Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 8, 2017

Comey to testify in Senate hearing on Russia and Trump, British voters go to the polls, and more


Comey's prepared testimony details Trump requests on Russia inquiry

Former FBI Director James Comey plans to tell senators that President Trump pressured him to publicly clear Trump in the Russia investigation, and to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's ties to Russian officials, according to Comey's written opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey says in the seven pages of prepared remarks that he assured Trump in January that he was not personally under investigation, and that Trump repeatedly asked him to make a public announcement to that effect to "lift the cloud" of suspicion that was hampering his ability to govern. Comey also confirms that Trump pressured him to declare his loyalty. Comey will appear before the committee at 10 a.m. Thursday.


U.K. snap elections get underway

British voters are going to the polls Thursday in snap elections called by Prime Minister Theresa May, who hopes to strengthen her Conservative Party's majority in the House of Commons in order to bolster her position in negotiations for the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. Early expectations that May would secure an easy victory over the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, have faded in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, and as the Conservatives waged what critics called a lackluster campaign. Corbyn and his party have focused not just on Brexit, but on health care, education, and social programs, issues that have resonated and helped the opposition make gains in recent polls.


Quinnipiac: Trump job approval falls to new low

President Trump's job approval rating fell to a new low in the latest Quinnipiac University national poll, released Wednesday. Thirty-four percent of those polled gave Trump a positive rating, while 57 percent were negative, compared to a 37 percent to 55 percent split in the last survey, released May 24. Trump's previous low was 35 percent to 57 percent on April 4. Forty percent of voters polled said Trump had done something illegal in dealing with Russia, while 25 percent said he had merely done something unethical, and 24 percent said he had not done anything wrong. "There is zero good news for President Donald Trump in this survey, just a continual slide into a chasm of doubt about his policies and his very fitness to serve," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.


Trump nominates Christopher Wray as FBI director

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Christopher A. Wray be the next FBI director. Wray served as assistant attorney general of the criminal division under President George. W. Bush, and as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's representative during the Bridgegate scandal. Wray fills a post left vacant last month when Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who will testify Thursday about the investigation into Russia's attempts to influence last year's presidential election, and Trump's effort to get him to stop looking into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials. Wray "is an impeccably qualified individual, and I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law," Trump said in a statement.


Qatar says fake news item fueled rift with Gulf neighbors

Qatar's foreign ministry said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation confirmed that hackers had used Qatar's state news agency to post false statements attributed to the country's ruler that helped provoke four neighboring Gulf states to cut diplomatic ties with the country. "The Ministry said the investigation team confirmed that the piracy process had used high techniques and innovative methods by exploiting an electronic gap on the website of the Qatar News Agency," the foreign ministry said in a statement. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries severed relations with Doha after a fake quote from Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was posted briefly to the Qatar News Agency site warning against any confrontation with Iran or its allies.


Death toll in Iran attacks rises to 12 as Iran blames Saudi Arabia

The death toll from the Islamic State's first terrorist attacks inside Iran rose to 12 on Wednesday. Eleven of the victims died at the parliament building in the capital city, Tehran, and the other died in a simultaneous attack at the tomb of the Islamic republic's revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on the outskirts of the city. "The Iranian nation is moving forward and advancing; even these firecrackers that were set off today will not impact our nation's will; everyone must know this," Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on his official website. The attackers were armed with rifles and explosives, and used women's disguises. ISIS, a Sunni Islamist extremist group, is fighting with allies of Shiite-dominated Iran in Syria and Iraq. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of orchestrating the attacks.


North Korea test fires several short-range missiles

North Korea launched several short-range missiles Thursday from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, continuing a flurry of weapons tests that have defied international condemnation and increased tensions between the Hermit Kingdom and South Korea, the U.S., and other nations. The suspected anti-ship missiles flew far shorter distances than the long-range missiles North Korea has tested recently, but they were interpreted as a message to the isolated communist regime's enemies that it would continue to defy calls to rein in its missile and nuclear weapon programs. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who favors diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang, warned that North Korea could face further isolation and hardship if it continues the provocative pace of its tests, and said he "won't back off even a single step and make any compromise" on South Korea's security.


Trump vows 'first-class' infrastructure system

President Trump vowed Wednesday to use $200 billion in public funds to generate $1 trillion in investment to make overdue upgrades to create a "first-class" system of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. "America must have the best, fastest, and most reliable infrastructure anywhere in the world," Trump said. The president derided Democrats in Congress as "obstructionists" for opposing his agenda, calling on senators to pass a health-care reform bill and cut overseas spending to make improvements at home. "It's time to rebuild our country" and "put America first," he said.


Researchers say oldest Homo sapiens fossils found in Morocco

A team of anthropologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary scientists have found 300,000-year-old bones from "early anatomically modern" humans in a cave in Morocco — making them about 100,000 years older than the oldest Homo sapiens bones found previously, according to two papers published Wednesday in the journal Nature. These newly discovered human ancestors have some primitive traits, but would not appear out of place in a modern crowd, said one of the study's authors, Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Quarry workers discovered the bone site in the 1960s, but the find was overshadowed by other human fossils found in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, until the search in the Jebel Irhoud area resumed in earnest in 2004.


Golden State takes 3-0 lead over Cleveland in NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 Wednesday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. The Warriors are now one game away from a sweep of the championship series, bouncing back from 2016, when the Cavaliers came back to beat the Warriors after being down 3-1. The Warriors are also poised to make an unprecedented undefeated sweep of the playoffs, having run through every round of the playoffs without a loss. Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 31 points, 14 of them in the final quarter. He helped clinch the Game 3 win when, with less than a minute left and his team down by two, he grabbed a defensive rebound, took the ball down court and pulled up in front of Cavaliers star LeBron James to nail a three-pointer, putting the Warriors up for good.


Ukraine: Explosions at air base in Crimea destroyed 9 Russian warplanes
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Pentagon: As many as 80,000 Russian troops killed, injured in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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