People create a barrier with sandbags to protect against water in Vicksburg, Miss. The Mississippi River was forecast to keep rising this week, prompting a flood warning for the area. (Courtland Wells/Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post via AP)
OKLAHOMA
Executions to be carried out with gas

The state of Oklahoma will use nitrogen gas to execute death row inmates going forward, officials said Wednesday, an unprecedented response to the inability of states nationwide to obtain lethal injection drugs.

Oklahoma has not carried out an execution in more than three years following high-profile mistakes involving lethal injections.

The announcement by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh is still somewhat preliminary, as no execution protocol for using nitrogen gas has been created.

Oklahoma adopted nitrogen gas inhalation as its backup method of execution in April 2015 while the state was awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling over the way lethal injections were carried out there. The court upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection methods, but executions remained on hold as a grand jury investigated how officials wound up using the wrong drug to execute an inmate earlier that year.

After the state executed Charles Warner in January 2015, officials acknowledged they had used the wrong drug for his lethal injection, and hastily called off another execution.

In 2014, the execution of Clayton Lockett gained international attention when he kicked, writhed and grimaced for 20 minutes before his execution was called off; he died of a heart attack not long after.

— Mark Berman

NATIONAL SECURITY
House panel sets Russia report deadline

The House Intelligence Committee has set itself a March 22 deadline to make changes to a draft report written by panel Republicans, at which point they plan to adopt the report as final and send it on to the intelligence community for any necessary redactions of classified information.

The committee posted a notice of next week’s meeting on its website, defining the window within which members will be able to lobby for changes to the 150-page document, which was announced to the media on Monday and shared with panel Democrats on Tuesday.

Democrats are not expected to endorse the findings in the Republicans’ report, which found there was “no evidence” that President Trump or anyone affiliated with him had colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election.

At least two Republicans on the panel appeared to contradict investigation chief K. Michael Conaway’s (R-Tex.) presentation of how the report broke with the intelligence community.

On Tuesday night, Conaway appeared to backtrack from his earlier remarks, telling reporters that whether Russian interference hurt Hillary Clinton or helped Trump was a “glass half-full, glass half-empty” question. “You can pitch that either way.”

— Karoun Demirjian