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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A white military veteran shot and wounded a 15-year-old girl when he fired his gun into a car carrying four Black teenagers during a tense confrontation at a Trump rally near the Iowa Capitol last month.Michael McKinney, 25, is charged with attempted murder in the Dec. 6 shooting in Des Moines. McKinney, who was heavily armed and wearing body armor, told police he fired the shot in self-defense. A resident of tiny St. Charles, Iowa, McKinney has posted on Facebook in support of the far-right Proud Boys and against Black Lives Matter.

In a news release detailing McKinney’s arrest, the state police described an afternoon shooting at a parking lot and didn’t mention the Trump car rally or the race of those involved. A city police spokesman said initial reports indicated the shooting was traffic-related. Division of Criminal Investigation spokesman Mitch Mortvedt said the agency released the immediate facts and circumstances as required.
But a review by The Associated Press shows the shooting was sparked by a belligerent political clash between a large group of white Trump supporters and four unarmed Black girls all aged 16 and under.
The teen driver’s mother said the girls argued with Trump supporters about politics and were subjected to racial slurs. Rallygoers blamed the teens for starting the confrontation, saying they were harassing and threatening the crowd.
The girls’ car ended up surrounded by Trump supporters who were yelling and honking horns before the driver went in reverse and struck a pickup. It’s unclear whether the collision was accidental. McKinney told police he fired at that point to protect himself.
An investigator says in court documents that McKinney does not appear to be among those rallygoers who exchanged words with the girls before the shooting. Bystander video obtained by police shows McKinney approaching the vehicle, pulling a handgun from his waistband and firing into the car from 15 feet (4.5 meters) away, according to court documents.
The bullet hit the leg of a girl who had been arguing with members of the crowd through the vehicle’s sunroof. The car sped off to take her to a hospital.

The 73-year-old owner of the pickup, Bob Brekke Jr., told AP he was glad that McKinney shot into the car and scared the girls away, saying he worried that they might be armed.
“I felt relieved,” said Brekke, whose truck was scratched in the collision.
Brekke said the girls had been yelling anti-Trump epithets at him and others as the rally progressed through the heavily Democratic city. He said their vehicle drove wildly, veering in and out of the caravan, and followed it to the parking lot where the route concluded.
Fans of the president, who were gathering to support his attempts to subvert the November election, initially “were having fun” taunting the girls, Brekke said.
Brekke, a retired airport security worker, said he asked whether they were on welfare and unemployed. He said they called him a white supremacist and threatened him and his wife.
McKinney’s attorney, Kent Balducci, said the Jan. 6 mob attack at the U.S. Capitol that included many ex-military members won’t help his client’s case, because the public will draw comparisons.
But he argued that the “political factors are extraneous” and that McKinney’s actions should be viewed as self-defense. The teenage driver may have been using the vehicle as a weapon instead of merely trying to flee the angry crowd, he said.
Balducci said McKinney wore body armor because he had been threatened during previous Trump rallies, and that he feared for his safety when the car reversed.
Trump supporters have blasted authorities for charging McKinney, arguing that his shot protected rallygoers. They include an Iowa Department of Public Safety employee who organized the event and has fundraised for McKinney’s defense.
McKinney, who left the Iowa National Guard in 2017 after a five-year military career, faces 25 years in prison if convicted. McKinney remains jailed after a judge last month rejected his request to reduce a $500,000 bond.
Danielle Gross, the teen driver’s mother, said her daughter was so traumatized by the shooting that injured her cousin that she didn’t leave the house for a week afterward. She said the girls made an ill-advised decision to confront rallygoers and that the situation escalated quickly.
“They were saying some racist slurs and the girls argued with them and it went from there,” Gross said, adding that she hasn’t heard from the police since the day of the shooting and that she fears for her family’s safety.
Authorities declined comment on whether the shooting might have been motivated by race. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone noted that the attempted murder charge against McKinney carries far more prison time than a state hate crime charge, with a maximum of five years.
After the shooting, McKinney apparently tried to cover his tracks, putting the spent shell casing in the trunk of his car and not initially coming forward as the shooter, court records show.
After others identified him, he admitted his role and surrendered his pistol. Police say he was carrying two loaded magazines in his pants and had another firearm in his vehicle, which was outfitted with Trump decals.

