U.S. Rep. Trey Radel said Wednesday night he will take a leave of absence for an unspecified time and donate his salary.
"I have no excuse for what I have done. I have let down our country," he said at a news conference.
Radel spoke to reporters after returning home to southwest Florida, hours after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession.
The 37-year-old first-term Republican from Florida said he will enter an inpatient drug treatment program to get treatment for substance abuse.
He hopes to set an example for those who struggle with addiction, CNN's Alina Machado reports.
The cocaine possession charge came after authorities said he bought a small amount of cocaine in a sting in the nation's capital last month
During the brief news conference, Radel said he "grew up with a mom who struggled with alcoholism."
"I don't want my son to struggle with that," he said.
The plea and sentence were part of a deal that Radel's attorney struck with federal prosecutors. He could have received a maximum sentence of 180 days imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both. Instead, he was placed on one year probation, and if it is "successfully completed," his guilty plea will be cleared from his record.
A throng of rescue workers scoured the coastal Florida waters early Wedenesday morning looking for two people missing from an air ambulance crash. CNN's John Zarrella has the latest.
Authorities have already found the bodies of two others in the Atlantic Ocean, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said. The four passengers - two pilots, a doctor and a nurse - had just dropped off a patient at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and was headed back to Mexico, airport spokesman Greg Meyer said.
By early Wednesday, the debris field and search area for survivors had stretched to 20 square miles of the Atlantic, the Coast Guard said.
A distress call from one of the pilots came just moments after takeoff. An air traffic controller asked him to turn left and keep a certain altitude.
"Not possible," the pilot responded.
The pilot asked to turn around. Seconds later, he said: "Mayday, mayday, mayday."
Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said the bodies of a man and woman were located just off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.
The two medical staff members worked for Air Evac International, said Albert Carson, the company's director of operations. The pilots worked for a chartered company. Carson said it was not immediately clear who was killed and who was still missing.
The 37 year-old Florida Republican is serving his first term in Congress after winning office last November.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday that the charges come with a maximum 180 day imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine.
“I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," Radel said in a statement released by his office. "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.”
“However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease.”
Radel is a former journalist and TV news anchor.
"Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts," a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents."
Now the long, arduous road to recovery begins.
Hundreds of families in the Midwest must find a way to rebuild their lives after 76 reported tornadoes destroyed almost everything they had.
Here are some of those accounts – stories of those who survived, those who didn't, and those left devastated by the twisters.
Amy Tippin and her two boys survived the tornado that tore through New Minden, Illinois, by huddling in a creek bed. When it passed, she rushed next door to look for her grandparents.
She found her grandmother, 78-year-old Frances Hoy, under a pile of rubble.
"She just kept saying, 'Get me out, get me out," Tippin tearfully recalled to CNN affiliate KSDK. "I just was holding her. I told her how much I loved her."
Hoy didn't make it.
Neither did Hoy's brother, 80-year-old Joseph Hoy. His body was found in a field about 100 yards from the decimated home the siblings shared.
"They'd do anything for you," neighbor Bill Funke told the Belleville News-Democrat.
"They were friendly, outgoing and really liked exotic animals," he told the paper.
In addition to the Hoys, the storms claimed the lives of four other people in Illinois and two in Michigan.
In Washington, Illinois, the body of 51-year-old Steve Neubauer was found near his home, Tazewell County officials said.
And three people in Massac County - Kathy George, 58; Robert Harmon, 56; and Scholitta Burrus, 63 - were killed when the storm struck southern Illinois.
In Perry, Michigan, 59-year-old Phillip Smith was found dead, tangled in live power lines. Officials said a 21-year-old man was killed in Jackson County, but didn't release his name.
See more at CNN.com
George Zimmerman was charged Monday with felony aggravated assault after allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend, according to Dennis Lemma, chief deputy with the Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.
Zimmerman, who was acquitted earlier this year of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, was arrested after the incident at the home of Samantha Scheibe, Lemma said. He also was charged with two misdemeanors - domestic violence battery and criminal mischief - in connection with the same incident, Lemma said.
