The U.S. at a glance ...
Salt Lake City
‘Hero’ nurse: A Salt Lake City nurse is being hailed as a champion of patients’ rights after she refused to allow a police officer to take blood from an unconscious man in her care. In disturbing video footage released last week, University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels can be seen calmly explaining to an angry Detective Jeff Payne that he can’t legally obtain a blood sample without a warrant or the patient’s consent. Incensed by her refusal, Payne threatens to charge Wubbels with impeding an investigation, clapping the nurse in handcuffs and dragging her out of the building as she screams “Help me!” and “I did nothing wrong!” The incident sparked national outrage over excessive police force. Payne and another officer have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, and the hospital has banned police from patient areas. Wubbels, 41, who was not charged, is considering legal action. “I stood my ground,” she said. “Any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
Record wildfire: Officials in Los Angeles this week said the largest wildfire in the city’s history was about 80 percent contained, as rain delivered relief to more than 1,000 firefighters battling the flames. The La Tuna fire is believed to have started as a brush fire amid a sweltering heat wave in the region. As temperatures hit 107 degrees, the wind-whipped fire swept across the Verdugo Mountains, prompting hundreds of evacuations in Glendale and Burbank and shutting down miles of the 210 Freeway. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County in order to ensure swift state and federal assistance. “We hit this hard, we hit it fast, and we’ve done everything we can,” Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said, noting that of 1,400 homes in the fire’s path, only five were destroyed.
Hillary blames Bernie: In her forthcoming tell-all about the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton blasts former rival Bernie Sanders for “paving the way” for Donald Trump’s attacks on her as “Crooked Hillary,’’ and accused Sanders of causing “lasting damage” to her campaign by portraying her as beholden to banks and wealthy donors. In leaked excerpts from Clinton’s What Happened, Clinton accuses Sanders of resorting to attacks on her character when he “couldn’t make an argument” against her based on policy. “We agreed on so much,” Clinton writes, that Sanders had to rely on “innuendo and impugning my character”—attacks that made “it harder to unify progressives.” Clinton also writes that she was urged by advisers, including former President Obama, not to criticize Sanders too harshly or risk alienating his supporters. “I felt like I was in a straitjacket,” Clinton says.
Trump’s wiretap claim: The Justice Department conceded last week that it had no evidence to support President Trump’s unsubstantiated March tweets claiming that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. “Both FBI and [DOJ’s national security division] confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017, tweets,” the department said in a court filing submitted in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by American Oversight, a group advocating government transparency. Trump caused a furor when he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” At the time, an Obama spokesman called Trump’s allegations “simply false,” and then–FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers the bureau had “no information” to support the claim.
Menendez trial: Opening arguments began this week in the federal corruption trial of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. “This what bribery looks like,’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Koski told the jury, saying the senator had traded “money for power.’’ Prosecutors accuse Menendez, 63, of using his influence to lobby for the business interests of Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida ophthalmologist, including trying to resolve the doctor’s $8.9 million billing dispute with Medicare. In return, Melgen allegedly flew Menendez on a private jet to a Dominican Republic villa and made more than $700,000 in political contributions to his campaign. Menendez insists that Melgen’s gifts were the result of the pair’s close friendship and that his actions were the result of genuine policy interests. The trial has major implications for the balance of power in Congress. New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appoint any replacement if Menendez were forced to step down.
Bracing for Irma: Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all of the state’s 67 counties this week, as Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, roared toward the U.S. mainland. The Category 5 storm, packing winds of 185 miles per hour, first made landfall early Wednesday morning, battering the northeast Caribbean island of Barbuda, which saw a storm surge of at least 8 feet. The storm was expected to follow a path menacing Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba, before potentially hitting Florida sometime over the weekend. The first mandatory evacuations began Wednesday in the Florida Keys, home to roughly 80,000 residents. “This storm is bigger, faster, and stronger than Hurricane Andrew,” Gov. Scott said, citing the devastating 1992 storm that remains the costliest disaster in the state’s history. “Do not sit and wait for the storm to come.”