State Dept. Reopens Investigation into Deliberately Edited Video on Iran Talks

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Facing mounting pressure from members of Congress and from inquiring journalists, the State Department said Wednesday it has reopened its investigation into who ordered the video edit of a State Department briefing from December 2013.

Last week when the State Department admitted the video had been deliberately edited (after having originally stated it was a technical glitch) a spokesman said the investigation was over and ultimately could not determine who was responsible.

But today State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that decision was overturned by Secretary John Kerry. “The secretary said he wants to dive deeper into this, look more into what happened, and try to get to the bottom of what happened,” Toner told reporters at the State Department briefing Wednesday.

Based on claims from the technician responsible for editing the video and her supervisor, officials said they believe that the order came from within the department of public affairs. Yet the technician and her supervisor, who recall having a discussion about the order, both say they can’t remember who called them and told them to do it, according to officials.

Spokespersons Jen Psaki and Marie Harf and other top public affairs officials from 2013 have vigorously denied calling for the deletion.

 Toner said today investigators within the state department’s legal division have expanded the investigation to look through emails from “leadership positions” that might give some indications of who called for the edit. So far the emails haven’t offered any indication of who did this, or why, he said.

He also pointed out that no rules were broken when the video was originally edited, but that rules have since been put into place that would prohibit such action.

“But we're going to continue to look at additional troves of information in an effort to find out, again, what happened” Toner said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has called for an internal investigation by the State Department’s inspector general and sent a letter to Secretary Kerry requesting State Department documents and correspondences related to the decision to delete the video footage. He also sent a letter to the White House chief of staff requesting similar information after it was reported that one of its briefings transcripts omitted a line about the Iran nuclear negotiations.

For its part, the State Department says it plans to provide a preliminary response to Rep. Chaffetz.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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