Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 2, 2017

Senate passes biggest tax overhaul in 30 years, Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI, and more

1

Senate passes biggest tax overhaul in 30 years

Senate Republicans passed their tax overhaul plan along party lines in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The vote was 51-49, with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) the lone dissenting Republican. The bill would slash the corporate tax rate, abolish the estate tax, effectively cut individual rates for high earners, and close or reduce several loopholes and tax breaks. Republican holdouts and deficit hawks came around on the legislation in the final hours before the vote, even after the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation found the plan would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit. The vote marks a significant victory for the GOP, which has struggled this year to pass major legislation.

2

Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making "willfully" false statements to the FBI about his contact with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn resigned from his administration role mere weeks after President Trump's inauguration for lying about his contact with Russian officials. Congressional Democrats told ABC News Flynn hid information about overseas trips and meetings with foreign officials when applying for his security clearance, and The Wall Street Journal reported Flynn and his son considered kidnapping exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gullen — blamed by Ankara for 2016's failed coup — on behalf of the Turkish government for $15 million.

3

Trump tweets praise of tax bill progress

President Trump posted a tweet early Saturday morning praising Senate Republicans for passing their version of the Republican tax reform plan. "We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America," he wrote around 3 a.m. "Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!" In a second tweet several hours later, the president touted the "hard work" by "these great Republicans" to pass the "Biggest Tax Bill and Tax Cuts in history." To make Trump's Christmas deadline, GOP senators will have to reconcile their bill with the version passed by the House in mid-November.

4

White House disavows Flynn as he cooperates with special counsel

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn confirmed Friday he has agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. "I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right," Flynn said in a statement. The White House, meanwhile, argued that nothing in Flynn's situation "implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn," calling him an "Obama administration official" and noting that he was fired by the Trump administration over accusations similar to the content of this guilty plea.

5

Democrats say Nevada rep should resign amid sexual harassment allegations

Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have called on Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) to resign from his first term in Congress amid what Pelosi labeled "convincing" allegations that he sexually harassed a campaign aide in 2016. The accusation was first reported by BuzzFeed News Friday, citing a former Kihuen campaign staffer identified only as Samantha. Per her account, Kihuen "propositioned her for dates and sex despite her repeated rejections," twice touching "her thighs without consent." Kihuen said in a statement he can't "recall any of the circumstances she described" while apologizing for anything he did "that made her feel uncomfortable."

6

GOP rep used taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) reportedly used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokeswoman in 2014, Politico reports. The accuser, Lauren Greene, claimed in her lawsuit that an aide told her Farenthold had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about her, and Farenthold himself said he was "estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years." She claims she was fired after complaining about the comments. An investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics did not find "substantial reason" to believe Greene's accusations, and Farenthold "adamantly denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing."

7

Trump will reportedly recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital within days

The Trump administration will announce the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital within the next few days, CNN reported Friday evening citing unnamed officials and diplomats with knowledge of the situation. President Trump promised on the campaign trail to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a symbolic shift away from longstanding U.S. policy of considering Jerusalem disputed territory in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The forthcoming announcement is expected to waive a decision on the physical embassy move for an indefinite period.

8

Hawaii revives Cold War-era nuclear alarms

Hawaii on Friday ran a test of a nuclear attack warning siren, sounding the Cold War-era alarm for the first time since the 1980s. The siren will now sound for one minute on the first business day of every month as part of a campaign to educate residents about what to do in the event of a real nuclear strike. "We believe that it is imperative that we be prepared for every disaster," said Gov. David Ige (D), "and in today's world, that includes a nuclear attack."

9

NSA employee pleads guilty to stealing classified documents later stolen by Russia-linked hackers

Former National Security Agency employee Nghia H. Pho has pleaded guilty to taking classified documents while working for the organization. The documents were later believed to have been stolen from Pho's home computer by hackers working for Russia. The former software developer was charged in secret, with his identity and plea being made public for the first time Friday. The documents allegedly stolen from Pho's computer included information "on penetrating foreign computer networks and protecting against cyber attacks and is likely to be viewed as one of the most significant security breaches to date," Reuters wrote in October.

10

Retirement community resident allegedly made ricin, tested it on neighbors

A 70-year-old woman named Betty Miller who lived in a Vermont retirement community produced ricin, a toxin that naturally occurs in the seeds of the castor oil plant, and tested it on her neighbors, local police report. Miller told authorities she wanted the deadly poison to "injure herself" but decided to test the compound on others first by putting in their food. She confessed her activities to the senior home staff, who called the police. Miller has been charged with possession of a biological weapon. Only one of her neighbors was made ill by her experiments and has since recovered.

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