Court rules House should get Trump financial records

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s financial records must be turned over to the House of Representatives.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that lawmakers should get the documents they have subpoenaed from Mazars USA. The firm has provided accounting services to Trump.

Trump went to court to prevent Mazars from turning over the records. He could appeal to the Supreme Court.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House committee that is seeking the records, called for prompt compliance. “After months of delay, it is time for the President to stop blocking Mazars from complying with the Committee’s lawful subpoena,” Cummings said in a statement.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed records from Mazars in April. They include documents from 2011 to 2018 that the House wants for investigation into the president’s reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. The list of documents makes no mention of Trump’s tax returns, which are the subject of separate legal disputes.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court batted away Trump’s legal claims.

“Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judge David Tatel wrote, joined by Judge Patricia Millett. Tatel was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Millett is an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Turkish forces advance in Syria, U.S. troops under fire

AKCAKALE, Turkey — Turkish forces faced fierce resistance from U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters on the third day of Ankara’s offensive in northern Syria, as casualties mounted, international criticism of the campaign intensified and estimates put the number of those who fled the violence at 100,000. In a complicating twist, Washington said its troops also came under fire from NATO ally Turkey.

An explosion was reported later Friday in northern Syria near an outpost where U.S. troops are located, but none of the Americans were hurt, according to a U.S. official and a Syria war monitor. It was unclear whether it was from artillery or an airstrike, and it was the first time a coalition base was in the line of fire since Turkey’s offensive began.

Turkey said the U.S. was not targeted and its forces were returning fire after being targeted by Kurdish fighters about half a mile from the U.S. outpost. The Turkish Defense Ministry said it ended the strike after communicating with the U.S.

Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, a Pentagon spokesman, says the artillery explosion came within a few hundred meters of the area where U.S. troops were.

The artillery strike so close to American forces showed the unpredictable nature of the conflict days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was getting U.S. troops out of harm’s way.

Earlier, Turkey said it captured more Kurdish-held villages in the border region, while a hospital in a Syrian town was abandoned and a camp of 4,000 displaced residents about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the frontier was evacuated after artillery shells landed nearby.

Reflecting international fears that Turkey’s offensive could revive the Islamic State group, two car bombs exploded outside a restaurant in the Kurdish-controlled urban center of Qamishli, killing three people, and the extremists claimed responsibility. The city also was heavily shelled by Turkish forces.

Acting Homeland Security secretary stepping down

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that Kevin McAleenan was stepping down as the acting secretary of Homeland Security.

Trump said McAleenan wanted to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.

“We have worked well together with Border Crossings being Way down,” Trump tweeted.

His departure creates yet another top-level vacancy in Trump’s Cabinet — at the department responsible not only for immigration enforcement but also for helping states secure elections.

McAleenan said in a subsequent tweet that he wanted to thank the president for his support and that he’d work with the Department of Homeland Security on a smooth transition.

He took over in April after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit, and he was the fourth person to lead the department in two years. Trump hasn’t named anyone to the job yet — the acting deputy is David Pekoske, the head of the Transportation Security Administration.

McAleenan, a longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, was seen as a level head who could effectively manage the border crisis, but like many other former administration officials who came before, Trump eventually soured on him.

His tenure was marked by internal squabbling and jockeying by others in the department vying for top jobs, all playing out against a backdrop of outrage and horror amid reports of children being held in squalid conditions and images of those who perished trying to make the trek.

The 240,000-person department is tasked with election security and cybersecurity, disaster response and even the Secret Service. But for Trump, the Department of Homeland Security means one thing: immigration. The president’s signature issue makes the department his focus and his ire. Balancing a White House eager to push major changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge.

U.S bolsters Saudi defense against Iran with jets, missilesWASHINGTON — The U.S. is deploying dozens more fighter jets and additional air defenses to Saudi Arabia, beefing up efforts to defend the kingdom against Iran even as President Donald Trump repeatedly insists that America must get out of endless Middle East wars.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployments Friday just hours after Iran said two missiles struck one of its oil tankers traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon moves are part of a broader response to the suspected Iranian missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14.

The heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have led the U.S. to pour about 14,000 more U.S. troops into the region since May, including additional ships to maintain maritime security in the Persian Gulf area.

The decision underscores the complexities of America’s Middle East policies that struggle to align Trump’s desire to pull troops out of the region with what have been persistent threats from Iran and a volatile military operation against Islamic State militants in Syria.

“From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars,” Trump has said.

— The Associated Press