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AP Top News at 9:30 p.m. EST

Rubio defection threatens GOP's slim majority on tax bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republicans' razor-thin margin for driving their sweeping tax package through the Senate was thrown into jeopardy Thursday when GOP Sen. Marco Rubio declared he will vote against it unless negotiators expand the tax credit that low-income Americans can claim for their children. Rubio's potential defection complicates Republican leaders' goal of muscling the $1.5 trillion bill through Congress next week, handing President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory by Christmas. Senate Republicans could still pass the package without Rubio's vote, but they would be cutting it extremely close. An original version was approved by only 51-49 - with Rubio's support.


White House aims to sway opinion on immigration overhaul
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is embarking on a major campaign to turn public opinion against the nation's largely family-based immigration system ahead of an all-out push next year to move toward a more merit-based structure. The administration was laying the groundwork for such a drive even before an Islamic State-inspired extremist who was born in Bangladesh tried to blow himself up in Midtown Manhattan on Monday. It is assembling data to bolster the argument that the current legal immigration system is not only ill-conceived, but dangerous and damaging to U.S. workers. "We believe that data drives policy, and this data will help drive votes for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.


10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday: 1. SUPPORT WAVERS FOR TAX OVERHAUL The GOP's razor-thin margin for driving its sweeping tax package through the Senate is thrown into jeopardy when GOP Sen. Marco Rubio declares that, at this point, he will vote against it. 2. FCC REPEALS 'NET NEUTRALITY' The move gives internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds. 3. PUTIN WEIGHS IN ON 'COLLUSION' The Russian leader says the U.S.


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Suspect in car attack faces new charge: first-degree murder
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - The man accused of driving into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville faces a new charge of first-degree murder after a court hearing Thursday in which prosecutors presented surveillance video and other evidence against him. Prosecutors announced at the start of a preliminary hearing for James Alex Fields that they were seeking to upgrade the second-degree murder charge he previously faced in the Aug. 12 collision in Charlottesville that left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and dozens injured. The judge agreed to that and ruled there is probable cause for all charges against Fields to proceed.


US prosecutors move to cash in on $8.5M in seized bitcoin
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - U.S. attorneys in Utah prosecuting a multimillion-dollar opioid drug-ring are moving quickly to sell seized bitcoin that's exploded in value to about $8.5 million since the alleged ringleader's arrest a year ago. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah cites the digital currency's volatility in court documents pressing for the sale. The bitcoin cache was worth less than $500,000 when Aaron Shamo was arrested on drug charges, but the value of the digital currency has skyrocketed since then. Bitcoin was created as a digital alternative to the traditional banking system, and is prone to swings in value based on what people believe its worth.


Lawmaker who spun history of heroics ends life in suicide
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky lawmaker's resume included enough material for an award-winning memoir: He was a peacekeeper at the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a White House chaplain to three presidents and a 9/11 first responder who gave last rites to hundreds of people at Ground Zero. But Republican Dan Johnson's carefully crafted history crumbled this week following an extensively reported story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The story tore down his claims and portrayed him as a con man whose deceptions propped up his ministry of a church of outcasts in Louisville and hid a sinister secret: a sexual assault allegation from a 17-year-old girl.


FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality'
The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds. In a straight party-line vote of 3-2, the Republican-controlled FCC junked the longtime principle that said all web traffic must be treated equally. The move represents a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight. The big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks. "What is the FCC doing today?" asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican.


Ex-'Apprentice' star Omarosa to tell all about White House
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former "Apprentice" star Omarosa is putting the White House on notice as she makes her exit: She has "quite a story to tell" about her time in President Donald Trump's administration and "the world will want to hear it." Accustomed to the spotlight, Omarosa Manigault Newman appeared on national television Thursday to push back against reports that she was fired from her job as a Trump assistant and director of communications for a White House office that deals with constituent groups. She also denied reports that she made a spectacle of herself while being escorted from the White House grounds, calling the stories "100 percent false" and questioning why photos or video of her alleged misbehavior had yet to surface.


US says missile parts prove Iran is illicitly arming Houthis
WASHINGTON (AP) - Flanked by singed missile remnants, President Donald Trump's envoy to the United Nations declared Thursday that "undeniable" evidence proves Iran is arming Houthi rebels in Yemen, the latest bid by the Trump administration to rally the world against the Persian Gulf nation. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley came to an emptied-out hangar at a military base not far from the U.S. Capitol, where fragments recovered from missiles launched from Yemen were paraded before reporters. Haley said the truck-sized missile segment behind her had been launched at the international airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and "led the U.S. intelligence community to conclude unequivocally that these weapons were supplied by the Iranian regime."


Republican tax bill drops controversial loan provisions
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican lawmakers have dropped from the tax bill provisions that were criticized by students and educators as making college less affordable. House and Senate Republican leaders forged an agreement Wednesday on what would be the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families. The updated version leaves in place the deduction for interest on student loans, according to two congressional aides. The bill also would no longer start taxing graduate-school tuition waivers.