Authorities appealed to the public Wednesday for more information about last week’s death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York state’s highest court. Stephen Davis, the New York Police Department’s spokesman, said investigators are treating her death as “suspicious,” adding: “We haven't found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can't say for sure.” Abdus-Salaam was found dead in the Hudson River last week by police, who said that though her death was still investigation, there were no clear indications it was caused by suicide or criminality. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who named Abdus-Salaam to her historic post serving on the New York State Court of Appeals, called her “a trailblazing jurist and a force of good.”
—Bill O'Reilly is out at Fox News. More here
—Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, says he won’t seek reelection in 2018. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).
Police Call Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam's Death 'Suspicious'
Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Says He Won't Seek Reelection
Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who heads the House Oversight Committee, says he won’t seek re-election in 2018, and will instead turn his attention to the private sector.
As chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz, who was first elected to Congress in 2009, oversaw investigations into Planned Parenthood as well as Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she served as U.S. secretary of state. McKay Coppins wrote about Chaffetz earlier this month:
The truth, of course, is that a world where Clinton is president right now is one that looks pretty good for Chaffetz’s career. Up until Election Day, he appeared poised to occupy one of the most coveted perches in Congress for a certain breed of conservative up-and-comer. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz serves as the chamber’s chief White House watchdog—and if Clinton had won, he would get to spend the next four years basking in rapturous Fox News coverage as he led high-profile investigations into her administration.
Instead, Chaffetz now finds himself saddled with the responsibility of policing his own party’s administration—rooting out conflicts of interest, exposing abuses of power, and generally causing headaches for President Trump. It’s an awkward and unpleasant task, and one that he does not seem to savor.
When McKay asked Chaffetz whether he is considering running for Utah’s governorship in 2020, as has been widely speculated, Chaffetz responded: “Definitely maybe.”
UPDATE: O'Reilly Is Out at Fox News
Update at 2:32 p.m.
Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News.
BREAKING: Bill O'Reilly OUT pic.twitter.com/oJ9QPeRo27— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 19, 2017
Our original post:
Bill O’Reilly’s future at Fox News is uncertain amid an exodus by advertisers following allegations he and the network paid about $13 million to settle claims by five women who accused the star of sexual harassment. Several news organizations, including New York, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN, are all reporting that Fox is preparing to cut ties with O’Reilly, who announced last week he was going on a previously scheduled vacation. The Journal, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Gabriel Sherman, the New York magazine reporter who has been at the forefront of reporting into controversies at Fox, reported Wednesday the Murdochs had decided to let O’Reilly go; the host is scheduled to return to his top-rated O’Reilly Factor on April 24. Sherman cited protests outside Fox, advertiser boycotts, as well as pushback from female Fox employees as reasons for the Murdochs’s apparent about-face. The controversy surrounding O’Reilly follows the one last year that cost Roger Ailes his job; that scandal, which involved separate sexual-harassment charges against Ailes, resulted in the Fox News CEO’s exit from the network he helped start.
Iran Complying With Nuclear Deal, but Still Sponsoring Terrorism, Tillerson Says
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, says Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear deal it signed with the U.S. and other countries, but continues to remain a state sponsor of terrorism. Tillerson noted in his routine review that Iran was compliant with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but “remains a leading state sponsor of terror.” The letter said President Trump has directed an interagency review, led by the National Security Council, of the JCPOA to will evaluate whether sanctions relief related to the nuclear deal “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. State Department must notify Congress of Iran’s compliance every 90 days. But the issues of terrorism and the nuclear agreement aren’t linked—and if the U.S. were to reimpose sanctions, it would be in violation of the deal. Trump has called the nuclear agreement the “worst deal ever negotiated,” and had promised to tear it up on his first day in office. He may face opposition in that effort from other signatories to the deal, though, including U.S. allies in the U.K., France, and Germany, as well as China and Russia—all of which now have business interests in Iran.
Theresa May Says Early Elections Would Strengthen U.K.'s Hand in Brexit Talks
Update at 9:47 a.m.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May says elections in June will give negotiators the “strongest hand” in talks with the EU on Brexit. Her remarks, which were made to the BBC in an interview, came a day after May called for a snap general election on June 8, three years ahead of schedule. Her call needs parliamentary approval—which she received today. May had previously rejected the idea of early elections, but told the BBC she only “reluctantly” changed her mind on the issue. Polls show her ruling Conservatives with a 21-point lead over Labour, its main rival; the margin is the greatest since the 1980s. May has argued she needs a stronger hand to negotiate terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU, a process that was officially set in motion last month. The issue is likely to dominate the run-up to the general election—with tensions still high over the U.K.’s decision to leave the bloc in a referendum in June 2016.
Democrat Jon Ossoff Narrowly Fails to Avoid Runoff in Georgia Special Election
Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat, failed in his bid to channel his party’s opposition to the Trump presidency into an outright election victory in a longtime Republican stronghold. Ossoff, who last night won 48 percent of the vote in a field of 11 Republican candidates, fell short of the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff in the special election to replace former Republican Representative Tom Price, who is now the secretary of health and human services. As Clare Foran wrote: “Ossoff put in a strong showing in a conservative district, winning 48 percent of the vote. But his chances of defeating Republican rival Karen Handel, who won 20 percent of the vote, in the June runoff election are lower with the GOP field less divided.” Trump narrowly won Georgia’s sixth congressional in the 2016 election; Ossoff’s share of the vote was higher than Hillary Clinton’s; she received 46.8 percent. A runoff is scheduled for June 20.
Aaron Hernandez Is Found Dead in His Prison Cell
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found hanged in his prison cell Wednesday, just days after a jury found him not guilty of two counts of murder. He was already serving a life sentence for murder in 2013 of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Here’s a statement on Hernandez’s death from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections:
Here is the statement from the Massachusetts Department of Correction on Aaron Hernandez's suicide pic.twitter.com/E6sXHX38iq— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 19, 2017
As J. Weston Phippen wrote last week, a Boston jury acquitted Hernandez last week of killing two men in 2012. But his defense blamed the killings on a friend who was with Hernandez that night; Hernandez was accused of shooting that friend in the face. He was acquitted of that charge, too.