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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 6, 2018

Jessica Hullinger
The cover of 'Fire and Fury'
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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1.

Trump says he is 'like, really smart' and a 'very stable genius'

In a flurry of tweets Saturday, President Trump defended his own mental stability and complained about author Michael Wolff's White House tell-all book Fire and Fury. After calling Wolff a "total loser" and slamming his controversial book, in which he reports that members of Trump's team have said they do not believe he is capable of functioning in the job, Trump went on to tout his own genius, saying, "throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart." He said his triumphs in business and politics prove he is "a very stable genius." On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied ever questioning the mental health of the president. "I've never questioned his mental fitness," Tillerson told CNN. "I have no reason to question his mental fitness."

2.

Chill warnings in place as brutal cold continues to grip Northeast

Chill warnings are in place for parts of the Northeast, as temperatures are expected to continue to fall over the weekend to dangerous lows. In states like New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, and Maine, wind chills could make it feel as cold as minus 20 degrees. In New Hampshire, Mount Washington could experience wind chills of minus 100 degrees. The brutal cold comes after a winter storm brought snow, wind, and flooding to the region Thursday, closing schools and disrupting travel for thousands. The coldest temperatures are expected to hit Sunday morning, but the deep freeze is forecast to ease up next week.

3.

GOP senators submit criminal referral for author of Trump dossier

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) on Friday referred criminal charges for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who authored a controversial dossier about President Trump's ties to Russia. The senators reportedly believe Steele lied to the FBI when discussing how he disseminated the contents of the dossier — which includes salacious but unconfirmed details about the president — to American news outlets. The development is the first publicly known criminal referral by Congress as a result of multiple investigations into Russian election meddling. [CNN]

4.

Readers flood bookstores to buy White House tell-all book Fire and Fury

Bookstores across the country quickly sold out of their stocks of Michael Wolff's new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, on Friday, its first day of release. Readers lined up outside stores in "Harry Potter-like queues" for their chance to snag a copy. On Amazon, the book is in backorder as much as "one to two months." President Trump has slammed the book as being "full of lies," and threatened its publisher with a cease and desist letter to prevent its release. The publisher responded by pushing up the release date, and Wolff thanked the president for helping him sell more books. "Where do I send the box of chocolates?" he asked on Friday's Today show. [Variety, Today]

5.

Two-time Oscar-winner Paul Haggis accused of sexual misconduct, rape

Two-time Academy Award-winner Paul Haggis, 64, has been accused of sexual misconduct by four women, The Associated Press reports, with two alleging they were raped. One woman said the producer/screenwriter forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her. "He said to me, 'Do you really want to continue working?'" the woman alleged. Another woman told AP that she managed to escape from Haggis after he told her, "I need to be inside you." Yet another accuser said Haggis "held down her arms, forcibly kissed her on a street corner, then followed her into a taxi." Haggis' lawyer says her client "didn't rape anybody." Haggis won both his Oscars for the 2005 Best Picture-winner Crash. [The Associated Press]

6.

U.S. criticized for calling emergency Security Council meeting on Iran protests

The United States called an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting Friday to address ongoing anti-government protests in Iran. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the Iranian government was "on notice" and added that "the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation." She called on other nations to help elevate the protesters' demands. Iran had tried to block the meeting, with the Iranian ambassador accusing the U.S. of abusing its power within the council. Russia's envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, said the U.S. was meddling in an "internal affair." So far, at least 21 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the protests. [The Associated Press, BBC]

7.

Roy Moore accuser's house burns down

Tina Johnson, who accused former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of groping her in 1991, had her house and belongings destroyed in a fire earlier this week. The Gadsden, Alabama, blaze is being investigated as possible arson. No one was hurt in the fire, but Johnson told AL.com Friday that her family had lost everything. "We have just the clothes on our backs," she said. Fire officials said they have a suspect of interest, but that so far, the fire does not appear related to Moore. Moore, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, lost last month's special Senate election to Democrat Doug Jones after several women, including Johnson, came forward accusing him of unwanted sexual advances or assault. He has denied the accusations.

8.

CDC to host briefings about nuclear war preparation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are hosting presentations later this month on what federal, state, and local governments are doing to prepare for the public health crisis that would follow a nuclear strike. The notice warns that "while a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps." The briefing includes presentations with names like "Preparing for the Unthinkable" and "Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness." The CDC's briefing comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea, including President Trump's recent button-measuring competition with leader Kim Jong Un. [Politico]

9.

Trump seeks $18 billion for Mexican border wall

The Trump administration has given lawmakers "one of its most detailed blueprints" yet of President Trump's proposed Mexican border wall. The plan calls for spending $18 billion over 10 years to extend the existing wall by 316 miles by 2027, The Associated Press reported. If executed, the plan would result in nearly half the 2,000-mile border being fenced off. Immigration is one of several issues on the table as Congress tries to hammer out a budget to fund the government before Jan. 19, or risk a government shutdown. Trump has said he will not ensure protection for thousands of DREAMers — illegal immigrants brought into the country as children — unless he gets his border wall.

10.

Winning $450 million jackpot ticket sold in Florida

Someone in Florida bought a winning ticket for Friday's drawing for the $450 million Mega Millions jackpot, the Mega Millions website said. This was the fourth largest jackpot prize in the game's history, and the winning numbers were 28, 30, 39, 59, 70, and the Mega Millions ball was 10. If the winner decides to claim their prize all at once, they'll receive $281 million in cash. Another drawing for an even bigger amount — the $570 million Powerball jackpot — will happen Saturday night. The odds of winning that pot are one in 290 million. [CNN Money, ABC7]