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Here is the latest news from The Associated Press at 12:40 p.m. EST

February 8, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says he has “not interfered in any way” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Whitaker also says he has not talked to President Donald Trump or senior White House officials about the investigation. The acting attorney general made the comments Friday during a contentious hearing of the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The publisher of the National Enquirer says it will investigate Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ allegation that it threatened to publish revealing personal photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the tabloid obtained his private exchanges with his mistress. American Media Inc. says in a statement issued Friday it “acted lawfully” while reporting the story. Bezos says he was the target of “extortion and blackmail” by American Media.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court has stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics. The 5-4 vote came in a case seen as an early test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights. President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among those in dissent, arguing that Louisiana should be allowed to enforce the new abortion rules.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A hip-hop pioneer who was imitated by a Virginia politician in blackface says he hopes people will learn lessons from such “regrettable actions.” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said Wednesday that he wore brown makeup to a college party in 1980 to imitate rappers, specifically mentioning Kurtis Blow. The rapper released a statement Friday saying he hopes moments like these can help people understand the harm of blackface.

DETROIT (AP) — The longest-serving member of Congress in American history, former Michigan Rep. John Dingell, has died at age 92. The Democrat was dubbed “Big John” for his imposing 6-foot-3 frame and sometimes intimidating manner. He was a master of legislative deal-making and a staunch advocate for the U.S. auto industry. He was first elected in 1955, to fill the House seat vacated by his late father. His wife was elected to replace him after he retired in 2014. His wife says Dingell died Thursday.

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