Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2016

The Electoral College officially elects Trump, a gunman kills Russia's ambassador in Turkey, and more

1

Trump easily wins presidency in Electoral College vote

President-elect Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote on Monday, officially sealing his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton despite protests urging electors not to put him in office. Despite the rare push for faithless electors to reject the president-elect — fueled by Clinton's lead in the popular vote — Trump won with by roughly the margin he earned on Election Day. Even one of his last and fiercest Republican rivals, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said all Americans should now get behind Trump. "We want unity, we want love," Kasich said as his state's electors cast their votes.

2

Gunman kills Russia's ambassador to Turkey

Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed Monday at an Ankara art gallery. Witnesses said a lone gunman, identified as off-duty Turkish police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, shot Karlov from behind as he was speaking at an exhibition called "Russia through Turks' Eyes." The gunman, seen in a video that caught the attack, shouted "God is great" and "Don't forget Aleppo" before he was killed in a shootout with Turkish special forces. Russia called the attack an act of terrorism. The killing came as Russia faces protests in Turkey over its role in Syria's civil war. Police later arrested another gunman who fired shots outside the U.S. Embassy.

3

Truck kills 12 at Berlin Christmas market

A truck plowed through a crowded Christmas market in the German capital, Berlin, on Monday evening, killing at least 12 people. About 50 others were injured. German media said police suspected the deadly incident was a terrorist attack, echoing a similar attack that killed 86 people on Bastille Day in Nice, France. The Berlin attack occurred as adults and children shopped in a cluster of huts selling Christmas goods next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was preserved as a ruin after World War II. Authorities were questioning a suspect arrested near the scene — a young Pakistani man who arrived in Germany seeking asylum in February.

4

North Carolina lawmakers to repeal bathroom law in special session

Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday called for a Wednesday special legislative session so that lawmakers could repeal the state's controversial "bathroom bill," House Bill 2. The Charlotte City Council cleared the way for the repeal when, in a surprise move, it abandoned an anti-discrimination ordinance, which would have let transgender people use public restrooms corresponding to their gender identity, that Republicans were trying to block when they rushed the state law through the legislature. Governor-elect Roy Cooper (D), whose narrow victory was attributed partially to a backlash over HB2, said leading lawmakers had assured him they would vote on the repeal.

5

Trump nominates billionaire businessman to be Army secretary

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was nominating billionaire businessman Vincent Viola as Army secretary. Viola, an Army veteran and 1977 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, founded an electronic trading firm and later bought the Florida Panthers hockey team. He also provided funding for the Combating Terrorism Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Trump praised Viola as "a man of outstanding work ethic, integrity, and strategic vision, with an exceptional ability to motivate others." Viola has pressed for an innovative approach to cyber warfare, saying, "We've got to find geeks who love their country."

6

Obama continues historic clemency push with a month left in presidency

President Obama granted 78 pardons and commuted the sentences of 153 prisoners on Monday, continuing his historic end-of-term clemency wave. In a one-day record for the use of presidential clemency power, Obama more than doubled his pardon total for the rest of his eight-year presidency. Obama now has commuted the sentences of 1,176 federal prison inmates, most of whom were serving long mandatory-minimum sentences for non-violent crimes imposed during the war on drugs. With just a month until he leaves office, Obama still has nearly 2,000 pending pardon petitions and 13,000 commutation applications to consider.

7

Gunman shoots three during prayers at Zurich mosque

A gunman on Monday shot three men praying at a Zurich mosque, then fled on foot. Swiss police used tracker dogs to search for the assailant, and said Tuesday that the suspect was found dead on a bridge not far from the Islamic center where the shooting occurred. He appeared to have killed himself. Police could not immediately say whether the shooting was a hate crime. The attack occurred in an Islamic center that mostly serves Somali immigrants. The victims, aged 30, 35, and 56, were seriously wounded, authorities said.

8

Christine Lagarde convicted, but will stay on as IMF chief

France's Court of Justice of the Republic on Monday convicted Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, of negligence charges linked to the misuse of public funds when she served as France's finance minister. Lagarde was accused of not trying to block a fraudulent 2008 arbitration award to politically connected tycoon Bernard Tapie. The court did not impose a fine or sentence. The IMF's executive board said it had "full confidence" in Lagarde to stay on in her position. Lagarde said she was dissatisfied with the court's ruling but would not appeal, because "there's a point in time when one must stop, turn the page, and move on."

9

China returns seized U.S. naval drone

China on Tuesday returned a U.S. naval drone that a Chinese vessel seized in the disputed South China Sea last week. China's defense ministry said it returned the research drone after "friendly negotiation." The Pentagon said the seizing of the drone was "inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea." China handed over the drone to the USS Mustin near where it was seized, ending a standoff that threatened to inflame maritime tensions ahead of President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. The U.S. said the drone was collecting non-secret data such as salinity and temperature measurements, but China views the presence of U.S. ships in the disputed waters, where China and other countries have clashing sovereignty claims, as unwelcome interference.

10

Judge orders unsealing of Clinton email search warrant

A federal judge on Monday ordered the unsealing of a search warrant in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, along with the reasons an FBI agent gave for seeking it. The details, along with anything recovered as a result of the search, must be unsealed by noon Tuesday, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said. FBI Director James Comey had declared the Clinton email investigation closed with no charges in July, but the search ordered on a computer belonging to disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, revived the issue just days before the November presidential election. Democrats complained that Comey's decision to alert Congress about the search, which turned up nothing, irreparably harmed Clinton's election bid.

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