Due to irreconcilable conflicts of interest, President Trump’s nominee for the secretary of the Army dropped out of consideration on Friday evening. Vincent Viola, the owner of the Florida Panthers professional hockey team and a West Point graduate, released a statement saying he could not avert Defense Department rules about personal businesses. While he attempted to divest from the Panthers, he was not able to do it in time. Viola, who was a major in the Army Reserve, has been in consideration for the Army post since December. He said he was “deeply honored” to even be in considered for the position. He continued, “I offer my continued support for President Trump and his administration, and look forward to redoubling my efforts to support the Army and its veterans as private citizens.” The announcement leaves a major hole in the Pentagon, as newly confirmed Secretary of Defense James Mattis attempts to bring normalcy to the department. The Senate has yet to announce confirmation hearings for the secretaries of the Navy and the Air Force.
—The Trump administration slapped sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 companies in connection with Iran’s ballistic missile test. More here
—A French soldier shot and wounded a machete-wielding assailant near the Louvre in Paris. More here
—Due to irreconcilable conflicts of interest, President Trump’s nominee for the secretary of the Army dropped out of consideration. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Trump's Secretary of the Army Nominee Drops Out
UPDATE: Prosecutor Says Louvre Attacker Appears to Have Come to Paris on a Tourist Visa
Francois Molins, a French prosecutor, says authorities believe the machete-wielding man who was shot Friday morning near the Louvre is a 29-year-old Egyptian who lived in the United Arab Emirates. The man’s identity has not been confirmed, Molins said, but investigators were able to go through his cell phone to piece together details. The attacker, he said, came to Paris on a tourist visa on January 26. On January 28, he bought two machetes at a gun store in the French capital, Molins said. At about 10 a.m. Friday, the attacker tried to enter the Louvre's underground shopping center, charged at French soldiers with the machete, was shot, and wounded; Molins said he was in serious condition. The French prime minister described the incident as “terrorist in nature.” Michel Cadot, the head of Paris's police force, said the assailant shouted “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great” during the attack. One soldier was also lightly wounded in the attack. Visitors to the museum were evacuated after the incident.
Norway Accuses Russia-Linked Hackers of Cyberattack
Norway accused a group linked to Russia with hacking into its foreign ministry, army, and other institutions, the country’s security service said Friday. The cyberattack targeted emails belonging to nine civil-service officials, though no classified information is believed to have been taken. Martin Berntsen, the spokesman for Norway’s Police Security Service, told the Associated Press that they had been warned by a foreign agency about potential “targeted attacks” to the country’s security service, the opposition Labor Party, military, and other government agencies, adding: “The attacks had a signature that indicates those behind the hacking can be identified as APT29 … They can be traced back to Russia.” He did not say which foreign agency gave them the warning. APT29, commonly known as “Cozy Bear,” has been linked to Russia’s Security Service, the FSB. The group is accused of interfering in the U.S. presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s email system. Though Oslo and Moscow have traditionally enjoyed good relations, the two have been in dispute over Norway’s decision last month to allow 300 U.S. Marines to be stationed in the country.
Trump's Travel Ban Revoked 60,000 Visas (Not 100,000)
The U.S. Department of State on Friday clarified the number of people whose visas were revoked by President Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim or majority-Muslim countries, saying the executive order revoked 60,000 visas—not 100,000 as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney said earlier Friday in federal court. The attorney revealed the 100,000 number during a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, in a lawsuit that involves two Yemeni brothers turned away from the U.S. Saturday after they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport. The DOJ attorney appears to have erroneously included visa categories—such as diplomatic—that the executive order exempts. The numbers are the first official figures for those affected by Trump’s order. Trump previously tweeted that 109 people were detained at the airports after the order was signed last Friday.
BMW Recalls 230,000 Cars With Takata Airbags
Updated on February 1 2017 at 1:15 p.m. ET
BMW said Friday it will recall more than 230,000 of its vehicles in the U.S. that may have faulty Takata airbags. The German automaker said these cars and SUVs may have had their driver’s-side airbags replaced with a Takata inflator after being in a crash or from a previous recall. Takata inflation devices have been shown to explode and send shrapnel into the car. They have have injured about 180 people and killed at least 16, leading to what has become one of the largest recalls in U.S. history. Worldwide, nearly 20 carmakers have recalled 69 million inflators. BMW issued a voluntary recall last year that affected about 840,000 vehicles in the U.S. BMW said it learned of this new issue in November 2016 after a car owner asked about the model of inflator in a vehicle. The investigation led BMW to find that between 2002 and 2015 it had used the faulty Takata parts as replacements in some vehicle models, and because BMW was unable to identify how widely they were used, it issued a wide-reaching recall Friday. The affected vehicles are the X5 SUVs between 2001 and 2002, some 3 Series from 2000 and 2002, and some 5 Series from 2001 to 2003.
Norway's Ex-Leader Says He Was Held at U.S. Airport This Week Over 2014 Iran Visit
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik says he was held at Washington Dulles International Airport this week because of a visit to Iran three years ago. Bondevik flew in from Europe Tuesday to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., but agents held him for 40 minutes, then questioned him for another 20, he told media Thursday. Bondevik, who served as Norway’s leader from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2001 to 2005, told ABC7 that customs officials could clearly see in his passport he’d served as Norway’s prime minister. “I was surprised, and I was provoked,” Bondevik said. “What will the reputation of the U.S. be if this happens not only to me, but also to other international leaders?” Bondevik, who heads the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, said he’d flown to Iran in 2014 for a human-rights conference. He said customs officials stopped him because of a 2015 law signed by the Obama administration that restricts movement to the same seven countries from which President Trump banned travel last week. Bondevik said since the 2015 law was signed, he’s traveled many times to the U.S., but never with any problems. “It appears that when the name of a certain country shows up, all of the antennas go up.” Bondevik said. “This will create totally unnecessary suspicion.”
U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Companies, Individuals in Response to Iranian Missile Test
The Trump administration on Friday slapped sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 companies in connection with Iran’s ballistic missile test. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed the sanctions on at least one Chinese citizen, at least two Lebanese citizens, and at least seven Iranians, as well as two Chinese companies, four Lebanese companies, five Iranian firms, and one from the United Arab Emirates. The announcement comes just days after Iran’s test of a ballistic missile. This is the latest Iranian missile test since it signed a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015. The current UN Security Council resolution, adopted after the nuclear deal, “calls upon” Iran to refrain from activity related to “ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” That marked an apparent softening of language from a 2010 resolution that prohibited Iran from work on “ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.” The U.S. harshly criticized Iran’s actions, including for its role in Yemen’s civil war, saying it was putting the Islamic republic “on notice.” Iran is among the seven countries the Trump administration is banning people from for 90 days. In response, Iran has banned the U.S. wrestling team from a tournament in the country this month.
Betsy DeVos Clears Key Senate Hurdle in Early-Morning Vote
The U.S. Senate voted 52-48, along party lines, early Friday to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for education secretary, for a final confirmation vote. DeVos has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for her performance in the confirmation hearings and for her positions on education. Despite two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, saying they won’t support DeVos in a final vote, she is expected to win confirmation because Mike Pence, who in his position as vice president also serves as president of the Senate, is likely to cast a deciding vote in her favor. The final vote is expected next week.