Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 17, 2018

House Republicans unveil their plan to avert a government shutdown, Mueller subpoenas Bannon, and more


House Republicans unveil stopgap spending proposal to avert shutdown

House Republican leaders proposed a fourth stopgap spending measure to their caucus on Tuesday night, aiming to keep the federal government funded for another month beyond a Friday shutdown deadline. The measure includes delays to several taxes under the Affordable Care Act — a sweetener for conservatives and Democrats alike. It also extends a popular children's health insurance program, a goal for Democrats. The House Freedom Caucus is threatening to sink the bill in the House. Republicans almost surely will need some Democratic votes to get the measure through the Senate, and Democrats are threatening to block it if it doesn't include protections for young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. House GOP leaders are aiming for a Thursday vote.


Mueller subpoenas Bannon in Russia inquiry

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has issued a subpoena for former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon to testify to a grand jury in the investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by President Trump's associates, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The move came after Bannon was quoted in Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury saying a meeting between Trump associates, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer, was "treasonous." Bannon testified behind closed doors Tuesday to the House Intelligence Committee for its Russia inquiry, but refused to answer questions about his work for Trump, even after the committee issued a subpoena on the spot. "This was effectively a gag order by the White House," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). A person familiar with Bannon's thinking, however, told The Daily Beast he's willing to tell Mueller everything.


DOJ asks Supreme Court to overturn DACA ruling, bypassing appeals courts

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it would take a "rare step" to bypass an appeals court and directly ask the Supreme Court to overturn a judge's ruling blocking President Trump's move to end an Obama-era program shielding hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Trump in September said he was unwinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing that former President Barack Obama overstepped his authority when he started the program in 2012 to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. A judge last week temporarily blocked Trump's order, saying the immigrants should be allowed to stay until challenges work their way through the courts. Lawmakers are currently working on a deal to revive the program.


White House doctor says Trump 'very healthy'

The lead White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, said Tuesday that President Trump requested a cognitive test as part of his first formal medical exam since taking office, and he "did exceedingly well." Jackson said Trump scored 30 out of 30 in the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which is designed to detect mild cognitive impairment, primarily in older patients. In the test, patients are asked, among other things, to name several animals and draw a clock with the hands indicating a certain time. Jackson said he saw "no indication whatsoever" that Trump has any cognitive problems. Jackson said medical tests showed Trump to be "very healthy," although at 6-foot-3 and 237 pounds, he is overweight and nearly obese.


Ex-CIA officer charged with betraying U.S. spies in China

A former CIA officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, long suspected of helping China identify U.S. spies and informants, has been arrested, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Lee, who stopped working for the CIA in 2007, was charged with keeping and traveling with notebooks containing classified information. The books, which agents found in Lee's luggage when he traveled to the U.S. in 2012, contained the real names and phone numbers of CIA informants and undercover agents. The FBI launched an investigation that year after the CIA started losing informants in China. More than a dozen CIA informants wound up being killed or imprisoned by China in a devastating setback for the U.S. spying network.


U.S., allies call for increasing pressure on North Korea

The U.S. and other participants in a 20-nation meeting on Tuesday called for increasing pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "We must increase the costs of the regime's behavior to the point that North Korea must come to the table for credible negotiations," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who co-hosted the one-day meeting with Canada in Vancouver. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the world should not let North Korea's recent "charm offensive," including talks with South Korea, erode commitments to staying tough. "It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea," he said. "The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working."


Danish inventor formally charged with journalist Kim Wall's murder

Danish authorities have formally charged Danish inventor Peter Madsen with the murder of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall. A Danish prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, said Tuesday that Madsen, 46, either strangled Wall or slit her throat after she went to interview him on his self-built submarine last August. Her headless and dismembered torso was found floating off the coast of Copenhagen 10 days after she went missing. Her head, legs, and clothes were found in the ocean, enclosed in bags, in October. Madsen also was charged with sexual assault, without intercourse. Madsen at first claimed that Wall, 30, died in "a terrible accident" when a hatch cover fell on her head. He later said she died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and admitted to dismembering her body.


90 victims to speak in former gymnastics team doctor's sexual abuse sentencing hearing

Nearly 90 women plan to talk about sexual abuse against them by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar during his four-day sentencing hearing, which began Tuesday. Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge in the case is letting any of his more than 140 accusers speak if they ask. The first accuser to speak on Tuesday was not one of the dozens of gymnasts who have accused him of abuse, but a family friend who said Nassar molested her at his house, causing a family rift when her parents didn't believe her. On Monday, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles said she, too, was one of Nassar's victims. Her teammates McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Gabby Douglas had previously disclosed that they were sexually abused by Nassar.


Bitcoin prices fall as crackdown fears persist

Bitcoin plunged by as much as 25 percent to a six-week low early Wednesday due to growing fears of a regulatory crackdown in South Korea. Seoul has walked back a vow to ban sales of Bitcoin, but the country's finance minister, Kim Dong-yeon, said "the shutdown of virtual currency exchanges is still one of the options" open to the government. Reports last week said South Korea was working on discouraging speculative cryptocurrency trading behind their meteoric rise this year. South Korea said it wouldn't make a move until it had time for "sufficient consultation and coordination of opinions."


Navy files negligent homicide charges against ship officers over fatal collisions

The Navy announced Tuesday that it would charge the former commanding officers of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain with criminal charges for two deadly 2017 collisions that killed 17 sailors. Three other officers also face charges. Adm. Frank Caldwell, one of the lead officers in the investigation, determined the charges could include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. The commanding officers, Cmdr. Bryce Benson of the Fitzgerald, and Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez of the John S. McCain, were relieved of their duties after the crashes, as were their second-in-commands.


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Blaze kills 39 at migrant detention center in Mexico
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U.S. to crack down on guns going south, Mexico works to stop fentanyl heading north
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Lebanon to reverse daylight savings decision
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