The city of Thousands Oaks, California, remains in mourning after a former marine opened fire at a country music bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people, mostly students. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February. Police have identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues, including possible PTSD. Police said Long set off smoke grenades inside the bar before opening fire using a Glock .45-caliber handgun equipped with an extended ammunition magazine. Long also died inside the bar. Long reportedly frequented the Borderline Bar & Grill before the shooting and had had multiple interactions with local authorities. Earlier this year, he was evaluated by mental health professionals after police responded to a disturbance at his home, where he lived with his mother—but he was cleared by the specialists. On Thursday, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean discussed Long’s previous encounters with law enforcement.
Sheriff Geoff Dean: “We’ve had several contacts with Mr. Long over the years, minor events such as traffic collision. He was a victim of a battery at a local bar in 2015. In April of this year, deputies were called to his house for a subject disturbing. They went to their house. They talked to him. He was somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally. They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialist, who met with him, talked to him and cleared him, didn’t feel that he was qualified to be taken under 5150, and he was left at that scene last April.”
We’ll have more on the shooting after headlines.
In other news from California, massive wildfires have scorched parts of both Northern and Southern California. The town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, has been devastated, after a fast-spreading fire forced tens of thousands to evacuate and burned over 1,000 buildings and homes to the ground. The fire reportedly killed multiple people in Paradise.
Meanwhile in Ventura County, the raging Hill Fire—not far from Wednesday night’s mass shooting—threatens to burn up to 30,000 acres as firefighters continue to battle the flames.
A federal judge in Montana has temporarily halted the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline Thursday. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region in Alberta to refineries as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The court’s decision will require the Trump administration to review more thoroughly the potential negative impacts of the pipeline on the surrounding environment and climate change. President Obama halted the construction of the pipeline in 2015, following mass public protests, but Trump reversed the order shortly after he came into office. Environmental and indigenous groups hailed the decision Thursday. Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement, “The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.” It’s unclear whether the Trump administration will appeal the decision. Click here for our complete coverage on the Keystone XL pipeline.
House Democrats called for an emergency hearing Thursday following President Trump’s ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Democrats urged the passing of a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller as he continues his probe into potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Democrats also formally requested the preservation of all documents related to Jeff Sessions’s firing, writing, “We remind you that concealing, removing or destroying such documents may constitute a crime.”
In the Senate, Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware said they will push for a floor vote on a bipartisan bill to protect Mueller’s probe.
Meanwhile, a New York Times op-ed published Thursday claims that Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as new acting attorney general is unconstitutional. The op-ed was written by Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general under President Obama, and George T. Conway, a high-profile litigator and husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. They write, “Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as Mr. Sessions’ chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation. … For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.”
This comes as Trump is reportedly considering former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta for attorney general.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night, demonstrations were held in over 1,000 cities and towns calling for the protection of the Mueller investigation. This is protester Cristina Delariva in New York.
Cristina Delariva: “I don’t think anyone here is defending Jeff Sessions. I think what we’re defending is integrity of the Justice Department. I think we’re defending the integrity of institutions. I think the president has attacked our important institutions, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and I think that everyone should be held to account. Everyone is accountable, including the president.”
The Trump administration has announced new immigration rules to deny asylum to anyone who enters the country outside of a port of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union called the move illegal, saying, “U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.” Trump, who turned the Central American caravans traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border into a major campaign issue in the lead-up to the midterm elections, is expected to announce which countries will be affected by the rules today. Trump, invoking national security concerns, plans to use the same legal provision the White House used to push the travel ban last year.
This comes as new court filings show there are still 171 children separated from their families in U.S. custody, more than four months after a judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite all families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In more immigration news, a California appeals court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration cannot shut down the DACA program, upholding a federal judge’s ruling earlier this year. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, affects the immigration status of some 700,000 formerly undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Trump announced plans to do away with the program last year and was immediately challenged by lawsuits from a number of states and other groups. The ruling sets the case up for a possible Supreme Court hearing in 2019.
In election news, several key races remain too close to call, three days after the midterm elections. In Arizona’s Senate race, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has taken a slight lead over Republican opponent Martha McSally. Hundreds of thousands of ballots remain to be counted, mostly in Maricopa County, the state’s largest county. In Florida, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said he is prepared for a possible recount as his margin with Republican opponent Ron DeSantis has narrowed to less than half a percentage point. Gillum conceded to DeSantis on election night after the race was called for his opponent, but the margin has since tightened. A recount is automatically triggered in Florida if the winning candidate’s margin is less than half a percentage point. Incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson and Republican Governor Rick Scott will likely head to a recount in the Senate race, with Scott leading by just 0.2 percent. In Georgia, Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp has resigned as secretary of state. The closely watched race for governor has yet to be called, though Kemp has declared victory. His opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, has vowed to stay in the race until all votes are counted.
Planned talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials were postponed Thursday. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley later said it was “because [the North Koreans] weren’t ready,” though recent reports suggest North Korea is unhappy with the lack of concessions from the U.S. in the ongoing talks over denuclearization, namely on the issue of easing sanctions. Trump has said he plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un early next year to continue talks on a denuclearization agreement.
The Trump administration has announced new sanctions over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. This comes as both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have said they might hold talks in France next week as they attend Armistice Day celebrations in Paris.
Google is overhauling its policies for dealing with claims of sexual misconduct, after tens of thousands of workers worldwide staged a mass walkout last week. Google said Thursday it will end its practice of forced arbitration, which usually happens in private settings and often forces employees to agree to confidentiality clauses.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized after a fall Wednesday evening resulted in three fractured ribs. The health of the liberal 85-year-old justice—the oldest sitting justice on the Supreme Court bench—has come under increased scrutiny in recent years. She previously fractured two ribs in 2012 and is a double cancer survivor. Once news of her fall became public, many took to social media to offer their support. Actress Alyssa Milano wrote, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg can have my ribs. And my kidneys and a lung. And anything else she needs. She can even have my husband on Thursdays.”