AP Top News at 4:25 p.m. EDT
Justice won't prosecute Holder for contempt
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to withhold information about a bungled gun-tracking operation from Congress does not constitute a crime and he won’t be prosecuted for contempt of Congress. The House voted Thursday afternoon to find Holder in criminal and civil contempt for refusing to turn over the documents. President Barack Obama invoked his executive privilege authority and ordered Holder not to turn over materials about executive branch deliberations and internal recommendations.
Congress passes student loans, highway jobs bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Finding rare political accommodation on the cusp of a holiday recess, Congress passed legislation Friday designed to salvage 2.8 million jobs and shield students from a sharp increase in loan interest rates. The legislation, which also revamps highway and transit programs and shores up the federal flood insurance program, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signatures.
White House wants Hill Democrats to fight on taxes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is urging congressional Democrats to engage Republicans in a fight over taxes, pressing them to go on the offensive after the Supreme Court’s health care decision gave prominence to the issue. White House senior adviser David Plouffe is sending a memorandum to the House and Senate Democratic caucuses saying Republicans are misrepresenting Obama’s record. In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Plouffe said the White House welcomes a debate on taxes.
Egypt president-elect vows to fight for authority
CAIRO (AP) — In front of tens of thousands of cheering supporters, Egypt’s first Islamist and civilian president-elect vowed Friday to fight for his authority and symbolically read an oath of office on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the eve of his official inauguration. Mohammed Morsi’s strongly worded speech was a show of defiance as he gears up to power struggle with the country’s ruling generals who passed a constitutional declaration taking over major presidential powers in the days before election results were announced after a bitter campaign.
Firefighters search for bodies in Colorado blaze
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Firefighters went from one smoldering pile to another Friday in search of bodies in the nearly 350 homes burned to the ground by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. As crews on the front lines made slow but steady progress against the flames, Police Chief Pete Carey said fewer than 10 people altogether were unaccounted for. The remains of one person were found Thursday in what was left standing of one home, and a second person who lived there was missing.
US: Some Taliban at Gitmo could go to Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is considering a new gambit to restart peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan that would send several Taliban detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a prison in Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials told The Associated Press. Under the proposal, some Taliban fighters or affiliates captured in the early days of the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and later sent to Guantanamo under the label of enemy combatants would be transferred out of full U.S. control but not released. It’s a leap of faith on the U.S. side that the men will not become threats to U.S. forces once back on Afghan soil. But it is meant to show more moderate elements of the Taliban insurgency that the U.S. is still interested in cutting a deal for peace.
Some GOP states want to abandon Medicaid expansion
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republicans in at least three states want to abandon an expansion of Medicaid in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, and more than a dozen other states are considering it in the wake of the Supreme Court decision removing the threat of federal penalties. The high court upheld most of Obama’s law, but the justices said the federal government could not take away states’ existing federal Medicaid dollars if they refused to widen eligibility to include adults who are only slightly above the poverty line. Some Republican governors and lawmakers quickly declared that they would not carry out the expansion.
Judge weighing whether to give Zimmerman bond
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman’s lawyer sparred with prosecutors over the former neighborhood watch volunteer’s finances Friday in a lengthy hearing that concluded with a judge saying he would need more time to decide whether to grant him bail again. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester did not indicate when he might make a decision. He revoked Zimmerman’s bond earlier this month when prosecutors told the judge Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had during the April bond hearing.Continued...