Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 5, 2017

Trump visits victims and first responders in Las Vegas, Rex Tillerson denies he ever considered resigning, and more


Trump visits Las Vegas victims and praises first responders

President Trump met Wednesday with victims of Sunday's mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, and with first responders and civilians who helped in the aftermath of the massacre, which left 59 people dead and hundreds wounded. "We met patients that were absolutely terribly wounded," Trump said after he and first lady Melania Trump toured University Medical Center in Las Vegas. "And the doctors, the nurses, all of the people at the hospital have done a job that's indescribable." The visit came as investigators questioned Marilou Danley, the girlfriend of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, seeking elusive clues about his thinking and planning of the attack. She said it "never occurred" to her he was planning violence. Paddock, 64, killed himself as SWAT officers closed in on the 32nd-floor hotel suite from which he fired on people.


Tillerson denies report he considered resigning

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a news conference on Wednesday to deny that he had considered resigning in recent months, but he did not directly address an NBC News report that he had referred to President Trump as a "moron" in a private Pentagon meeting over the summer. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tillerson had never used that word, and that he "does not use that language to speak about anyone." Tillerson said he was fully committed to Trump's agenda, pushing back against rumors that he was unhappy with the president's policies and rhetoric, which sometimes conflicts with his own statements. "My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was on the day I accepted his offer," he said.


White House walks back Trump vow to help Puerto Rico with its debt

President Trump promised to "do something" about hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico's $73 billion in debt, suggesting he supported an unspecified form of debt relief. "We're going to get it back on its feet," Trump told Fox News' Geraldo Rivera on Hannity. That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Trump administration walked back what was perceived as a pledge to wipe out the debt. "I wouldn't take it word for word with that," Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said, adding later, "We're absolutely not going to bail them out." Puerto Rico's debts stem from a recession that started in 2006, and its ability to address the problem has been complicated because, as a U.S. territory, it can't invoke bankruptcy protection to restructure its debts.


Senate intelligence panel leaders back conclusion on Russian election meddling

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said Wednesday that they essentially agreed with the intelligence agency's conclusions that Russia tried to influence last year's presidential election. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee's chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), its ranking Democrat, called for a "more aggressive, whole-of-government approach" to prevent future foreign meddling. Burr said, however, that the question of collusion with Russia by associates of President Trump "is still open" and would not be settled until the committee completes its inquiry, which he hoped would be before the midterm election. "We've got to make our facts, as it related to Russia's involvement in our election, before the primaries getting started in 2018," Burr said.


Three Green Berets killed in Niger ambush

Three U.S. Army Special Forces members were killed in an ambush in Niger while on a routine patrol training local troops, American military officials said Wednesday. Two other Americans were wounded in the attack, which occurred 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border with Mali. The attackers were believed to be militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The three Green Berets who were killed were the first American forces killed by hostile fire since the U.S. started providing training and security assistance to the northwestern African nation's armed forces, although another Special Forces soldier died in a vehicle accident in the country in February.


Tropical depression to strengthen on way to U.S. Gulf Coast

A tropical depression formed off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua on Wednesday, and was expected to strengthen and be named Tropical Storm Nate on Thursday. Its top sustained winds were 35 miles per hour early Thursday. Current projections suggest the storm could hit the Gulf Coast, possibly in the Florida panhandle, as a weak hurricane on Sunday. The National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen quickly as it heads north over warm waters, with its top sustained winds possibly reaching 85 mph. The storm also might weaken as it passes over Central America and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on its way to the U.S.


British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Prize in Literature

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. Ishiguro has previously won the Man Booker Prize for his 1989 novel Remains of the Day, which was also turned into a film starring Anthony Hopkins. Most recently, Ishiguro wrote The Buried Giant in 2015; he has written eight novels in total. The Nobel committee cited Ishiguro's "great emotional force" which has "uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world."


Judge orders Trump administration to enforce Obama-era methane restrictions

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to enforce Obama-era restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public land. The rules took effect three days before President Trump's inauguration, but his Interior Department has been delaying enforcement as it develops a plan to rescind them. The Interior Department and the energy industry have said the rules are too burdensome and would hurt production. A push to kill the restrictions in Congress failed. California and other states pressed the issue in court, arguing that the administration was legally required to enforce the rules, which aim to cut 175,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.


NRA comes out in favor of 'additional regulations' on bump stocks

The National Rifle Association on Thursday issued a surprising statement calling for "additional regulations" on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to convert gunman Stephen Paddock's rifles from semi-automatic to a more rapid fire that was essentially fully automatic. NRA President Wayne LaPierre and top lobbyist Chris Cox issued the joint statement "calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law" and saying they should be subject to more scrutiny. The Obama ATF ruled that bump stocks did not violate federal laws in 2010. Some top congressional Republicans said Wednesday that they were open to a Democratic proposal to ban the modifiers.


Lynx beat Sparks to win fourth WNBA title

The Minnesota Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 85-76 in Game 5 of the WNBA finals Wednesday night to win their fourth championship in seven years, tying the Houston Comets' record for all-time WNBA titles. Sylvia Fowles — both the regular season and WNBA Finals MVP — scored 17 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for the Lynx, while Maya Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen scored 17 points with eight assists. Candace Parker was the top scorer for the Sparks, last year's champions, with 19 points and 15 rebounds. This was the sixth trip to the finals in seven years for Minnesota, after winning just one playoff game in their first 12 seasons.


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