won't immediately release the widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, putting the order on hold for two days so prosecutors can appeal.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu decided Wednesday that 31-year-old Noor Salman isn't a flight risk or a danger to public safety and should leave jail ahead of trial.

Salman is charged with aiding and abetting her husband, Omar Mateen, and lying to investigators after the June shooting that killed 49 people. She has pleaded not guilty.

The judge says there's no evidence that Salman has connections to the Islamic State group or holds extremist views. Mateen pledged allegiance to several terror organizations during the attack before police shot and killed him.


NEW: 4 children dead, 3 people injured in Oregon fire

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities are providing more details about a deadly house fire in the rural Oregon timber town of Riddle, about 200 miles south of Portland.

A sheriff's official says the early Wednesday blaze killed four children. One was a foster child.

The mother of three of the children, her husband and another one of her children were critically burned.

The dead children were ages 4, 7, 10 and 13. Grief counselors are meeting with students.


School led locker room assault investigation

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The investigation into the sexual assault of a disabled black football player by his white teammates at a small-town Idaho high school showed that crucial evidence was collected by school employees, not law enforcement officials.

The case unfolded in the tiny farming village of Dietrich, where John R.K. Howard and two teammates were charged with sodomizing the victim with a clothes hanger in 2015 in the school locker room.

An Associated Press review of 2,000 pages of investigation documents found that school officials did not immediately report the crime. Instead, the superintendent began interviewing suspects and potential witnesses.

The sex assault charge against Howard was later dropped. He was sentenced last week to probation for felony injury to a child. The other two cases are being handled in juvenile court.


Protester names removed from Memphis police list

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The city of Memphis has revised a so-called "security book" and removed the names of more than 40 protesters from a list of people required to have police escorts at City Hall.

City officials released the revised list Wednesday afternoon.

The action came hours after activists pushing for higher wages and union rights at fast food restaurants sued the city, alleging police intimidated protesters and violated their free speech. The federal complaint says police have followed organizers home after meetings and put organizers on a list requiring a police escort when they visit City Hall.

Police Director Michael Rallings told reporters the "security book" created by the police department has been in place at City Hall since 2010. He said it's not politically motivated.


Nielsen: Nearly 48 million watch Trump's address to nation

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump's first major address to the Congress and the nation was seen by an estimated 47.4 million people.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that Trump's audience couldn't quite match the first such speech by predecessor Barack Obama, who drew an audience of 52.4 million in 2009.

Fox News Channel had the biggest audience for Trump's speech Tuesday night, with 10.8 million viewers. NBC's 9.1 million ranked second, followed in order of popularity by CBS, ABC, CNN, Univision, Fox broadcasting and MSNBC. The moment that drew the most interactions on Twitter came after Trump talked about fallen Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens with his widow looking on.

Similar initial presidential speeches reached 39.8 million for George W. Bush in 2001 and 66.9 million for Bill Clinton in 1993.


Texas Rangers to investigate Baylor handling of sex assaults

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' top law enforcement agency has opened a preliminary investigation into Baylor University and how it handled reports of sexual and physical assault over several years.

The Texas Rangers confirmed Wednesday they are working with the McLennan County prosecutor's office to "determine if further action is warranted."

A Baylor spokeswoman said the school would cooperate with any investigation.

A group of state lawmakers had called Tuesday for the Rangers to investigate Baylor, which faces several federal lawsuits from women who say the school ignored or mishandled their reports of assault for years.

Baylor officials say an internal investigation found at least 17 women who reported being sexually assaulted by 19 football players in recent years, although one lawsuit puts the number at more than 50 women.

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