Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 28, 2017

Mueller files first charges in Russia probe, White House says Trump sexual harassment accusers are all lying, and more


Mueller files first charges in Russia probe

A federal grand jury on Friday approved the first charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN and then Reuters reported Friday evening. The indictment has been sealed, so it remains unknown who has been charged or what the charges may be, and Mueller's office declined to offer any comment. However, many have speculated the most likely subject of the indictment is President Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, whose home was raided in July by investigators tied to the Russia investigation who reportedly told Manafort to expect indictment. Seemingly supporting that theory is the fact that Manafort's real estate agent testified before the grand jury last week.


White House says Trump sexual harassment accusers are all lying

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a press conference Friday dismissed the testimony of more than a dozen women who during the 2016 election accused President Trump of sexual harassment. "Yeah, we've been clear on that from the beginning, and the president has spoken on it," Sanders said, answering in the affirmative a reporter's question about whether the administration's position is that "all of these women are lying." The issue was raised because sexual harassment has been in the news thanks to allegations against several prominent men in politics and media, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, and Trump himself.


Conservative news site funded project that led to Trump dossier

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, confirmed Friday it hired Fusion GPS to do research on 2016 candidates, in the process funding the beginning of the project that would eventually lead to the publication of the unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele which claims to show ties between President Trump and the Russian government. The Beacon said in a statement it "had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele." After the site stopped working with Fusion GPS, funding for the research was provided by an attorney representing Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.


Information brought to Trump Jr. at 2016 meeting had Kremlin ties

Information brought by a Russian lawyer to a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously discussed with the prosecutor general of Russia, Yuri Chaika, The New York Times reported Friday. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly told Trump Jr. she had compromising intelligence on Hillary Clinton. Trump's eldest son was ultimately unimpressed by the information, which attempted to portray some of Clinton's campaign donations as "stolen" Russian money. Russia experts told the Times it is "inconceivable" Veselnitskaya provided the information without Kremlin coordination.


Spain imposes direct rule after Catalan parliament declares independence

Catalonia's parliament voted Friday to declare independence from Spain, marking a major escalation of ongoing tensions between Madrid and the autonomous region since Catalan citizens overwhelmingly voted for independence earlier this month and Spanish courts labeled the vote illegal. The Spanish government immediately responded Friday by approving Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's request for direct rule over Catalonia. Rajoy has refused to explore conversations about Catalonia's potential secession, and on Friday he claimed there was "no alternative" to national takeover. It is not yet clear how Catalan leaders will respond.


New information emerges on Niger ambush

The group of American and Nigerien troops who were caught in a deadly ambush in Niger earlier this month were in a convoy of about seven armed and unarmed vehicles when they were attacked by more than 50 ISIS-linked fighters, ABC News reported Friday night in a story offering new details of how the attack played out. The group at one point split up to retrieve an unarmed Land Rover which held three of the four Americans who were killed in the fight. Meanwhile, a new Wall Street Journal report indicates U.S. military officials wanted to have an armed drone supporting the ambushed mission, but their request was denied by Washington.


White nationalists to march in Tennessee towns

White nationalists have planned marches in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday to protest refugee resettlement in their state, highlighting last month's lethal church shooting in Antioch, Tennessee, by a Sudanese suspect. The "White Lives Matter" events are organized by some of the same groups involved in the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year, where an anti-racist demonstrator, Heather Heyer, was killed when a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd. A group of 172 Tennessee clergy issued a statement condemning Saturday's marches before they began. "Our faiths call us to build bridges across racial and ethnic divides, not to dig deeper trenches," the statement says. Counter-protests are expected.


Obama called for jury duty

Former President Obama has been selected for jury duty in Cook County, Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday, and he intends to serve next month. "He made it crystal-clear to me through his representative that he would carry out his public duty as a citizen and resident of this community," said Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans of Obama. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have also been called for jury duty since leaving office, though neither was selected to serve. Obama is also likely to be dismissed in voir dire because of the sensationalism his presence would bring to any case.


Houston Astros win Game 3 of the World Series

The Houston Astros bested the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series Friday night. The 5-3 home stadium win gives the Astros a one-game lead in the championship, but the triumph was marred by a racial gesture Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel made toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish. Gurriel was caught on camera pulling at the corner of his eyes and saying "Chinito," a Spanish slur that means "little Chinese boy," toward Darvish, who is of Asian descent. Gurriel made a public apology after the game and pledged to speak to Darvish personally. Darvish called the gesture "disrespectful" but called for forgiveness.


Taylor Swift releases video for second Reputation single

Taylor Swift on Friday released the music video for the second single of her upcoming album, Reputation, featuring robotic visuals that reference films like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. The clip for "... Ready For It?" follows two versions of Swift — one shrouded in a dark cloak and hood, and one a metamorphosing android — as they face off inside a concrete bunker. Directed by Joseph Kahn, the video is Swift's second from Reputation, after she released the video for lead single "Look What You Made Me Do" in August. The album, Swift's sixth, hits shelves Nov. 10.


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WHO says more than 20,000 may die from Turkish earthquake
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