Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 14, 2017

Republicans release new health plan, judge rules grandparents should be exempt from travel ban, and more


GOP unveils health plan but still lacks votes to pass it

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday released the revised GOP proposal to replace key parts of ObamaCare. The new plan seeks to win over moderates with billions of dollars to help low- and middle-income Americans pay for insurance on the private market. It also offers elements conservatives want, such as deep cuts to Medicaid and provisions to let insurers offer limited policies without coverage for such services as preventive or mental-health care, which would lower costs for people who are young and healthy. Still, at least three Republican senators — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, and Rob Portman of Ohio — said they would oppose the bill as written, enough to sink it.


Judge says grandparents should be exempt from Trump travel ban

A federal judge in Hawaii ruled late Thursday that grandparents and other relatives should be exempt from President Trump's temporary ban on travel from six Muslim-majority nations. The Supreme Court last month ruled that the Trump administration could start enforcing the ban, which lower courts blocked, but not against people with "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with someone in the U.S. The administration said it would make exceptions for spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiances, and siblings of people already in the country. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said in his decision that the list was too narrow, and that grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other close relatives should be added. "Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," he wrote. "Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be."


Watchdogs file complaint with election officials over Trump Jr. Russia meeting

Government watchdogs filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday arguing that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort violated the law by meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential campaign. "The evidence is clear that Don Jr. knew that the offer of opposition campaign research came from the Russian government, and the law is clear that giving such valuable research for free would have been a contribution to the Trump campaign," said Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center. President Trump on Thursday repeated his defense of his son, saying it is standard campaign practice to research opponents and that "nothing happened" as a result of the June 2016 meeting.


Report: Death of GOP operative who sought Clinton emails from hackers was suicide

Republican operative and donor Peter Smith, who died in May shortly after telling The Wall Street Journal he tried to get Hillary Clinton's missing emails from Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential campaign, committed suicide, according to a state death record obtained by the Chicago Tribune. Smith, a former financier, was found dead with a bag over his head in a Minnesota hotel room used mostly by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives. He had left a file of documents and a statement police described as a suicide note, in which he said he was taking his own life due to bad health and an expiring life insurance policy.


Former aides indicted for leaking nude photos of Virgin Islands delegate

Two former aides to Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett were indicted for leaking nude images of her last year. Former general counsel Juan McCullum, who worked for Plaskett in 2015 and 2016, allegedly acquired lewd images of Plaskett and her husband when he was taking her malfunctioning iPhone to a local Apple store for repairs. The Justice Department said in a press release that McCullum then distributed the images online via a fake Facebook account. He was charged with two counts of cyberstalking. Plaskett's former scheduler, Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, was accused of obstructing justice for allegedly deleting text messages from McCullum, and making false statements to investigators.


Trump's outside lawyer apologizes for profane emails

President Trump's private lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, will apologize for sending emails peppered with profanity to a man who messaged him urging him to stop representing the president. In the exchange, which was reported by ProPublica, Kasowitz sent a string of emails with an increasingly menacing tone, saying, "F--- you," "Let's see who you are Watch your back, b---h," and, "You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise. Bro." Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Kasowitz's law firm, said Kasowitz was "tied up with client matters," but "intends to apologize to the writer of the email referenced in today's ProPublica story. While no excuse, the email came at the end of a very long day that at 10 p.m. was not yet over."


Pennsylvania man confesses to killing 4 missing men, lawyer says

A Pennsylvania man has confessed to killing four Bucks County men who went missing last week, his attorney said Thursday. Police, FBI agents, and U.S. marshals had joined the search for the young men, Dean Finocchiaro, 19; Mark Sturgis, 22; Thomas Meo, 21; and Jimi Taro Patrick, 19. Attorney Paul Lang announced that his client, Cosmo DiNardo, 20, had confessed to killing the men, and told police where they were buried. Lang also said his client agreed to plead guilty to four first-degree murder counts, and in exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors will not seek the death penalty. On Wednesday, police found a deep grave containing remains on a farm belonging to DiNardo's family, and authorities were able to identify some of the remains as belonging to Finocchiaro.


CBO says Trump budget won't eliminate deficit

President Trump has said his inaugural budget would result in a small surplus by 2027, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the deficit would remain at $720 billion. Trump has said his proposed tax cuts, deregulation, and spending cuts would help the economy grow and result in a balanced budget. The CBO said the Trump budget was based on growth projections that were overly optimistic. The administration assumes Trump's plan would lead to 3 percent gross domestic product growth, but the CBO put growth under Trump's plan at 1.9 percent.


Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate dies in custody

Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of multiple organ failure stemming from his battle with liver cancer, Chinese authorities said Thursday. Foreign doctors who visited Liu in the hospital where he was being treated said he could safely travel abroad for treatment, but the Chinese government refused to release him, saying he was receiving adequate treatment in China. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called Liu "a true champion for freedom and an inspiration to those longing for democracy around the world" who "died as he lived, imprisoned by those who feared his voice even as the cancer in his body stole his last breaths." Liu was a professor and human rights activist known for his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests.


Westworld and SNL lead Emmy nominations

HBO's sci-fi western drama Westworld and NBC's Trump-bashing Saturday Night Live tied for the most 2017 Emmy nominations, earning 22 each. Netflix's Stranger Things followed up with 18 total nominations. It will compete against Westworld, This Is Us, House of Cards, The Handmaid's Tale, The Crown, and Better Call Saul for the award for Best Drama Series. Atlanta, Black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Veep will vie for the title of Best Comedy Series. HBO's Game of Thrones, which earned the most total nominations last year, isn't eligible this year because its next season doesn't premiere until mid-July. Stephen Colbert will host the ceremony on Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.


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