- - Thursday, November 15, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee Republican, testified during divorce proceedings that he and his former wife made mutual decisions for her to have two abortions.

The 2001 court transcripts were released Thursday by the state Democratic Party, which tried to air the documents before the Nov. 6 election. A DesJarlais spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Mr. DesJarlais easily won a second term despite revelations that he once urged a patient with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion. Mr. DesJarlais, whose campaign platform opposed abortion, acknowledged the conversation but said he was only trying to get her to acknowledge that she wasn’t pregnant.

The transcripts show the woman testified under oath that she had been pregnant. She declined to elaborate on the outcome of the pregnancy.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama hosts Olympic gymnasts at Oval Office

The Fierce Five and other members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team got a personal audience with President Obama on Thursday while on tour in Washington.

The group met with the president in the Oval Office before huddling together in the chill outside to watch his helicopter lift off. The president was headed off to tour storm-damaged New York.

The gymnasts missed a White House appearance with the rest of the U.S. Olympic team earlier this year because of their national tour schedule.

The Fierce Five — Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber — claimed the gold at this summer’s London Games. They signed leotards to give to Sasha and Malia Obama on their visit.

STATE

Chairwoman awaits Clinton testimony on Benghazi

A lawmaker says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has agreed to appear before Congress to answer questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mrs. Clinton will testify after the State Department’s internal review of the attack is complete. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said she expects the report’s completion in December.

The State Department declined to confirm Ms. Ros-Lehtinen’s announcement.

Department officials have said that their review may not be finished until January, meaning that any appearance by Mrs. Clinton before Congress could be delayed.

SENATE

Sen. Coburn finds plenty of waste at Pentagon

One of the Senate’s leading fiscal conservatives says defense spending could be slashed by $68 billion over 10 years if the military stops spending millions of dollars operating grocery stores and schools and developing a roll-up version of beef jerky.

In a report on defense spending, Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, dubs the Pentagon the “Department of Everything.”

Mr. Coburn said the Pentagon could save money if it eliminated duplicative and excessive programs that have nothing to do with the nation’s security.

By turns sober and cheeky, the report points out that the Pentagon has spent more than $1 million on the 100-year Starship Project. About $100,000 went for a workshop that included a discussion titled “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?”

LABOR

Superstorm Sandy blamed for spike in jobless claims

Superstorm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.

The Labor Department said applications increased by 78,000 because a large number were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don’t get paid.

The storm may distort claims for another two weeks, the department has said. The four-week average of applications, a less-volatile number, increased to 383,750.

Before the storm, applications fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 this year. At the same time, employers added an average of nearly 157,000 jobs a month. That is barely enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 7.9 percent in October.

From wire dispatches and staff reports