Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 27, 2017

Conyers steps down from Judiciary Committee leadership role, the battle for control of a federal consumer watchdog heats up, and more

1

Conyers steps down from Judiciary Committee leadership

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judicial Committee on Sunday as pressure mounted over sexual harassment allegations against him. As an ethics investigation opened, Conyers, 88, said he would fight to reclaim his leadership on the committee and would not resign from Congress. "I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics," Conyers said in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi had called Conyers "an icon" and said he deserved due process, but his status as a civil rights "icon" was "not a license for harassment."

2

Battle over control of federal consumer watchdog heads to court

The battle for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau escalated late Sunday. Leandra English, the deputy director promoted Friday by her outgoing boss, filed suit to block White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, named as interim CFPB director by President Trump, from taking over. English said Trump's appointment of Mulvaney was unlawful, because the Dodd-Frank financial reform law gave the outgoing director authority to name an acting director until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement. The Justice Department said the fact that Dodd-Frank says the deputy director can serve as acting director does not override the president's authority under the 1998 Vacancies Reform Act. Trump has expressed eagerness to rein in the bureau, which Republicans complain has been too aggressive toward banks.

3

Pakistan and blasphemy protesters strike deal

Islamic fundamentalist protesters in Pakistan began dispersing Monday after striking a deal with the government. The government said law minister Zahid Hamid would step down in return for an end to the demonstrations, which had brought the country's capital, Islamabad, to a halt for weeks. Two people were killed in clashes over the weekend after armed security forces tried to remove protesters blocking a road between Islamabad and the neighboring city of Rawalpindi. Protesters accused Hamid of blasphemy because they said changes in the wording of the oath of office for public officials weakened a requirement to refer to the Prophet Mohammed.

4

Franken returns to work 'embarrassed,' 'ashamed'

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Sunday in his first interview since two women accused him of groping them that he was embarrassed and ashamed but did not plan to resign. Franken told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he hoped an ethics investigation would make "a positive contribution to the conversation, so I can be a better public servant and a better man." Franken has apologized to radio host Leeann Tweeden, who said he forcibly kissed and fondled her during a USO tour. A photo shows Franken smiling and holding his hands suggestively over Tweeden's chest while she sleeps. He also apologized to a woman who said he put his hand on her buttocks at the Minnesota State Fair, but said he did not remember the incident.

5

Trump repeats criticism of embattled Roy Moore's opponent

President Trump continued to urge voters to reject Democrat Doug Jones, who is running against beleaguered former state Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore in a special election for one of Alabama's Senate seats. "The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military," Trump tweeted on Sunday. "Jones would be a disaster." Trump's efforts to boost Moore, the Republican candidate who beat incumbent appointee Luther Strange in the primary, put him at odds with leading GOP lawmakers, who have called for Moore to step aside since several women have accused Moore of making improper sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers as young as 14 and he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

6

CBO says Senate tax bill hurts low-income families more than initially thought

The Congressional Budget Office on Sunday released its analysis of Senate Republicans' proposed tax overhaul, estimating that it would increase the federal deficit by about $1.4 trillion over 10 years. The CBO said the bill would be worse for Americans earning less than $75,000 than an earlier analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation projected, factoring in the changes to Medicaid and Medicare, and zeroing out the Affordable Care Act individual mandate. Under the CBO analysis, Americans earning up to $30,000 a year would be worse off by 2019, and Americans earning $75,000 or less would be worse off by 2027. Americans earning $100,000 to $500,000 a year would generally fare the best until 2027, when millionaires would reap the most benefits.

7

Bali volcano erupts, forcing 100,000 to evacuate

Authorities on the Indonesian resort island of Bali canceled flights and moved to evacuate 100,000 people from a danger zone after volcanic eruptions from Mount Agung sent a thick ash cloud thousands of feet into the air. Hundreds of international and domestic flights have been canceled, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. Disaster response officials have urged people to avoid an area within 4.5 miles of the volcano's peak. It is the volcano's first eruption in 50 years, and experts say lava is welling up in its crater. "The rays of fire are increasingly observed at night," the National Board for Disaster Management said in a statement. "This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent."

8

Meredith to buy Time Inc. for $3 billion, with Koch backing

The Meredith Corp. agreed Sunday to buy Time Inc. in an all-cash deal valued close to $3 billion. Meredith is backed by $650 million in financing from the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, who are known for supporting conservative political causes. Meredith, however, said the Kochs' private equity fund would not have a seat on its board and would "have no influence on Meredith's editorial or managerial operations." The acquisition would allow Meredith, which publishes Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, to add such high-profile magazines as Sports illustrated, Time, and Fortune to its publishing and broadcasting empire. Meredith held unsuccessful talks to buy Time earlier this year, and in 2013.

9

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle engaged

Prince Harry and his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, are engaged, and will marry next spring, the British royal family announced Monday. Clarence House said Prince Charles, Harry's father, was "delighted" to make the news official. Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, and Markle started dating just over a year ago, and quietly got engaged earlier this month. Markle, a co-star in the USA Network legal drama Suits, will be the first American, the first actress, and the first biracial person welcomed into the British royal family, probably as a royal duchess.

10

Pixar's Coco leads the Thanksgiving weekend box office

Pixar's Coco hauled in an estimated $71.2 million in its debut, earning the top spot at the box office in the fourth best five-day Thanksgiving weekend ever. Coco made $49 million from Friday to Sunday. The film, which is centered around the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday, has already brought in $53.4 million over three weeks in Mexico. "This is once again Pixar doing what they do best," said Dave Hollis, distribution chief for the Walt Disney Co. Coco easily beat DC Comics superhero film Justice League, which dropped into second place with $40.7 million over three days and $60 million over the extended holiday weekend.

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