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story.lead_photo.caption Saint Joseph’s Church in Nanticoke, Pa., is demolished Monday, by Brdaric Excavating. The Scranton Diocese decided to tear down the church after attempts to sell the building, which has been vacant since 2010.

Medical issues delay Cohen's hearing

WASHINGTON -- Michael Cohen's private testimony before the Senate intelligence committee has been postponed "due to post-surgery medical needs," his attorney said Monday.

Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, is under subpoena from the committee and was scheduled to talk to the panel today. Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that the interview had been postponed for medical reasons. Davis said last month that Cohen had undergone minor shoulder surgery.

This is the third time Cohen has postponed congressional testimony. He pulled out of a public hearing in the House Oversight and Reform Committee that was scheduled for last Thursday, citing threats from Trump and the president's attorney-spokesman, Rudy Giuliani.

Cohen will now talk to the House intelligence panel on Feb. 28. It is unclear if he has scheduled a new date to speak to the Senate investigators, who subpoenaed him to appear.

Cohen talked to both committees in 2017 and has since pleaded guilty for lying to them about his role in a Trump business proposal in Moscow. Cohen acknowledged misleading lawmakers by saying the project was abandoned in January 2016 when he actually continued pursuing it for months.

He's set to begin a three-year prison sentence in March. He has also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for his role in payments to a former Playboy model and porn actress who had alleged affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the allegations.

Planned Parenthood fire investigated

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Authorities said Monday that they are investigating a suspicious fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri that is seeking to regain its ability to offer abortions.

Columbia police said officers responded to an alarm at the clinic on Sunday around 4 a.m. A small fire had started inside the structure, and the building's sprinkler system extinguished it. Firefighters told police the blaze was "suspicious in nature," according to a statement from the Police Department.

On Monday, police spokesman Jeff Pitts said that the department has asked the FBI to help with the investigation.

No clinic staff or patients were present when the fire started, and there were no injuries, Planned Parenthood spokesman Emily Miller said. The clinic was closed Monday.

Planned Parenthood was required to stop providing abortions at the clinic last year after new regulations went into effect requiring abortion doctors to have certain privileges with a nearby hospital.

Missouri is down to one clinic offering abortions. That clinic is in St. Louis.

Suit filed over protected status's end

Immigrants from Honduras and Nepal have filed a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump's administration of unfairly ending a program that lets them live and work in the United States.

The lawsuit, filed late Sunday in federal court in San Francisco, claims that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to end so-called temporary protected status for the countries was motivated by racism.

The suit -- filed on behalf of six immigrants and two of their American-born children -- also accused the department of changing how it evaluates conditions in these countries when determining whether immigrants could return there.

"We bring evidence the Trump administration has repeatedly denigrated non-white non-European immigrants and reviewed TPS designations with a goal of removing such non-white non-European immigrants from the United States," said Minju Cho, a staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles.

The group is one of several representing the immigrant plaintiffs, who live California, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security didn't return a message asking for comment.

Synagogue-killings suspect denies guilt

PITTSBURGH -- The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre pleaded innocent to hate crimes and dozens of other counts Monday, but his new lawyer -- a prominent death penalty litigator who represented one of the Boston Marathon bombers -- signaled he might be open to a plea deal.

Robert Bowers, a truck driver who authorities say gunned down 11 people at Tree of Life Synagogue, appeared in federal court with attorney Judy Clarke, who expressed hope the case will be resolved without a trial.

Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., is accused of targeting worshippers from three Jewish congregations when he attacked on Saturday, Oct. 27, during Sabbath services. Seven people were wounded, including five police officers.

Prosecutors in Pittsburgh have previously indicated their intent to seek the death penalty against Bowers, but a final decision rests with the U.S. attorney general.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti said in court that a trial could last about three weeks, not including any potential penalty phase.

Bowers has been placed in the Butler County Prison, about 35 miles north of the shooting scene.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

A Section on 02/12/2019

Print Headline: Medical issues delay Cohen's hearing Planned Parenthood fire investigated Suit filed over protected status's end Mass shooting suspect pleads innocent Synagogue-killings suspect denies guilt

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