10 things you need to know today: October 18, 2016

Melania Trump defends Donald Trump's 'boy talk,' State and FBI officials clashed over Clinton email, and more

Melania Trump at the second presidential debate
(Image credit: RICK WILKING/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Melania Trump defends husband's 'boy talk'

Melania Trump defended her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in her first interview since a 2005 recording surfaced in which he boasted about forcibly kissing and groping women. Melania Trump said the "boy talk" was out of character, and that her husband was "egged on" by then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush to say "bad stuff." She also rejected accusations by several women who say Donald Trump groped or kissed them without their consent as "lies" orchestrated by the media and the campaign of her husband's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Billy Bush was formally cut on Monday from NBC's Today show for his role in the hot-mic tape.

The New York Times USA Today

2. State and FBI officials clashed over Clinton email classification

Newly released FBI documents summarizing the Hillary Clinton email investigation indicate that the federal law enforcement agency clashed with the State Department over whether some of the former secretary of state's emails should be considered classified. One FBI 302 summary suggests that Patrick Kennedy, U.S. undersecretary of state for management, had offered a "quid pro quo" to an unidentified FBI agent, offering to allow more FBI agents in Iraq in exchange for marking one email on the Benghazi attack unclassified, instead of classified as the FBI wanted. Another FBI form, released Monday, said the "quid pro quo" idea came from an FBI official who suggested to another that Kennedy might be open to a deal. Both agencies said no deal was struck or offered, and the document was released with one line blocked out.

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The New York Times

3. Assault to drive ISIS from Mosul enters second day

Iraqi forces pushed toward Mosul "ahead of schedule" on the first day of their offensive aiming to drive Islamic State forces out of the country's second largest city. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the battle "could take some time" but it was not yet clear whether ISIS would retreat or "stand and fight." The American general in charge of the coalition's anti-ISIS war in Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, acknowledged that U.S. "forward air controllers" were participating in the offensive to help with targeting for the U.S.-led air coalition's airstrikes in support of the Iraqi forces.

BBC News The Guardian

4. McCain vows to oppose Clinton on Supreme Court pick if she wins

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Monday that Senate Republicans would "be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up." McCain made the comment as he made a case in support of reelecting Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is in a tight race to retain his seat. A pickup for the Democrats would help them in their bid to retake control of the Senate, now controlled by Republicans who are refusing to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. McCain spokesperson Rachael Dean said McCain would "thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate" before voting.


5. Obama to work on redistricting reform after leaving office

After leaving office, President Obama plans to help a new Democratic group focusing on redistricting reform. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under Obama, will serve as chairman of the group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The committee will raise money, organize ballot initiatives, and mount legal challenges to state district maps, aiming to fight gerrymandering that has tended to benefit Republicans over Democrats, helping the GOP win control of state legislatures and the U.S. House. "This unprecedented new effort will ensure Democrats have a seat at the table to create fairer maps after 2020," Holder said.

Politico The Washington Post

6. 72-hour ceasefire announced in Yemen

U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Monday announced a 72-hour ceasefire between government forces and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, starting Thursday. The agreement follows an international outcry over an airstrike by the Saudi-led, pro-government coalition that killed 140 people in a funeral procession. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called for an unconditional ceasefire after U.S. ships fired at rebel positions in response to missile fire detected coming from rebel-held areas. Yemen has been plagued by fighting between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi Arabia-backed and internationally recognized Hadi government. On Monday, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would accept a ceasefire agreement.

Time Reuters

7. Judge rejects Dakota Access pipeline riot charge against journalist

A North Dakota judge on Monday rejected proposed riot charges against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman over footage she and her crew filmed during a September protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. The footage showed security officers pepper-spraying and using attack dogs on mostly Native American anti-pipeline protesters. Goodman said the decision was "a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public's right to know what is happening with the Dakota Access pipeline." Also on Monday, authorities in Iowa said pipeline construction equipment torched by arsonists over the weekend sustained about $2 million in damages.

Democracy Now! Reuters

8. Syria and Russia temporarily halt bombing in Aleppo

Syrian and Russian warplanes suspended bombing in the besieged and divided city of Aleppo on Tuesday in preparation for a "humanitarian pause" to begin later in the week. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said airstrikes stopped at 10 a.m. local time. Russia plans an eight-hour halt to all bombing on Thursday to "guarantee the security of six exit corridors for civilians and prepare the evacuation of the sick and injured in eastern Aleppo." Syrian rebels, including al-Qaida militants, also will be allowed to leave the city.

NBC News The Associated Press

9. Heatwave shatters temperature records in dozens of cities

A heatwave that broke record temperatures in 44 cities on Monday is forecast to continue on Tuesday, pushing temperatures into the 90s in parts of the South, and as high as the mid-80s in the Northeast. Records could be set as far north as Chicago and Boston. New York City could set seasonal highs in the 80s on Tuesday and Wednesday, breaking records that were set in 1928. Hot temperatures and gusty winds will create dangerous fire conditions in parts of the Central Plains, with close to 6 million people under red flags warnings.


10. Head of police chiefs' group apologizes for minorities' 'historical mistreatment'

Terrence Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, formally apologized on Monday for the "historical mistreatment" of racial minorities. Cunningham said that law enforcement officers have been the "face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens" — one of the strongest statements a leading police official has made in response to rising tensions over police shootings of black Americans. Police and activists praised the remarks. Baltimore-based activist DeRay Mckesson said he hoped to see "tangible commitments" to police reform to repair relations with "communities of color."

Los Angeles Times

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.