Republican candidate John Kennedy defeated his Democratic rival Foster Campbell on Saturday in the run-off election for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seat, giving the GOP a 52-48 majority there. Kennedy, the state’s treasurer, led early results by a comfortable margin. The race represented Democrats’ last chance to limit President-elect Donald Trump’s power in the Senate, where high-profile Cabinet and Supreme Court confirmation battles are imminent, before the next Congress is sworn in. But national Democrats made few efforts to invest heavily in a state Trump had carried a month earlier. Campbell, a member of the state’s Public Service Commission, told my colleague Clare Foran that he still hadn’t heard from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee less than two weeks before election day. Kennedy succeeds fellow Republican David Vitter, who lost the state’s gubernatorial race last year to Democrat John Bel Edwards.
—French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has proposed extending France’s state of emergency until mid-2017. More here
—At least five people are dead after a cargo train exploded in a Bulgarian town. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Louisiana Republican John Kennedy Wins U.S. Senate Seat
Report: Russian Spies Tried to Aid Trump During U.S. Election
Multiple news outlets are reporting that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded the Russian government covertly intervened in the American presidential election to help President-elect Donald Trump win. According to the Washington Post and the New York Times, CIA officials have briefed top congressional leaders on their assessment of Russian-backed efforts to infiltrate the Democratic and Republican National Committees. Because hackers only released files from Democratic groups and officials, CIA analysis concluded it was an effort to tilt the election in Trump’s favor. In a statement, Trump dismissed the CIA’s reported conclusions and attacked the credibility of U.S. intelligence agencies. More of our coverage here.
Exxon's CEO Is Expected to Be Named Trump's Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be the next secretary of state, multiple news organizations are reporting Saturday. A public announcement has not come yet, but Tillerson would beat out other names in contention for the position, including Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump loyalist, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Trump critic. Tillerson, 64, has spent more than four decades at the world’s largest oil company, and as such has been at the forefront of deal-making around the world, a skill that would be useful in his new position. He is also regarded as close to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who in 2013 awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship. That relationship could prove crucial in repairing U.S. relations with Russia, which were damaged after Russia’s invasion of Crimea and exacerbated by its intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Explosions Reported Near Istanbul Stadium
Two explosions injured at least 20 Turkish police officers outside Istanbul’s Vodafone Stadium on Saturday night, local officials said. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Solyu said the blasts appeared to be caused by a car bomb that detonated near a bus carrying riot police. The explosions occurred more than two hours after a soccer game between Beskitas, the home team, and Bursaspor; Beskitas won 2-1. The Associated Press reported that Bursaspor said none of its fans were injured in the blast, which struck near where their supporters exit the stadium. No groups have claimed responsibility for the blasts.
We’ll update this story with more information as it becomes available.
At least 5 Killed in Bulgarian Train Explosion
A cargo train exploded in at a station in Bulgarian village on Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding 29 others. The blast occurred in Hitrino, a small town in northeastern Bulgaria’s Shumen Province. Local officials told news outlets the train was carrying propylene, a highly volatile petrochemical, when the derailment occurred. The ensuing explosion damaged or destroyed at least 50 buildings, prompting local officials to evacuate surrounding neighborhoods as well. Rescue operations in the town are still ongoing and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told local reporters “there will be more casualties for sure.” The derailment’s cause is still unknown.
France Mulls State of Emergency Extension
The French government plans to extend its state of emergency until the middle of 2017, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Saturday. French President Francois Hollande first imposed the state of emergency after the Paris terrorist attacks last November and has extended it four times since then. The current extension is set to expire in mid-January. Cazeneuve proposes another extension until July 15, 2017, which would cover the French presidential elections taking place in April and May as well as the annual Bastille Day celebrations on July 14. Another extension would need approval from French lawmakers before going into effect. The state of emergency, under which French law-enforcement agencies have increased powers to search and seize suspects, has already drawn criticism from international observers for its impact on civil liberties.