Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Pence urges spending to repair well-worn U.S. national parks
Against the backdrop of Yellowstone's Old Faithful Geyser, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday urged Congress to dedicate billions of dollars in federal energy revenues for repairs to aging facilities at America's national parks. The Trump administration proposal, which failed to pass last year despite broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, offers warring Republicans and Democrats a rare vehicle for legislative common ground.
Democrats name 20 U.S. presidential candidates for first debate
A sitting U.S. governor and a congressman will be among the four candidates left off the stage when the Democratic Party holds its pivotal first debate in Miami later this month. The Democratic National Committee announced on Thursday the list of 20 presidential candidates who qualified to participate in the debate.
South Carolina man who killed his five children sentenced to death
A South Carolina jury sentenced a man to death on Thursday after convicting him of murdering his five young children at their mobile home in 2014 before driving their decomposing bodies through several states and dumping them in Alabama. The jurors voted unanimously to give Timothy Jones the death penalty. The same jury last week found him guilty of the murders of Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Abigail, 1.
After a family vacation in Italy, U.S. congressman's wife admits to misusing campaign funds
The wife of a U.S. representative pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges alleging misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors who are also bringing charges against her husband. The move by Margaret Hunter, wife of Republican U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, came after she and her husband entered not guilty pleas in August 2018 that they spent campaign funds on items ranging from a holiday in Italy to Minnie Mouse ear headbands at Disneyland.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, a fierce loyalist of President Donald Trump who channeled his combativeness toward the news media, will leave her job at month's end for a possible political future in her home state of Arkansas, Trump said on Thursday. Sanders, who has worked with Trump since the early days of his unconventional run for office and became a national public figure in her own right, is the latest in a long line of senior advisers to leave the White House.
Trump: Ex-lawyer McGahn 'may have been confused' in Russia probe
Former White House lawyer Don McGahn "may have been confused" during his testimony as part of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast on Friday. Trump, in comments to ABC News, rejected the account of McGahn, a key witness in Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump or his associates.
Trump reverses course, says 'of course' he would report foreign interference
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday reversed course over whether he would report any foreign interference in a political campaign to U.S. law enforcement, telling Fox News in an interview that he would "of course" contact authorities. In an interview with ABC News earlier this week, Trump said he would accept assistance from a foreign entity looking to interfere in U.S. politics, saying there was "nothing wrong" with it.
Democrats: Trump comments give green light to foreign election meddling
Democratic lawmakers accused President Donald Trump on Thursday of giving Russia the green light to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential race, while a top Republican ally said Trump was wrong to say he would accept political dirt from foreign sources. The uproar followed televised comments in which the U.S. president told ABC News he would be willing to listen to such damaging information about political opponents as he seeks re-election.
Trump ex-aide Manafort to seek dismissal of New York charges
Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, will ask a judge to dismiss criminal charges against him in New York, his lawyer told Reuters, in a case that will test the state's double jeopardy protections. Todd Blanche, who represents Manafort, said the New York charges are tied to the same conduct for which the veteran Republican political consultant was prosecuted in federal court. Manafort has been charged in New York with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.
The Memphis community where a young black man was slain this week by federal agents as they tried to arrest him remained tense after a night of violent protests, but community activists and a mayoral candidate hoped the weekend would be calm. The man shot, Brandon Weber, 20, was wanted in the shooting of a man in Mississippi earlier this month, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.
(With inputs from agencies.)