Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Exxon seeks OK to resume Russian oil venture drilling


WASHINGTON — Exxon Mobil is seeking permission from the U.S. government for approval to resume drilling around the Black Sea with a Russian partner, state-owned Rosneft, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The oil giant’s request is being reviewed by the Trump administra­tion and is certain to draw extra scrutiny, because it involves a company formerly run by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who cultivated close ties with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

The drilling venture was blocked when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014.

Arkansas executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas suffered two more legal setbacks Wednesday in its bid to carry out multiple executions this month when the state Supreme Court spared one prisoner, and a judge later ruled that the state can’t use one of its drugs in any of its executions.

The state originally set eight executions to occur over an 11-day period in April. But Arkansas has encountere­d multiple legal roadblocks, and the latest ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray, over the drug vecuronium bromide, upends the entire schedule.

‘Dreamer’ deportatio­n

SAN DIEGO — The case of a “Dreamer,” believed to be the first deported under the Trump administra­tion, took another twist Wednesday as the Department of Homeland Security corrected informatio­n about the young man’s legal status, but then released further details that cast doubt on his claims laid out in a San Diego federal lawsuit.

Homeland Security said Tuesday that Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, 23, had failed in 2015 to renew his status to legally work and go to school in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. But on Wednesday, the agency said a detailed records search found that Mr. Montes had renewed his status and was eligible through 2018, the agency said.

Despite the confusion over his DACA status, Homeland Security defended deporting Mr. Montes and suggested the young man was not being truthful.

Inaugurati­on donors

WASHINGTON —Big money from billionair­es, corporatio­ns and a roster of NFL owners poured into Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in record-shattering amounts — to pull off an event that was considerab­ly lower-key than previous inaugural celebratio­ns.

That leaves a bit of a mystery: What the $107 million was spent for and how much was left over — the excess, if any, to go to charity. It also raises a new round of questions about the influence of money in politics, this time for a president who promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

Contributi­on records from Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission, show the president who railed as a candidate against the corrupting influence of bigmoney donors, was only too willing to accept top-dollar checks for his swearing-in festivitie­s.

Mr. Trump’s top inaugural donor was Las Vegas gambling billionair­e Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million. He and his wife came away with prime seats for Mr. Trump’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20 and gained access to a private lunch with the new president and lawmakers at the Capitol. Phil Ruffin, another casino mogul and close friend of Mr. Trump, was among dozens of donors who gave $1 million each.

Utah Rep. won’t run

WASHINGTON — Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who doggedly investigat­ed Hillary Clinton before the 2016 presidenti­al election but declined to investigat­e President Donald Trump, abruptly announced Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election.

Mr. Chaffetz, who has been rumored as a possible candidate for Senate or governor, said that after consulting with his family and “prayerful considerat­ion, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.”

Also in the nation ...

The University of California, Berkeley, on Wednesday canceled a scheduled speech by conservati­ve author Ann Coulter, in the latest blow to the institutio­n’s legacy and reputation as a promoter and bastion of free speech.

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