Zimmerman is being held in jail without bail and will make his first appearance in front of a judge Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
According to a police report on the incident, Scheibe said that after an argument Zimmerman broke a table with a shotgun then pointed it at her "for a minute."
Scheibe called 911 at 12:30 E.T., Lemma said.
On a 911 call recording released by police, a woman can be heard telling authorities: "He's inside my house breaking all my (things) because I asked him to leave."
The woman then says to someone at the house, "I'm doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my freaking face and told me to get the (expletive) out."
A man is heard telling her to calm down, but then she tells the dispatcher that the man just pushed her out of the house and locked the door.
On a separate 911 call, a man calls to report that his girlfriend was "for lack of a better term, going crazy on me" and throwing his things out. The caller says the woman is outside with police.
When asked why he is calling, the man says, "I just want everyone to know the truth."
He says he never pulled a firearm and that it is in a bag, locked. He claims she was the one who broke the table.
When deputies arrived at the house, Scheibe gave them a key. When they pushed open the door - which was blocked by several small pieces of furniture - they found Zimmerman, who was sitting and unarmed, Lemma said. He was passive and cooperative, Lemma said.
The sheriff's office was seeking a search warrant to look for two guns deputies believed were inside the home, he said. According to the police report, Zimmerman had locked up the guns before police arrived.
They sifted through the darkness, hoping their flashlights would shine on something - anything - salvageable.
Instead, they found their life's belongings strewn in pieces among heaps of rubble where their homes once stood.
But they were the fortunate ones - the ones who survived after 81 reported tornadoes tore through the Midwest on Sunday. The storms killed six people and destroyed at least 70 homes in Illinois alone CNN's Indra Petersons reports.
"These storms having been moving so fast today, it's been hard to keep up," storm chaser Tony Laubach told CNN as he watched a tornado touch down outside Lebanon, Indiana.
In their aftermath, the storms left impassable roads, widespread outages and blocks and blocks of homes stripped bare. Hundreds of thousands were affected; the economic impact in the millions.
"A lot of people have a pile of rubble still, and I don't have anything," said Michelle Crumrine. "It's gone. I don't know where it went."
Crumrine was out of town when her neighborhood in Washington, Illinois, was hit. She returned to a wasteland.
Of all the cities ravaged by the storms, this city of 10,000 people in central Illinois was perhaps the hardest hit.
"It was complete destruction," said resident Anthony Khoury. "There are people in the streets crying."
As the dark twister churned toward his home, Khoury kept his camera glued to the window - and prayed. "Our father, thou art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name."
"The tornado happened in my backyard, and you can hear people screaming," Khoury told CNN's iReport. "We were freaking out."
Investigators have yet to determine the extent of the wrath - including exactly how many tornadoes touched down. Two National Weather Service teams will survey the damage Monday - one in Washington, and one in east central Illinois.
Americans may be able to keep their individual insurance plans for one more year, under a fix offered by President Obama on Thursday to address a controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act.
The deal is meant to mollify millions of people enraged after their insurers canceled policies that do not meet Obamacare requirements. But how many it will ultimately help remains to be seen.
The uproar over the cancellations has ensnared the White House for weeks, shining a spotlight on Obama's previous promise that people who liked their insurance plans can keep them.
"This fix won't solve every problem for every person. But it's going to help a lot of people," the president said at the White House.
But the fix, as reported earlier by CNN's Dana Bash, puts the onus of the renewals outside the president's control: The administration is not requiring insurers or state insurance commissioners to extend the existing plans, but instead is letting them offer an additional year of coverage.
Also, insurers must notify policyholders of the difference in benefits between their policies and the Obamacare plans available on the insurance exchanges. And the companies must inform people that additional policies are available on the exchanges and that subsidies may be available to those who qualify.
Not everyone who has received a cancellation notice, however, may be able to extend.