Vice President Mike Pence has called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations

By JILL COLVIN and ALEXANDRA JAFFE Associated Ore

January 15, 2021, 6:49 PM
• 1 min read

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has called his soon-to-be successor Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
It’s the first known contact between the elected members of the outgoing and incoming administrations. President Donald Trump has not reached out to President-elect Joe Biden and has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s win.

One of the people familiar with the Thursday afternoon conversation described it as a “good call,” with Pence congratulating his successor and offering assistance. They spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private conversation.
The call came less than a week before Biden and Harris take office on Jan. 20 and just over a week after the storming of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters.
While Trump has remained largely behind closed doors fuming since his loss, Pence has been stepping up and fulfilling many of the ceremonial duties of the presidency, including greeting greeting members of the National Guard now protecting the Capitol building Thursday evening.
Pence will also be attending Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, which Trump is refusing to attend.

It could be a profitable weekend for lucky lottery players as two of the largest jackpots in U.S. history will be on the line

ByThe Associated Press

January 15, 2021, 6:30 PM
• 1 min read

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DES MOINES, Iowa — It could be a profitable weekend for lucky lottery players as two of the largest jackpots in U.S. history will be on the line.
Numbers will be drawn Friday night for the $750 million Mega Millions prize, the fifth-largest jackpot ever. On Saturday, players will have a chance at a $640 million Powerball prize, the eighth-largest jackpot.

It’s been nearly two years since a lottery jackpot has grown so large. No one has won either game’s top prize in months.
The listed jackpot amounts refer to winners who opt for an annuity, paid over 30 years. Winners nearly always choose cash prizes, which for Mega Millions would be an estimated $550.6 million and for Powerball would be $478.7 million.
The odds of winning Mega Millions are one in 302.5 million. For Powerball, it’s one in 292.2 million.
Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico.

Two independent research groups published findings confirming what many scientists have long suspected: The U.S. has its own unique COVID-19 viral variants that are distinct from the U.K. and South African lineages making headlines in recent weeks.On Wednesday, researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center announced two distinct, newly identified variants. The next day, researchers at Southern Illinois University said they found a variant that may have emerged months ago and quickly spread across the country. The variant is likely the same or similar to one of the variants identified by the Ohio researchers.

While viruses mutate constantly, these mutations are not inherently dangerous, experts cautioned. More scientific experiments will be needed to show whether the newly identified U.S. variants are more transmissible, more deadly or if they might impact the vaccine.
And researchers predicted even more variants could be identified in the coming weeks as more scientists start looking for them.
“This should be a wakeup call that we’re not doing enough genomic surveillance,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and associate research scientist at the Center of Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.
“We’re going to see a lot of these papers coming out,” said Rasmussen, who was not involved in either study. “Whether [the variants] are associated with increased transmissibility or not remains to be seen.”
Since the emergence of new variants around the globe, there has been fear that they will cause more severe disease and deaths, be more transmissible and render the vaccines ineffective. It first started with variants identified from U.K. and then South Africa, both of which are thought to be more transmissible but not more deadly. But they’re unlikely to undermine the current vaccines, according to very preliminary research.

Researchers at Southern Illinois University are calling this U.S. variant 20C-US. The variant isn’t new, just newly identified. Its origin was traced back to a patient sample in Texas from May 2020. Since then, the variant seems to have swept across the country. According to Dr. Keith T. Gagnon, one of the lead researchers of the study released by Southern Illinois, 20C-US now compromises about 50% of samples in the country. It is currently widespread in the Upper Midwest, which could be why researchers at Ohio State detected a strikingly similar variant.

