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Weld exits primary race against Trump

WASHINGTON -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has ended his Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump.

Weld said in a statement Wednesday that he was suspending his 2020 presidential bid. It came hours after Trump secured the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the summer convention.

"The reason that people all over the world look to the United States for leadership, as they do, is our dedication to the rule of law under our Constitution," Weld said in a statement announcing the suspension of his campaign. He did not mention Trump by name, but he added that if a president does not observe the rule of law, "we will truly have lost our compass."

Weld was a 2016 vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket and was Massachusetts governor in the 1990s.

His latest bid failed to gain traction as the Republican Party increasingly closed ranks around the president, with a number of states canceling their primaries and other nominating contests. Two other Republican candidates have already ended their bids: Joe Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois, and Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman.

Weld was the final major Republican challenger to Trump.

Weld's announcement came in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and aides said he planned to make no appearances or conduct any interviews because he did not want to distract from coverage of the crisis.

New counterterrorism chief nominated

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has nominated Christopher Miller, a senior Pentagon official in charge of special operations and combating terrorism, to head the National Counterterrorism Center -- the agency set up after 9/11 to safeguard the nation from attack.

Miller, formerly the top counterterrorism official at the National Security Council, is seen as an experienced hand and career professional who can lead the agency at a time when its mission and effectiveness are under review.

At the National Security Counci, Miller, an Army special operations veteran with more than 30 years' government service, focused on pressuring the Islamic State group, hostage recovery and hunting down the remnants of al-Qaida's leadership. On his watch, the Trump administration killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Miller also shepherded completion of the White House counterterrorism strategy in 2018 that expanded the scope of threats facing the United States to include Iran, Hezbollah and domestic terrorism.

Tribe says online lottery breaks its deal

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An online state lottery game violates the gambling compacts between Oklahoma and American Indian tribes and should end the exclusivity fees that tribes pay the state each year, an Oklahoma tribe said in a court filing.

The filing late Tuesday by the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes in Anadarko argues that the mobile and internet-based "second-chance promotions" authorized by the Oklahoma Lottery Commission in 2018 violate the compacts the state has with several tribes.

Terri Parton, president of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, said the new electronic game violates the exclusivity guaranteed to tribes.

The compacts and the exclusivity fees tribes pay the state are at the center of a lawsuit the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations filed against Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The tribes paid the state about $150 million in exclusivity fees last year, most of it for public schools. Stitt contends that the compacts expired Jan. 1, but the tribes argue the compacts automatically renewed for another 15-year term.

Idaho battles birth-record sex changes

BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho legislation banning transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates despite a federal court ruling declaring such a law unconstitutional headed to the governor's desk Tuesday, drawing the state closer to becoming one of a few states with such a restriction.

The Senate voted 27-6 to approve the measure that was overwhelmingly passed in the House last month.

A federal judge in March 2018 ruled that Idaho's law barring transgender people from making the birth certificate change violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The judge scrapped the ban and warned against new rules.

However, some senators who backed the bill said the federal court was wrong and were willing to risk a lawsuit that the Idaho attorney general's office says could cost $1 million. Backers said the legislation is needed because it's important that Idaho has accurate birth records.

Democratic Sen. Michelle Stennett said that only a tiny percentage of the population seeks to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.

If it's signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little, the measure is expected to be challenged in court.

A Section on 03/19/2020

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