Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

U.S. Interior Dept. grounding Chinese-made drones, will allow for emergency uses

The U.S. Interior Department is grounding its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones but will allow their use for emergency situations, the department said on Wednesday. U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued an order affirming a temporary cessation of non-emergency operations adopted in October as it ensures "cybersecurity, technology and domestic production concerns are adequately addressed," the department said.

Ex-actress says Weinstein promised her movie deal in exchange for threesome

An actress-turned-costume designer told jurors in the Weinstein rape trial on Wednesday the former Hollywood producer promised her a movie deal if she had three-way sex with him and his assistant. The designer, Dawn Dunning, and another accuser who took the stand Wednesday, Tarale Wulff, are not among the women Weinstein is charged with assaulting. But they are two of the three women prosecutors are calling to bolster their case against the former producer by trying to provide evidence of his motives or methods.

Dylann Roof appeals death sentence for massacre at South Carolina black church

Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black people at a South Carolina church in 2015, has appealed his conviction and death sentence, with lawyers arguing he was too mentally ill to stand trial or represent himself at sentencing. "Roof's crime was tragic, but this Court can have no confidence in the jury's verdict," says his appeal, filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Fourteen U.S. states sue EPA for 'gutting' chemical plant safety protections

Fourteen U.S. states and Washington D.C. sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to fight what they called the Trump administration's effort to gut rules meant to improve safety at chemical plants and reduce the threat of accidents. The states petitioned the federal appeals court in Washington to review an EPA rule finalized in December that rolls back amendments to the agency's Risk Management Program regulations, known as the Chemical Disaster Rule.

Trump could be acquitted in impeachment trial as early as Friday: U.S. Senator

A Democratic push to force Republicans to accept witnesses at Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate appeared to be flagging on Wednesday, raising the possibility the president could be acquitted as early as Friday. As senators spent the day posing questions to both the Trump legal team and the Democratic managers of the trial, the White House objected to the planned publication of a book by former national security adviser John Bolton, who is said to have depicted Trump as playing a central role in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Chesapeake Energy reports oil well fire in Texas

Chesapeake Energy said emergency personnel are responding to an oil well fire at one of its drill sites in Texas. Local media have reported multiple injuries at the site in Burleson County, about 75 miles east of Austin. A Chesapeake spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on injuries.

At trial, U.S. says Avenatti's greed fueled Nike extortion; defense says tenacity is no crime

Michael Avenatti was bent on a big payday when he demanded millions of dollars for himself from Nike Inc, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday in his opening argument at the extortion trial of the celebrity lawyer and prominent critic of U.S. President Donald Trump. But a lawyer for Avenatti countered that the request was simply part of negotiations on behalf of Avenatti's client, Gary Franklin, a basketball coach in a Nike-sponsored youth basketball league, and that Avenatti could not be held criminally liable.

Explainer: Inside the plans for Trump's expanded travel ban

U.S. President Donald Trump said he plans to expand his travel ban to bar people from several additional countries, a move that could again reignite questions about whether the policy discriminates against Muslims. Trump said during a visit to Davos, Switzerland, last week that his administration planned to add "a couple of countries" to the ban, but did not give further details.

U.S. has begun sending Brazilian migrants to Mexico to await U.S. court hearings

The United States has begun sending Brazilian migrants crossing the border from Mexico back there to await their U.S. court hearings, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Wednesday. Brazilians will be sent to Mexico under a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). More than 57,000 non-Mexican migrants have been returned to Mexico under that effort since it launched a year ago, according to the DHS.

KFC to sell Beyond Meat's plant-based 'fried chicken' in the southern U.S.

Beyond Meat said on Wednesday it will supply plant-based "fried chicken" to several KFC stores in Tennessee and North Carolina, after a test conducted last year showed strong consumer demand. Fast-food chains including McDonald's , Burger King, and Dunkin Brands have raced to add imitation meat products to their menus as Americans cut down on animal protein consumption. While those companies have rolled out imitation pork or beef patties, Yum Brands Inc's KFC is the first to launch plant-based "chicken."