Spc. Katherine Deskins of the Nevada Army National Guard administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Clark County Fire Department Capt. Jasmine Ghazinour on the first day of Clark County’s pilot vaccination program on Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Dr. Daniel Jones, one of the lead authors of the study from Ohio State, told ABC News that these variants could be from the same lineage but more research on each is needed.
While some researchers, including the White House Task Force’s Dr. Deborah Birx, have speculated there might be a U.S. variant circling the nation, these two studies are the first ironclad evidence of one.
Gagnon said it has taken scientists in the U.S. months to identify this variant because the U.S. is not systematically monitoring and tracking the ever-changing genetic makeup of COVID-19 samples collected from patients.
Gagnon also said it’s possible the 20C-US variant is more transmissible, especially with the surge of infections in the fall and winter. The variant could have gotten lucky and gained a foothold as people were spending more time indoors and seeing family and friends for the holidays without proper social distancing and mask wearing.
With multiple vaccines now available, there is the fear that this new U.S. variant will render the vaccines ineffective. But so far there is no evidence that the mutations impact the efficacy of the vaccines.
“Here it was, underneath our noses for months,” Gagnon said, meaning volunteers who were vaccinated in the large, late-stage vaccine trials were likely exposed to it and a majority were protected.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to get in the way of vaccines,” Gagnon added. The researchers at Ohio State agreed with those sentiments in their press conference earlier this week.
The other variant that Ohio State researchers discovered was found in only one patient. It has similar mutations seen in the U.K. and South African variants but was not associated with travel and developed independently here in the U.S. It is unclear how much of the population has this variant and if it will be an important.
Both groups recommended to keep calm and wait for more experimental studies to determine what these variants will do.
“We’re not ready to overreact,” said Peter Mohler, chief scientific officer and a co-author of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center study.
“We want to make sure we study these [variants] in the lab and get very good data” to determine if they change transmission and mortality, he added.
But researchers also warn that the longer COVID-19 is around, the more likely there will be mutations and variants. And each time we will have to determine if the variants are more transmissible or deadly.
Sean Llewellyn, M.D., Ph.D., is a family medicine resident physician at the University of Colorado and a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit. Sony Salzman is the unit’s coordinating producer.

President Donald Trump will leave Washington next Wednesday morning, just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration

By JILL COLVIN and DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press

January 15, 2021, 5:41 PM
• 1 min read

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will leave Washington next Wednesday morning, just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, to begin his post-presidential life in Florida.
He will be sent off with a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, according to a person familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity because Trump’s plans have not been formally announced. Officials are considering an elaborate event that would have the feel of a state visit, with a red carpet, color guard, military band and 21-gun salute all being discussed.

Trump had already announced that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration — an historical break with tradition — after spending months making baseless allegations of voter fraud in an attempt to delegitimize Biden’s presidency. Vice President Mike Pence will attend in his place.
Trump will leave Washington two weeks after he incited a violent insurrection, with his supporters storming the Capitol building in an attempt to halt the peaceful transition of power.
Trump is expected to remain in Florida with a small group of aides as he mulls his future.

A central Illinois mayor who attended the Trump rally in Washington that preceded the storming of the Capitol building has apologized for accusing the media of lying about the violence in a video he posted online afterward

ByThe Associated Press

January 15, 2021, 5:38 PM
• 2 min read

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THOMASBORO, Ill. — A central Illinois mayor who attended the Trump rally in Washington that preceded the storming of the Capitol building has apologized for accusing the media of lying about the violence in a video he posted online afterward.
Thomasboro Mayor Tyler Evans, who has faced calls to resign since he posted the video, issued a statement Thursday apologizing for his comments and condemning the violence at the Capitol. He said he made it as far as the Capitol steps and saw very little evidence of violence, and that some people told him they’d been allowed into the building.

“Before I had a full understanding of the actions of rioters who stormed the Capitol, I shared a video reflecting my experience with tens of thousands of peaceful protestors that day. As a result, my remarks were not fully informed on what happened inside the Capitol by extremists,” said the mayor of the Champaign County village. “I take full responsibility for any hurt my words caused, and for that, I am sorry.”
Evans, a Trump supporter, said he went to Washington to peacefully attend the rally and the protest march to the Capitol.
At the rally, Trump, repeated baseless claims that widespread voter fraud had cost him the election. At one point, he told attendees, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
In his apology, Evans didn’t address the calls for his resignation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say Friday when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate, which would trigger a Senate trial of President Trump.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say Friday when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate, which would trigger a Senate trial of President Trump.

A federal appeals court in New York has upheld convictions against a sports marketer, an aspiring agent and a financial adviser in a college basketball scandal that spoiled the careers of several coaches