Since insurance is regulated at the state level, it remains up to the commissioners to permit the extensions and the companies to do so. The president noted that not all commissioners may agree to extensions. At least four states - California, Idaho, Virginia and Kentucky - are requiring all individual plans adhere to Obamacare rules.
The insurance industry said the reversal could cause major problems, including a hike in premiums if fewer younger and healthier people opt to buy in the exchanges.
"Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," said Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group. " Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers."
In his remarks, Obama said he didn't want his signature policy to be the reason people are losing their insurance.
"The key point is that it allows us to be able to say to the folks who receive these notices, look, you know, I, the president of the United States, and the insurance - the insurance model of the Affordable Care Act - is not going to be getting in the way of you shopping in the individual market that you used to have," he said.
Is Friday the beginning of the end for Toronto's troubled Mayor Rob Ford?
Not so, if you ask Ford. But a growing contingent in Toronto's City Council seem to think it's time for him to go.
The council is scheduled to meet Friday to begin mapping out a plan to usurp much of Ford's power. Despite admitting last week that he had smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor" about a year ago, Ford has defiantly said he will not leave his job.
But while fighting for his job Thursday, Ford added to his growing list of missteps.
Early in the day, a scrum of reporters approached Ford to ask him about new allegations of drunkenness, drug use and the verbal and physical abuse of aides.
In the course of answering, he denied a female staffer's allegation that he sought to perform oral sex with graphic language of his own, stunning reporters.
Later in the day, he backtracked.
With his wife at his side, he went back before reporters to say he had been under "tremendous, tremendous stress" and was getting unspecified support from "a team of health care professionals." But he called the latest allegations "100% lies."
"When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red. Today I acted on complete impulse in my remarks," Ford said. He took no questions from reporters, who shouted sharp inquiries at him as he entered the office.
"Mayor Ford, why should we believe you? Why would you subject your family to this?" one asked.
"What's the matter with you, Mr. Mayor?" another said.
Here is CNN's latest reporting on how many Americans have enrolled in Obamacare through the federally run website and through state-run programs, and who have signed up for expanded Medicaid coverage:
White House officials revealed Wednesday that 106,185 Americans signed up for health insurance through Obamacare in the program's first month of operation.
Fewer than 27,000 Americans selected an insurance plan through the federal HealthCare.gov site, which is handling enrollment for 36 states.
In addition to sign-ups, nearly 975,500 people have submitted health insurance applications and learned whether they are eligible for Obamacare subsidies. Those people, however, have not yet selected a plan.
See more at CNN.com.
Explosive new allegations surfaced about embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in court documents released Wednesday - the same day the city council voted to ask him to take a leave of absence.
The court report, more than 500 pages long, alleges a pattern of drug use, and erratic and sometimes abusive behavior by the mayor. A judge ordered the report's release late last month.
The documents include police interviews with former staff members, information obtained from surveillance crews and cameras, and even an examination of the mayor's garbage.
The documents were used by Canadian police to get a search warrant for Alexander Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver, whom police accuse of marijuana possession and trafficking.
Several staffers said they were asked to buy alcohol for the mayor. One incident described by a former staffer alleged that Ford, while driving, stopped the vehicle, guzzled some vodka, and drove on.
Chris Fickel, who worked as a special assistant to Ford, said the mayor would ask him to perform odd jobs at his house. Fickel said he would be called "to change light bulbs in the front lawn, change batteries in his children's toys, buying cartons of cigarettes, bleach, laundry detergent and diet Coke for the mayor's wife."
One staffer told police the mayor was inebriated on St. Patrick's Day in 2012 and got into a physical altercation with two staff members. He alleges the mayor was verbally abusive and inappropriate with a female staff member.
Another staffer said the same night, he saw a woman who may have been an escort or prostitute in the mayor's office.
Ford's former press secretary George Christopoulos also said women often came to the mayor's office, "and told staffers that they have smoked a joint with the mayor on the street outside of the bar. These women were told by the mayor that they could have a job." Christopoulos would then have to interview these women and try to talk them out of a job.
None of the allegations against Ford has been proven, and he faces no criminal charges.