Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 16, 2017

Opposition from two Republicans threatens the GOP tax plan, Trump calls his Asia trip a huge success, and more


Two Republicans criticize GOP tax overhaul

Two Republican senators criticized the GOP tax overhaul proposal on Wednesday, eroding the party's narrow majority and raising questions about whether it can pass in its current form. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he would vote against the current draft because it lavishes tax breaks to corporations at the expense of other businesses. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) criticized the bill for seeking to repeal ObamaCare's insurance mandate, which she said was a "mistake." Democrats have harshly criticized Republicans for inserting the attempt to hobble the Affordable Care Act. "This bill seems to get worse by the hour," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.


Trump says he united Asian leaders against North Korea

President Trump said Wednesday that he had persuaded Asian leaders to take a stronger, more united stand on making North Korea curb its nuclear weapons program, and projected a stronger image of the U.S. abroad during his tour of the region. "America's renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now," Trump said. "America is back." Some regional experts contradicted Trump, saying his 12-day trip had not been successful. "The principal takeaway from Trump's big Asia trip: virtually zero progress on any issue that matters to the Americans," wrote Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group consultancy.


Police find body of California gunman's wife in their home

The death toll from this week's shooting rampage in Rancho Tehama, California, rose to five people on Wednesday, after police said they had found the body of the wife of the man identified as the attacker in their home. Police said the gunman was Kevin Janson Neal, 43, and they believe he went on the shooting spree after killing his wife and hiding her body under the floor of their home. Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said investigators believe the killing of Neal's wife is "what started this whole event." Johnston said Neal had two semiautomatic rifles he made himself, illegally, and that he appeared to have "had a desire to kill as many people as he could."


4 more women accuse Roy Moore of sexual misconduct

Four more women made allegations of sexual impropriety against Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore in reports published Wednesday. Gena Richardson and Becky Gray told The Washington Post that Moore repeatedly asked them out when they worked at the Gadsden Mall in their late teens. Richardson said she relented and went on a date with Moore, and he gave her a "forceful," unwanted kiss in his car. AL.com reported that Tina Johnson said more "grabbed" her buttocks when she was 28 and he was married. Another woman, Kelly Harrison Thorp, said Moore pursued her when she was a 17-year-old waitress in 1983. A campaign attorney for Moore, who vehemently denies the allegations, questioned the authenticity of the message another accuser said Moore wrote in her school yearbook.


Cordray stepping down from consumer protection job

Richard Cordray, the Democratic director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Wednesday that he would step down at the end of the month. Cordray was appointed by former President Barack Obama as the first director of the bureau, which was established as a part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations. Under his leadership, the bureau has canceled debts for 29 million Americans, and retrieved billions in refunds. His five-year term was not due to expire until the summer of 2018, but Cordray is expected to run for governor in his home state, Ohio. He did not confirm his plans in his announcement, however, but said it had been "a joy of my life" to serve as the agency's first director and work with others to build the institution.


ObamaCare enrollment soars

Enrollment rates for ObamaCare are skyrocketing even as the health-care law's future remains uncertain, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Nearly 1.5 million people have signed up for health coverage in the first 11 days of open enrollment for 2018, a 47 percent jump compared to the same time last year. The Trump administration cut this year's enrollment period in half and reduced the budget for ObamaCare outreach and education by 90 percent, making the spike in sign-ups all the more notable. Senate Republicans had announced Tuesday that they will include a repeal of the individual mandate — the piece of ObamaCare that requires individuals to purchase coverage or face a fine — in their tax plan because it would free up billions to offset tax cuts.


6 Democrats introduce impeachment push against Trump

Six House Democrats on Wednesday introduced five new articles of impeachment against President Trump, saying that he is a danger to the country. The accusations include the claim that Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey while he was leading an investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates. The lawmakers also accused Trump of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments. With Republicans in control of the House, the effort is not expected to go anywhere.


Da Vinci painting sells for record $450 million at auction

Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Jesus Christ, "Salvator Mundi" ("Savior of the World"), sold at Christie's in New York City for $450 million, including the auction house premium, after a 20-minute bidding war Wednesday night. The sale smashed the record for the most expensive art work to ever sell at auction, previously $179 million for Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger" ("Women of Algiers"). The painting was commissioned by France's King Louis XII more than 500 years ago, and was presumed lost until early this century; in 2005, an art dealer purchased "Salvator Mundi" at an estate sale in the United States, and had it restored, authenticated, then unveiled at London's National Gallery in 2011. Christie's said it did not immediately know whether the buyer would make his or her identity public.


Trump administration to lift ban on importing elephant trophies

The Trump administration plans to reverse an Obama administration ban on importing trophies of elephants hunters have killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said Wednesday. Elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but the law lets the government grant permits to bring home trophies if there is evidence the hunting actually benefits conservation for the species. An official said lifting the restriction will let the two African countries include U.S. sport hunting in their management plans so they can put "much-needed revenue back into conservation." Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said the government should not give "American trophy hunters the green light to kill" elephants when they are endangered.


UCLA suspends 3 basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China

Three UCLA men's basketball players arrested on shoplifting charges in China were suspended from their team on Wednesday. "They're going to have to regain the trust of this athletic department," said head coach Steve Alford at a press conference at the university on Wednesday. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store by the team's hotel in Hangzhou. They did not leave with the team on a flight back to Los Angeles after UCLA's season-opening 63-60 win against Georgia Tech in Shanghai over the weekend. They were released on bail early Wednesday. The players publicly apologized and thanked President Trump, who brought up their case in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.


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