10 things you need to know today: January 11, 2018
Trump says it "seems unlikely" he'll be interviewed by Mueller, Trump calls courts "broken and unfair" after losing DACA ruling, and more
Trump says interview with Mueller team 'seems unlikely'
President Trump declined to say Wednesday whether he would submit to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team if it requests one in its investigation into Russian election meddling, saying it "seems unlikely" he would be questioned. "I'll speak to attorneys," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We'll see what happens." Trump's attorneys reportedly expect Trump to be interviewed by Mueller's team. Trump, defending his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, said last June that he would "100 percent" be willing to give Mueller a sworn statement. Trump, however, called investigations by Mueller a "witch hunt," and a "Democrat hoax."
Trump calls courts 'broken and unfair' after DACA ruling
President Trump on Wednesday called the federal court system "broken and unfair" after a judge temporarily blocked his move to end an Obama-era program that offered protection against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the young immigrants, known as "DREAMers," should be allowed to stay as challenges to Trump's move work their way through the courts. Trump said the opposing side in court cases, such as the one over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, "almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts." The ruling came as Republicans and Democrats debated restoring DACA protections.
Mueller adds cyber-crime specialist to Russia investigation team
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has added a Justice Department cyber-crime prosecutor to his team, filling a gap and possibly signaling an intensifying focus on possible computer-related crimes. Ryan K. Dickey from the Justice Department's computer crime and intellectual-property section joined Mueller's effort in November, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing a spokesman for the special counsel's office. He joined 16 other lawyers, and is the only publicly known member of Mueller's team who specializes in computer crimes. Mueller is investigating Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with associates of President Trump. The investigation has always had a cybersecurity element, due to Russia's hacking of Democrats' emails to discredit the election system and help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
ICE agents raid 7-Eleven stores nationwide
Immigration agents raided 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country on Wednesday in the largest crackdown of its kind since President Trump took office. Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted 98 7-Eleven stores, and arrested 21 people. The agency suspected the company of hiring undocumented immigrants. "Today's actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce," ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement. "ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable."
Republican Darrell Issa announces retirement from Congress
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday that he would retire from Congress at the end of the year, becoming the latest in a wave of 31 House Republicans to decide against seeking re-election. Issa, who started his first term in 2001, narrowly won re-election in 2016 with 50.3 percent of the vote. He was listed as a top target by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and was considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in November's midterms. Issa became a national figure as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and leader of the first Benghazi investigation. He was a relentless critic of former President Barack Obama. He called his time in Congress "the privilege of a lifetime."
Death toll in California mudslides rises to 17
The death toll in Southern California's mudslides rose to 17 on Wednesday. Dozens remained missing in areas where the state's largest wildfire on record recently burned away vegetation, leaving neighborhoods vulnerable without natural protection against flooding in heavy rain. Rescuers had to wade through thick mud to get to stranded residents in Montecito, northwest of Los Angeles. Crews were still trying late Wednesday to reach about 300 people trapped in their homes. Twenty-eight people were injured and about 100 homes were destroyed.
South Korea announces plan to ban cryptocurrency trading
South Korea's government said Thursday that it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading, sparking a 21 percent plunge in local bitcoin prices. Bitcoin also fell by more than 10 percent on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, to as low as $13,120, its lowest level since Jan. 2. "There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges," Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said. South Korean authorities also raided local exchanges in a clampdown on alleged tax evasion. The country is a big source of demand for cryptocurrency, and its moves came as governments around the world rush to come up with ways to regulate digital currency as its value soars.
Other states protest after Florida exempted from offshore drilling expansion
The Trump administration faced protests from politicians in several coastal states after it promised Florida that it would be exempt from expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. A week after announcing a big expansion of areas open to offshore drilling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly assured Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, that the Sunshine State would be excluded. Governors and other leaders in Oregon, South Carolina, California, and other states noted that they, like Florida, have attractive coasts, tourist economies, and local opposition to drilling. "New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either," tweeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). "Where do we sign up for a waiver?"
Missouri governor, accused of blackmail threat, admits to extramarital affair
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) confirmed on Wednesday that he had an extramarital affair, saying it was a "deeply personal mistake." The admission came after a months-long investigation by a local TV station, News 4. In a recording obtained by the station from the woman's ex-husband, she detailed her alleged encounters with Greitens in his home, and said after one intimate moment, he put a blindfold on her and took a photo, saying he would make it public if she ever discussed their affair. The woman, who has not been named, said her sexual encounters with Greitens were consensual, and took place in 2015, before he was governor. When asked by News 4 about the alleged photo, Greitens declined to comment.
U.S. gives highest travel warning for five Mexican states
The State Department on Wednesday issued its highest-risk advisory against travel to five violence-ridden Mexican states. The Category 4 warning to Americans against visiting the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, and the Pacific coast states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, and Sinaloa, lumps Mexico in with such war-torn countries as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. The advisory came after Mexico's surging violence, fueled by a power struggle among drug cartels, left 22,409 people dead in the first 11 months of 2017, the most since the government started releasing crime data in 1997. Mexico as a whole received a Category 2 rating, as did the key tourist areas of Los Cabos and Cancun.