×
Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 7, 2018

Harold Maass
Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Our '10 things you need to
know' newsletter
Your free email newsletter subscription is confirmed. Thank you for subscribing!

1.

Mueller team to reveal details on Manafort and Cohen

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is due to reveal new details on its Russia investigation with the filing of two important documents on Friday: a sentencing memo for President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and a report explaining the alleged "crimes and lies" of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Last week, Mueller's office accused Manafort of breaching a plea agreement made in September by lying repeatedly to the special counsel and FBI agents. Cohen made two separate plea agreements: one with federal prosecutors in New York, the other with Mueller's team. He pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations, and last week, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. The Cohen memo is expected to explain how he cooperated with the special counsel's office. [USA Today]

2.

France, bracing for more protests, will close Eiffel Tower

French authorities said Thursday they would close the Eiffel Tower and other Paris tourism landmarks and deploy 89,000 police nationwide on Saturday to prevent a fourth weekend of protests over taxes and high living costs from spiraling into violence. About 8,000 extra security personnel will fan out in Paris alone. Rioters last weekend torched cars and looted shops along the French capital's famed Champs Elysees boulevard. Some of the protesters defaced the Arc de Triomphe with graffiti criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been criticized by opponents as being out of touch with the concerns of the working class. After last weekend's clashes, Macron scrapped plans to hike fuel taxes, part of his push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [Reuters]

3.

Bush buried in Texas after memorial service at his church

Former President George H.W. Bush was buried in College Station, Texas, Thursday next to his wife, Barbara, and daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3. The burial at Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University followed a memorial service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where the Bushes worshiped for five decades. The 41st president was eulogized by grandson George P. Bush, who is Texas' land commissioner, and by James Baker, who served as secretary of state in Bush's administration. They praised Bush as a model of the restraint and kindness that were long considered essential presidential virtues. "He had the courage of a warrior," Baker said. "But when the time came for prudence, he always maintained the greater courage of the peacemaker." [The Dallas Morning News]

4.

Stocks make dramatic swings on fears of trade war and slowing growth

U.S. stock markets plunged early Thursday on fears of renewed U.S.-China trade tensions and slowing economic growth, but the three main U.S. indexes bounced back and closed with narrower losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 784 points, or 3.1 percent, before clawing back to close down by just 78 points, or 0.3 percent. The S&P 500 closed down by 0.15 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to close up by 0.4 percent. Investor spirits got a lift from upbeat comments about the economy's health by financial leaders, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and IMF leader Christian Lagarde. Futures indicated early Friday the Dow was headed for a drop of about 200 points when trading opens. [The Washington Post, CNBC]

5.

EPA to reverse Obama-era coal emissions rule

President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency plans to reverse a 2015 Obama administration requirement that new coal-fired power plants have expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, announced Thursday. Wheeler said the Trump administration was removing "unfair burdens" on energy providers to "keep energy prices affordable and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world." Environmentalists criticized the move, which came as leaders from 200 countries meet in Poland to discuss reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, said the administration was trying to push its "backwards and false narrative about reviving coal at the expense of science, public safety, and reality." [NPR]

6.

N.C. GOP eases opposition to new election as fraud investigation broadens

Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, said Thursday in a reversal that he would "not oppose" a new election to determine who will represent the state's 9th Congressional District. The GOP candidate, Mark Harris, unofficially won by about 900 votes over Democrat Dan McCready, but state election officials have refused to certify the result due to possible fraud involving mail-in ballots. Investigators are focusing on a Harris operative accused of illegally collecting absentee ballots en masse. McCready on Thursday withdrew his concession and called on Harris to "tell us exactly what he knew, and when." Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the likely incoming speaker of the House, said Harris might not be seated in the new Congress unless the matter is resolved. [NPR, The Charlotte Observer]

7.

Trump reportedly settles on William Barr and Heather Nauert for top jobs

Prominent Republican lawyer William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as the frontrunner to be President Trump's nominee to lead his Justice Department, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Two people familiar with the deliberations said Trump recently told advisers he planned to pick Barr, although another insider said nothing was final and the choice could change. Democrats want assurances that the next attorney general will let Special Counsel Robert Mueller complete his Russia investigation, which Trump has derided as a "witch hunt." Republican supporters say Barr's track record should dispel any concerns. Insiders also said Trump would soon appoint State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador. [The Washington Post]

8.

Trump administration proposes rolling back grouse habitat protections

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to roll back Obama administration protections for greater sage grouse habitat, potentially opening vast expanses of land in 10 Western states to oil and gas drilling, mining, and other development. Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department proposed banning or reducing drilling in 10.7 million acres of the chicken-like bird's habitat. The Trump administration plan would shrink the grouse's habitat to 1.8 million acres, clearing the way for development in the remaining 9 million acres. The plan is expected to be made final next year. [The New York Times]

9.

Kevin Hart steps down as Oscars host after backlash over old tweets

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart announced late Thursday night that he was stepping down as host of the 2019 Oscars, just two days after the Academy announced he had been picked for the high-profile job. Hart bowed out after facing a backlash over anti-gay tweets he made in 2009 and 2010. Hart said in a Thursday night tweet that he does "not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past." Earlier, Hart posted a video on Instagram saying the Academy had told him to apologize or step down, but that he had "passed" because he had already addressed the old tweets and "moved on." [The Hollywood Reporter]

10.

Golden Globe nominees announced

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association on Thursday announced the nominations for the 2019 Golden Globe Awards. In the key category of Best Drama Motion Picture, the nominees are Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, If Beale Street Could Talk, and A Star Is Born. Nominees for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy include Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, Green Book, Mary Poppins Returns, and Vice. The Americans, Bodyguard, Homecoming, Killing Eve, and Pose earned nominations for Best Drama Television Series, while Barry, The Good Place, Kidding, The Kominsky Method, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were nominated for Best Comedy Television Series. The 76th Golden Globe Awards will take place on Jan. 6. [Variety]